Velocity-based training is also a great way to measure fatigue during a set. The closer the set is to failure, the greater the velocity loss. Applying velocity loss thresholds can limit the amount of fatigue-induced in a training cycle and control training volume, depending on the training goal.



  • · Velocity Based Training minimizes fatigue during the set while exerting maximal effort.
  • · Velocity Based Training effectively increases strength and enhances peak power output.


Researchers wanted to determine the effects of different periodization plans and velocity-based training. Researchers studied the impacts of various periodization plans using velocity-based training. Subjects were assigned to the following:

  • Linear programming (intensity increased while intraset volume decreased),
  • Undulating programming (intensity and intraset volume were varied in each session or set of sessions),
  • Reverse programming (intensity decreased while intraset volume increased), or constant programming (intensity and
  • Intraset volume kept constant throughout the training plan).

The 4 models used the same frequency (2 sessions per week), number of sets (3 per exercise), interset recoveries (4 min), and average intensity throughout the intervention (77.5%). The velocity-based method was used to adjust the planned intensity for each model accurately.

The linear, undulating, reverse and constant programming models are similarly effective in improving strength and athletic performance when implemented in a real-context routine.

When considering the effect sizes for the 5 exercises trained, they observed that the undulating programming and constant programming (models induced the highest and lowest strength enhancements, respectively).[14]


Velocity loss is the percentage of decrement that occurs over a set. It tracks the bar velocity over a set. A velocity loss of 40% results in more repetitions being performed than a 20% velocity loss. As fatigue sets in, the bar moves slower, and a greater velocity loss occurs.

Velocity Based Training Meta Analysis

A recent meta-analysis compared velocity loss <25% (i.e., training further away from failure) to velocity loss >25% (i.e., training closer to failure). The studies’ review found that those with greater velocity loss (>25% velocity loss) and trained closer to failure had greater muscle gains but less strength gains.

Conversely, those that trained with a lesser velocity loss (<25% velocity loss) had greater strength gains but less muscle growth. The greater fatigue and metabolic stress associated with training with reps closer to failure have been suggested to be a contributing factor to muscle growth.

Those training with a greater velocity loss also performs more repetitions than those with a lower velocity loss. The author suggested that the higher volume associated with greater velocity loss could drive muscle hypertrophy rather than fatigue.

Lower fatigue with lower velocity loss is suggested to provide favorable neuromuscular adaptations to promote strength gains. Training at velocity loss thresholds of 0–25% and lowering fatigue enables the utilization of higher percentages of 1RM more frequently to train the high-force component of the force-velocity profile for 1RM strength adaptations. (15)


If you are trying to get stronger, the research suggests lifting and lowering the weight slightly faster than normal resistance exercise. By using high-velocity momentum during lifts, athletes can improve their power production by using explosive movements with high tension.

Plyometrics are great for developing explosive power because it incorporates teaching your nervous system to fire faster. Lifting a heavy load at high speed facilitates the recruitment of high-threshold motor units.

Davies et al. performed a meta-analysis of 15 studies. They found studies in which subjects lifted quickly (1-second concentric and 1-second eccentric) gained greater strength than moderate to slow repetition speed.[1]

If you have watched Olympic lifters train, it’s amazing how fast they perform the clean, jerk, and snatch. They do all their exercises explosively!

One of the most exciting technologies to be utilized by strength coaches for improving performance is velocity based training devices and barbell velocity trackers. These devices use velocity tracking, which allows a user to see how fast the barbell was lifted in real-time. They can try to lift the barbell more quickly and gauge their performance.

velocity based training velocity training velocity based training devices barbell velocity tracker velocity tracking bar speed tracker vbt training
Velocity Based Training minimizes fatigue during the set while exerting maximal effort.


Velocity-based training has emerged as a practical alternative to resistance training intensity (% of an RM). Velocity-based training provides velocity ranges to base the workout around rather than maximally loading the bar with weights.

The disadvantage of a %- based training program is that as you get stronger, you are not using the true, accurate % of a 1-RM. For example, if you perform a squat program and complete 5 reps at 80% of your 1-RM with ease, your 1-RM strength has increased, and you are no longer using a true 80% of a 1-RM. Additionally, people have different levels of effort training with the same relative training load, indicating high variability among subjects.[2]

For example, a runner with high type I fibers will have less difficulty performing 20 reps in the squat than a powerlifter with more type II fibers. Another disadvantage of a % RM is daily fluctuations in strength due to sleep loss, emotional stress, skipping meals, etc.


Velocity-based training improves power because a maximal effort is required for all reps. Therefore, much of the strength gains result from increased access to high-threshold muscle fibers. Some recognize that providing feedback to athletes (e.g., lift the bar more explosively) as they train can enhance velocity and power outputs by up to 10%.[3]

Velocity-based training is also a great way to measure fatigue during a set. The closer the set is to failure, the greater the velocity loss. Applying velocity loss thresholds can limit the amount of fatigue induced in a training cycle and control training volume, depending on the training goal.

It has been found that there is a correlation between velocity loss, lactate (linear relationship), and ammonia concentration, meaning the greater the velocity loss, the greater the fatigue and metabolic response.[4]

A recent meta-analysis of velocity loss concluded that applying velocity loss of 10-20% can reduce fatigue and help induce neuromuscular adaptations. Velocity zones can elicit positive changes in body composition and improve performance parameters.[5]


Feedback on velocity during training motivates athletes to achieve better results and keeps them accountable for their performance. They can see how much velocity was generated with each lift in real time. A recent study compared velocity-based training to traditional resistance training and found that the velocity-based training group had improved maximal strength and jump height, despite using a lower total workload.[6]

It should be mentioned that a meta-analysis of velocity-based training in six different studies found that both % based training (i.e., % 1RM) and velocity-based training were equally effective for increasing strength, jump performance, linear spring, and change of direction.[7]

Velocity-based training increases strength in the squat, bench press, pull-ups, and overhead press. Furthermore, training at high levels of muscle failure is unnecessary to achieve optimal results with velocity-based training.[8]

velocity based training velocity training velocity based training devices barbell velocity tracker velocity tracking bar speed tracker vbt training


There is evidence that stopping short of failure results in greater strength gains. Researchers had participants perform bench presses (80-100% of a 1RM) with a fast velocity but stopped each set when the velocity dropped > 20%.

The group did not perform more sets when the velocity of the first repetition of a new set fell > 20% (i.e., did not train to failure). Another group continued bench press training to complete muscular failure.

Despite the non-failure group performing 62% fewer repetitions, the maximal velocity group improved bench press maximal strength by 10.2%, whereas the group training to failure resulting in a meager < 1%. This suggests that measuring the individual performance speed for each set can be useful for increasing strength gains.[9]

Velocity Based Training Studies

Another study compared lean mass and strength changes with velocity losses of 20 or 40% in males after eight weeks of using the squat. A 40% velocity loss implies performing repetitions to, or very close to, muscle failure in most exercise sets. In contrast, a 20% velocity loss corresponds to performing approximately half the maximum number of repetitions per set.

The 20% velocity loss group trained further away from failure than the 40% velocity loss group. The 20% velocity loss group had similar squat strength gains to the 40% velocity loss group, and greater improvements in jumping performance (9.5% vs. 3.5%), despite the 20% velocity loss group performing 40% fewer repetitions.

However, in terms of muscle growth, the 40% velocity loss group resulted in more fatigue and metabolic stress, resulting in greater hypertrophy of the quads. Interestingly, the 20% velocity loss group still increased quadriceps growth, despite performing ~58% of the training volume performed by 40% velocity loss.[10]

It can be suggested that the greater tension, metabolic stress, and greater volume contributed to the greater increases in muscle growth in the 40% velocity group.


For muscle growth to occur, fatigue must occur with the intensity of effort with each set. Velocity-based training monitors the magnitude of velocity loss during a set, which indicates increased muscle fatigue.

As fatigue increases, the velocity or how fast the bar slows down. Researchers had subjects train for eight weeks and divided subjects into four different velocity loss programs: 0%, 10%, 20%, and 40%. 40% velocity loss represents training will high fatigue close to or at failure.


At the end of the study, only the 20% and 40% velocity loss groups had increased muscle growth in the legs. The 40% velocity loss had a +7.0 increase in the cross-sectional area of muscle growth, while the 20% velocity loss had a +5.3% increase in muscle cross-sectional area. [11]

Training at a low level of fatigue or intensity of effort was not shown to increase muscle growth, as indicated by the absence of muscle growth in these groups (0% or 10% velocity loss). This reinforces that a certain amount of effort or fatigue must occur for muscle growth.

Training to failure is not conducive to strength gains in advanced lifters, and managing fatigue contributes to increased peak power. A 2021 study found that when subjects trained with six exercises with a strength workout (i.e., 5 sets of 5 reps to failure) had greater strength loss than training with a group training with a power workout (i.e., 5 sets of 50% of a 5RM), despite both groups using the same total workload.

Recovery for the strength training group was not complete 48 hours after exercise, whereas moderate-load recovery required less than 48 hours.[12] This suggests that training to failure will cause prolonged recovery time.

Training to failure, even when the volume is similar to non-failure training, each set led to reduced bench press and squat strength and resulted in recovery for up to three days, whereas stopping short of failure can result in recovery within 48 hours.[13] Training to failure results in diminished training frequency and volume during a training week due to impaired recovery between workouts.


Using velocity based training for muscle gain is a great way to exert maximal effort for each rep while minimizing fatigue. Training closer to failure is better for gains in lean mass. However, better strength gains are achieved when stopping well before failure.



1.     Timothy B. Davies et al., “Effect of Movement Velocity During Resistance Training on Dynamic Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.,” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 47, no. 8 (August 2017): 1603–17.

2.     González-Badillo, J. J., Yañez-García, J. M., Mora-Custodio, R., & Rodríguez-Rosell, D. (2017). Velocity Loss as a Variable for Monitoring Resistance Exercise. International journal of sports medicine38(3), 217–225.

3.     Jonathon Weakley et al., “Velocity-Based Training: From Theory to Application,” Strength and Conditioning Journal 43 (April 1, 2021): 31–49.

4.     Luis Sánchez-Medina and Juan José González-Badillo, “Velocity Loss as an Indicator of Neuromuscular Fatigue during Resistance Training,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 43, no. 9 (September 2011): 1725–34.

5.     Michał Włodarczyk et al., “Effects of Velocity-Based Training on Strength and Power in Elite Athletes—A Systematic Review,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 10 (January 2021): 5257.

6.     Harry F. Dorrell, Mark F. Smith, and Thomas I. Gee, “Comparison of Velocity-Based and Traditional Percentage-Based Loading Methods on Maximal Strength and Power Adaptations.,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 34, no. 1 (January 2020): 46–53.

7.     Kai-Fang Liao et al., “Effects of Velocity Based Training vs. Traditional 1RM Percentage-Based Training on Improving Strength, Jump, Linear Sprint and Change of Direction Speed Performance: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis,” PloS One 16, no. 11 (2021): e0259790.


8.     Baena-Marín, M.; Rojas-Jaramillo, A.; González-Santamaría, J.; Rodríguez-Rosell, D.; Petro, J.L.; Kreider, R.B.; Bonilla, D.A. Velocity-Based Resistance Training on 1-RM, Jump and Sprint Performance: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Sports 202210, 8.

9.     J. Padulo et al., “Effect of Different Pushing Speeds on Bench Press,” International Journal of Sports Medicine 33, no. 5 (May 2012): 376–80.

10.  F. Pareja-Blanco et al., “Effects of Velocity Loss during Resistance Training on Athletic Performance, Strength Gains and Muscle Adaptations,” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 27, no. 7 (July 2017): 724–35.

11.  Pareja-Blanco, F., Alcazar, J., Sánchez-Valdepeñas, J., Cornejo-Daza, P. J., Piqueras-Sanchiz, F., Mora-Vela, R., Sánchez-Moreno, M., Bachero-Mena, B., Ortega-Becerra, M., & Alegre, L. M. (2020). Velocity Loss as a Critical Variable Determining the Adaptations to Strength Training. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(8), 1752–1762.

12.  Christian Helland et al., “A Strength-Oriented Exercise Session Required More Recovery Time than a Power-Oriented Exercise Session with Equal Work,” PeerJ 8 (September 30, 2020): e10044.

13.  Ricardo Morán-Navarro et al., “Time Course of Recovery Following Resistance Training Leading or Not to Failure,” European Journal of Applied Physiology 117, no. 12 (December 2017): 2387–99.

14.  Martínez-Cava, A., Hernández-Belmonte, A., & Pallarés, J. G. (2022). Strength and Athletic Adaptations Produced by 4 Programming Models: A Velocity-Based Intervention Using a Real-Context Routine. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 1–10.

15. Hickmott, L. M., Chilibeck, P. D., Shaw, K. A., & Butcher, S. J. (2022). The Effect of Load and Volume Autoregulation on Muscular Strength and Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine – open, 8(1), 9.

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