This month’s article is the first of a two-part series that examines Velocity Based Training (VBT) combined with Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise (APRE).


I certainly didn’t invent VBT or APRE, for that matter. My first exposure to VBT was with Louie Simmons in 1999 and Bert Sorin with the Tendo in 2006. Over the years, that evolved to Dr. Bryan Mann in 2012, who helped further my knowledge on VBT with his excellent work.


Therefore, any time I talk about training applications like VBT that are aligned heavily with research, I’m reminded of a GREAT quote from Track & Field Coach Carl Valle, who exclaims, “We shouldn’t look for answers from research EXCLUSIVELY. Instead, accept that the information gives us clues about what might work. Spend more time studying YOUR OWN PROGRAM, which is the most crucial experiment.”


In that same spirit, the research and pioneers of VBT have inspired the application we created that I’m excited to share. Let me preface by declaring I make no claims our approach is the best, nor will I debate whether you should focus exclusively on peak power, peak velocity, or mean velocity when adopting a VBT model. Furthermore, I will highlight our system’s use with Kinetic Performance Technologies’ GymAware and Flex. These two pieces of hardware are the most accurate and reliable VBT devices. That’s not a sales pitch. The research is conclusive (see below). Nonetheless, our VBT application applies to any device that embodies the principles of training.

What is VBT?

VBT uses velocity as biometric feedback to gauge resistance training. More importantly, it tells the athlete how much they should load or subtract each set based on variances in velocity.

This resistance gauging via velocity is invaluable when dealing with young athletes, especially basketball athletes, who traditionally have little exposure to the weight room for a long-given period. Therefore, if I estimate a 1-RM to periodize a linear training block, it will grossly undertrain the inexperienced athlete in the prevailing months. On the other hand, VBT allows me to direct changes via neuromuscular adaptation that occurs rapidly for the junior athlete, long before muscle hypertrophy increases are present. Furthermore, it enables me to monitor the athlete’s strength changes weekly and not rely on old 1-RM data. 


Anytime we begin talking about strength and velocity, we must examine the force-velocity curve (FVC). The FVC demonstrates that when force increases (weight), velocity (speed) decreases. Recall that force is the pushing or pulling action one object exerts on another. If we want to move something, whether it’s a barbell, kettlebell, or our own body or someone else’s, we have to push it or pull it (a.k.a. apply some force).


Suppose we take a closer look at the FVC in the example provided. Notice each point has an associated training quality, and each point corresponds to a particular velocity zone. Of course, individuals’ values will vary, but this chart provides a useful framework for ascribing a velocity with the desired training outcome.

By comparison, I like to say VBT is to strength training what heart rate training is to conditioning: if you stick to a specific training zone, you reap the physiological benefits of that zone. 

As we advance in this series, remove the notion that VBT is limited exclusively to moving sub-maximal weight fast! Instead, recognizing velocity zones and their physiological benefits can help bridge training’s intent with methods and exercises. 


Given an example, let’s say I had a freshman athlete that needed to gain size and strength. Using the chart, I would select Accelerative Strength with a velocity range of 0.45-0.75 m/s, assign sets with variable rep ranges of 3-8 reps, utilizing heavy Olympic-style lifts that include squats and barbell complexes.

Closing Remarks

We hope this article gives you an excellent introduction to VBT. In Part-II of this final series, we will examine sample training progressions and how you and the athlete can determine load selection based on velocity ranges attained during a ‘Challenge’ set. Furthermore, we will analyze how you can track changes in strength and regulate load based on readiness (APRE). Moreover, we will review some research that supports VBT application and conclude with how VBT+APRE can balance the athlete’s stress of practice and competition (volume-load) to avoid training overload.