Velocity-based training in practice
There are several valuable ways in which velocity can be used to monitor and inform training. It can be used to both assess fatigue and readiness of a player to train, to prescribe loads for training and also to provide stopping points in a set where the velocity drop off means they have reached the desired workload. By knowing the velocities that correspond to percentages of 1 repetition maximum, the coach can identify if a player is fatigued or if they are primed and ready for more weight.
Example: A player is supposed to be lifting at 60% 1 repetition maximum in the training session and the coach knows that the velocity associated with 60% is 0.8 m/s for that player. The player preforms the set with maximal intent, but the velocity measurement tool shows that their velocity was 0.65 m/s. The coach now knows that the weight on the bar may be too much for the player on that day because the velocity was slower than it should be. This drop off could be for any number of reasons such as stress, bad sleep etc. but the important thing is that the velocity measure allows the coach to adjust by lowering the load until the velocity of the lift is around 0.8 m/s. When the player hits the 0.8 m/s mark that means they are working at 60% of 1 repetition max, for that day, which is the objective. If the coach had not measured velocity, the player would have been working at more than 60% of 1 repetition max for that exercise which means they may have been experiencing more training load than planned for. In simple terms, because velocities and percentage of 1 repetition maximums have a near perfect relationship, the coach is able to adjust the weight on the bar until they hit the velocity they know represents the percentage of 1 repetition maximum required. Velocity measurements give instant feedback that can be used to monitor and adjust the training session.
As the player performs repetitions of an exercise, the velocity will drop as fatigue builds up. This allows the coach to prescribe loading for the sets based on velocity drop off instead of repetitions at a certain percentage load. For example, the coach might prescribe 4 sets of the bench press exercise with a weight that enables a 0.4m/s starting velocity and the player continues with repetitions until velocity falls below 0.3m/s at which point the set is terminated. This allows the player to autoregulate their training and perform as many high-quality efforts as they can while still controlling for fatigue. This method allows for the differences in day to day readiness to train that players will experience and is therefore a more agile method of load prescription that the traditional percentage-based approach.