June 12, 2023

Comparing and Contrasting Percentage-Based and Velocity-Based Training


Weight training is a cornerstone of strength and conditioning programs aimed at improving athletic performance and overall fitness. Traditionally, coaches and athletes have relied on percentage-based weight training protocols to determine training loads. However, in recent years, velocity-based training (VBT) has gained popularity as an alternative approach. Let’s compare and contrast percentage-based weight training and velocity-based training, highlighting their key features, benefits, and limitations. Let's delve into these two training methodologies and explore their respective merits.

Percentage-Based Weight Training

Percentage-based weight training involves prescribing loads based on a percentage of an individual's one-repetition maximum (1RM). Coaches and athletes calculate the training load by multiplying the desired percentage by their estimated or tested 1RM. Here are some key aspects of percentage-based weight training:

  • Simplicity and Familiarity: Percentage-based training has long been the gold standard due to its simplicity and ease of implementation. Athletes are accustomed to the idea of training with a certain percentage of their 1RM, making it straightforward to track progress and make adjustments.
  • Individualized Training Intensity: Using a percentage of an individual's 1RM allows for tailored training intensities based on an athlete's strength levels. This approach enables athletes to work within their optimal training zones, emphasizing the development of strength and power.
  • Limited Consideration of Neuromuscular Fatigue: One limitation of percentage-based training is its inherent inability to account for fluctuations in an individual's neuromuscular fatigue. As fatigue accumulates throughout a training session, the actual velocity and force produced by an athlete may vary from what was initially prescribed.

Velocity-Based Training (VBT)

Velocity-based training involves prescribing loads based on the velocity at which an individual moves a given weight. Using specialized devices, such as linear position transducers or accelerometers, coaches and athletes can measure barbell velocity and monitor training progress. Let's explore the key features of VBT:

  • Autoregulation and Real-Time Feedback: VBT allows for real-time feedback, enabling athletes to adjust training loads based on their current performance capabilities. By monitoring barbell velocity, athletes can ensure they are working at an optimal intensity and adjust loads as fatigue accumulates during a training session.
  • Individualized Load-Velocity Profile: VBT allows for the establishment of an individual's load-velocity profile, providing valuable insights into an athlete's strength qualities. Coaches can tailor training loads more precisely based on an athlete's velocity thresholds, maximizing power output and performance gains.
  • Enhanced Neuromuscular Monitoring: By considering barbell velocity, VBT offers a means of directly assessing an athlete's neuromuscular fatigue. This information can help guide the manipulation of training variables, such as volume and intensity, to optimize performance and minimize injury risk.

Wrap Up

Both percentage-based weight training and velocity-based training have their respective merits and limitations. Percentage-based training offers simplicity and familiarity, enabling athletes to work within specific intensity ranges based on their 1RM. On the other hand, VBT provides autoregulation, real-time feedback, and the ability to monitor neuromuscular fatigue more comprehensively.


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