Velocity-Based Training (VBT): Common Mistakes You Must Avoid


Velocity Based Training can help you do a lot of great things in the gym to enhance your performance. However, there are probably some other things that you do not want to do. For example, VBT is not about getting fancy and making things complicated. There are some other things as well, which we are going to discuss in this blog.


1. Training At Higher Bar Speeds

Now, this might sound a bit counterintuitive, but training at higher speeds is one of the things not recommended during VBT. If you pay attention to the fundamental concept of VBT, you will realize that it is not about making quicker moves. Instead, velocity-based training focuses more on the specific goals you want to achieve through strength training within the context of the force-velocity curve. The force-velocity curve is a theory that covers all athletic movements between maximum force movement and maximum velocity movement.

It is important to note that load-velocity profiles can be different with different loads for any given exercise. For example, if you perform front squats with an empty barbell, you may be able to reach a speed of more than one meter per second. However, a loaded barbell would reduce your speed, depending on the weight you put on both sides.

No matter what exercise you do, if it can be performed with VBT protocols, you will have to consider its load-velocity profiles. More importantly, the purpose of velocity-based training is not to perform workouts with max speeds. Instead, it actively involves velocity tracking. It includes collecting data and using it in real-time to measure an athlete’s performance and evaluate their capability within the context of their recent history. This helps coaches make better training decisions.


2. Overusing the Speed Zones

When starting with VBT, you may see a continuum of five strength qualities corresponding to different velocity zones. This chart is generally one of the first things coaches and newbie trainers see and pay attention to when implementing VBT protocols. The fundamental idea behind following this chart is to keep your weightlifting compliant with the strength qualities mentioned in this chart.

The problem is that this entire specialized adaptation is a sophisticated and complex training application that might not be quite useful for everyone exercising in the gym. This chart was designed to create velocity zones for powerlifting regulation depth squats and conventional straight bar deadlifts. Both these workouts are pretty popular, but these are not the only ones you perform at the gym. The velocity zones undoubtedly work well for both these exercises but might not help you much with other workouts.

This is because load-velocity profiles are different for different exercises. Conventional straight bar deadlifts and depth squats have pretty unique load-velocity profiles. Not only that, but these profiles also vary between individuals. For this reason, coaches must identify the requirements of each of their athletes and formulate velocity zones according to the recommended exercise and their workout history.

A simpler way to approach speed zoning is to introduce three zones, i.e., heavy power, power plus, and light power. The intermediate athletes who want to stimulate their strength adaptation need to use 80% of their 1RM. That’s where the strength zone starts. Heavy power or power plus takes your 1RM down to the peak power curve. Workouts typically associated with this zone include loaded jumps and power cleans. The third zone, light power, involves a load that takes peak power to the ballistic range, meaning that you will be using even lighter loads. Snatches, trap jumps with load plyometrics, and wall balls, all fall in the light power zone.


3. Using Velocity For Everything

The most significant misinterpretation of speed zones can be seen in cases when coaches and athletes try implementing velocity-based training in every workout. Velocity-based training is undeniably a handy tool to help you get the best out of your workout regimen. But, it is not a kind of universal training protocol that you can use with every exercise. Like any other method, you must ensure that you use VBT where it is most applicable, or your training program can end up being counterproductive.


Smooth Implementation of VBT

In the end, we will discuss some ways to implement VBT in the least stressful way. So, if you are getting started with this training program or have tried it in the past but didn’t get the results, these tips are surely going to be helpful.

  1. Track things that matter the most. It doesn’t matter whether your bicep curls are fast or slow, so using VBT to track them isn’t going to be much useful. Instead, what you really want to track are your lifts during bench presses, powerlifting, and deadlifting. These exercises are where speed has a significant say.
  2. Don’t worry about using fixed or individualized velocity zones if you lack adequate resources. In fact, fixed velocity zones aren’t much helpful in most cases. You may get better results if you focus on contextual velocity. In simple words, you will have a unique velocity history and profile, which you can use to set goals and maintain motivation. The best way is to create a load-velocity profile based on a 30-day average.
  3. And finally, implementing VBT is not just about getting seemingly great results. You can use VBT to make it easier to work with percentage-based systems or RPE. All you have to do is add a few elements of VBT to the existing system and see if that works. You can also use VBT to monitor your percentage drop off to control fatigue.



Wrapping Up

Velocity-based training is a great way to increase agility while keeping the risk of injury at bay; it is that simple. Therefore, no way this training program should make things complicated. To ensure that, all you have to do is avoid the mistakes mentioned above. Moreover, it is always advisable to use quality tools for tracking and remain under the consistent supervision of a qualified sports trainer.

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