What is Velocity-Based Training (VBT)?
Exercise • • 1 minute to read • By Pankaj Narsian, INFS Faculty
Author- Pankaj N, CSCS and INFS Faculty
Resistance training is an effective way of developing strength, power, and muscular endurance. But, depending upon the athlete's goal, coaches manipulate various resistance training variables like exercise selection, exercise order, frequency, intensity, volume, and rest periods for specific physiological and neuromuscular adaptations.
Intensity is one of the most debated and researched variables within resistance training. And traditionally, Percentage-Based Training (PBT) has always been used to prescribe intensity and volume for strength improvements in athletes. However, there is a limitation to the approach, which is discussed later in the article. Recent advances in strength and conditioning research allow individuals to auto-regulate the training variables based on the feedback of movement velocity.
Feedback is an efficient tool for an athlete, whether verbal or visual. For example, verbal feedback is when a coach suggests further neck extension to the athlete after completing a preparatory deadlift set. In contrast, visual feedback is when an athlete records himself during the deadlift main set and realizes the fault in the neck position while watching the recorded video. These feedback strategies can cause performance improvement in professional and recreational athletes, including males and females. Therefore training feedback given before the performance, during the training, or after the set plays a significant role in motivating the athlete, correcting the errors, and helping apply effort in the right direction.
Brief into Percentage-Based Training (PBT)
To develop strength and power in athletes, coaches typically recommend loads using percentage-based training relative to an athlete's relative ability using their 1RM. For example, if the coach schedules the athlete to train for a deadlift next week using 80% of 1RM. Then, the suggested set and volume would be three working sets of 5 repetitions.
However, the method poses a limitation since the athlete's 1RM changes across sessions depending on the state of readiness. Therefore, using a previous session's performance to prescribe a load for a current session may not match the intended 1RM goal due to training adaptations. As a result, coaches and athletes look for better and more practical methods to aid performance other than percentage-based training. Nevertheless, VBT has been around for a few years and shows great promise in improving strength and power potential in athletes.
Force-velocity profiling is a simple method to understand an athlete's force and velocity requirements by seeing how they perform during jumps and sprints. The profiling helps the coach know whether the athlete needs more focus on the force or velocity during their training sessions. Additionally, the coach can change the resistance training variables based on objective data from the test.
What is Velocity-based Training (VBT)
VBT is a method that uses velocity to inform about or enhance training practice. It provides "accurate and objective feedback" to the athlete with the help of devices that measure the movement velocity during an exercise. Most sports rely on how quickly an athlete can produce force, i.e., Rate of Force Development (RFD), rather than Maximal Force Development. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure athletes move fast during pre-season and in-season training.
VBT helps us establish the right intensity for the athlete using velocity as the metric, so they apply the right amount of intensity without compromising velocity. The below-mentioned facts help the coach establish belief in the VBT method.
- Velocity reduces as loads increase.
- Intensity and velocity share an inverse and linear relationship.
- Fatigue accumulation leads to a drop in velocity. Additionally, there is a drop in muscle contraction speed and force-generating capacity.
Velocity variables to track performance
The variables most commonly used in the strength and conditioning field are the following:
- Mean velocity stands for the average speed across the entire concentric phase of the movement.
- Peak velocity stands for the average instantaneous speed reached during the concentric phase of the training.
Experts suggest using VBT in the following ways:
- To estimate the 1RM of the athlete.
- To recommend the volume and relative intensity for training based on the amount of velocity loss in the concentric phase of the movement.
- To boost the athlete's morale and create a competitive environment through the provision of real-time velocity feedback.
- Weakley, J., Mann, B., Banyard, H., McLaren, S., Scott, T. and Garcia-Ramos, A., 2021. Velocity-based training: From theory to application. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 43 (2), pp.31-49.
- Guerriero, A., Varalda, C. and Piacentini, M.F., 2018. The role of velocity based training in the strength periodization for modern athletes. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 3 (4), p.55.
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