How Real Time Bar Speed Can Influence Your Training
I recently received an email from trainwithpush asking for feedback on how we liked the product so far. One of my main suggestions was to allow real time data when using the PUSH band so that the lifter is allowed instantaneous feedback during a set. I didn’t realize that PUSH was working on a BETA version that utilizes real time data as you train. I feel this is probably the ultimate form of feedback and something that we will be using a lot moving forward. How will you adjust training based on live bar speed data you ask? Let’s find out.
Are you REALLY being explosive and fast?
We always pay attention to bar speed while training and have been doing so for a while. Our only form of feedback prior to purchasing the PUSH band was video analysis and how things “felt”. Moving sub maximal weights as fast as possible (compensatory acceleration training) has long been something that I have viewed as important an there is plenty of information to back that up.
Sam Byrd is a big advocate of CAT training with a 5×5 rep scheme. He likes to train with around 60% of his max with a focus on decreasing rest periods as well as becoming more explosive. Check out his training articles here
When doing a 5×5 squat workout, the focus is always on moving that last rep as fast as the first. Once you get tired, it is extremely easy to slack off and not be as explosive as possible. The first workout that I utilized the real time data a lightbulb went off. I was doing a 5×5 raw squat workout with a fairly light percentage of weight, with the goal of trying to make the bar move as fast as possible. I set up my iPhone directly in front of me at eye level so that I could see my data after each rep. Immediately my mindset changed. I now was focusing a lot harder to beat my bar speed from my previous rep and rather than simply “trying to be fast”, I was getting immediate feedback as to whether or not I was doing so. Believe it or not, I achieved my highest velocity of the session on the last rep of the last set.
Point: When training with sub maximal weights it is easy to slack off when fatigue sets in, the weight is light enough that you can coast through a set. The Push Band keeps you focused and is brutally honest about your efforts.
I understand that it is easy to become a slave to bar speed. It is just ONE way to measure progress, with another way being rep PR’s. Sooner or later, you need to struggle against some weight, especially if you are a competitive powerlifter. There are two ways to go about struggling against weight, max effort singles or AMAP sets (As Many As Possible). The problem with AMAP sets is when to shut the work set down. Is getting that rep PR the most important thing, or is maintaining good form throughout the set? Regardless, when you get into that land of uncharted territory doing more reps than you ever with a given weight, it’s realistic to say that your form probably isn’t going to be pretty on those last few reps.
Example: I recently was training my squat with knee wraps and AMAP sets. Taking a set to near failure with knee wraps can be tough, especially if you are hitting 8-10 reps. Everyone is different, but I know that personally, if I keep training AMAP sets till failure I start to break down after a few weeks. It can be difficult to keep hitting rep PR’s week after week when those last few reps are complete grinders. What I have learned is that it is far better to be selective with the day’s that you really get after it and go all out vs. the days that you leave a bit in the tank and live to fight another day.
Squatting while alone brings some added pressure into those sets, you start to question “Do I have one more rep in me?” and then “I’m not sure, what if I can’t make it”. In my opinion this is the LAST thing you want to be thinking while doing those sets. Any time that I had those thoughts I would usually shut it down because I didn’t want anything negative racing through my mind or taking my focus elsewhere.
What I found after the set was finished and I reviewed my data was that I usually had one or two more reps left in the tank. On a set of 8-10 squats the bar speed will decrease significantly from the first to the last rep. It becomes hard to tell when you are actually grinding reps vs just fatigued and slowing down especially when your lungs are on fire and you are struggling to hold your air.
Point: Had I used the real time data while doing these sets I would know instantly based on the speed of the previous rep whether or not to stop the set or to keep going. Using the PUSH band and real time data can help you to make smart decisions while training and literally know when to “push” and when to shut it down.
Form Adjustments On The Fly
Training partners are great, especially knowledgable training partners that can analyze and give proper cues to help your form on the fly. I’m not talking about the usual cues that everyone says “big breath, chest up” I am talking about things that actually will help you improve and make adjustments.
EXAMPLE: In the case of squatting, I tend to sit back too much at times as well as have the bar drift forward over my toes. In each instance, a less than optimal rep is performed and the bar moves much slower than intended. A training partner can witness this and then give specific cues, but what if you don’t have that luxury? I mean this IS homegymaddict.com and those of you that train at home can be assumed you sometimes train alone. I know when things feel off, but seeing the bar speed after a rep that feels off confirms that something did indeed go wrong. Likewise, if I groove a good squat, I get the positive reinforcement that I performed a good rep based on the speed.
I’ve always been a very kinesthetic person, relying on feel more than anything to improve in various sports. Getting instant feedback after a good rep reminds me to try to recreate the same feeling for the next rep. What does this mean? If I am focusing on dropping straight down in a squat while forcing my knees out then I get rewarded with what usually is higher velocity rep than if I do not execute those cues. What you “feel” and what you actually do are two different things. Some days, you just can’t seem to get comfortable at all. This is when the push band can help you before the mental berating begins. Even when feeling uncomfortable, if you are able to generate the right bar speed then you know that the training session was worthwhile and there is no need to panic and try to revamp your form.