What we are talking about here is Velocity Based Training (VBT) and Total Work (TW). Most of your typical training that you see completed in gyms or by coaches is Volume Loading (VL), Percent-Based Training (PBT) and Time Under Tension (TUT).
Let’s have a look at what volume loading (VL) training is about. VL training is the total load of weight you can move in a session or week. For example, if you do 3 sets of 8reps at 100kg for a back squat you would have a volume load of 2400kg for that session.
PBT is possibly the most used training by coaches and gym users; you may even be using this type of training and not even realise you are. There is difficulty in using this type of training though as you need a relatively precise measure of 1RM to have an accurate percent range to work off. Another downfall of this type of training is that a person’s 1RM can fluctuate daily not allowing for a true 1RM.
TUT training is where you calculate the concentric phase only, the eccentric phase only and both phases combined. When completing this type of training people usually calculate it in seconds. TUT is usually used by the body building community as the slow tempo enhances metabolic response.
What is not talked about, is that these types of training lack key parameters such as force produced during a movement nor the displacement of the bar during a lift. So what is VBT training? VBT is where we look at the displacement of the bar and how long it takes to move that bar from bottom point to top. With VBT we work off the Force-Velocity curve on how we want to train. Depending on what your focus is for your sessions or program will depend where along the Force-Velocity curve you train your athlete or team. Let’s have a look at the figure below.
When we look at this figure you can see that working in certain velocities can be a simple way to train all types and different athletes. This is a great way to keep an athlete focused. Due to their competitive nature you are able to show them a certain time and they are going to want to beat it. What if the athlete is not up to a usual standard and feeling sluggish? Easy, you are still aiming to hit your target so you can just reduce weight to keep the velocity in the range needed. Over time an athlete is going to need progression and when thus increase the load to stay in the prescribed velocity range. This in turn means that the athlete will now produce more force and this then creates a higher power output.
So why VBT training over the other types I hear you asking? As mentioned above hitting a target time is something to push for and can give an individual something to compete against. It also allows for an athlete to have immediate feedback on each rep. Are you going to fast or to slow? Are you fatigued? Have you hit your threshold? With knowing this you can reduce weight on the next set or even finish that exercise a set earlier due to fatigue. This is fantastic because it will reduce the chance of over training and help with keep athletes healthy. The physiology behind this type of training is that because you want to push the bar as fast as possible the CNS recruits more muscle fibres, thus, increases strength gain. Depending on the training area will depend on the speed that the muscles fibres are recruited. Absolute strength is slower than speed-strength.
So, next time you are programming think about VBT as a change in your programming, don’t forget that athletes still need to complete hypertrophy and strength training to increase size thus increase the potential for increased power output.