Using Velocity to Control Exertion


Percentage Based Training is the most popular training method in order to set the intensity of a workout. It refers to the Repetition Maximum (RM), the number of repetitions one can lift with a certain load. For instance, 10RM means that a certain weight can be lifted 10 times maximum. More frequently we refer to 1RM, the load that the athlete can lift just once. 1RM represents the most used parameter to indicate the absolute strength of an athlete and to prescribe training loads (i.e. 80% 1RM). However, it has been shown that 1RM is effected day to day by what we call “readiness”, the physical and psychological conditions of the athlete.

By this point of view, Velocity represents a valid tool of autoregulation. It is proved that the velocity of the last rep of a set to failure (Minimal Velocity Threshold) is very similar (almost the same) as the velocity of 1RM, due to physiologic phenomena, like the increasing of Lactate levels and Ammonia concentration, consequently to fatigue 1)“Velocity Loss an indicator of neuromuscular fatigue during resistance training” Sanchez-Medina; Gonzalez-Badillo, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercises.. This means that the proximity to failure can be predicted from monitoring the velocity within the set. Assuming maximal effort (voluntary intent to lift), it has been shown that velocities at the same exertion level, are very similar for every intensity.

Monitoring the velocity of the lifts for every relative intensity  (% of 1RM) in a given exercise, a coach has a more accurate indication of the daily readiness of the athlete. This allows the coach  to understand the changes in their Force-Velocity relationship during a training period which is very important depending on the training target.

Having said this, velocity plays a very important role in prescribing and monitoring the exertion. Prescribing a certain level of exertion, which is defined as the internal load experienced by the athlete for a given exercise or a training session, as well as its monitoring, allows coaches to choose the right training doses and optimize the adaptation to training stimulus. It is a very hard job, especially in team sports, where there are different players with different fitness levels.

There are other methods to control exertion. One of the most commonly used is the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a scale of values where every value is matched to a certain number of reps “left in the tank”, or, in other words, the reps that miss to failure or the “predicted” maximal numbers of reps a subject can achieve with a given load. This is a valid method to control exertion but has a negative aspect, different from the Velocity based method, it is a subjective metric. In fact, the rate of exertion is fixed through the perception of the athlete. If you refer to velocity to fix the level of exertion, you don’t need to rate your own perception of the load, it does it for you.

In regards on how to create a link between “reps left in the tank” and velocity, what a coach can do is give his athlete a Mean Velocity Target to reach during the set and a Velocity for the end of the set. Mladen Jovanovic 2) has made a huge contribution in this way by defining a Start Velocity and a Stop Velocity for every level of exertion. If your target is a high level of fatigue you should choose a Stop Velocity very close to MVT (or no Velocity Stop); otherwise you can choose a Stop Velocity above MVT for a lower level of fatigue.

Example of prescription for a STRENGTH SESSION:

Considering that Squat MVT is about 0,30 m/s (some differences could be found depending on individuals), a coach could prescribe to his athletes a 5×5 protocol, fixing velocities in this manner:

– Start Velocity: 0,45 m/s (about 80% 1RM) -> approximately 2 reps away from failure

– Stop Velocity: 0,36 m/s

Absolute Load (weight on the barbell) will depend on the daily readiness of each athlete.

For a more accurate and comprehensive view of all the matches between RPE and Velocities take a look to this table 3)Mladen Jovanovic –

MJ Vstart:Vstop


A general practical rule:

Fix a Start Velocity according with the training target (refer to Velocity Zones reported on Beast App)

Fix a Stop Velocity according with level of fatigue you desire or, more simply, stop when Velocity drops under a certain level (i.e. 20% of drop down)



References   [ + ]

1. “Velocity Loss an indicator of neuromuscular fatigue during resistance training” Sanchez-Medina; Gonzalez-Badillo, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercises.
3. Mladen Jovanovic –
Martina Marson

by Martina Marson

From kick boxing to free style wrestling, through functional and strength training. Beast Sensor addicted. Training is my job, my passion and my life.