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Category Archives: Basics of VBT

This post is going to be a crash course in Velocity Based Training (VBT), we are introducing a lot of concepts, skirting the surface of them, and laying the ground work for what is to come. While this post may seem like it bounces around, we promise all will make sense soon. Stay with us as we explore all avenues that lead to and from VBT!


AN INTRODUCTION

In this current day and age, the addition of an exactitude or a metric of some capacity can make life a lot easier. Because we live in a technology-forward and data-driven world, having the capability and opportunity to offer objective and immediate feedback for previously difficult-to-quantify metrics isn’t surprising. This is especially true in athletics, with the burgeoning field of sports technology and athlete management systems. Additionally, the generation of athletes in college now and younger readily expect technology to coat all aspects of their lives.

VBT

Velocity Based Training (VBT) is almost exactly what it sounds like: a modality of strength training that relies upon speed of movement of a load lifted, versus simply the weight of that load based on a percentage. The speed output is typically tracked by a piece of technology (such as a Perch unit) that can provide instantaneous feedback to the lifter and further govern whether or not the load is appropriate for the goal of the training session. Velocity Based Training allows coaches and athletes to determine the speed of movement in real time and adjust the weight or exercise accordingly.

More and more research is published every day regarding the importance of velocity measures and its correlation with athletes readiness, strength, fatigue and recovery. Implementing velocity based training allows coaches to adjust immediately and with ease. Popularized by Dr. Bryan Mann, VBT has been around since RA Roman and Yuri Verkhoshanskii started experimenting with it in the mid 1980s, and Louie Simmons started incorporating it in the 1990s [1-2, 13]. We’ll get to that history lesson another day.

FIRST, WHY IS VBT VALUABLE?

Traditionally, coaches have used Percentage Based Training (PBT) to dictate the load for their athletes and used preset sets and reps to determine workload of a training session. How this typically works is coaches will test their athletes’ one rep max (1RM) at the beginning of their training season, and base the percentages for the training cycle off of that. Depending on the training phase, time of year, session goals etc, these percentages can range from ≤ 67% max (think muscular endurance) up through 95 to 100% max (think max strength) [4-5, 9, 11]. The problem with this is that the research indicates an individual’s RM can fluctuate by about 18% on any given day [3-4, 11].

Let’s say you prescribed a load of 80% of an athlete’s 1 RM, but the athlete is fatigued due to studying for midterm exams paired with some tough on field practices. This load could feel closer to 98% of her 1 RM. Imagine doing multiple sets of multiple reps at 98%?! If she’s feeling incredible that day then that same prescription feels closer to 62% effort. In one scenario, you’re risking potentially overtraining and injuring your athlete, in the other you’re not providing a large enough stimulus to warrant the adaptation for which you’re training. Ultimately if you’re not measuring lifting parameters and obtaining accurate data, you’re just guessing.

Velocity Based Training leaves much less to chance by dictating loads based on athlete readiness, and helps execute training sessions with precision. Athletes at the collegiate and professional level have inordinate amounts of stressors on them in the way of traveling, family life, sleep quality, school, work and training itself. If you could alter a training session to provide just the right stimulus for your athlete to elicit the adaptations you are looking for, why wouldn’t you?

“If you could alter a training session to provide just the right stimulus for your athlete to elicit the adaptations you are looking for, why wouldn’t you? ”

Velocity Based Training also helps amplify the intent of movement by demanding a consistent standard and providing immediate feedback. It helps train neuromuscular performance (a topic for another day) [14]. It enhances inter and intra competitive environments for individuals and teams and tracks data and progress over time. In a monumental study for VBT, the instantaneous feedback of VBT has been shown to improve sports performance metrics over non-feedback training [6].

TO SUMMARIZE, VELOCITY BASED TRAINING:

  • Offers immediate and objective feedback to augment the intent of a session
  • Can be periodized using velocities at specific speeds for specific and desired adaptations
  • Enhances the competitive nature of athletics in a weight room environment
  • Loads can be adjusted in real time and exactly in order to reflect the velocity zone specific to the session’s objectives, and based on the capabilities of an athlete on a given day, a concept known as autoregulation

VBT ZONES

Despite being a different training modality than PBT, Velocity Based Training can pretty accurately follow percentage based periodization schemes via speed zones. Researchers Gonzalez-Badillo et al. found an extremely high correlation between percentage 1RM and the corresponding velocity zone [12]. Seen here below and taken from Dr. Bryan Mann’s Developing Explosive Athletes are the percentages alongside velocity zones and following Bosco’s Strength Continuum. This will be explained in much greater detail in a forthcoming post [9].

A WORD ON THE SAID PRINCIPLE

The SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) Principle, the concept that the human body adapts to imposed demands, has likely been around since the inception of sports training. In the late 1950s, famous exercise and cardiovascular professor of Physical Education at UC Berkeley, Franklin M. Henry initially wrote of the “Specificity Hypothesis of Motor Learning” which later adapted into the SAID Principle.

How we use this concept with Velocity Based Training is fairly simple: once we can determine where a particular athlete can improve contingent on their unique Force-Velocity Profile (more on that in a later post), and what their particular sport needs are, a coach can individualize a program for them based on velocity zones. We are looking to create adaptations for desired traits (think: strength, power, endurance, conditioning) for athletes. Otherwise said, we are looking to fill buckets (to use a Mike Boyle term), and to enhance and optimize the finite time spent in a weight room for athletes across the board to ultimately yield positive adaptations with regards to sports performance. The concept of bigger is better is on its way out. Enhancing sports performance with appropriate applications of technology and data usage is on the rise.

Generating a Force-Velocity Profile and monitoring methods to improve upon an individual’s unique curve is made much easier via Velocity Based Training systems
Generating a Force-Velocity Profile and monitoring methods to improve upon an individual’s unique curve is made much easier via Velocity Based Training systems

VBT PHYSICS (YAY, NERDS!)

Force = Mass x Acceleration

  • Coaches are often only concerned with mass, and rightfully so as it is easier to quantify than acceleration. With the development of greater technology, acceleration is easier than ever to quantify thus, literally and figuratively completing the force equation.

Power = (Force x Distance) / Time OR Power = Force x Velocity

  • In more recent VBT technology, power is also quantifiable if it is a preferred metric for a coach, and another useful parameter to track.

Velocity = Distance / Time

  • Velocity, in m/s is what VBT originated upon, it can be expressed in either peak or mean and we will get into that in later posts.

Force Velocity Curve = The relationship between force and velocity on a continuum.

  • Typically as force decreases, velocity will increase. Ideally this curve shifts to the right as an athlete becomes more proficient through each training cycle. The curve below on the left is the “ideal” and would shift to the right with training as expressed by the curve on the right. Athletes with variable strengths can express a skewed curve, which leaves room for improvement in obvious areas over others (remember the buckets). Working in all velocity zones periodized over an annual plan is common, with access to this data regularly we can also help an athlete improve in areas that are specific to their sport needs.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Velocity Based Training has been around for awhile, but with recent improvements in technology, it is becoming more accessible and available for use. By incorporating Velocity Based Training in annual programming, we optimize weight room and subsequent sports performance. In this way, we leave much less on the table for athletic development than traditional training modalities. Data can help guide our attention as coaches and practitioners and fill the empty bucket to complete the overall picture of an optimized athlete. There is much to learn, uncharted territory, and certainly room for improvement and further research on the topic. And that is perhaps the best part!

UP NEXT

This post scratched the surface of the expansive topic that is Velocity Based Training. Over the next few months, we will continue to delve deeper into many of the topics outlined above, and many more worth discussing when it comes to Velocity Based Training. We hope to be a one stop shop for you, with basic how-to knowledge, in addition to research reviews, guest blog posts, and tutorials for Perch products.

Please feel free to engage with us on social media, in the comments section below, and via our monthly newsletter. If we cannot answer your question right away, we will be sure to do our research and get back to you ASAP. We look forward to hearing from you in the coming months and years as we build Perch bigger and better every day!

OTHER RELEVANT POSTS!

Want to learn more about the basics of VBT? Check out Perch’s VBT Dictionary!

Curious about what coaches think of VBT? Check out our guest blog post with coach Molly Binetti!

SOURCES

  1. Verkhoshanskiĭ, I. V., & Charniga, A. (1986). Fundamentals of special strength-training in sport. Livonia, MI: Sportivny Press.
  2. Roman, R. A., & Charniga, A. (1988). Trenirovka tyazheloatleta = The training of the weightlifter. Livonia, MI: Sportivny Press.
  3. Jovanovic M, and Flanagan EP. (2014). Researched applications of velocity based strength training. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)58-69.
  4. Banyard, HG, Nosaka, K, and Haff, GG. Reliability and validity of the load–velocity relationship to predict the 1RM back squat. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1897–1904, 2017.
  5. Cronin, J.B., McNair, P.J. and Marshall, R.N. Force-velocity analysis of strength-training techniques and load: implications for training strategy and research. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 17: 148-155. 2003.
  6. Randell, AD, Cronin, JB, Keogh, JWL,Gill, ND, and Pedersen, MC. Effect of instantaneous performance feedback during 6 weeks of velocity-based resistance training on sport-specific performance tests. J Strength Cond Res 25(1): 87–93, 2011.
  7. Padulo, J, Mignogna, P, Mignardi, S, Tonni, F and D’Ottavio, S. Effect of different pushing speeds on bench press. Int J Sports Med 33: 376-80, 2012.
  8. Sanchez-Medina, L., and J. J. Gonzalez-Badillo. Velocity Loss as an Indicator of Neuromuscular Fatigue during Resistance Training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. Vol. 43, No. 9, pp. 1725-1734. 2011.
  9. Mann, B., Kazadi, K., Pirrung, E., & Jensen, J. (2016). Developing explosive athletes: Use of velocity based training in athletes. Muskegon Heights, MI: Ultimate Athlete Concepts.
  10. Mann, J., Thyfault, J., Ivey, P., & Sayers, S. (2010). The effect of autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise vs. linear periodization on strength improvement in college athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(7), 1718-17231.
  11. Zourdos, M. C., Dolan, C., Quiles, J. M., Klemp, A., Jo, E., Loenneke, J. P., … Whitehurst, M. (2015). Efficacy of Daily 1RM Training in Well-Trained Powerlifters and Weightlifters: A Case Series. Nutricion Hospitalaria: Organo Oficial de La Sociedad Espanola de Nutricion Parenteral y Enteral.
  12. González-Badillo, J. J., & Sánchez-Medina, L. (2010). Movement velocity as a measure of loading intensity in resistance training. International Journal of Sports Medicine.
  13. Verkhoshanskiĭ, I. V., & Charniga, A. (1986). Fundamentals of special strength-training in sport. Livonia, MI: Sportivny Press.
  14. Pareja-Blanco, F., Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Sánchez-Medina, L., Gorostiaga, E., & González-Badillo, J. (2014). Effect of movement velocity during resistance training on neuromuscular performance. Int J Sports Med, 35(11), 916-924

Hello and welcome! If you haven’t been to our website before, or even if you have, we wanted to take a moment and who Perch is; our vision, our mission, and what we hope you’ll get out of engaging with us now and into the future.

Co-Founders from left to right: Jordan, Jacob, Nate
Co-Founders from left to right: Jordan, Jacob, Nate

We are Perch. A Velocity Based Training company located in Cambridge, MA. Proudly founded by MIT student-athletes. And looking to change the VBT game as it pertains to collegiate and professional weight room workflow, and beyond. Uniquely, we are a no strings attached company, which helps create ease of use for both coaches and athletes. With internal and external validity and reliability, our product is only getting better with time.

Additionally, moving forward we are aiming to be both a valid and reliable source of Velocity Based Training educational content. With some of the best and brightest minds in engineering and sports science on hand, Perch is sure to be the next best product and resource in Velocity Based Training and sports performance technology.

OUR VISION AND MISSION

At Perch, our focus is the coach and practitioner. We aim to enhance athletic performance by enhancing coaching performance.

We are building technology that gives coaches a greater level of insight into daily athlete readiness; technology that can help coaches regulate athlete workload, and technology that can help coaches create motivation and intent through biofeedback and competition.

However, we believe that weight room technology will never truly make positive impact on the performance of a coach, until it stops being both a performance enhancer and hindrance. Technology in the weight room can’t come with strings attached. Its effect must be felt, but its presence must be unnoticed.

Everything we do is motivated by one underlying goal: create technology that liberates coaches and athletes to perform at their best, without any interruption to work flow. This is why we persevere through late nights and wrestle with massive engineering challenges; we want to create a faster, stronger, and more intentional future for athletes and coaches everywhere.

FOUNDING STORY

Perch was founded by three student-athletes out of an MIT fraternity (who knew?!) We tried almost every single piece of fitness technology on the market and they all ended up in the drawer. As athletes in the weight room four days a week, We wanted something that could count more than steps and heart rate. We needed something could measure our power output, velocity, and mobility in the weight room, passively track this information, and allow us to share this information with our coaches and fellow athletes. We quickly developed a passion for providing visibility into weight room performance, helping coaches help their athletes.

START-UP LIFE

It started as an idea, but quickly became reality as we built janky prototype after janky prototype. We attended conferences, trade shows, and talked to hundreds and hundreds of strength coaches. Those of you we met at CSCCa 2017 probably remember the hot mess that was our product at the time. We iterated, tuned our algorithms, tested, and repeated. Through all the ups and downs, the rejections and long nights coding, the multiple startup accelerators (MIT DeltaV and Techstars NY), our passion for the problem and the passion of our customers inspired us to persevere.

The “janky” prototype progression of Perch
The “janky” prototype progression of Perch

PERCH’S PRODUCT-ORIENTED GOALS

Born out of MIT, our products are built from the ground up. You hold yourselves and your athletes to the highest of standards, and so too should you hold the technology and equipment providers with which you work.

We are in constant pursuit of performance, and everyday we come into work to do the following:

  1. Build accurate and reliable products, products that give you data that you can leverage to help enhance the performance and motivation of your athletes in the weight room.
  2. Create products that are easy to use and seamlessly integrate into your workflow, saving you time, allowing you to focus on what’s most important and performing your job to the fullest.
  3. Continually improve and grow as a product, company, and as individuals. We are a team of MIT engineers, sports scientist, and former varsity athletes. Our technology does not plateau. We aim to deliver you new updates, products, and information that will help you perform to the fullest.
  4. Deliver actionable insights. We do not believe in collecting data for data’s sake. We aim for every piece of data collected to have a purpose and to help you find that purpose to enhance your and your athletes’ overall performance.
Perch: velocity based training made easy
Perch: velocity based training made easy

PERCH’S EDUCATIONAL ORIENTED GOALS

We believe velocity based training should be a ubiquitous form of training regardless of what device you use. And we are dedicated to creating content and educational material that will help coaches leverage this form of training to the fullest.

We will be posting regularly regarding velocity based training research, strength and conditioning technology, case studies, our research and insights regarding the data we are collecting, guest posts from thought leaders in the area and coaches in the field, and more. In addition, we are relying on YOU to engage with us, ask us questions, push us to learn more and create an even better product. Improving and enhancing sports performance and human performance through technology will always be a team effort. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Perched on a rack to optimize your performance without interrupting your workout flow
Perched on a rack to optimize your performance without interrupting your workout flow

COMING UP NEXT

We didn’t start this company to ride off into the sunset, we started this company to help athletes perform, help coaches coach, and help everyone live healthier lives.

Now nestled into a co-working space in Cambridge, MA amongst some of the brightest minds we’ve ever encountered, we continue to develop the product and technology. And we are pleased to say it is on the market and ready for your consumption!

In the coming weeks and months, we plan on tackling big topics and big questions for you in this blog space. Be sure to follow along here and on our social media pages! We look forward to growing with you and getting to know you on this journey!


Intentionally Yours,

Perch

 

Check out our first VBT Research Review!