Developing Explosive Athletes: Velocity Based Training eBook

TAGS: velocity based training, efs, VBT, elitefts.com, Bryan Mann, tendo, Elitefts Info Pages

In the word of division one strength & conditioning, Velocity Based Training (VBT) has gained in popularity and Dr. Bryan Mann has been the authority on how it can be utilized with the proper equipment in a team training environment. Coach Mann has done the research and collected the anecdotal evidence to practically apply this training methodology in a collegiate setting. VBT systems like the Tendo Unit, GymAware, and EliteForm have all been incorporated into multiple training modalities and philosophies to optimize training for a variety of athletes and settings.

There are several advantages to using a VBT system in my opinion:

  1. A VBT system can serve as an assistant coach. The objective and instant feedback for athletes is an invaluable resource for coaches and help keep athletes accountable.
  2. A VBT system can facilitate competition among teammates in the weight room. Even athletes using different training loads have an objective variable to compare performance.
  3. A VBT system not only reinforces prescribed training loads but can also dictate them. Using bar speed as the determining factor to adjust intensity is specific to the athlete's ability and the desired training modality.

If you are one of the many coaches using a Velocity Based Training,  Developing Explosive Athletes: The Use of Velocity Based Training in Training Athletes is a must have.  Bryan Mann explains how you can structure and utilize a VBT protocol to maximize results in the weight room.

 Excerpt from Developing Explosive Athletes: The Use of Velocity Based Training

What VBT Does

The measurement of speed is purely objective. It doesn’t see the athletes, and it doesn’t know who they are. It’s completely objective. Many times during an explosive exercise I’ve told athletes that they were moving too slowly and that they needed to perform the movement faster. They’ve looked at me like I’m crazy and responded with, “Coach, you must be on crack because that was blazing fast.” The velocity reading gives them objective feedback. If they’re supposed to be moving at 1.0 meters/second (m/s) and they’re only at 0.75 m/s, they obviously aren’t moving fast enough because the reading shows them the actual speed. So athletes who previously gave you looks like you were crazy and told you that you were wrong will now say, ”Coach, I’m not moving fast enough. I have to pick it up.”

The use of velocity also elicits the competitive nature of the athlete. Quite often, two athletes will be using the same weight for an exercise. One athlete will move the weight faster than the other, and they will both start talking back and forth and getting competitive. Soon it will become the greatest explosive strength workout that they’ve ever had because they don’t want to be beaten. Athletes are often cocky and flamboyant.  VBT is a good way to nurture this competitive spirit and help them become better athletes. In turn, it will also improve their workouts.

A 2011 study by Randall et al looked at the effect of feedback of peak velocity had on performance of sports specific tasks.  They took Rugby players and divided them into two groups.  One group had no feedback, the other group did have feedback. They performed the exact same workout with the exact same loads.  The group that was provided the feedback saw greater increases in sprinting ability and jumping ability than the non-feedback group.  Athletes want to know how they are doing, if they are meeting their goals, are they doing things properly.  Using velocity gives the coach one more tool to let them know how they are doing.  With the feedback the athletes are able to obtain a higher quality of work, which impacted them with greater gains in speed and explosive power.

One key issue that needs to be addressed is accuracy. I’ve been asked over and over, “How do I know the velocity is accurate?” Many people think that high speed cameras are needed to determine the velocity of the bar, but this isn’t so. A study done by Jennings and colleagues found that the FitroDyne was in fact a reliable and valid way to measure power generated during a weightlifting movement (Jennings, Viljoen, Durandt, & Lambert, 2005). There have been other studies using other Linear Position Transducers as a means of calculating velocity in studies for many years.  In fact, the Linear Position Transducer is still considered the gold standard for velocity measurements in research for weightlifting type exercises.

Let’s take an imaginary and extreme example, yet one that isn’t at all uncommon, that many coaches have encountered. Johnny is a football player who is on the borderline of academic eligibility and must get at least a B on his history midterm to maintain eligibility. He has been studying from 10:00 am until 10:30 pm when his girlfriend calls him. They have been dating for six months, and the conversation goes something like this: “Johnny, I don’t love you anymore. I’ve never loved you. I don’t want to see you again so don’t call me! Bye!”

After a few choice words, Johnny is completely devastated. He calls up his friends, and they do what any good college friend would do in a situation like this—they take him out and get him drunk. So Johnny is drinking Jack Daniels until 2:30 am and then goes back to bed. The alarm clock starts ringing, and Johnny makes it in to his 6:00 am lifting group where he is scheduled to hit 92 percent for three sets of two reps. With all of the stressors currently acting upon Johnny’s body, this 92 percent is no longer 92 percent. It’s more like 107 percent, and trying to complete the workout may get Johnny hurt.

This is an extreme example, but it is one that illustrates the point quite well. Everything acts on the body, and a good coach will try and account for that as best he can. VBT is fantastic for picking up on these factors as well because velocity is the first thing to go, as found by Fry and colleagues in a recent presentation given at the University of Missouri Strength and Conditioning clinic. Power will decrease first and greatly so with overtraining. Sprints and agility greatly decreased as well. Oddly enough, maximal strength held on for a while.

The theory presented by Fry and colleagues is that an athlete can simply force himself to grind things out slowly and achieve the same weights (Fry et al., 1994). While he could still continue to make gains in absolute strength for a short while, his power has deteriorated. When he is able to examine and identify exactly when his power declines, the volume and intensity can be reduced, which could possibly prevent overtraining.

One admission for the use of VBT is that athletes can cheat the system. If athletes don’t want to work hard, they can move the bar more slowly on purpose and thus end up with a lighter weight.

One way to get around this is to limit the use of VBT to only those athletes who have established a high level of trust and are in higher levels of the program. The University of Missouri football team uses a multi-leveled program, which is based on several factors including absolute strength numbers, hypertrophy needs, explosive strength, comparison to standards, and most importantly—the trust of the coaches. It is not based on playing time or related factors.

The football team at Missouri has established a system where athletes work hard because they want to improve their athletic performance and achieve those higher levels. They don’t get to use VBT until they have reached the level where they have earned the coaches’ trust.

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