How Can VBT Accelerate Strength Gains?


Strength is moving a heavy weight through a full rep range regardless of the time it takes. For example, you're at the end of a set and know you've got one more good rep. You push the weight up as hard as possible and feel yourself slow down at the sticking point. The weight almost stops moving, but you have just enough oomph to force it through the mud. 


Suppose your goal is to feel stronger and lift heavier; read closely. Below is a simple guide on how to use velocity data to train for your goals with professional precision.


Absolute strength relies heavily on the coordination between your nervous system and your muscles. Your brain dictates when and how many muscle fibers fire and your muscles do their best to match the demands.With time and practice, those firing patterns become more efficient and fine-tuned to complete the task.


Using VBT, you can crush strength records by maximizing neuromuscular adaptations. A lifter familiar with a specific movement will recruit muscle fibers in a more effective pattern than an inexperienced lifter. Notice high-level lifters have little to no wasted motion in their reps. They reinforced their mind-to-muscle connection repeatedly to perform with top-notch quality.


Strength depends on drilling heavily-loaded movement patterns to improve the mind-to-muscle connection.


All athletes know the feeling of muscle fatigue. You feel sluggish, slow, a step behind. Terrible feeling, right? In the same way your muscles get tired, so does your nervous system. One rep max lifts or pushing until failure is incredibly taxing on your nervous system and muscles. Minimize neuromuscular fatigue to allow for more frequent heavy training.


Improving strength comes down to two essential factors.

  • Minimize neuromuscular fatigue

  • Maximizing neuromuscular adaptations

What Does That Look Like in the Weight Room?


We've all seen powerlifters in the gym. They rack up a ton of weight on the barbell and spend 90% of their time resting between sets. Experienced lifters realize the difference between muscle fatigue and neuromuscular fatigue. After moving heavy weight, the neurons that tell your muscles to fire have used a large portion of their resources. The neuromuscular system takes a longer time to recover than just muscles. 


If you're training for strength, emphasize 1- 5 reps, 3-5 min rest, and a low velocity cutoff.


For strength training, you will move weights at a much slower rate. A typical velocity range when training for absolute strength with a back squat would be 0.5 - 0.35m/s. You want to stay close to the MVT (roughly 0.3m/s) but avoid overtraining by tracking your daily readiness and setting a velocity cutoff (in this case it’s 0.35m/s).


Believe it or not, your strength changes daily based on factors like sleep, nutrition, stress, previous training, etc. To get the most out of your training, you should go hard on days when your body is ready to perform and take it easy when fatigued. Learn how to track your readiness and predict your 1-RM daily here.


The significant difference between strength and hypertrophy training is volume. You want to focus on heavy load, quality reps, and managing fatigue for strength improvements. The best way to limit overtraining and maximize gains is to train at < 25% velocity loss. For example, a typical strength training regimen for deadlifts is lifting between 0.4m/s and 0.3m/s. Once your rep falls below the threshold, rest and prepare for the next set. If you're moving faster than the maximum velocity, increase the weight. Simple as that. You can set velocity ranges in your Calibrex app so it will alert you while you work out.


Velocity loss >25% has no additional benefit to strength. Strength training is not about volume. It's about the neuromuscular stimulus.

What About Building Muscle?


Training to build muscle is solely about volume and recovery. You want to isolate the desired muscle group and pump in as much blood as possible. When using velocity-based training, you can use objective data to confirm you are lifting to a stimulating level of fatigue and allowing for optimal recovery.


Let's say you want to grow your chest using bench press. The ideal velocity range would be 0.5 - 0.25m/s because it is heavy enough to improve strength and wide enough to allow fatigue. Your cutoff should be at a 25% - 50% velocity loss to avoid overtraining and extending recovery times. Lift heavy and leave very few reps in the tank. Focus on form and pumping blood into your muscles. Train targeted muscles 2-3x per week. Results will follow.


Building muscle is all about volume and recovery. Lift until close to failure to limit overtraining and improve frequency for muscle groups. Lifting till failure is great for stimulating muscle growth, but the recovery takes over three days. The key is to leave a few reps in the tank so you can recover quicker and train that muscle group more frequently. The more often you train a muscle group, the better the adaptations.


Use VBT as a measuring stick to know you're optimizing each workout. Test yourself once a month to measure progress. Start close to a 12 rep-max and pick three different weights until you reach a 4 rep-max. Lift each rep with maximal effort. Take note of your best rep velocity for each set. Compare these numbers to the previous month. You'll be able to see whether to add weight or stay where you are.  

Kobe is currently a physical therapy student on pace to receive his doctorate in 2023. He has coaching experience ranging from teaching athletes in a division I weight room to helping stroke survivors climb a flight of stairs. Growing up in a fitness family Kobe has always been immersed in learning different ways to help people reach their fitness goals.
"I grew up with two bodybuilders and a division one soccer player. For the past decade, I've been a sponge learning as much as I can. Now, I'm excited to share those lessons with you."
Kobe Robinson | Calibrex Author
Kobe Robinson​​

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