Guide to the GymAware FLEX app data and implementation
In the previous topic, we dove into data in reference to the GymAware RS and the data collected on the GymAware Cloud. If you read that article or watched the video, then you know that the potential uses for data are immense for individuals and/or teams. However, what if you are a GymAware FLEX user training in your garage or in the corner of a gym? What if you are a FLEX user and coach in a box gym, which is now very typical thanks to CrossFit? There’s a lot of useful data that’s automatically tracked on every user’s FLEX app (FLEX Stronger app – available for free). In this article, we’ll focus on the below in regards to the the GymAware FLEX app data and implementation (Android and iOS):
- Total Tonnage and Total Reps
- Mean/Peak Velocity
- Mean/Peak Power
- Bar Path
Total Tonnage and Total Reps
These are two of the most important variables to track, and 90% of the coaches don’t even track those two. Of the 10% that do track these two data points, the majority do nothing with the variables, or worse, they don’t know what to do with the variables. I am not judging because a lot of you are getting amazing results just the way you are. My goal is to give you the knowledge to be even better.
With these two simple data points, a coach or athlete can look at:
- Monotony and Strain
- Effect Size
Bob Takano popularized this data point in America after learning this coefficient from Carl Miller in 1974. Professor Angel Spassov also discussed the K Value during his American tour discussing the training practices of the Bulgarians.
Here’s what you need to figure the K Value:
- Total Tonnage of a competition macrocycle (usually 12-20 weeks)
- Total number of reps
- Total achieved (needs to be a successful training macrocycle)
Like I said earlier, the GymAware FLEX tracks total tonnage, but I need to dive a bit deeper on this one. Total Tonnage is found by taking the load multiplied by number or reps multiplied by the number of sets. Tonnage is tracked for all movements that are directly related to improving one’s sport or athletic performance. Most coaches track major multi-joint exercises like snatch, clean, squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell rows, etc. For Example:
- Set 1 100kg x3
- Set 2 110kg x 2
- Set 3 120kg x1
- Total= 300kg (set 1 100kg x 3) + 220kg (set 2 110kg x 2) + 120kg (se3 120kg x 1)= 640kg
- Back Squat:
- Set 1 200kg x3
- Set 2 210kg 2×3
- Set 3 220kg x 3
- Total= 600kg + 1260kg + 660kg= 2,520kg
Total Tonnage for Session= 640kg + 2520kg = 3,160kg Total Tonnage
Once you have total tonnage, it’s easy to figure out the average intensity of each lift. All you need is the total number of reps, which the FLEX tracks automatically. In the example above, we determined the total tonnage to be 3,160kg. It’s easy to see that the total number of repetitions was 18. Therefore, the average intensity for the workout above was:
Average Intensity=Total tonnage/Total reps
Average Intensity= 3,160kg/18 = 175.55kg rounded to 176kg
What does that mean? Now we know that the athlete lifting in the above sample workout averaged 176kg/387lb per repetition lifted. Now that you understand how to find total tonnage, total repetitions, and average intensity, it’s time to show you how to use the K-Value.
Let’s say that your total tonnage for a 12-week training block is hypothetically 800,000kg and your total number of reps is 7,000. And let’s suppose you make a total of 320kg in your meet. Here’s how you figure the K Value:
- K Value= (Average Intensity x 100)/proposed total
- Total Volume divided by the total number or reps (800,000kg/7,000reps)= average intensity of 114kg
- Average Intensity x 100, so 114kg x 100= 11400
- To find the K Value divide 11,400 by the 320kg successful total(11,400/320= 35.6)
Now it’s time to use the K Value to plan the next phase of training by multiplying a goal total by the K Value. If our goal is to total 330kg, you would multiply 330kg x .356 (K Value is actually a percentage so 35.6 becomes .356) equaling 117.48 rounded to 118kg. Your average intensity will need to become 118kg over your next training block to potentially total 330kg.
You could use this same process with powerlifting, athletic performance, or any other type of training in the weight room. All you have to do is identify the markers that you deem important. If you are coaching a sport that requires high velocity, power, and strength, I recommend choosing one from each of the following choices:
- Power Snatch or any derivatives
- Squat Jump reaching a minimum of 12” (you have to put a height to ensure a focus on velocity and once again the FLEX by GymAware measures distance)
- Med Ball over a predetermined height
- Power Clean (yes, I am biased)
- Trap Bar Jump
- Hang Clean
Strength (choose at least one from upper and one from lower body):
- Back Squat
- Front Squat
- Bench Press
- Trap Bar Deadlift
- Push Press
- Standing Strict Press
K-Value is the exact way that I ensure Ryan Grimsland continues to set personal records every training block. Coaches do way too much guessing in a field that already requires so much uncertainty. I recommend taking as much guessing out of the equation as possible. You might find that it doesn’t take as much of an increase as you might think. K-Value has kept me from making arbitrary increases that crush my athletes because it simply doesn’t take as much of a dramatic change as most coaches seem to think.
To wrap up this first section of Total Tonnage and Reps, I want all of you to realize that with these simple values you can measure the following important statistics:
- Effect Size: this is a simple look at each day compared to the preceding seven days. You don’t want to surprise the body with massively significant increases due to the increased risk of injury. (We looked at this more closely in last week’s article and video.)
- Monotony: (Daily Average Tonnage for a week divided by that same week’s standard deviation) this is a look at how much the program varies from day to day. A small standard deviation has a direct correlation to an increased risk of injury and poor training response.
- Strain: (total weekly tonnage multiplied by the monotony score) this is the real impact that a week of training has on an athlete. Obviously, if you crush the athlete with high volume with little deviation from day to day, you will put the athlete at risk of injury. I am not saying that one week here and there will hurt your athletes. A high strain week is probably good for adaptation if followed by a deload week.
I will explain all of these in detail during the video portion of this week’s education module from GymAware. It will make a lot more sense showing you how I track all of these versus trying to explain with words and possibly complicating something that isn’t really complicated. I will end this section by saying that these three variables have been absolute game-changers for my athletes.
This one goes without saying really. I talk about velocity every day of my life, so I assume that all of you understand the uses of tracking velocity. However, we all know by now the mistake that goes with assuming. By automatically tracking an athlete’s mean velocity for exercises, it ensures that the athlete’s workout is eliciting the adaptive response intended by the coach. Not to mention all the other uses for collecting mean velocity that I will briefly touch on.
The following uses for velocity have been reported on several times by myself and other reputable authors for GymAware, so I just want to give a brief explanation of each in case you are new:
This is usually performed at the beginning of a macrocycle in a particular strength movement like back squat or trap bar deadlift. An athlete measures the mean velocity in the following intensities:
– 20% for 3 reps
– 30% for 3 reps– 40% for 2-3 reps
– 50% for 2-3 reps
– 55% for 2 reps
– 60% for 2 reps
– 65% for 2 reps
– 70% for 1-2 reps
– 75% for 1
– 80% for 1
– 85% for 1
– 90% for 1
– 95% for 1
– And preferably 100% for 1 with a close look to see which intensity zones is performed at or above prescribed velocities and which are performed below prescribed velocities
This refers to the amount of velocity loss that a particular set experiences. For example, in a set of 5-repetitions of a back squat at 200kg/440lb, if the first repetition is performed at 0.52m/s and the final repetition is performed at 0.41m/s, the velocity loss was around 21%. (0.52m/s – 21% = 0.41m/s) The greatest mechanism of hypertrophy is training as close to failure as possible as often as possible. However, velocity loss is directly proportional to the amount of slow twitch fibers recruited. Most researchers would agree that keeping the velocity loss of athletes to 20% or less is optimal for the maximizing of fast twitch fibers.
Estimating 1RMs without maxing out
I love this feature for all sports because it’s better to know that an athlete could than it is to actually find out. The GymAware FLEX makes this process really easy with this feature built in. I like using this feature during the season with my athletes or during a taper for my weightlifters. This helps me gauge the strength levels of my athletes without risking an injury or unnecessary fatigue from going heavy.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but sometimes things need to be repeated. An athlete’s ability to perform their absolute 1-repetition maximum in any particular lift varies on a daily basis based on the stress being imposed by their workouts and the stress that isn’t intended from life like relationship issues and/or scholastic tests. Mean Velocity makes it really easy to track the velocity range an athlete should be within depending on the particular exercise. If an athlete is 10% slower than normal, I personally recommend cutting them off all together, redirecting the athlete to a nice and easy pump workout, and taking a recovery approach for the day. You can read more about daily readiness in some of my earlier educational modules.
Intent for Maximizing Compensatory Acceleration
This is my personal favorite. Dr. Fred Hatfield made the phrase ‘compensatory acceleration’ popular several years ago. I heard several coaches encourage me to move the barbell as fast as possible throughout the movement. However, what did that mean? I was lifting the barbell just fine, but ‘just fine’ isn’t enough to maximize total motor unit recruitment and the speed of that recruitment.
A look at Peak Velocity
Peak velocity is normally used in reference to the Olympic lifts, since peak velocity that occurs at the top of the second pull aka after extension from the power position dictates the height of the barbell. An individual’s height determines how high peak velocity needs to be in order for the barbell to reach a manageable height making the lift possible. Here are some suggestions from Dr. Bryan Mann for baseline peak velocities:
Power is a look at Force and Velocity, which share an inverse relationship. Athletes normally exist somewhere on this spectrum, which can be displayed with a X-Y Graph like below:
By tracking an athlete’s power, the athlete or his or her coach can keep track of any possible changes in their ability to produce power. For example, if an athlete back squats 180kg at 700W of Power in January and then 780W of Power in June, that athlete has established a trend towards becoming more powerful. By tracking power, an athlete can compete with their teammates for maximum power, which levels the playing field a bit. Plus, athletes and coaches will establish trends towards increased strength and the ability to express that strength with increased power. By monitoring movements like trap bar deadlift, hang clean, and power snatch, athletes can establish relationships between slower strength movements like a trap bar deadlift, powerful movements like a hang clean, and high velocity movements like power snatch. If an athlete gets stronger in the trap bar deadlift but the hang clean stays the same and power snatch goes down, the athlete has gotten slower and less powerful. Even in the sport of weightlifting, we monitor these movements closely to ensure we are encouraging strength increases that equate to more power expression.
This parameter is important to monitor for a few reasons. First, if an athlete is using higher loads in the back squat but distance is decreasing, that athlete isn’t necessarily getting stronger. They are cutting their squats high, and distance holds them accountable. Distance is important when it comes to overall work, since work is equal to force multiplied by displacement(distance). If work capacity is important, then one needs to monitor distance. Finally, I like our athletes to use distance to monitor their ability to produce power with lighter loads. An easy way to do this is to monitor an absolute between 15kg/33lb to 40kg/88lb in the barbell squat jump for height. The only key is to monitor the performance of the jumps. For example, is it a countermovement jump? If so, how low are the athletes squatting before the jump? I recommend using a box to keep things consistent. Normally, you will discover solid correlations between squat jump heights, vertical leaps, and improved sprint speeds.
Bar path isn’t really a data point, but it’s a solid look at the athlete’s improvement in overall movement. An improved bar path tells me a few things about an athlete:
- The athlete has solid kinesthetics awareness, which is an ability to control their body through space.
- Improved bar path means a better expression of athletic attributes during the lift.
- Finally, an improved bar path is a safer lift overall.
Here’s why I love bar path as much or more than all the other parameters: when coaches like me teach other coaches about the benefits of particular movements like hang clean or back squat, those benefits are only present if the lift is performed as intended by the teacher. I see coaches bragging about their brand-new use of the clean on social media and throwing around power measures of 3,500+ watts that they learned about in the Level I certification. First, an awesome job taking ownership of your continued education, but you probably need to get with an experienced coach for a few months to ensure your ability to properly teach. To be clear, a lot of you are doing a great job and the rest of you are trying, which I applaud. The bar path tool is a great way to ensure that your athletes are indeed getting better.
I could go on forever about the GymAware FLEX. It was my first velocity-based training instrument. I fell in love with the FLEX and the app (Android and iOS), so I can get a little wordy. Remember, if you purchase the GymAware Cloud, the FLEX can be used just like the GymAware RS with all the awesome parameters that I talked about last week. Otherwise, you are going to love the FLEX just the way it is along with the simplicity of the FLEX App. One last thing, the FLEX App has a ‘Community’ and a ‘Workout Builder’ feature, so you can talk to other users and friends, see what they are up to, and even use their programs if given permission. The GymAware FLEX is an experience that will open you up to a safer and more effective world of strength training. I hope my words will help you along with that journey.
Watch the video presentation below:
Being a World Champion in powerlifting, Travis competed at a world-class level in Olympic weightlifting and has coached professional Olympic weightlifters alongside Don McCauley and Glenn Pendlay at Team MDUSA. Now Travis coaches the most successful weightlifting team in the USA.