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Olympic Lifting and Velocity Based Training

This method of using velocity-based training is very straightforward and has been shown to provide very good improvements in performance (30-32). Velocity-based training is simply a method of training which uses a piece of technology to track the movement speed of the exercise. VITRUVE is the VBT device every S&C COACH needs to reach their athlete’s maximum performance. For years, VBT articles have featured the same overviews of fixed velocity zones for the specific training of certain strength traits.

Conversely, when an athlete performs a traditional strength training movement such as a squat or bench press, muscular force determines the barbell’s deceleration. As mentioned, when performing a clean, it’s often better to look at the peak velocities. You’re looking at the 1RM terminal velocities, derived from Bryan Mann’s article. When the velocity drops below this peak velocity, you’re probably not going to make it – when using high loads.

  1. The GymAware unit should be placed close to the athlete, in line with the toes, with the tether attached inside the bar sleeve.
  2. Hopefully, breaking down each zone shed some light on exactly why VBT is important.
  3. I am going to run through some quick definitions you should know, and point you in the right direction with how to get started.
  4. Olympic Lifts are classed as explosive exercises and therefore enhance an athletes ability to generate high power outputs.
  5. Understanding these velocity ranges for a variety of different exercises, including the strength and power capabilities of your athletes, allows the coach to identify and target specific training qualities (e.g. absolute strength or strength-speed).

If you’re newer to VBT and decided to take this approach, then just retrofit your current routine to this. It is so specific to you that you can basically think of it as your velocity “fingerprint.”​ It is also remarkably consistent over time. I strongly believe that a lot of the information online about training with velocity is far too complicated for most people.

Universal Principles of Strength Development

Cleather, Autoregulation by “repetitions in reserve” leads to greater improvements in strength over a 12-week training program than fixed loading. For those that may be unfamiliar with velocity-based training, I’ll begin with the four primary velocity-based terminology and definitions that you should be familiar with. There is certainly other velocity-based terminology, but I don’t want to address them as they are not incredibly important in powerlifting programming contexts since they are rarely ever used. If you’re training to improve a specific quality – speed strength for example – and your velocity decreases out of the specified range because of fatigue, you’re no longer training for that quality. When you lift a heavy load you have to apply high levels of force to move it.

When it comes to Velocity-based training, not too many coaches are more versed than Bryan Mann. He has established himself as the “go-to” guy on the training modality. The technical nature of Olympic lifts also requires a great amount of coaching. The catch is quite technical and requires a great amount of work by the athlete and knowledge, background, and coaching from the coach. Pulls are quite simple, though, and achieve triple extension, one of the primary benefits of the Olympic lifts.

When an athlete performs a lift properly, a strong relationship exists between peak and mean velocity. As previously mentioned, different ROM distances among the lifts will require different velocities. A few years ago, we implemented VBT at Mizzou when we had a 6’8” offensive tackle and a 5’6” running back training together.

So why is velocity based training important?

Just like with 1RM testing, good coaches will be able to find solutions to create consistency and work-arounds or guidelines for their athletes. It is still important to be aware of these so you can adjust your training plan accordingly. Alternatively, you always have the option to simply not work with any 1RM or e1RM value, instead focusing on velocity zones, RPE, linear periodisation or any other number of programming strategies. In an S&C setting like a high school, college, or private facility, giving up one out of every ~6-weeks for a testing day means sacrificing 16% of your planned training sessions. Layer in a handful of missed sessions to illness, injury, scheduling conflicts, or (lets be realistic) hangovers, and we can easily be losing upwards of 20% of an athlete’s possible lifting weeks a year.

Tables 1 and 2 show how the MVTs remain relatively similar for a given exercise, but are very different between exercises (bench press vs. back squat). As can be seen in Table 1, the MVTs vary slightly between athletes, with the strongest athletes often being capable of producing the lowest MVTs (bottom half of the table). Perhaps an athlete’s ability to ‘grind out’ a low MVT is due to motivation and exercise experience. Figure 1 should help visualise the effects of daily fluctuations in strength. Velocity-based training is simply a method of training which uses a piece of technology to track the movement speed of the exercise. The concept of velocity-based training is nothing new and can, in fact, be traced back several decades (1-4).

You need to establish your own “Velocity Load Profile”

Please skip this paragraph if you aren’t interested in how I’ve established these average VL values. Specifically, 20% VL corresponds to ~50% of the repetition maximum for most athletes on most lifts (i.e., the squat ~20% VL; the bench press ~25% VL) [3]. However, please be cognizant that these ‘absolute terminating velocities’ were lift-specific [6] and must also be athlete-specific [11].

It’s about striking that individualized balance between peak intensity, average intensity, relative volume, RPE, LRV, VL, and all the other important variables as many reading this likely know! I don’t necessarily think that this is anything incredibly new to the periodized approaches generalized recommendations, but hopefully that clarified the relationship between VL and RPE/LRV. The first concept to clarify is that RPE and VL are two separate concepts that have a dynamic inter-dependent relationship (except for when one repetition is performed, the VL will of course always be 0% VL). For example, an athlete can be at the maximum RPE (10 RPE) and at the minimal VL (0% VL) simultaneously if they are performing a 1RM. In other words, low VL does not necessarily correspond directly to low RPE, nor does high VL necessarily correspond directly to high RPE.

There are many ways in which practitioners can incorporate this technology into their coaching structure, but it is strongly advised that coaches do not become over-fixated on this technology and neglect the fundamental aspects of coaching. If you want to learn more about this relationship, then read our article on the vbt chart “Force-Velocity Curve”. A linear encoder is composed of an optical encoder capable of measuring angular movements and a coil that allows linearizing them, in this way, any linear movement can be measured. There’s a growing list of alternative approaches to e1RM testing and application which are worth considering.

Setting aside an entire training session every 4-8 weeks for a testing day can be a significant distraction to the momentum of an athletic development program. S&C coaches are creating a culture of accountability and intent in their weight-rooms with Output’s accurate velocity based training and novel angular-velocity based training modules. To break that down, VBT is a way to monitor an athlete’s readiness and ability to train via barbell velocity. If the bar is moving quickly, then the athlete’s readiness to train is high, and/or the load applied to the exercise is too low. If the bar is moving slowly, then readiness to train is low and/or the load is too high.

However, volume (via mechanical tension) [58] is the “primary driver” of hypertrophy [59]. I suggest quantifying volume for a given lift via relative volume (with a potential certain magnitude of intra-set fatigue/VL that exists on a dose-response continuum that remains to be elucidated when relative volume is equated). Therefore, why during a hypertrophy block would an athlete be required to train at a high RPE if one of the main goals of that block is hypertrophy?

By utilizing peak velocity, we eliminate the portion of the lift causing problems and impeding results. With peak velocity, athletes are better able to overload the movement and see a better transfer to their sport. In a 2014 study done by Harbili et al.1 examining both the clean and snatch, researchers found the single moment when weightlifters hit peak velocity. The athletes accelerated up to this point and decelerated beyond this point. Since we know when the peak occurs and now have the ability to measure peak velocity when it occurs, it only makes sense to utilize peak velocity as a metric to evaluate the lifts. Other means of measuring velocity may lead to different reported numbers.