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We all know that in today’s world there is an unlimited amount of information available at our fingertips. There is so much information that often coaches can be distracted and lose sight of the end goal! As a coach at any level, it is important to understand what is critical to you, your programme and most importantly your athletes. Most athletes love numbers that relate to them and their performance and the technology evolution has increased our options.
Indeed, technology now allows for the direct measurement of many kinematic (e.g., velocity) and kinetic (e.g., power) variables during certain exercises at the coalface. This data has been available for a long time and previously has been used to effectively test the effects of training through laboratory assessments, however, the most important benefit is likely to be the ability to continuously monitor performance during training.
Velocity-Based Training (VBT) has grown arms and legs in recent times. VBT is great to auto-regulate, create competition, set targets, track progress or set limits/thresholds. Many may argue that some of this complicates the training process, but I disagree. The ability to get continuous real-time feedback on training quality is a game-changer! As S&C coaches, our goal is to help athletes express themselves in competition. To ensure athletes are training at the appropriate intensity and applying the appropriate effort, we need to measure this as often as possible. Training feedback is where it is at!
Some research indicates improvements in strength, acute force production and power (6-12%) when subjects are provided visual feedback (1,2,3). There is limited research describing the effects of feedback over an entire resistance strength training cycles. A long time ago we conducted a study to investigate the value of real-time feedback in a gym setting using well-trained athletes (4). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of instantaneous performance feedback (peak velocity) provided after each repetition of squat jump exercises over a 6-week training block on sport-specific performance tests. Unsurprisingly the results were very positive and reinforced the perceived value of such information.
The use of such monitoring and feedback technologies may be further used through the ability to set training performance targets, such as maximum velocity and number of repetitions or sets completed at a predetermined range (See Table 1). This helps prevent the performance of repetitions that may be contributing to fatigue, without providing a positive training effect!
As a strength and conditioning coach (or athlete), it is important to prescribe (and complete) training in the most effective manner possible. This is not just about how long you are in the gym for or how many sets and reps you do - it is about every repetition being completed at the right speed for the desired adaptation! If you want to improve speed then completing a high volume of “slow” reps is unlikely to help! Get amongst VBT to improve your training quality and in time your performance.
Nic Gill (Gilly) is a professional performance coach and consultant with huge expertise in sporting performance and health. Nic is best known for his work in rugby with 23 years working in the sport. For the last 16 years he’s been the Strength and Conditioning coach for the New Zealand All Blacks (204 Tests), a period of unprecedented success for the team which has included more than 170 rugby test wins and the World Cup title in 2011 and 2015. As an Associate Professor in Human Performance at the University of Waikato, Nic is constantly refining and evolving his philosophy for being fit and healthy and having the 'winning edge' in life and in competition.