The use of bar velocity in strength and conditioning is not a new method of monitoring and prescribing resistance training. This has been used by a handful of Weightlifting coaches for decades. However, only recently has it started to become popular, both in the scientific literature and in practical settings. This is due to advancements in technology that have enabled coaches and trainee’s to measure bar velocity more easily and affordably than before. This can be done with portable linear position transducers that cost around $1200.00 – $1500.00. Alternatively, you can purchase Smartphone-compatible devices (i.e., accelerometers) that range in price from $150.00 – $300.00. A new article published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal outlines the benefits of using velocity based training in football players. This post will serve as a brief summary of these benefits.
- We have good days and we have bad days in the gym. Our maximal strength levels fluctuate considerably on a daily basis. Previous research shows that this can be as much as 18% of 1RM. Thus traditional percentage based resistance training can have an athlete lifting upwards of 18% too heavy or too light depending on their daily readiness. Thus, velocity can be used to autoregulate training load. This is because mean velocity is constant regardless of one’s 1RM due to the linear relationship between load and velocity (i.e., the heavier the weight, the slower the velocity). So the physical load for 60% of 1RM can change on a daily basis, but 60% will always be moved at 0.8 m/s for a squat.
- Specific athletic movements generally have a velocity profile. For example, when football players were performing hang cleans at a velocity of 0.6 – 0.8 m/s, there was no relationship found between vertical jump and hang clean 1RM. However, when the load was reduced so that that hang cleans were performed at a velocity more similar to that expressed during a vertical jump (i.e., ~1.4 m/s), the relationship between hang clean and vertical jump performances began to relate. Therefore, velocity-based training can be used to ensure that the specific intended adaptation is taking place by matching the velocity of a given athletic movement with the velocity of bar speed.
- Athletes, (not limited to football players) are innately competitive individuals. If someone’s keeping score, an athlete will generally do their best to win. It turns out that if you provide velocity feedback to an athlete during reps of a given barbell exercise, they will naturally respond by trying to beat that velocity on their next rep or set. This provides a sneaky, yet effective way of enhancing rate of force development and explosive strength during training. It’s well understood that this provides much greater transfer to athletic movement on the field. Thus, velocity can be a useful tool for motivating athletes and enhancing training quality.
Apart from the aforementioned benefits of velocity based training, coaches can also use this is a tool to safely predict with reasonable accuracy ones 1RM as well as being a tool for evaluating neuromuscular fatigue. The authors caution that this method of training is not recommended for athletes who are not advanced with a considerable training age. Therefore, this should be reserved for more experience and mature athletes who can appropriately handle this method of training.
Mann, JB., et al. (2015) Velocity-Based Training in Football. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 27(6): 52-57.