Technology in the weight room is a topic that provokes many different responses from strength and conditioning professionals. Many old school coaches tend to oppose and reject it while the younger generation of coaches tend to embrace it. Some may argue that technology can be expensive and time-consuming to sift through and interpret data. Others feel that certain tools provide invaluable information that can really drive planning. A piece of technology that has been fairly well researched are linear position transducers (LPT). LPT’s provide velocity metrics for most conventional exercises. These devices allow us to measure values such as acceleration, force, average velocity, peak velocity etc. Many newer LPT’s can synch right to your smart phone or tablet device and are quite user friendly. More recent innovations have made available wireless devices that you can strap to your arm or around the bar. LPT’s are becoming more affordable and practical for coaches.
A recent paper in the Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning written by professional strength coaches and Sport Scientists (Jovanovic and Flanagan, 2014) provides very practical information about the various applications of LPT’s in strength and conditioning programs. This blog will serve as a brief summary of the practical applications detailed by the authors.
Comparing athletes and monitoring improvements: After establishing your athletes load/velocity profile (the average velocity achieved at various pre-determined loads), you can compare athletes of similar strengths to see who is the more explosive athletes. In addition, coaches can track improvements with routine monitoring of sub-maximal velocities. If an athlete can move 75% of their 1RM faster than they did 4 weeks ago, improvements have been made.
Predicting One Repetition Maximum: Once an athlete’s minimum velocity threshold has been established (mean velocity of a 1RM), submaximal attempts performed with maximal intended velocity can be used in a regression equation to predict 1RM’s.
Estimating Daily Readiness: We all know that just because one may be capable of squatting 500lbs, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to do so every day. By estimating 1RM with the LPT and regression equation, we can get an idea of the athletes current training status. This information can help drive programming for that day (i.e., increase or decrease working loads).
Monitoring Fatigue: With frequent estimations of an athlete’s 1RM throughout a season, we can get determine when some neuromuscular fatigue may be occurring. If velocity levels with a given sub-maximal load are below average, this may be indicating that the athlete requires reduced training loads to facilitate recovery.
Exercise Prescription: Utilizaing LPT’s can be used to prescribe training by monitoring the velocity of each rep in a given set. Coaches can pre-determine cut-offs where the athletes should terminate the set when a minimum velocity is not attained. This can ensure quality reps at a given velocity. This can keep the athlete fresh by minimizing fatigue.
Clearly there are several practical applications derived from technology that allows us to monitor bar velocity during exercise. Coaches need to determine if a tool such as LPT’s are feasible for their situation based on time, budget, personnel and team philosophy.
Jocanovic, M and Flanagan, E. (2014) Researched applications of velocity based strength training. Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning, 22(2).