There are so many great things you can do with velocity based training in the gym to enhance performance. There are also some things you probably don't need to be doing. You don't have to get fancy and it doesn't have to be complicated.
So here are three of the most common mistakes or missteps that I see coaches make when they're just starting out with velocity based training.
If you're using some of the methods or concepts that I'm about to talk about in this video as mistakes and you're getting great results and your athletes are bought in, fantastic, don't let me stop you or tell you how to do your training. This video is more for those people who might have tried some of these advanced methods or these ideas and didn't get great results.
If you're that person or you're just starting out the velocity based training, hopefully this can provide a clear, clean path for you to move forwards.
So this might sound a bit counterintuitive, but the problem is really in the name, I mean, sure, you can train at high velocities using velocity based training, but it's not really its best way to be used.
We need to take a step back and consider what we're trying to achieve in the gym with strength training within the context of the entire force velocity curve.
As a quick refresher, we need to remember that the force velocity curve is a theoretical kind of idea that covers all athletic movements from your maximum force movements to maximum velocity movements.
Don't confuse that with different load velocity profiles that you might have for given exercise and the loads and velocity you can achieve within that movement.
Let's take the front squat as an example. It's great for strength, maybe it's a power exercise, but it's definitely not a high velocity, speed based movement.
Earlier today, I did a load velocity profile of my front squat across a range of weights, starting with an empty bar, I reached about 1.02 meters per second. For my tops at 80 kilos, the best I could get was 0.47 meters per second.
The front squat has such a constrained range of motion that there's also a small range of velocities that you can achieve, even on a light weight to a heavy weight.
When you take that movement within the context of the entire force velocity curve, it probably fits in that top one third of the curve. All these velocities need to be considered within the context of the eight, nine or even 10 meters per second athletes regularly reach at top speed sprinting or even the four minutes per second that someone could throw a wall ball.
The idea that we should be using weight training to specifically target speed is not a great use of our training time and not a great long term strategy. So velocity based training isn't actually based on training at high velocities. A better name, might actually be velocity tracking.
What we're doing is we're collecting data and we're using it, creating real time feedback, monitoring our changes over time within the context of an athlete's recent history.
So instead of trying to train at high velocity with your VBT in the gym, just train like you normally would, and use that velocity to create context to make better training decisions.
One of the most common things people will see or start studying when they look into velocity based training for the first time is a chart that looks something like this, with a continuum of five strength qualities corresponding to different velocity zones.
The idea being that if you lifted those velocity zones, you create those specific adaptations within those certain strength qualities. The problem is, I think this chart and the whole idea of training such a specialized way is such a complex and sophisticated programing and training application that's pretty much useless for the majority of people training in the gym.
This version of the velocity zones were developed by Dr. Brian Mann. He based them on two movements, the conventional straight bar deadlift and a powerlifting regulation depth squat. These movements are incredibly popular, but they aren't the only exercises we do in the gym. And so while the speed zones work well for these exercises, they don't necessarily transfer to other movements or modifications.
Here's a low velocity profile of four different exercises I did recently. You can say that these four movements at 80 per cent fall in really different categories, meaning 80 percent and the speed zones don't necessarily match up for these different movements.
The same issue occurs when we modify exercises. Here are two reps of a front squat, both with 60 kilos, but done two different depths one slightly below and one slightly above parallel.
Notice the different velocities between these movements, and then think about how that would be completely changing the impact of these speed zones on those two movements, just based on a slight change in the depth.
Now, in saying, well, that I don't think the speed zone concept or a speed zone concept is a complete waste of time. You just need to understand that this version isn't as universal as it sometimes passed off as.
Instead, here's a simpler alternative approach to speed zones that might be of more help. So for this version, instead of five, we have three zones strength, heavy powel, power plus and light power.
For intermediate athletes to stimulate your strength adaptation, you need to be lifting above 80 percent of your 1RM. So that's where the strength zone starts, roughly around 80 percent of your 1RM or around a six or five RM weight.
Heavy power goes from that 80 percent of one arm point down to the top of your peak power curve. So whatever white allows you lift at peak power that is now your heavy powers are think loaded jump's power cleans bench throws, things like that.
Light power or sub power is any training that uses a load that's below the load that allows peak power down into the ballistic range.
That's important to note that not all exercises are suited for this ballistic range. Think a lot of Olympic lifts, particularly snatches trap jumps with the light load plyometrics, wall balls or bodyweight ballistic movements. These are all going to be better for that sort of sub maximal, high dynamic explosive range of motion.
I think the overuse or the misinterpretation of these speed zones is actually a bit of a product of this third and this final sort of mistake we see with early implementation of velocity based training.
Velocity based training training isn't some magical universal program that can use any training. It's a really handy tool to help you get more out of your training. Like all tools, you need to know when and how to use velocity in your training. It can be capable of motivating or exhausting coaches and athletes alike.
So to wrap things up, here's three tips to integrate velocity into your training in the least stressful way. If you're just getting started or if you've tried in the past and it didn't work for you.
Number one, Just track things that matter.
No one really cares how fast your bicep curls are. Make it the key movements that really matter, that are going to shift the needle in your training, maybe two to five exercises in a training block. If you're a powerlifter, the squat, the bench and the dead, just the competition standard lift is going to be all you need to track.
Number two, if you're time or resource poor, don't worry about doing individualized speed zones and profiling or using the fixed velocity zones, I think they're also a misdirection.
Instead, focus on contextual velocity. Every athlete has a velocity history and a velocity profile. Use that data to motivate and set goals. I particularly like the 30 day average of your velocity on a given exercise and weight combination so you can use that to motivate. Last week, you scored 60 kilos at point nine meters per second. This week, can you do point nine to. That's all we want to do each session. Do a little better than the last time or that thirty day average.
And lastly, you don't have to go and get your doctorate in velocity based training to still get great results in your program. If you currently love working with RPE or percentage based programing systems, that's fine. Just incorporate elements of velocity tracking into the existing system to see if you can get a little boost.
Maybe you just use that contextual piece from before, or maybe you just use velocity to monitor percentage drop off in your sets. To control fatigue, that's fine. That's a great use of velocity to enhance your training process.
So to wrap this all up, the key message is this velocity based training can be overwhelming. I get it. So do less. Keep it simple and I'll see you in the next video.