: root { font-size: calc(1rm + 0.25vw); }

What is velocity based training?

Strength training is a numbers game. ⁠

  • How much weight is on the bar⁠
  • How many reps & sets you do⁠
  • How long are you resting for⁠

All these numbers are crucial parts of great programs, but they only tell us one thing:


Reps, Sets and load really only quantify the training we have done. Load says a bit about intensity, but none of these metrics say anything about the quality of the training session.⁠

This is where velocity comes in. ⁠

Velocity is a unifying metric. Adding objective data about the quality of your training.
Velocity is a metric that tells us about the quality of our training, adding an objective value on the quality of every rep.

Yes you lifted 100kg for five reps, but how well did you lift it? was it faster than last week? was it with a consistent range of motion? did you fatigue across the set or maintain your output?

Velocity based training can answer all these questions and more.

There is no cheating your velocity, no hiding from poor velocity outputs on a bad day. Velocity tracking rewards intent, punishes poor technique and channels motivation into increasing output on every single set, not just how much weight in on the bar for your top sets.⁠

Low velocity indicates low readiness

Because speed and power are more sensitive to fatigue and low readiness than strength, movement velocity serves as a great objective gauge of tiredness and readiness to train. ⁠

⁠Drops in velocity (compared to an athletes own rolling average) can be early warning signs that you aren't fully recovered or ready to train hard again.⁠ With this information you can now make more refined programming and coaching decisions every day within the context of the broader training block.

Maybe an athlete typically lifts 120kg on the bench press for around 0.4m/s, but today is only hitting 0.33m/s, a 17.5% drop in velocity. This loss in power could be due to a whole host of reasons; Is this athlete fatigued, feeling flat, under recovered, not resting enough between sets, or just not motivated to give their best effort on that set?

VBT might not tell you exactly what is going wrong but it can open up that conversation and provide the context. This is the autoregulation potential of VBT.

This is a good session, average velocity up compared to last session on all but one set. Green lights.

VBT is like GPS for lifting weights

In field sports, like football, modern athletes and coaches rely heavily on GPS data to drive training and match play decisions.

GPS enables coaches to collect objective data in real-time during training or competition

As GPS technology has become more accessible it revolutionised how coaches and athletes go about their load management and training presciption. GPS gives coaches untold abilities to monitor running volume, manipulate training drills to elicit specific demands on their athletes, and to prescribe highly targeted and individualised high intensity sprint efforts to help athletes perform at their best.

The fundamental rules of training for field and endurance training didn't get thrown out the window as coaches became GPSBT (GPS based training) exclusive coaches, GPS simply enabled greater precision in how the existing best-practices were delivered.

It is exactly the same with velocity tracking. All too often VBT is described as a school of thought or a training methodology, a camp that coaches were either in or not in. It was made to seem mystical in its abilities, making all existing strength training methodologies redundant and archaic.

And like GPS, VBT is a tool not a philosophy

Velocity tracking technology has the potential to revolutionise how we program strength and power training in the same way GPS has for running and conditioning. Velocity based training methods can accelerate gains made in the gym, reduce the risk of over and under training, accelerate motor learning and rehabilitation processes, and overall improve both the creation and execution of strength and power training plans in the gym.

Misconceptions about Velocity Based Training

This idea that VBT as a philosophy is not the only misconception about using velocity in the gym. Below are three of the most common misconceptions spread when it comes to using velocity in the gym.

VBT is not exclusively about training fast.⁠

While you certainly can use VBT technology to encourage your athletes to lift at high velocities as a method to chase power adaptations, this is only one way to use velocity data in your training.

Velocity is an objective indicator of how well you are lifting, your freshness and intent across every set. It is a way to measure the quality of your training in real time, relative to benchmarks or your own contextual lifting data. So no matter your training goal, contextual velocity data will help you reach that goal, whether it be strength, power, hypertrophy or even rehabilitation.

VBT can be used to drive intelligent strength training decisions. An athlete may be preparing for a powerlifting competition, and can use their assess the effectiveness of their training program, aiming each week to either lift the same weight faster, or lift a heavier load at the same velocity as last week. Good research shows that a 0.05m/s increase in velocity is correlated to a 5% increase in 1RM. REF

VBT does not replace a human coach

A great conscious coach is still the key ingredient to sustained excellent results in training.⁠

Well planned and applied technology (like a VBT system) can be one of the most reliable and affordable assistant coaches you can get, driving buy-in, providing context and fostering athlete autonomy and education. ⁠⠀

⁠But it can also be the worst of distractions, creating a literal and figurative barrier between a coach and the athlete as we press and swipe away, just trying to get the device to connect to bluetooth...⁠⠀

video analysis is a great tool to help coaches and athletes, but don't let the technology get in the way of the training process.

A great coach can get so much more out of an athlete than any novel piece of technology could.

There really is no universal "VBT program"

VBT is not a single universal system for training, VBT opens up a world of precision data points to inform programming and periodisation decisions, autoregulating training in real time. ⁠⁠

Just like we use certain pieces of equipment or coaching cues to adjust the outcomes of an exercise, velocity (and many other) metrics can be crucial pieces of information to quantify and then adjust training.⁠⠀

It's another high-leverage tool in the toolbox. Helping optimise the training session, and get the most adaptation possible.⁠

Are you a velocity based training beginner?

Still not sure how to get started? I suggest you start here for the single best way to apply VBT.

It's super easy, takes no extra time in your workouts, and you can do it for free with the Metric VBT app

Return to the blog home

References and resources

Get free VBT training resources

I'll send you a bunch of great free VBT resources. Fundamentals of VBT e-book, velocity based training programs, VBT spreadsheets, coach resources and more when you sign up for the VBT coach newsletter.

You're in!
Check your inbox (and spam folder) for your first email.
I only email when I have something worth sharing, expect an email every few weeks
Something went wrong, check the fields and try again