Velocity-Based Training Applications 

Explore VBT applications in strength and conditioning. Learn how VBT feedback enhances motivation, fosters competition, and improves performance.
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S&C coaches have several responsibilities to attend to on a regular basis. We can swap out these general S&C applications with VBT specific ones, which then gives us our template for how we might utilise VBT in an applied setting:

Figure 1: A schematic depicting the main VBT applications

So, let’s start with our “plug-and-play” options. These are applications that allow us to simply pick up a VBT device, set it up and start implementing one of the above applications without the need to do any prior testing, analysis, or evaluation. These are your “bang for your buck” methods, the biggest return for the smallest investment.

The power of feedback:

  • Drive intent & motivation
  • Create competition
  • Educate athletes
  • Improve performance

Providing live feedback to an athlete within a weight room can be an incredibly powerful tool. It can help drive intent and motivate the individual, gamify training and facilitate some really healthy competition, educate athletes on technique, output, and progression, and act as a simple method for improving performance.

Adaptation comes with intent and intensity of effort. Maximising mechanical output (e.g., velocity, acceleration, or impulse) is an integral part of improving performance and driving adaptations. But understanding and quantifying that effort can be difficult, particularly with lower training ages. This is where feedback comes in. By giving athletes live, velocity-based feedback on how quickly they are moving a barbell can help to maximise output and intent of effort. Similarly, it can be used to make athletes accountable, ensure they maximise their effort on a given day, and are not simply “going through the motions”, particularly if they are outside of maximal strength phase. This idea is true on an acute scale (within a set, for example – figure 2), and on a more chronic scale (across the course of a training block, for example – figure 3).

Figure 2: Graph showing how output can be maximised and maintained across multiple repetitions by utilising feedback. Data taken from Weakley et al. (2019).
Figure 3: Graph showing how output can be maximised and maintained across a full training block by utilising feedback. Data taken from Nakata et al. (2020).

Creating Competition 

Using velocity feedback to create competition (with oneself or training mates) is a really effective method for maximising the intent talked about in the previous sub-section. Approaches such as leaderboards, gamification, and velocity competitions can help to create an enjoyable training environment for athletes, as well as increase buy-in to the programme and push progression forwards.

Educate Athletes

Athletes are typically very inquisitive. They want to know why they are doing certain things, and how it will improve their performance. Developing strength and power is an integral part of any athletic programme, and the transfer across to sporting performance is undeniable. Despite most athletes understanding this, they perhaps are not always aware of the variety of methods for achieving this goal, and how important things such as intent, effort, and technique are. Velocity feedback can help athletes understand how strong and fast they can be, how to lift more effectively, and how to maximise intent within all exercises and sessions.

Improve Athletic Performance 

Seems too simple to be true…right? Give some numbers or some encouragement, and an athlete can improve their performance? Well, it’s true. By 8.4% to be precise. A recent meta-analysis analysed all velocity feedback studies, and determined that by providing some form of feedback, on average, performance improved by 8.4%. This performance referred to physical output during resistance training (e.g., mean or peak velocity), but also performance testing (e.g., jumps, sprints, 1RM’s). Read More Here

Implementing Feedback 

This is the simple bit, really. As a coach wanting to implement feedback using velocity, we have three decisions to make:

Whether we apply visual or audible feedback, velocity specific or general verbal encouragement, and when that feedback is provided. The best approach would be to: 

  1. Provide visual and/or audible. This is less important than the other two options. Let the athlete choose what they would prefer.
  2. Velocity specific feedback is key. Give your athletes the numbers of their reps and sets.
  3. Provide the feedback immediately after each repetition. This can help drive intent within the set and maintain it for the full session.

Keep reading about VBT in our new comprehensive guide: The Ultimate User Guide to Velocity-Based Training!

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