Workout Tips

How Velocity-Based Training Works

VBT produces steady gains and takes the guesswork out of training.

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Barbell Back Squat
Dustin Snipes

Adding 5 lbs to the bar per week can deliver short-term results, but eventually your progress will come to a screeching halt. So instead of piling on plates, use velocity-based training, an approach that has you focus on the speed at which you lift instead of how much you lift. You’ll produce steady gains, lower injury risk, and sustain proper form during key lifts.

What it is

VBT measures the speed at which the weight moves to tell you the loads you should use, when to stop a set, and how many sets to do.

How it works

A sensor strapped to the bar or person records the velocity at which the weight is lifted. Depending on the working zone (see chart), you can see in real time if the weight needs to be adjusted.

Why it works

Going too heavy typically results in the use of poor form, which ups the risk of injury, stresses your central nervous system, and makes it impossible to become as efficient as possible at your lifts.

SEE ALSO: The Circuit to End Your Leg Day Right

How the working zones work

Training zones:

  • Max strength: Below 0.5 m/s—80-100% of your one-rep max
  • Power: 0.7-1.3 m/s—35-70% of your one-rep max
  • Hypertrophy: 0.1-1.0 m/s—50-90% of your one-rep max
  • Velocity: Above 1.3 m/s—25-45% of your one-rep max

1. Regulate heavy sets. If your velocity measures above the desired zone, increase the weight. If you’re moving the bar slowly, reduce it.

2. Strength is best trained at speeds of 0.3 to 0.5 meters per second, so don’t add weight to the bar until you can do all reps of all sets faster than 0.5 m/s.

3. Autoregulate. Measuring your lifting speed is a foolproof way to know what your body is capable of lifting on that day, rather than grinding it out and risking injury.

4. Keep in mind that producing a greater speed with the same weight means that you’re getting stronger—even if you’re not moving heavier weight.

Unleash your beast

You’ll need a device, like Beast Sensor, to calculate your velocity. It measures each rep and stores the data in an app so you can track your progress over time. $249, thisisbeast.com

SEE ALSO: Five Moves for a Concrete Core

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