Nov 6, 2023
Practical application of VBT to improve strength & conditioning

Delve into the scientific principles underpinning Velocity-Based Training (VBT) and its application in strength and conditioning programs. Gain insights into monitoring and adapting training loads for enhanced athlete performance.

Discover practical tips for integrating VBT seamlessly into your coaching routines.

Managing editor, Wesley Sykes was joined by Gerry DeFilippo, head trainer who owns and operates Challenger Strength, Justin Ochoa, Basketball performance coach in Indianapolis and founder of the Gem Sessions Foundation, Barry Butt, founder of Premier Strength & Conditioning Inc., and Luke Martin, Sales Manager at Vitruve.

vbtBelow is an excerpt from that TechTime conversation with Vitruve on velocity-based training.

Justin Ochoa: So specific to VBT,  I use it for our KPI lifts. Our big lifts are a trap bar deadlift, a front squat, a trap bar jump, and a bench press. Those are our core four. And we do measure outside of those, but those are the ones that everybody is going to measure pretty much every time they get in the gym when they do those lifts.

Sometimes we’ll get creative and we’ll create our own standards. We’ve been messing around with landmine throws and attaching bar speed to that or rear foot elevated split squats and getting VBT on that. But those are only with more of our more advanced athletes who are trained on the Vitruve and well-trained in the gym to be able to navigate that if I’m not there every step of the way.

We measure those core four lifts. If we’re going for strength, we’re looking for—I’m a little bit more on the conservative side—I know people who go down to like 0.20 meters per second for their heavier reps, but I like to stay around 0.35. Between there and 0. 5 is a good strength range. If we’re going for power, we’re going to be around 0.75 to 1 meter per second. And then if we’re going for some type of speed adaptation, like in our jumps or in our Olympic lifts and things like that, we’re going for that 1.3 or higher. We might look at peak velocity instead of the mean propulsive velocity as well. Those are checkpoints and the ground-level baseline on how we use it and what we’re looking at when we’re using it.

Barry Butt: We do the same thing. I create a load velocity profile for my athletes because it’s easy to say that 80 percent is at the same speed, right? When you create a profile for your athlete with specific exercises, you talked about having key performance indicators, we’re along the same line.

For strength, we’ll use a squat—might be a back squat or it might be a front squat—depending on the athlete. We use a squat and rear foot elevated squats. That was a game-changer for us. We do measure rear foot elevated split squats with our athletes and started to use VBT to measure it. Our guys’ numbers have gone up 100 pounds because now they know what a minimum threshold is and we tell them, ‘Look, you’re not even close when you’re moving it at 0.5. You’re not even close to your max.’ And they believe you. They keep pushing and keep pushing it. And we’ve seen guys go up drastically on that specific exercise squats.

Yes, they’ve gotten definitely bigger numbers because we’re measuring VBT, but drastic on some of the single-leg stuff. Cause they started to realize what they can do when you give them a target. That’s not just a weight. Um, because in their mind, they get scared of the weight, but they’re not scared to try and hit a speed number.

Gerry DiFillipo: I am a firm believer in spreading out “testing” throughout a training week, not losing a training week for the sake of just testing metrics. I think the really cool part of it is velocity-based training using the truth and being able to have data you can look back on just from your training alone that can act as sort of an assessment and testing aspect that you’re spending a separate day for, you know. We have athletes, let’s say, do whatever their core movements are. If you’re tracking load each week on, let’s say, a traditional strength-based lift, you’re going to say, ‘Hey, eight weeks ago for five reps, I pulled, you know, 325. Now I did 345.’ Twenty pounds more is great, but we can also add to that and go back and pull back the numbers on what you did.

Let’s say we were trying to move the bar at 0.8 meters per second six weeks ago, and you did that with 280 pounds. Now we’re doing it with maybe 295. So that’s more weight being moved in the same amount of time when it comes to sports and power output. And that’s context-driven force.

That’s the name of the game there. So I think it’s really cool to offer that ability to have another thing that’s done week in and week out that serves as a barometer versus having to just always have everything carved out into one specific testing or assessment day.

That’s the best thing about VBT is that you really don’t need to have testing days because every day is a testing day. You’re constantly measuring.

To watch the full Tech Time recording, click here. 

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