If we want to understand VBT and its application to sports we must first introduce the concept of what VBT or Velocity Based Training is and how to apply it to your training cycles. Most literally, VBT is training where you are focused on the speed of the lift rather than the percentage of 1RM or the load. Bar speed is the key component in Velocity Based Training and speed is at its core. The theory is that speed increases power, and power increases explosion and gains. Depending on the training zone i.e. Max Strength, Power, Speed-Strength, etc. will depend on the speed needed for those zones. For example, it has been theorized that while moving in a range of 0.8-1 m/s in a squat or bench-press rep, you’re working to train strength-speed; it means that you can train with this purpose till you perform over the minimum value of the range of velocity.
When you think of all the sports in today’s society, what one thing is consistent that is needed? SPEED! Speed is a crucial element in all sports; for example in baseball, you need speed to run 90 feet between the bases, but you also need bat speed to make contact with the ball. In golf you focus on your swing, its smoothness and speed to propel the ball. Tennis, football, basketball, in all sports, speed is vital! We know that speed is explosive and needed, and in training, speed is also important. Speed, in training with weights, refers to speed of the bar. We can use VBT and the speed of the lift over time to manage our training to become more explosive as well as train optimally. In traditional training methods, the program is based on the overall load and is programmed on an continually progression of weights and is not as flexible to change or adjust. Whereas using speed of the lift you can continue to progress based on the speed and use it to make sure you always hit your training zones and continue to progress with flexibility. VBT or Speed of the lift is prevalent in all sports and its applications to training are everywhere. Most traditional training methods use VBT principals in bar speed throughout different cycles and progressions. When training with VBT, you can increase power, speed, and strength through training with focus on applying that training in sport. When you are focused on “Moving with Intent” in the weight room, it carries over to the playing field. It is important to make your training in the weight room carry over to on the field application, and this is where VBT really stands out!
In the following picture, we can see the “velocity zones” and the relative training goal that you can achieve, related to the percentage of 1RM (maximal weight that you can lift):
Therefore, we can easily understand that, thanks to those measurable and scientific indexes, we can auto-regulate every training session to optimally train in the 100% of our capabilities, therefore never wasting a training day.
Why is it important to focus on auto regulation?
Every athlete is different, not only basing this aspect on the performances, but also focusing on everything that can affect the yield in the gym. An athlete can be stressed, tired or at least “over-performing” and basing his/her training session on the velocity can make him/her workout at their best with the correct loads.
For example, if today I was training accelerative strength, at 80% of my 1RM on Squats and moving the bar at .70 m/s, then I would be training optimally that day and maybe even add 5 pounds and stay in that zone. Then next week on my Squat day, I put on 82% working again accelerative strength, but the day before played in a pick up basketball game, or maybe I was out with friends a little too late, and I am not moving the bar fast enough. If the bar moves .4 m/s then I am not training optimally and should decrease my load until I can move the bar in the .5- .75 m/s range.
Every day our body has different stress put on it, from sleep or lack of, to projects, to other physical activity that can affect us in the gym, using the training goal and speed range we can make sure to find a weight that will allow us to be fast and powerful in each training day. Maybe one week you’re moving the bar in the zone at 180 lbs, but the next session you need to drop to 160 lbs for the same training goals. It happens, but by using the speed instead of just shutting down or overworking our bodies and putting our body at risk for overtraining we use auto-regulation to find the right training zone and put in work.
We said that VBT’s approach could be applied to every single type of exercise; however, the real value of this method is its applicability of a wide range of exercises with different goals, without changing the evaluation criterion.
This concept is critical in every training session that combines several and different exercises in a “no-recovery time” mode: circuit training.
VBT allows for the ability to create workouts, track all movements, and have the ability to analyze all parts of your workout. Using Velocity Based Training methods can be implemented into athlete performance enhancement, progression and overload training, or incorporated in to High Intensity, Circuit, or CrossFit training.