The best VBT devices and bar speed tracker apps - VBT systems and equipment 2024

Yuri Verkoshansky and the Soviets likely have the earliest claim to having invented something akin to velocity based training in the 1950s.

Today’s contemporary interpretation of velocity tracking in the weight room really started in the 1990s, thanks to the invention of technologies such as the Tendo Unit and the pioneering work of Dr Bryan Mann in the USA, and Dr Dan Baker in Australia.

In recent years velocity based training (VBT) has exploded in popularity and is no longer the exclusive realm of professional sports teams and national sporting academies. VBT is now easy to implement, accessible and most important –affordable.

With a mountain of evidence that supports VBT as an incredibly effective method for training, and the availability of dozens of products across a range of categories, there has never been a better time to start tracking velocity in your training.

Whether you are a coach working with large groups, a PT with a handful of clients, or a powerlifter looking for a competitive edge, accurately monitoring and optimising training thanks to velocity feedback in your programming is fast becoming the standard at every level.

But what device or app should you be using to track your velocity? This article has you covered, with a detailed list of the most popular available products, validation papers, and links to get them.

To be fully transparent, I am a cofounder of the VBT company Metric VBT. I work full time for Metric working in front end development, design, sports science and marketing. Metric was born out of frustrations I had with existing VBT options, so I designed many of the features in the Metric app based on what I would want to use as a lifter and as a coach. I am proud of the app we have built in Metric, but I am also aware that Metric is not yet perfect and probably isn't the best solution for every context (yet!).

You can learn more about Metric and why we built it here, but because of my obvious bias I will not be giving any subjective opinions on which VBT device or app I think is best; instead, I will list the products, a bit of background, any validation results and links for each product where I could find them and any other publicly available information that might be relevant.

This blog post should serve as an up-to-date guide to the velocity based training technology landscape. I will be updating it regularly as required.

What’s the best velocity based training device?

There is no one best VBT device or app.

It all depends on your environment, training style, use case, budget, and ultimately a little bit of personal preference. The best technology in one setting might be the absolute worst for another.

If you are looking for an app specifically, I recommend giving a few a test run trying them out in your training to see which you like most. Many offer free trials, or monthly subscriptions so the barrier to testing and trying them out is very low.

When it comes to hardware, hopefully the information below is of some assistance, but you will also find reviews, feature lists and more on each companies respective websites. You might even have a friend who has a unit you can test out before committing to the purchase!

Velocity based training devices and apps are continually evolving, so if I have missed a product that you think warrants a mention in this article (I will be updating it regularly), be sure to send me an email directly: jacob@metric.coach.

All prices listed are in USD, and correct at the time of the last update (March 2024). Where possible I tried to scale pricing to an equivalent monthly or annual value for easier comparison.

How do you measure bar velocity?

To measure barbell velocity you need a specialised hardware device or smartphone application designed to track gym movements with precision.

Most commonly you will see technology like computer-vision enabled smartphone apps (like Metric or MyJump), depth-sensing camera systems (like Perch and EliteForm), and string based devices (like GymAware and Vitruve).

Each technology and supplier has their own unique method for tracking bar speed, determining repetition start and end points and even how they calculate certain metrics.

For simplicity, I have created four groups to categorise the available velocity based training technology.

  • Smartphone velocity tracking apps
  • Linear positional devices (string based)
  • Accelerometers and IMUs
  • Depth-sensing camera systems

Let’s go through each category

Phone based velocity tracking apps

This is the most diverse category, with dozens of apps available on both iOS and Android systems for tracking bar speed.

There is a lower barrier-of-entry developing a software product than a hardware product, so it is not surprising there are many options in this category!

Apple and Google include basic computer vision algorithms in their development frameworks, which makes it possible for even casual developers to build a handy rep tracking app on smartphones.

On the flip-side, at Metric we went fully custom and created a bespoke computer vision solution instead of using the Apple and Google frameworks to achieve the level of precision we believe is needed for useful velocity data.

So in the smartphone space there is a big mix of products which vary greatly in precision, and many options are not yet be scientifically validated. Additionally the features offered vary considerably based on maturity of the product and app specialisation.

Barbell velocity tracking apps, are by far the cheapest option for tracking velocity in the gym. Most apps are free to download, some are even completely free to use, while others require subscriptions ranging from $2-$20 a month for advanced features or at the end of a trial period — typical subscription app type offerings.

Linear positional transducers (LPT)

Also known as stringed or tethered bar speed trackers, LPTs are probably the most widely used device in velocity based training. Essentially, they are a box that sits on the floor below the barbell with a retractable tether which attaches to the barbell.

Some LPT products have in-built X-axis or 3D correction to account for curved bar paths or variable device placement, while others do not. This correction factor may impact reliability when device position changes relative to the barbell between training sessions.

Ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollar, LPTs have been commercially available the longest, with the Tendo Sports device being on the market since the 1990s. LPTs are largely reliable and well validated.

Accelerometers and IMUs

Accelerometers are typically a small wearable unit that can be attached to the body, barbell or wrist during training.

They use a range of gyroscope and accelerometer sensors (IMU - stands for inertial measurement unit) to measure the angle and acceleration of the device, from which they infer velocity and range of motion data during exercises.

IMUs can cost in the low to moderate hundreds of dollars per unit. Findings on the validity and reliability of IMU devices is mixed, with many studies showing them to be both less reliable and less valid than LPTs and motion capture systems.

Rack mounted depth sensing camera systems

Functioning by a similar principle to the Xbox Kinect unit (am I showing my age?), these boxes mount to a squat rack and measure the distance to the barbell or athlete, tracking velocity and range of motion during reps and feeding data back to a dedicated rack-mounted tablet.

Units can cost up to several thousand dollars each, plus annual software subscriptions, making them one of the most expensive options for velocity based training technology.

Systems in this category are growing in popularity at the college level as they reduce clutter on the gym floor (compared to LPTs) and can be rolled out at scale even with large cohorts of athletes. Rack mounted systems are well validated, showing better precision than IMUs and in some cases being comparable to LPT devices.

Barbell velocity tracking apps

Let’s start with smartphone velocity tracking apps. With dozens available, I picked a shortlist based on popularity, how long they have existed, and how frequently they are receiving updates in the App Store or Play Store. You will find an extended list of other apps below.

All apps in this section (with the exception of TrueRep, which requires a tracking puck) can be downloaded and used in your workout immediately, with either a free account, trial or low-cost subscription.

A note on validation and features: Smartphone apps move fast and are constantly being improved, as a result validation papers often lag behind the actual features and performance of the app in production. Also, high precision computer vision, camera resolution and smartphone processing speed has only reached a level that allows many of these apps to function as they do in the past ~5 years (since roughly the launch of the iPhone 11 and iOS 15 as a basic guide), making this category a rapidly evolving space.

Some of these apps I have not personally used so my knowledge on features may be missing or misattributed - if you produce one of these products, please get in touch so I can update the details so this guide stays accurate!

Eliteform Tracker

Eliteform Tracker is a barbell velocity tracking app from the same team that created the first rack mounted system - the Eliteform Powertracker. The app is capable of recording velocity on 11 different common barbell lifts at 30fps (frames per second) using the front facing camera. The app provides four training metrics and with a subscription enables access to a lifters full training history. No video playback is provided by the app.

Website: www.eliteform.com ↗︎

Download: Eliteform Tracker (iOS only) ↗︎

Price: Free version available with basic features, $119.99 on an annual plan for advanced features. Coach plans also available.

Equipment: iPhone X or newer. Tripod or stable object to position your phone for recording.

Validation: None found at time of writing.

Metric VBT

Metric VBT is a barbell velocity tracking app that uses a custom built and patented computer vision system to accurately track a range of barbell and trapbar exercises at 60fps with HD video from a range of phone positions. The app provides velocity, range of motion, tempo and power data, bar path directly embedded into video playback, real-time audible velocity and fatigue feedback, detailed analysis and progress tracking, estimated 1RM, load velocity profiling, video storage/sharing, and a full workout builder to log your training with a Pro or Teams subscription. Metric tracks velocity on over 60 barbell lifts and variations along with the ability to create your own custom lifts.

Website: www.metric.coach ↗︎

Download: Metric VBT (iOS only) ↗︎

Price: Metric VBT is free to use with unlimited sets with a basic account, Advanced features are available for $99.99 on an annual plan with a Pro membership. Coach plans also available with Metric for Teams.

Equipment: iPhone X or newer, running iOS 16.4 and newer. Tripod or stable object to position your phone for recording. Also supports newer iPad models.

Validation: Some. Current published papers were completed with earlier versions, more validations in progress as of March 2024.

My Jump Lab

Developed by Dr. Carlos Balsalobre from Spain, My Jump Lab is a comprehensive jump, bar speed and physical performance testing app. The app uses your smartphone's camera to measure jump height, barbell velocity, range of motion and much more providing instant feedback and analysis on a number of gym based movements and activities. My jump also allows for video playback and review.

*The VBT features in My Jump Lab has also been known previously as MyLift and PowerLift

**Previous versions of the PowerLift app required manual selection of the start & stop frames after recording along with manual entry of the range of motion in order to get velocity data - the newest version of My Jump Lab now offers more automatic VBT tracking.

Website: www.carlos-balsalobre.com ↗︎

Download: My Jump Lab on Android ↗︎ or on iOS ↗︎

Price: $48.99 on an annual plan after a trial period.

Equipment: Smartphone with a camera, tripod or stable object for phone placement

Validation: Well validated and researched. It is worth nothing that many validations of the app are authored by the My Jump Lab owner and creator Carlos Balsalobre a sports scientist and researcher. These have been peer reviewed.

Spleeft

An app for both iOS and Android, Spleeft does not use the onboard camera but instead transforms your smartphone (or Apple Watch) into a velocity tracking IMU. Attach your device to the barbell or athlete and through the onboard accelerometers and gyroscope, you can now track velocity and range of motion with your device. Spleeft also allows for storage of data for progress tracking and profiling.

Website: www.spleeft.app ↗︎

Download: Spleeft on Android ↗︎ or on iOS ↗︎

Price: $38/year for Pro plan on iOS, $4.99 upfront app cost for Android app. Apple Watch extension and specific features extra.

Equipment: Smartphone with a camera, tripod or stable object for phone placement - Apple Watch optional

Validation: Externally validated and found to be reliable vs Motion capture.

TrueRep VBT

TrueRep VBT sits between the app and device category. The core technology utilises computer vision on the iPhone along with a green magnetic puck attached to the moving implement to measure bar speed. The app provides real-time audible velocity feedback, bar path, video recording, and allows users to set velocity-based training targets. The magnetic puck allows for velocity recording on a wide range of exercises, including non-barbell lifts.

Website: www.truerep.app ↗︎

Download: TrueRep VBT (iOS) ↗︎ *Requires a green puck to be shipped before use.

Price: $14.99 per month ($179.99 per year). This includes shipping of a green tracking puck at sign up. Coach plans also available.

Equipment: iPhone, green magnetic puck to attach to the moving implement, tripod or stable object for phone placement.

Validation: None found at time of writing.

WL Analysis

WL Analysis is a focused app designed specifically for Olympic weightlifting with a focus on video review and bar path analysis. The app uses your smartphone's camera to measure bar velocity during snatch and clean and jerk exercises, providing real-time feedback and post-set analysis.

Website: www.wlanalysis.com ↗︎

Download: WL Analysis Android ↗︎ or on iOS ↗︎

Price: Free version available with basic features and limited sets, $14.99 one-time payment for ongoing use and more video storage in app.

Equipment: Smartphone, tripod or stable object for phone placement.

Validation: None found at time of writing.

Other bar speed tracking apps

There are many other velocity based training apps on both iOS and Android, a quick search for “Velocity based training”, “Barbell tracking”, “Bar speed” and “Bar path” provided me with the following short list.

BarSense, DeepBarbell, Iron Path, Keelo Lift, QwikVBT, RepSpeed, Spleeft, VBTFit just to name a few.

Velocity based training devices

This section contains velocity tracking products that require the purchase or lease of a physical hardware device, which then transmits data back to a smart device via Bluetooth. I have broken the device options into three categories; stringed devices (LPTs), IMU wearable units, and rack mounted depth sensing camera systems.

All prices I was able to find are in USD and accurate as of March 2024.

This article is a great resource linking to a meta-analysis of the state of VBT device validation and reliability.

First lets look at Linear Positional Transducers.

Flex Stronger

From the same company that produces the Gymaware, Flex Stronger is a linear positional device with a twist. Instead of a physical string attached to the barbell, flex attaches magnetically to the cuff of the barbell and using an array of optical lasers measures the distance to a reflective mat placed on the ground. The device provides a number of metrics, real-time velocity feedback, bar path, detailed analysis and allows the recording of video along side velocity data.

Website: www.flexstronger.com ↗︎

Price: $495 per unit, Flex Stronger personal app account is free to use.

Equipment: Flex unit, reflective mat to position under the unit (included), smart device running the Flex app.

Validation: Flex is newer on the market and has shown mixed results in it’s validation to date.

Gymaware

Gymaware is a linear positional device from Kinetic Performance a company based in Canberra, Australia. One of the most widely used devices on the market, Gymaware units are known for their durability, reliability and precision thanks to its X-axis correction system and high quality hardware. Having been available for over two decades the Gymaware has more validation than just about any other solution.

The device connects via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android device and provides rich velocity based training features both in-app and on the web-dashboard (subscription required for dashboard access, athlete accounts and data storage).

Website: www.gymaware.com ↗︎

Price: $1,500 per unit. Software/cloud subscription ranges from $300-600 per year

Equipment: Gymaware unit, weight plate to keep unit in position, smart device running Gymaware app. Cloud dashboard is accessed on laptop from a web browser.

Validation: Lots, and almost universally very strong. While 3D motion capture is the actual “Gold Standard” and true measure of validity for tracking movement speed, Gymaware is one of the leading products for precision of velocity data accuracy when recording velocity outside the lab environment.

RepOne Strength

RepOne is a linear positional transducer out of the United States. It offers 3D motion correction to account for device position and bar path and provides detailed training metrics.

RepOne started as an open source project called Open Barbell, providing the files and instructions to 3D print and build your own device (something I tried and almost succeeded in doing!). RepOne recently added a connected devices feature adding FlyWheel training measurement to its offering.

Website: www.reponestrength.com ↗

Price: $399, individual app is free, coach software subscription available

Equipment: RepOne unit, weight plate to keep unit in position, smart device running the RepOne app

Validation: Some validation completed, good results.

Tendo

Tendo has been around since 1993. The first of it’s kind Tendo is the Kleenex of velocity based training, a universal term for all bar speed tracking technology. The device provides real-time velocity feedback through a physical readout unit that attaches to the stringed unit. Tendo now produces a second cheaper product called MyUnit which transmits data to a smartphone app instead of the physical readout.

Website: www.tendosport.com ↗︎

Price: $1,329 for the Tendo Unit, $997 for Tendo MyUnit

Equipment: Tendo unit with readout monitor. Smart device for data readout if using a MyUnit. Bluetooth and data cable connectors and extensions sold as optional extras.

Validation: Well validated and consistently found to be accurate.

Vitruve

Vitruve (formerly Speed4Lifts is a linear positional device out of Spain. The device and app provides detailed feedback on a number of metrics (including mean propulsive velocity), estimated 1RM scores, progress tracking, real time feedback.

Vitruve units do not have X-axis correction, meaning device positioning and bar path may impact data consistency. Vitruve also enables video recording alongside data collection but does not have a bar path feature.

Website: www.vitruve.fit ↗︎

Price: $447 for a Vitruve unit, individual app is free, coaches software subscription available.

Equipment: Vitruve unit, weight plate to keep unit in position, smart device running the Vitruve app

Validation: Well validated and researched. I could not find evidence for or against device placement effecting reliability (The negative effects of not having X axis correction are unproven)

Other LPT devices

The list above is not exhaustive, there are many more LPT devices on the market. ADR encoder, Barbell mate, Chronojump, Ergonauta, T-Force to name a few.

The next category is accelerometer & IMU units.

Beast Sensor (No longer available)

Beast was a wearable accelerometer device out of Italy that measured barbell velocity with a small magnetic IMU unit. The Beast sensor struggled with poor validation findings and while their website is still up, the Android app was last updated in 2018, the iOS app seems to be no longer available, and all products are listed as sold out. It is my assumption that the product and company is no longer in operation.

Website: www.thisisbeast.com ↗︎

Price: N/A

Equipment: N/A

Validation: Performed poorly in a number of reliability and validatino studies.

Enode Pro

Enode Pro, formerly VMaxPro, is an accelerometer unit out of Germany that attaches to the barbell and measures velocity and power output. The device provides real-time feedback, detailed performance data, video recording and bar path analysis in a phone-friendly app. Enode units also have Flywheel training functionality allowing the unit to be attached to a flywheel to measure rotation rates. Enode sell a version of their product that fits inside an Elieko Barbell and have recently announced Enode One, an Apple Watch based accelerometer product.

Website: www.enode.ai ↗︎

Price: $329, individual app is free, teams software subscription available with multiple tiers

Equipment: Enode unit, smart device to connect

Validation: Like all IMUs Enode has mixed findings and is not as strong as LPTs, however, most validation studies find it superior to Push and conclude it to be valid and useful.

MoveFactorX

MoveFactorX, formerly the Bar Sensei & assess 2 perform (A2P), is a wearable accelerometer device out of the United States that measures velocity, acceleration, power and more for barbell and bodyweight movements. The device provides real-time feedback, detailed analysis and more via it’s free iOS app.

The company behind MoveFactorX also produces an accelerometer enabled medicine ball called the Ballistic Ball.

Website: www.movefactorx.com ↗︎

Price: $395 for an IMU unit, $545 for the Ballistic Ball, software is free (iOS only)

Equipment: MoveFactorX unit or Ballistic Ball, smart device to connect

Validation: Poor validation shown during the bar Sensei days, was not able to find validation of the device since rebranding as MoveFactorX

Output

Output is a small accelerometer unit that offer multi-purpose testing and measurement out of Ireland. The device offers a range of tests and metrics including VBT, DSI, sprint testing, and a number of other strength and power tests outside and inside the gym.

Price: Not listed on the website, it is my understanding that devices are not purchased but leased on a monthly or annual subscription that includes software. Teams and individual accounts available

Equipment: Output unit, smart device to connect

Website: www.outputsports.com ↗︎

Validation: Lots of validation in general tests, less available in the VBT space with mixed findings. The links below are VBT specific.

Push Band (No longer available)

For a long time, the Push Band from a Canadian sports tech company was the dominant option for VBT accelerometers. A compact unit with options to attach to the barbell or body, Push was used at all levels and very popular in High School S&C & CrossFit training.

In September 2021, Push was acquired by Whoop with the plan to integrate their technology into the Whoop 4.0 band (as of writing Whoop does not offer velocity tracking in it’s workout builder). The Push portal is still online for existing customers, but Push Bands are no longer available for purchase.

Website: Announcement of the acquisition ↗︎

Price: N/A

Equipment: N/A

Validation: Historically poor validity and reliability results.

Finally, let’s look into rack mounted camera systems. There are two products I know of in this space, that dominate the College space.

Eliteform

First patented in 2012, Eliteform was the first rack-mounted depth sensing camera system that measures barbell velocity and power output using an external camera system.

Eliteform software provides athlete profiles, workout logging, velocity target setting, real-time feedback and much more.

Website: www.eliteform.com ↗︎

Price: Not listed on the website, setup, hardware, and software subscription costs.

Equipment: Eliteform camera system and rack mounting hardware, dedicated tablets to connect and display data

Validation: Mixed. Mostly strong validation, however on some explosive lifts it struggled.

Perch

Perch is a rack-mounted depth sensing camera system that measures barbell velocity and power output. The system provides real-time feedback and allows users to set velocity-based training targets, estimate 1RM, track bodyweight movements such as jumps and more. Perch also comes with an advanced set of coach and team features with their integrated software solution.

Website: www.perch.fit ↗︎

Price: $1,995 for 1x unit. Battery, rack mount, tablet brackets sold separately. Software starts at $3,000 per year for a Standard tier. Options for hardware subscriptions also available.

Equipment: Perch camera system, rack mounting hardware, tablet to run software.

Validation: I was only able to find one paper validating Perch externally

Finding the right VBT device for you

Thanks to the growing popularity of velocity based training, there are now more options than ever for tracking barbell velocity and power output in your training.

Based on requirements and budget coaches and athletes can now choose between dozens of velocity tracking products and find one that suits their needs. From affordable app-based solutions to fully integrated rack-mounted camera systems for big weight rooms there is an app or product to help you track velocity and dominate your training in gym.

By leveraging VBT more athletes than ever can optimise performance and reach their goals with the benefit of rich data insights.

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References and resources

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