A Guide to Load-Velocity Profiling in VBT

Index

Velocity Based Training or VBT is a type of training that considers the velocity of execution of the sporting gesture in question. Currently, the applications that measure the velocity of execution do so in certain movements such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, pull-up or pull-up, among others. These exercises allow you to monitor the velocity of execution and thus have a velocity load profile. 

The VBT aims to quantify training loads based on velocity. For those who are not familiar with this type of training we will give a simple example. When we have a load X, let’s say 100 lbs. in bench press and perform ten repetitions, the velocity with which we move the load is reduced by the accumulated fatigue and the inability of the muscle to continue exerting the same force. According to Eneko B. and collaborators the series near failure are those that produce greater hypertrophy (1) and if we consider that the repetitions near failure are performed at extremely low velocity (2) we know that the last repetitions of a series should be performed slower. But what does slower mean? How much slower is “slower”?

 

When we talk about velocity-based training we must have some reference values. It is important to note that depending on the exercise to be performed the velocity of execution is different. In previous blog posts we have analyzed the velocities achieved in different exercises. For example, it is not the same to move the load at a high velocity in a deadlift than in a pull-up. But nevertheless, if the velocity achieved is one meter per second or more, we can conclude that the velocity is high, and the load is low. The more we increase the load, the more the velocity of execution decreases (3). Returning to the example from before, if with 100 lbs. I am able to move the load at 0.8 m/s if I increase the load to 120 lbs. the velocity will be reduced. And how far can the velocity of execution be reduced? For example, in bench press we could reach 0.17 m/s.

Thanks to this data that tells us the velocity at which we move a load, a load-velocity profile is created. The load-velocity profile is a straight line that estimates how our body behaves in that exercise. The load-velocity curves are different for each exercise. We do not have the same profile in the bench press as in the squat. Below, we can see an image of a load-velocity profile extracted from the Vitruve application.

Load-Velocity Profile

In previous Vitruve posts we have already talked about the load-velocity profile, but it is important to remember that it is a numerical relationship between the load we can lift and the velocity at which we do it. If we look at the image above, we see that there are four distinct points. These points correspond on the Y axis to load values that are 20 lbs., 40 lbs., 80 lbs. and 100 lbs. And if we look at the X axis, we see that these points correspond to the velocities 1.38, 1.20, 0.64, 0.56, 0.53 m/s, respectively. With this data the application makes a regression and offers a formula that helps us to know with what weight we should have X velocity.

The load-velocity profile helps us not only to know with what velocity we should perform a movement, but also allows us to monitor our progress. If, for example, we manage to lift the same load, but at a higher velocity after 4 weeks of training, it means that our strength has improved. In other words, the Vitruve application and the velocity training itself allow us to objectify the gains that have been experienced after a training program. 

How to Test Your 1RM

First of all, we recommend watching YouTube videos where the load-velocity curve is explained very well in case it is not clear and where you can follow all the steps to obtain the load-velocity curve.

This tutorial explains the following:

  • Which window should I select to make the load-velocity curve within the application?
  • How do I select the exercise I want to measure?
  • How do I perform the test?
  • What errors can I encounter when performing the load-velocity curve?
  • How can I modify the data of my load-velocity curve?

What Should I do Before And During a Load-Velocity Curve Measurement?

When we measure the load-velocity profile it is particularly important that it is always measured under the same conditions. Let me explain. Let’s imagine that before starting the training program my athlete comes from a week off because he was on vacation, and we measure the load-velocity profile without warming up. Then, 6 weeks later, we measure the load-velocity profile after having warmed up and 24 hours after the last training. The differences that we will find between the two profiles are not well done because in each measurement situation the participants were in different conditions. To solve this problem, we are going to give you some recommendations:

  1. Perform a protocolized warm-up: It is crucial that when we are going to perform a load-velocity profile measurement our athletes are in optimal conditions to perform both light lifts at high velocities and heavy lifts at low velocity. For this, we always recommend a low-intensity cardiovascular exercise to increase the temperature. And specific movements of the joints involved in the movement. 
  2. Make use of previously validated systems: There are many devices that measure the velocity of execution. However, not all of them are validated or dependable enough to measure running velocity well (4). Use the best devices on the market such as Vitruve. 
  3. Use the right loads: When you are going to perform a load-velocity profile it is important that you use loads between 20% and 80% of the maximum repetition (RM). To do this, if you look at the Vitruve screen, you will see an estimate of the RM from the first repetitions. Use a calculator and approximate the four lifts to the following weights:
    1. First set: 20-40% of 1RM. 2-6 reps.
    2. Second set: 40-50% of 1RM. 2 and 4 repetitions.
    3. Third set: 60-70% of 1RM. 1 and 3 repetitions.
    4. Fourth set: 70-80% of 1RM. 1 or 2 repetitions.
    5. Fifth set (Optional): 80-90% of 1 RM- 1 or 2 repetitions.
  4. Motivate your athlete: It is important that each of the repetitions be done at the maximum possible velocity. Otherwise, the calculation of the load-velocity profile would be invalidated and would not be useful. If your athlete is a novice and does not know the technique, first instruct him/her to perform the exercise perfectly and then teach him/her to lift the load as fast as possible. 

 

What are the Basic Pillars of Velocity-Based Training?

Vitruve has designed a pyramid that expresses in a perfect way what velocity-based training is based on and how following a training of this style favors an improvement in performance. Below, we have Iker explaining in one of our YouTube videos the complete guide of the Vitruve linear encoder

In this video, Iker explains the fundamental bases of the VBT recommended by Vitruve. As we can see in the image, the base of the pyramid is the immediate feedback provided by the linear encoder and the Vitruve application. As Iker explains, it is important to note that it is not necessary to make major changes in training to find significant improvements, but with just a small change such as giving immediate feedback to the athlete’s performance can improve.

Secondly, we find the training load. The linear encoder allows us to adjust the training load on a daily basis. We know that there are differences in the estimation of 1 RM per day. It has happened to all of us that there are days in the gym when we have “more strength” and other days when we have less. This depends on factors such as rest, nutrition, emotional well-being or muscular ailment.

That is why monitoring the RM of each day is important. However, we leave you a link to Iker’s video so that you can go deeper into this topic since he talks about the training zones which allow you not to have to create a load-velocity profile for each athlete.

Last but not least, is fatigue control. Vitruve’s linear encoder allows us to control fatigue and avoid the risk of injury. A fatigued athlete is an athlete at risk. Thanks to velocity-based training we can know if my athlete is fatigued or not and I can control the training load. Let’s not forget that this tool also measures other parameters such as range of motion, power or 1RM estimation.

Conclusion 

By way of conclusion, we will review the most important points of this post and we will recommend again the viewing of our YouTube videos. For that, do not hesitate to follow the account Vitruvefit and catch up on all the content related to the VBT and its application. 

Remember that in this article we wanted to give a basic guide to create your load-velocity profile. This profile offers us a predictive line, with a mathematical formula, of the velocity at which you should move one weight or another. This line allows us to know the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete and allows us to monitor and objectify the improvements of our athletes. In order to make a good load-velocity profile you must:

  1. Select the corresponding window in your application.
  2. Click on the exercise you want to measure.
  3. Use the “VBT CAM” or “CONTINUE WITH ENCODER”.
  4. Enter the four records requested by the application as mentioned above.
  5. Save your load-velocity profile.

 

This data improves the quality of your workouts and allows you to monitor the improvement of your athletes. It is a highly recommended tool if you want to offer good results to your athletes.

 

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Unai Pérez de Arrilucea Le Floc'h
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