Application of Velocity Loss in VBT
Velocity loss is one of the easiest metrics of velocity based training, that you should apply in training. It’s easy to measure and you can directly relate it to your strength training goal (e.g. explosiveness, strength, hypertrophy). Here’s how to implement velocity loss in strength training.
- What is velocity loss
- Velocity loss thresholds
- Why measure velocity loss
- Applying velocity loss in training
- How to measure velocity loss
What is velocity loss
In strength training, velocity loss is the reduction in movement speed during a set.
For instance, suppose your first squat velocity equals 1,5 m/s. During the set, you lose velocity due to fatigue. After 4 repetitions, your squat velocity equals 1,28 m/s. Your velocity loss equals 0,22 m/s or 15%.
Research has shown that velocity loss is a critical variable that determines the adaptation of your strength training. Hence it is used as a strength test to track fitness progress.
Velocity loss thresholds
A velocity loss threshold is a certain amount of velocity loss that you define as acceptable. You could for instance use a velocity loss threshold of 30% (VL30) during a set. This means that you will stop the set once your velocity loss is higher than 30%.
Obviously, the higher the velocity loss threshold, the more repetitions you perform during a set. You simply allow for more velocity loss. Research has shown that specific velocity loss thresholds are linked to specific strength training adaptations (e.g. sprint vs strength vs hypertrophy). Also: a higher velocity loss threshold (e.g. 40% VL40) is not always better, even though that means you perform more repetitions. More about that in a bit.
Why measure velocity loss in strength training
As you can imagine, velocity loss is a good marker for fatigue. Simply put: when you fatigue, your movement speed decreases. This fatigue can occur within a set or workout. Fatigue can also accumulate over the course of a training program. In all these situations, velocity loss can be a good indicator of fatigue. Measuring velocity loss allows you to adjust your training plan accordingly and prevent overtraining.
Literature shows that velocity loss thresholds control the magnitude of perceptual (RPE), metabolic (lactate), and neuromuscular (power) responses to resistance training.
Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and blood lactate concentration are higher when the velocity loss thresholds are higher.
The researcher concluded: “For practitioners wanting to reliably prescribe training that can induce a given perceptual, metabolic, or neuromuscular response, it is strongly advised that velocity-based thresholds are implemented.”
Applying velocity loss in training
Velocity loss is one of the easiest methods of velocity based training, to apply in training. It’s easy to measure and you can directly relate it to a desired strength training adaptation.
The most interesting part is that velocity loss training allows you to train less and gain more. For example, this study looked at an 8-week resistance training program using the squat. One group used a velocity loss threshold of 20% (VL20) while the other group used a velocity loss threshold of 40% (VL40).
Obviously the VL20 group performed way less repetitions. 40% less to be exactly. But here’s the thing: the VL20 group gained similar squat strength gains and greater counter movement jump improvements!
Only when your goal is to gain muscle volume (hypertrophy), you’re better off with a VL40 program.
Another study showed similar results when looking at velocity thresholds of 0% (VL0), 10% (VL10), 20% (VL20) and 40% (VL40). Gains in sprint, jump and squat strength performance were similar in all four groups, despite a big difference in repetition volume. Hypertrophy was again the only reason why you should use higher velocity loss thresholds (VL20, VL40).
In summary: if hypertrophy is your goal, higher velocity loss thresholds are superior. When strength or muscle endurance is your goal, higher velocity loss thresholds aren’t necessary. That is because they do not increase performance more than medium velocity loss thresholds, even though they require more repetitions and cause more fatigue. Finally, when your goal is to improve jumping, sprinting, and gaining velocity, lower velocity loss thresholds are superior.
How to measure velocity loss
You can measure velocity loss with a velocity based training device, like the GymAware RS or the laser-based GymAwareFLEX. Both devices have an app that gives you live feedback on your velocity, power and velocity loss.
Velocity loss is just one metric that you can measure and use in velocity based training (VBT). Download our how to get started with VBT guide via the form below. Or learn more about the GymAware RS or GymAware iPad app.
Velocity loss thresholds control the magnitude of perceptual (RPE), metabolic (lactate), and neuromuscular (power) responses to resistance training.
- Weakley, Jonathon & McLaren, Shaun & Ramírez-López, Carlos & García Ramos, Amador & Dalton Barron, Nicholas & Banyard, Harry & Mann, Bryan & Weaving, Dan & Jones, Ben. (2019). Application of velocity loss thresholds during free-weight resistance training: Responses and reproducibility of perceptual, metabolic, and neuromuscular outcomes. Journal of Sports Sciences. 38. 1-9. 10.1080/02640414.2019.1706831.
Velocity loss training allows you to train less and gain more
- Pareja-Blanco, F., Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Sánchez-Medina, L., Sanchis-Moysi, J., Dorado, C., Mora-Custodio, R., Yáñez-García, J. M., Morales-Alamo, D., Pérez-Suárez, I., Calbet, J. A. L., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2017). Effects of velocity loss during resistance training on athletic performance, strength gains and muscle adaptations. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 27(7), 724–735. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12678
- Pareja-Blanco, F., Alcazar, J., Sánchez-Valdepeñas, J., Cornejo-Daza, P. J., Piqueras-Sanchiz, F., Mora-Vela, R., Sánchez-Moreno, M., Bachero-Mena, B., Ortega-Becerra, M., & Alegre, L. M. (2020). Velocity Loss as a Critical Variable Determining the Adaptations to Strength Training. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(8), 1752–1762. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002295
Application of velocity loss thresholds during free-weight resistance training: Responses and reproducibility of perceptual, metabolic, and neuromuscular outcomes.
Jonathon Weakley . Shaun McLaren . Carlos Ramírez-López . Amador García Ramos
“For practitioners wanting to reliably prescribe training that can induce a given perceptual, metabolic, or neuromuscular response, it is strongly advised that velocity-based thresholds are implemented.“
The aim of this study was to investigate the differences and long-term reliability in perceptual, metabolic, and neuromuscular responses to velocity loss resistance training protocols. Using a repeated, counterbalanced, crossover design, twelve team-sport athletes completed 5-sets of barbell back-squats at a load corresponding to a mean concentric velocity of ~0.70 m·s⁻¹. On different days, repetitions were performed until a 10%, 20% or 30% velocity loss was attained, with outcome measures collected after each set. Sessions were repeated after four-weeks. There were substantial between-protocol differences in post-set differential ratings of perceived exertion (dRPE, i.e., breathlessness and leg muscles, AU) and blood lactate concentration (B[La], mmol·L⁻¹), such that 30%>20%>10% by small to large magnitudes. Differences in post-set countermovement jump (CMJ) variables were small for most variables, such that 30% less than 20% less than 10%. Standard deviations representing four-week variability of post-set responses to each protocol were: dRPE, 8–11; B[La], 0.8–1.0; CMJ height, 1.6–2.0; CMJ PPO, 1.0–1.8; CMJ PCV, 0.04–0.06; CMJ 100ms-Impulse, 5.7–11.9. Velocity loss thresholds control the magnitude of perceptual, metabolic, and neuromuscular responses to resistance training. For practitioners wanting to reliably prescribe training that can induce a given perceptual, metabolic, or neuromuscular response, it is strongly advised that velocity-based thresholds are implemented.
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