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  • Velocity devices as a supplement to RPE

    Hey all,

    I know we have a few people here that use or have used velocity trackers, like OpenBarbell, to help guide their training. Alex Kovaleski , Sean Herbison (maybe), John Hanley . Me.

    I wanted to start a discussion around how you integrate it into your training and, specifically, how you use it to add some objectivity to the subjectivity of RPE.

    I started using an OpenBarbell over a year ago. I started by collecting a few week's worth of data and correlating bar speed to a RPE for my comp lifts. I came up with a range for a given RPE, which seemed to make sense. I used that to guide my training.

    However, I'm starting to think that these speeds are no longer really useful to me. For example, I have recently exhibited that I can move slower in a squat than the speeds in my table would indicate. So, perhaps I need to adjust these a bit.

    It's also made me question the value of using the device.

    Has anyone seen fit to adjust their expected speeds in relation to an RPE over time? From my description, does my usage of the tool make sense and what could I consider doing to make it better?

    Do you track speeds for your supplemental lifts? If so, do you think they differ enough to have different speed ranges than the comp lifts? Or, in general, is a squat enough of a squat that it's not worth developing different "curves" (plotting RPE vs speed), for supplemental lifts?

    Any feedback is much appreciated. Looking forward to the discussion!

  • #2
    Oh man, I do really weird stuff that might not be applicable to RPE-supplementation /validation.

    Almost all of my sets on the main lifts are way under @7. So I use the OpenBarbell to help me define "set" and total session volume.

    Set = ~.20 meter per second (mean concentric) drop from the fastest rep in a set (once I established this pattern, I stopped fussing about reps-per-set). This 20% bar speed decay pattern looks like

    sets of 7 @ ~65% load
    sets of 5 @ ~70% load
    sets of 4 @ ~75% load
    sets of 3 @ ~77% load
    sets of 2-3 @ ~80% load

    I typically do doubles at 85% and singles with anything heavier.

    I have all sorts of theoretical justifications for why low-fatigue sets are superior for power, peak strength and hypertrophy...but that's so far in the weeds that it's not really useful. But this reps-per-set scheme is (on average) what the 20% drop rule gives me.

    To define session volume...I'm basically looking to max out the volume from which I can recover by the next session (usually 48-72 hours). For me, this represents about a 30% drop in bar speed from the fastest rep within the session. I have no idea what that might look like for other folks though.

    Then, I just track bar speeds every session to validate my loading increments and monitor fatigue (IOW...if my bar speeds at "65%" are in the ballpark of my last 65% session, but now 2KG heavier...then the 2KG load increment is quasi-validated..if I see bar speeds trending down...I know I'm loading too aggressively).

    If I see obvious deviations from bar-speed trends...I'll suspect acute, transient fatigue and I might just take an extra day of rest before my next session.
    Last edited by John Hanley; 02-01-2019, 12:15 AM.

    Comment


    • Serack
      Serack commented
      Editing a comment
      Then engineer in me really likes how you managed to structure things this way. *googles* Hmmm, Thanks for laying out the $ to be a pioneer of this stuff, I wonder if/when when the price points will be more viable for a consumer like myself.

  • #3
    That's interesting, John. So is a session one lift? Or how do you structure a session when you're comparing reps across the entire session? Or, I guess the better question is what is in a session?

    Comment


    • #4
      Originally posted by Dave Hahn View Post
      That's interesting, John. So is a session one lift? Or how do you structure a session when you're comparing reps across the entire session? Or, I guess the better question is what is in a session?
      I'm a moron. That's specifically my bench info. So a "bench session" = 1 bench workout.

      I'm currently doing hex bar deads and RDLs for "lower sessions"...which is too ridiculous to even discuss.

      Comment


      • #5
        I'm just now starting to work on using it in more of a long-term session-to-session role. More often, I use it to compare set to set. So if I do [email protected] for one set of squats, and the next one is @8.5, I can look at the bar speeds and go "was that really harder, or was I just a bit off mentally?" If I see a noticeable change in speed between sets, I know I probably screwed something up. If I don't, I know I probably just messed up the RPE rating on one or the other.

        I do all this in conjunction with video, and I think it's helping me go from absolutely awful at RPE to just not very good.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by Sean Herbison View Post
          I'm just now starting to work on using it in more of a long-term session-to-session role. More often, I use it to compare set to set. So if I do [email protected] for one set of squats, and the next one is @8.5, I can look at the bar speeds and go "was that really harder, or was I just a bit off mentally?" If I see a noticeable change in speed between sets, I know I probably screwed something up. If I don't, I know I probably just messed up the RPE rating on one or the other.

          I do all this in conjunction with video, and I think it's helping me go from absolutely awful at RPE to just not very good.
          Interesting. Thanks Sean. When you say "If i see a noticeable change in speed between sets, I know I probably screwed something up", what do you mean? If the set was actually harder, the speed should be slower, no?

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Dave Hahn View Post
            When you say "If i see a noticeable change in speed between sets, I know I probably screwed something up", what do you mean? If the set was actually harder, the speed should be slower, no?
            Essentially, yeah. If I finish the first set at 0.50 m/s, and the next one at 0.38 m/s, there's probably something I did wrong form-wise that made the speed go down and the RPE go up. Basically, assuming the weight on the bar stays the same and I didn't do something like a take a 30-second rest period, the RPE shouldn't change much from set to set, and if it does, the bar speed can help me figure out why.

            Admittedly, I can be rather erratic with my bar speeds anyway (ask John Hanley), but it seems like it helps on the whole.

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Sean Herbison View Post

              Essentially, yeah. If I finish the first set at 0.50 m/s, and the next one at 0.38 m/s, there's probably something I did wrong form-wise that made the speed go down and the RPE go up. Basically, assuming the weight on the bar stays the same and I didn't do something like a take a 30-second rest period, the RPE shouldn't change much from set to set, and if it does, the bar speed can help me figure out why.

              Admittedly, I can be rather erratic with my bar speeds anyway (ask John Hanley), but it seems like it helps on the whole.
              I see. So if you're doing mulitple sets across and expecting them to be similar in speed and they aren't, you chalk it up to some technical deviation that made it harder. You'll likely get to the next set and the speed would be about the same again. If you didn't make the same error anyway.

              That's one thing I think can erode at the usefulness of bar speed tracking. Technical deviations can affect bar speed, but I'm not sure if that's really important or not. That is, if you recognize that to be the case. That the bar speed was different, not because you're weaker necessarily, but because you're dumb and can't do the lift correctly.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Dave Hahn View Post
                That's one thing I think can erode at the usefulness of bar speed tracking. Technical deviations can affect bar speed, but I'm not sure if that's really important or not.
                I don't know how important it is either, but it's certainly been the case for me. It doesn't help that I'm always fiddling with technique in one way or another, trying to fix some little issue.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Sean Herbison View Post

                  I don't know how important it is either, but it's certainly been the case for me. It doesn't help that I'm always fiddling with technique in one way or another, trying to fix some little issue.
                  I can relate to this for sure. I'm curious as to Alex Kovaleski 's take on this as he seems to be a machine when it comes to technique.

                  Comment


                  • Alex Kovaleski
                    Alex Kovaleski commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think the last time I completed a session without tinkering with my technique in some way was...never? But, I've found that minor changes tend to not influence the relationship between velocity and RPE by much. Making major changes - such as going from flat back to round back deadlifts, or changing my bench touch point - did influence that relationship by quite a bit.

                • #11
                  Dave Hahn You should check out Mark Langley's blog. Really great info. And strangely under the radar.

                  https://zerosumgains.blogspot.com/20...-with.html?m=1

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by John Hanley View Post
                    Dave Hahn You should check out Mark Langley's blog. Really great info. And strangely under the radar.

                    https://zerosumgains.blogspot.com/20...-with.html?m=1
                    Thanks man, I'll check it out.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Sorry, Dave Hahn, for just now tending to this tread - I'm not the best about regular activity on the forums.

                      Originally posted by Dave Hahn View Post
                      Has anyone seen fit to adjust their expected speeds in relation to an RPE over time? From my description, does my usage of the tool make sense and what could I consider doing to make it better?

                      Do you track speeds for your supplemental lifts? If so, do you think they differ enough to have different speed ranges than the comp lifts? Or, in general, is a squat enough of a squat that it's not worth developing different "curves" (plotting RPE vs speed), for supplemental lifts?
                      1. My experience with seeing if velocity and RPE correlate was pretty consistent, as I wouldn't see much fluctuation outside of on my squat when I consistently trained - which I found was influenced most by the kind of protocol I used in training. Lower intensity cycles were often associated with 0.37 m/s to 0.41 m/s velocities on my Squat w/belt [email protected]; however, higher intensity cycles were often associated with 0.31 m/s to 0.34 m/s on my Squat w/belt [email protected] That change specifically was when I went from having a main lift protocol of [email protected], 75%x5x6 to [email protected], 90%x2x3. I felt like I could grind out just about anything that I loaded on the bar after 4 weeks of that modified protocol, and my velocities reflected that across all RPE ratings.
                      2. For lifters not on a velocity-based training program, my recommendation is to consider velocity and video clips of a set when deciding if your initial subjective rating needs to be modified - and if so, by how much. I'm starting to think that the benefit received from these devices will reduce when lifters already are able to judge their technique and bar speed on their own based on their experience of completing a rep; however, I think that measuring velocity is an excellent way to get to that point. Track your data for a while, figure out your general tendencies with velocity and technique as loads change, and then you'll probably reach a point where you can guess the velocity and know your technical errors on a rep before you check OpenBarbell or watch video. Use these tools to refine your rating skills and then you're set. I think the only thing I've used my OpenBarbell for since November is to count reps when I do MyoReps so I can go back and do the math on how many sets I did after I'm done.
                      3. I didn't formally track the speeds, but just mentally noted them for about a month. Then I stopped because I just didn't care to continue paying that much attention to my supplemental movements.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by Alex Kovaleski View Post
                        Sorry, Dave Hahn, for just now tending to this tread - I'm not the best about regular activity on the forums.
                        1. My experience with seeing if velocity and RPE correlate was pretty consistent, as I wouldn't see much fluctuation outside of on my squat when I consistently trained - which I found was influenced most by the kind of protocol I used in training. Lower intensity cycles were often associated with 0.37 m/s to 0.41 m/s velocities on my Squat w/belt [email protected]; however, higher intensity cycles were often associated with 0.31 m/s to 0.34 m/s on my Squat w/belt [email protected] That change specifically was when I went from having a main lift protocol of [email protected], 75%x5x6 to [email protected], 90%x2x3. I felt like I could grind out just about anything that I loaded on the bar after 4 weeks of that modified protocol, and my velocities reflected that across all RPE ratings.
                        2. For lifters not on a velocity-based training program, my recommendation is to consider velocity and video clips of a set when deciding if your initial subjective rating needs to be modified - and if so, by how much. I'm starting to think that the benefit received from these devices will reduce when lifters already are able to judge their technique and bar speed on their own based on their experience of completing a rep; however, I think that measuring velocity is an excellent way to get to that point. Track your data for a while, figure out your general tendencies with velocity and technique as loads change, and then you'll probably reach a point where you can guess the velocity and know your technical errors on a rep before you check OpenBarbell or watch video. Use these tools to refine your rating skills and then you're set. I think the only thing I've used my OpenBarbell for since November is to count reps when I do MyoReps so I can go back and do the math on how many sets I did after I'm done.
                        3. I didn't formally track the speeds, but just mentally noted them for about a month. Then I stopped because I just didn't care to continue paying that much attention to my supplemental movements.
                        Awesome. Thanks for the perspective, Alex Kovaleski .

                        Your experience seems to be similar to mine. When I'm in a higher intensity block, I feel like I can grind out just about anything for sure. Speeds definitely get slower for a given RPE in those cases for me too.

                        I'd also agree with your second point. Any more, I'm able to guess pretty well what speed my OpenBarbell will show before I even look at it. Within a few hundredths anyway. That's kind of what started me thinking about it's usefulness if I know what it's going to tell me anyway, you know

                        Thanks again.

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