Velocity Based Training for High Schools [Use case]

In a High School setting, the weight used during strength training can differ by over 100 kg between students, due to maturational and training age differences. Velocity Based Training (VBT) helps High School athletes and their coaches to quickly and accurately use appropriate loading. Matthew Johnson – Faculty Leader Physical Education and S&C coach at Ignatius Park College – shares how he applies and benefits from using VBT with his High School athletes.

By Matthew Johnson

High School Ignatius Park College implementing velocity based training

Want to learn the 4 steps Matthew Johnson took to start using VBT? Download his PDF! It covers everything from “Applying for a budget to buy a VBT device” to “Challenges and solutions he experienced in practice”.

Did you know VBT can also boost students’ self-confidence? Here’s an example!

How did you learn about VBT?

I first learnt about Velocity Based Training (VBT) about 10 years ago at a conference. I immediately could see the benefits for all stages of athletes, but particularly youth athletes, who often have trouble understanding appropriate loading. I knew VBT would be an effective way to ensure all student athletes in the gym were loading at appropriate levels.

GymAware has a special offer for High Schools. Check out our High School pack!

After that initial conference, I started to read the literature around VBT and how to use it effectively. I was lucky enough to be taught by Dr. Dan Baker for a subject during my masters degree, part of which focused on VBT. I was also heavily influenced by Dr. Bryan Mann’s work. I read his book and watched many of his presentations on the topic. More recently, the work Travis Mash is doing with weightlifters has been really interesting and informative for that population, or coaches looking to incorporate weightlifting derivatives in their training programs.

How did you implement VBT in your High School?

Initially, I used my GymAware VBT device mostly for testing purposes: the counter movement jump (CMJ) test and 1RM test to create load-velocity profiles which could be used to track key lifts. However, once we added additional GymAware devices, we were able to use them in our larger squads for all sessions, which has been really helpful in ensuring the students are training the physical qualities we are aiming for in a given session.

Read the 4 steps Matthew Johnson took to start using VBT. From “How to apply for a budget to buy a VBT device” to “Practical challenges and solutions”.

Having all data sent to the GymAware Cloud has been an important part of how we integrate VBT into our teaching and coaching. It allows us to get valuable insights into how the High School students are performing across the key lifts over a series of sessions. 

For example: we can track the velocity metrics for a key lift – such as back squat – across multiple weeks to determine if our High School students are progressing, plateauing or even regressing (injured students). 

The GymAware Cloud PDF charts and graphs can also be sent to students for teaching and learning applications in physical education, which is something that is critical for our students. 

They also use this data in their assessment items to show how they have progressed, targeted strength or power, etc. 

High School Ignatius Park College using GymAware
High School Ignatius Park College using GymAware RS and the GymAware iPad app

Benefits of VBT in High School athletes

Accurate loading in High School strength and conditioning

Accurate loading is the most significant challenge in High School strength training, that VBT addresses. Student-athletes are largely inexperienced lifters and struggle to understand what is “light” and “heavy” in their initial exposure to training.

“The main way VBT helps is with teaching students about their own load-velocity profiles for the key lifts.”

High School coach and faculty leader, Matthew Johnson

Being able to progress them through some load-velocity profile testing on key lifts allows them to gain a better understanding of what a light load (e.g. >0.85 m/s mean velocity) feels like compared to a heavy load (e.g. <0.50 m/s in a back squat).

High School Ignatius Park College with VBT coach Travis Mash
High School Ignatius Park College with VBT coach Travis Mash

Autoregulation in High School strength training

Velocity Based Training also allows High School athletes to auto-regulate and adjust loads better for each individual for any given session. If they know that they should be squatting at 0.60 m/s mean velocity for a session, each individual can get their loading correct.

“Due to our GymAware VBT device, each student knows what weight should be on the barbell for a given exercise.”

High School coach and faculty leader Matthew Johnson

It also provides accountability, the students know we can see their velocities during the session and also check the data afterwards in the Cloud, and question individuals who aren’t working at the required loads.

By doing so, VBT prevents either under or overloading from occurring.

Matthew Johnson shares more exercises, workouts and velocity targets in his PDF:  The 4 Steps High School coaches need to take to start using VBT. Download it for free.

Track progress of High School athletes

VBT allows us to track progress constantly. If the velocity for a given load increases by more than 0.05 m/s, it is a strong indication there has been a worthwhile change in strength levels. 

This is also motivating to students: they can see progress in real time, without having to perform a 1-RM test

VBT data for educational use

An important outcome that I really wanted VBT for, was data collection for students. Physical education (PE) in Australia requires students to collect and analyse data for assessment purposes in the area of training programs, fitness and energy systems. 

Students being able to collect data around strength and power levels allows them to make more comprehensive evaluations and justifications of their decision-making around the training programs they create for their assessment. 

High School Ignatius Park College analysing velocity data in GymAware Cloud
High School Ignatius Park College analysing velocity data in GymAware Cloud for educational use

Why GymAware?

When it came time to purchase a VBT device, I looked at several options. However, having spoken with the GymAware team at ASCA conferences, I knew the GymAware RS was my first choice.

“I absolutely recommend GymAware to other S&C High School coaches. It is a tool that when used effectively, will enhance the quality of training and coaching for your student-athletes.”

High School coach and faculty leader Matthew Johnson

When I compared the costs, GymAware RS was not the cheapest option. However, given the extensive validation in the literature for the accuracy and quality of the GymAware device, I was convinced that the extra expense was more than worth it.

High School Ignatius Park College using GymAware RS
High School Ignatius Park College using GymAware RS

Continue reading about VBT for High Schools

Matthew Johnson created a PDF, especially for High School S&C coaches and faculty leaders. Download it via the form below or learn more about our velocity based training devices for High Schools:

Download: 4 Steps High School coach Matthew Johnson took to start using VBT

4 Steps High School coaches take to start using VBT

* indicates required
Do you own a GymAware / FLEX device? *

By submitting my email address:



You can unsubscribe at any time.

Other High School content you may like:

Matthew Johnson Ignatius Park College

Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is the Faculty Leader – Physical Education (PE) of Ignatius Park College. He’s also the strength and conditioning (S&C) coach. He oversees all elements of the PE program, as well as coaching and data collection and analysis work with the sports teams. In both departments, there is significant time spent in the weights room, where students are taught to lift for development, as well as required to collect and analyze data for assessment purposes.

2024-01-30T22:58:30+11:00User Stories|