The main goal and purpose of strength and conditioning is to design programs for athletes to enhance their performance. This enhanced performance needs to be measurable so that coaches can monitor, analyse and compare the data.
Testing the maximum amount an athlete can lift for one repetition is known as 1 RM. Although percentage of 1 Repetition Max (%1RM) has been traditionally used to determine the load at which athletes should be training to enhance power, these days velocity of training is often considered.
Monitoring velocity in resistance training, in other words the speed of the barbell, can help coaches set training loads more consistently. Since the day-to-day % of 1RM can vary, taking velocity into account can help coaches prescribe accurate training intensity.
What is velocity based training?
Velocity based training is increasingly being used by strength and conditioning coaches.
The traditional method is percentage based training – meaning testing the 1RM (which can be time consuming) and then according to the goal of training a percentage of 1 RM is used to train in different zones.
However, in velocity based training the speed of the barbell is monitored to find the optimal training zone for different goals.
For example, if you are working on absolute strength your barbell speed training zone would be less than 0.5 metres per second. In contrast, if you were working on improving speed/strength your barbell training zone would be 1-1.3 metres per second (see image below).
One of the benefits of velocity based training is that the data can be recorded, so that coaches can accurately compare the changes and the improvements in their athletes. There are a number of different velocity training devices, software and apps available that help strength and conditioning coaches to monitor velocity during resistance training such as Tendo Units, GymAware, Push Strength, Iron path and BarSense.
GymAware is a black box with an encoder which attaches to one side of the bar or the free weight.
The relatively heavy weight and magnetic base keeps it in place while the athlete performs the exercise.
The data is collected via an app on iPad immediately after the exercise.
When performing multiple reps the average velocity is calculated and shown on the iPad.
The benefits of using this device is that the feedback is given immediately after each rep, allowing the coach to make any adjustments needed while also providing motivation for the athlete. The setup is also quick and easy, keeping training sessions smooth and without interruptions.
It is an expensive device which cannot be found in all gyms. Here at Warwick Workout our clients are privileged to have access to GymAware. If you would like to try it out book in a personal training session with one of our trainers.
By Shabnam Delrooz. ‘Shab’ is currently doing her Curtin University practicum at Warwick Workout under Dr Laurence Houghton.