Day 2, Part 2. Shanghai University of Sport Velocity Based Training Workshop

After jump squats we used the Push to illustrate the validity and usefulness of measuring and monitoring velocity for strength exercises.  Just for clarification, a "strength" exercise entails high force but will have deliberate deceleration towards the end of range of motion (ROM) when light resistances are lifted quickly ~ the body does this to protect the joints and tendons as there is no other way to safely diffuse the high forces and velocities at end ROM.  A bench press with 45% 1RM will have deceleration occurring for half of the ROM! So there is an initial explosive initiation and acceleration and then from about half way up in the ROM, we deliberately start to decelerate the bar to stop jerking the tendons and joints at end range. "Power' exercises can also have high forces but do not entail deliberate deceleration ~ the kinetic energy is safely released in to the air or with the implement such as in throws, jumps and weightlifting exercises.  The only way to make "strength" exercises more like "power" exercises in their kinetic and kinematic profile is by adding bands or chains so that acceleration can continue further into the ROM, because the resistance increases throughout the ROM.  Same for punching or kicking - shadow boxing and karate katas do not allow full force/speed striking compared to hitting pads or heavy bags, which succinctly decelerate the forces of the strikes.  

Anyway, time for some strength work.  My enthusiastic Chinese S & C coach (Can't remember his name, sorry) volunteered to do some 1RM Chin-up testing.  I still like to test 1RM where possible (or 3RM if you prefer), rather than estimate it and you will see what I mean in the example below.  By using a few loads to ramp up to 1RM and taking the best AVERAGE velocity score for each resistance, we gain a lot of info about the athlete which we can then use in the following training cycle to monitor progress.  In the example below we did bodyweight (72kg), +15 (87kg), +25 (97kg), +35 (107kg).  We tried 40kg (112kg) but it was unsuccessful.  So +35kg for a 1RM of 107 kg is the 1RM.  Obviously I add bodyweight to the extra weight to assess 1RM.

For chin-up testing (or any 1RM testing), use low reps.  The 1RM rep had a velocity of 0.23 m/s, which is typical.  1RM chinup and bench press (and shoulder press) tend to be at the same velocity at 1RM (but chin-up is faster at lesser %1RM resistances). So BWT was 67% 1RM with a best velocity of 0.87 m/s, +15 was 81% 1RM with a best velocity of 0.63 m/s and +25 kg was 91% 1RM with a best velocity of 0.45 m/s.  The failed 40 kg load was 0.11 m/s ~ this is just too slow...very few athletes can get a chin-up to the over the bar position below about 0.15 -0.19 m/s, in my experience.  After this 1RM test, I like to do a rep-to-failure (RTF) set with about 85% 1RM to confirm that the failure rep velocity is the same or similar to the 1RM velocity.  By knowing this failure velocity, we can manage training effort (RPE per set) very easily in the following training cycle.  In the instance below, we just got the S & C coach to do the RTF set with +15 kg (81%)...the exact resistance does not matter to much, as long as we get between 5-10 reps and they go to failure.  You can see from the graphs, screen shotted from the Push dashboard, that he got 0.62 m/s on his best rep (0.63 during the ramp up to 1RM) and 0.25 m/s on his last failure rep (0.23 m/s for 1RM).  And 9-reps is pretty standard for about 81% 1RM on the chin-up.  So we have some validity and reliability for our measures.

So now we have plenty of data about the strength capabilities of this athlete to use for the following training cycle.  We can easily extrapolate the scores for loads we did not assess directly, such as 5 kg (~0.78 m/s), 10 kg (~0.70 m/s), 20kg (~0.54 m/s) and 30 kg (~0.34 m/s) as the relationship tends to be linear, within certain %1RM zones above 65% 1RM (more linear over 80%1RM).  Any improvement from these scores for these resistances and these resistances are those that we would expect would constitute the majority of his chin-up "strength" training, would indicate an improvement in strength in the following training cycle.  Furthermore, any marked decrease in the best velocity for any of these resistances may indicate that strength is temporarily suppressed due to training load/fatigue or sickness etc.  And we can see that this athlete really drops off hard when the weights are heavy (from +25 kg to +35 kg) or when fatigued (look at the drop off from the 8th to the 9th rep during his RTF set)~ he had never done weighted chins before.  So this simple procedure, taking me about 15-minutes, has given me a lot of data about the athletes capabilities and insight into how he fatigues.  

In the next Blog, we will look at some power exercises, like landmine press and hang power clean, so stay tuned and feel free to share this BLOG and the info in it (just please reference me).

Dan Baker