Velocity-Based Training (VBT) is an extremely important part of what we do here at Bullett Performance Training and GymAware is the tool we use to track the speed of the bar during lifts. GymAware is a small power tool made up of a base with a magnet, and a thin cable with a Velcro loop that extends away from the base and connects to the bar. The GymAware app is used with an iPad and provides instant feedback on the speed of the bar to both the coach and athlete to ensure the athlete is staying in the correct targeted velocity zone.
We love using the GymAware out on the floor because of its ease of setup, ease of use, and effectiveness in VBT. The immediate numerical feedback it gives us eliminates guesswork and provides the athlete with undeniable proof of how fast they have moved the bar. Depending on the goal of the lift, as well as the qualities the athlete is working on, the target zone and desired velocity of the bar will change. For example, if we are working on absolute strength, we do not want the bar traveling any faster than 0.5 m/s^2. If the bar moves faster than that, the quality that is now being trained is accelerative strength as the resistance on the bar isn't enough to attack absolute strength. On the other end of the force-velocity curve from absolute strength is the speed-strength zone. This zone will be from 1.0-1.3 m/s^2 and promote the quality of speed and power for an athlete. If the speed of the bar dips below 1.0 m/s^2, the quality worked on will shift from speed-strength to strength-speed. All of these qualities are important to focus on at various times of the year and season to create well-rounded athletes.
The GymAware also provides us feedback on the energy and strength levels of athletes and lets us know whether to push the athlete or back off and allow some time for recovery. It's a great tool to assist our coaches in monitoring athletes and ensure they are getting the proper training at the proper times. For example, let's say an athlete is using a 155 lb Barbell Back Squat exercise to focus on the quality of accelerative strength (0.5m/s^2 - 0.75m/s^2). During week 2 of their program, they complete all of their Barbell Back Squat repititions in the accelerative strength zone. However, during week 3 they are unable to reach the goal of 0.5m/s^2 at the same weight both in their first and second sets. At this point, we can assume that this athlete is experiencing some fatigue and we will decrease the weight until they are able to be back in that accelerative strength zone. If the athlete is experiencing major fatigue, we will back off entirely and go through movement and mobility as opposed to continuing to chase the goal of accelerative strength.
The GymAware is an extremely valuable tool for in-season training as it almost provides us with an extra coach on the floor to help monitor athletes during their training sessions. Being able to track the speed of the bar to determine which quality the athlete is focusing on is an extremely valuable asset to have. Not only does it ensure that the athlete is working on the quality that we desire, but it also ensures consistency of bar speed throughout the micro-cycles and meso-cycles of training. It also gives us an insight into the overall state of the athlete and their energy levels. This helps us steer our training in the right direction to ensure that athlete is getting the correct training at the correct time. The GymAware helps us focus on the overall health of our athletes and helps them achieve maximum performance throughout the year.