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Basic methods for determining a load-velocity profile

This is an excerpt from Laboratory Manual for Exercise Physiology 3rd Edition With HKPropel Access-Loose-Leaf Edition by G. Gregory Haff & Charles L. Dumke.

Technological advancements have made it easier for the practitioner to quantify the velocity of movement during resistance training (10). These technologies (i.e., accelerometer, linear position transducer, linear encoder, or inertial movement sensor) allow for LV profiles to be created from the velocities of movement (peak velocity or mean velocity) determined during a series of progressively loaded sets for a resistance training exercise, such as the bench press. Although LV profiles can be created for almost any resistance training exercise, most of the scientific literature on the LV profile has used the bench press (i.e., Smith machine or free-weight bench press).

Regardless of which resistance exercise is used to create the LV profile, Weakley and colleagues (60) suggest the assessment can be accomplished in four simple steps. During the first step, the individual should complete a 1RM test with standard procedures (see laboratory activity 12.1); the velocity of movement is monitored as the load progressively increases toward maximum. After 48 h of rest, the subject carries out the second step, which involves performing an incremental loaded test with one of two methodologies (60). In the first method, the subject performs three repetitions at 20%, 40%, and 60% of 1RM and one repetition at 80% and 90% of 1RM, with 2 min between sets (10). In the second method, often referred to as the two-point method, two loads of ~40-45% of 1RM and ~80-85% of 1RM are tested (24). With this method, 2-3 repetitions are performed at the low load, and 1-2 repetitions are performed at the higher load, with 2 min between sets. The third step involves taking the fastest repetitions from each intensity tested, plotting the mean velocity achieved against the corresponding percentage of 1RM, and then applying a linear line of best fit to extrapolate the regression equation (table 12.9) (60). The final step is to create a velocity table from the regression equation that can be used to guide the training process.

Velocity Measurements During the 1RM Bench Press

Before starting the 1RM test, consult with the subject to inquire about their current 1RM, or estimate their perceived maximum. This process can be challenging with untrained individuals because it is likely to be speculative at best. As noted in laboratory activity 12.1, one possible method for estimating 1RM of untrained individuals is to estimate it from the subject’s body mass (i.e., female = 0.35 × body mass; male = 0.60 × body mass). When using this method, it is generally recommended that the maximum weight used be 79 kg (175 lb) for men and 64 kg (140 lb) for women. With athletes, in contrast, it is relatively easy to determine the perceived maximum because you can likely use the actual 1RM or estimates based on the individual’s training weights. This value should be noted on the individual data sheet and used to calculate the 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 90% loads needed to conduct the test. Once the loads have been determined, use the following steps to conduct the assessment.

Step 1: Set up the bench press area with all the equipment needed to conduct the test. Attach the velocity measurement device to the barbell; make sure there is a Bluetooth connection between the device and the tablet or smartphone that will be used to collect the velocity data.