Velocity-Based Training (VBT) is a hot topic in the strength and conditioning industry. Over the last few years, there’s been a surge of VBT research and various ways to implement it, but nothing concrete enough to satisfy this strength and condition coach, Ty Terrell. Take a look at this recent post he wrote….
If I could rub a lamp and have a genie grant me fitness industry wishes, my first wish would be to change our approach to training athletes. Everything we do as coaches is about improving the athlete’s performance. Training is simply a method to do so. When our focus becomes about the achievement in the weight room rather than the process or improved sport performance, it is easy to get away from what that athlete actually needs.
Athletes can be classified into two groups, gorillas and kangaroos. These two animals present distinctly different images with gorillas being force dominant athletes and kangaroos being velocity dominant athletes.
Gorillas are the athletes that can grind out reps under heavy weights but are slow off the ground in plyometrics. They have the ability to produce great amounts of force but lack rate of force development. Gorillas have tissues that have become thicker and less elastic due to the high volume of heavy lifting done over time.
Kangaroos are the other end of the spectrum. These athletes lack the ability to produce great amounts of muscular force, however they utilize elastic energy to make up for that force deficit. Their tissues are much more elastic than gorillas but quickly hit a wall when external loading in lifting starts to get heavy.
What might shock some people is that these two athletes can produce the exact same amount of power. Power is a result force multiplied by velocity. Any number of combinations of force and velocity can create the same amount of power.
Because gorillas are force dominant athletes, their power equation will look like this…
Being velocity dominant, kangaroos make up for their lack of force production with high movement velocity to create their power.
In a weight room, the difference between these two power equations may not matter that much. On the court or field however, the type of power equation your athlete has absolutely matters. In competition, there are time constraints. Getting to a ball before your opponent or cutting off the baseline on a drive have to be done in a certain time frame or you just don’t make the play.
Here is a comparison of a gorilla and a kangaroo.
The gorilla can generate more peak force than the kangaroo but when asked to do something explosive, the kangaroo generates more power. The time available to produce force is limited by the duration of your counter movement jump. Since kangaroos produce force much quicker than gorillas, they can use a higher percentage of their peak force in an explosive movement like a jump. In this specific case, the gorilla was able to use 74.6% of their peak force in the jump while the kangaroo used 86.2%.
In game power is a result of how much of your peak force you can generate in the time available to do so. A football linemen might be best served to be a gorilla because rate of force development is less important than overall peak force. Their role on a team doesn’t demand extreme movement velocities to be reached. A point guard is best served being a kangaroo where their ability to reach high movement velocities quickly lines up with the demands of their position and sport.
My original comments were about the training we give our athletes enhancing their performance and not necessarily achieving a weight room task like reaching the 600 lbs. club. If you have a point guard on your hands, they must train to increase their force production with relatively heavy weights but not at the risk of sacrificing their ability to move fast. As coaches, we must know what kind of animal we are training and what their sport demands from them. We can’t train a kangaroo like a gorilla and expect them to remain fast or be prepared for their sport and vice versa.
Velocity-Based Training (VBT) is a hot topic. To learn more about this Velocity-Based Training (VBT), check out complete sports performance