Category Archives for "Athletic Performance"

Will Velocity Based Training Change the Way I Coach Athletes?

Will Velocity Based Training Change the Way I Coach Athletes?

Spencer Arnold and I have been talking about this question for months. Will velocity based training change the way that I coach athletes? It will definitely be a tool that I use from now on. Whether you are a strength and conditioning coach, weightlifting coach, powerlifting coach, or CrossFit coach, velocity based training offers multiple ways to improve your craft. Here’s the way that I am going to implement:

1. I am going to collect data on all of my athletes for at least 10-12 weeks. This will give me all the numbers that I need to put ranges on my guys and gals.

2. I will use VBT to give me ranges of speed at various percentages for all of my athletes, so that I can predict outcomes and alter daily routines. I want to know each of my athlete’s velocities at 60%, 70%, and 80%. If bar speed is up, then I might go big that day. If it’s down, then I might focus on technique.

3. I want to know the speeds that all of my athletes tend to fail, so that I can set limits for each of them. The goal would be to end the majority of misses to avoid injuries and over-training.

4. For my field and court athletes, I want to avoid all misses and injuries.

5. I will use VBT to teach my athletes effort and intent. I will also use it to teach new coaches to speed up their learning curve.

Coach Spencer Arnold and I have been working on this book for some time. I am personally excited, as it is so different from anything that I have ever written. This book will help my readers in so many areas of their coaching and programming. For athletes it will open them up to a whole new way to quantify their training, and understand their strengths and weaknesses.

This is the sixth article that we have written on the subject, so I wanted to put links to all of them in one spot for you guys to understand the concept a little better. Here you go:






I hope that this series on velocity based training has given all of you some ideas that might apply to your athletes or your own training. Let us know what questions that you still might have. We will be more than happy to answer.

This week, the new Mash E-Book “Bar Speed” drops. It is written by Coach Travis Mash and Coach Spencer Arnold. This book will help coaches and athletes:

• Define daily intent
• Keep the weight room safer
• Teach effort
• Prevent over-training
• Guarantee that all qualities of strength are being trained

It will provide you full programs for the sports of:

• Weightlifting
• Powerlifting
• CrossFit
• Athletic Performance
• SuperTotal

I even provided a high volume and low volume program for each. This will be unlike any program that I have ever written.

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Can Velocity Based Training Replace Good Coaching?

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Can Velocity Based Training Replace Good Coaching?

by Coach Travis Mash

I have been studying velocity based training for the last three months just about every day. That’s what I do when I am interested in a topic. I check out the research, and then I look up my friends in the industry that I respect that are actually using what I am interested in. Then I read what they have to say, and then I call them or go see them. That’s exactly what I did here.

Velocity Based Training is a tool for coaches and athletes to use. It’s not really a method like the dynamic method for example. It’s a tool that can be used for to better quantify any method that you might use. VBT can do a lot more than just that like:

• Keep athletes safe
• Guarantee intent of training
• Teaching effort

These are just a few, but we will use these three benefits of VBT to make my point. A good coach desires first to keep his athletes safe. No matter what the goal is, safety has to be first. In the weight room, two of the biggest injuries in the weight room are wrists and lower backs. How do these injuries happen? A lot of wrist injuries occur when a lifter goes too heavy on a clean, and ends up with his elbows on his knees. A good coach knows when the bar speed is slowing, and will therefore cut the athlete off. Once in a while, a coach makes a mistake, and then boom a lifter breaks a wrist or sprains a wrist.

One time in my career, we had a major injury in my gym. I wasn’t there, and a younger coach let an athlete continue one set too many. It was a terrible day in the history of my gym. If we had used VBT, we could have put a minimum on our athletes. For example, we could have said that the minimum bar speed for a clean is 1.5 m/s. That would remain the same whether I was there or not. This would give a younger coach a quantifiable number instead of having to use their gut. Over time this can help speed the development of the coach as well. They will start to relate speed with a number. What takes most coaches years of experience can be taught if a few months of training.

You can do the same for squats and deadlifts. If you are a high school coach, you will definitely want to listen to this one. The last thing that you want to do is see a young athlete hurt their back. Is there really a reason for a high school athlete to try a maximum deadlift? That’s debatable, but I recommend putting a limit on the velocity. For example you could have them max out, but with at least a .5 m/s velocity. You could test them in this way avoiding grinding with slower velocities putting more stress on the athlete’s back. Of course a good coach knows when to cut off an athlete, but when you are coaching 30 athletes at the same time all by yourself in a high school, it’s hard to watch every single athlete max out. Setting this minimum immediately makes all the athletes watching become a coaching assistant.

Guarantee Intent- We all know by now that there are different qualities of strength. Let’s call them zones of strength. Here’s the way Coach Bryan Mann labels them:

Absolute Strength- .3 to .5 m/s and somewhere over 90%
Accelerative Strength- .5 to .75 m/s and somewhere between 65-90%
Strength Speed- .75 to 1.0 m/s and somewhere between 45-65%
Speed Strength- 1.0 to 1.3 m/s and somewhere between 25-45%
Starting Strength- 1.3 and greater m/s and somewhere less than 25%

All of us that coach have a reason for programming the way that we do. Some of us want our athletes going heavy very often. Some of us want to focus more on higher velocities. Personally I like a combination of the strength zones focusing more on the ones that relate to the sport I am programming for. How do we know that the athlete is actually training within the zone that we want?

A lot of us use percentages to control training intent. The problem is that an athlete’s 1RM can range 18% each way on any given day. That’s a 36% swing. Coaches like Don McCauley can see that in the way his athletes are moving, and he can make changes based on what he sees. He has two decades in the sport training the best athletes that the United States has to offer. It’s unreasonable to ask a coach with two years of experience to be able to do the same thing. Velocity can help all coaches quantify their training intent.

Teaching Effort- this is a big one. Heck this is hard for me at times. I can tell an athlete to push as fast as they can, but some simply don’t grasp the concept. I’ve had an athlete performing a speed squat only to push faster when verbally prompted. That shouldn’t happen. If you are pushing as fast as possible, you shouldn’t be able to push faster on command. VBT is a way to show the athletes with a number on a screen. Soon an athlete starts to relate speed with the number. Therefore they start learning the concept of speed.

They will learn that .8 is moving pretty fast probably with a descent amount of weight. They will learn that 1.0 to 1.3 is really starting to generate some major speed and power. They know that anything faster than 1.3 is freaking moving man. It’s an amazing tool that I wish had been around when I was coming up as an athlete.

So does velocity based training replace good coaching? Obviously the answer is no, but it sure does help in a lot of ways. It shortens the training curve of less experienced coaches, and it helps advanced coaches teach their assistants and their own athletes. It’s just a tool, but it’s pretty darn amazing.

Right now VBT has been used primarily in the strength and conditioning world. Coach Spencer Arnold and I are bringing it to the rest of the barbell world. Next week we are dropping our latest e-book “Bar Speed” all about velocity based training. We are teaching:

• Weightlifting Coaches and Athletes
• Powerlifting Coaches and Athletes
• CrossFit Coaches and Athletes
• Athletic Performance Coaches and Athletes
• Even SuperTotal Coaches and Athletes

We are going to teach all of you everything that we have learned about velocity based training. We also have laid out full programs for each division and explained them to give you a better idea. I am excited about the programs because they are different from the ones that I normally write. I think that you will all enjoy them as well.

I can’t wait to release this book, as the programming inside will be different from anything that I have ever published. This book will help coaches and athletes:

• Define daily intent
• Keep the weight room safer
• Teach effort
• Prevent over-training
• Guarantee that all qualities of strength are being trained

Stay tuned! If you are not on our newsletter list, you can get a FREE Copy of our E-Book “The Mash Method” all at the same time at:

“Basics of Training Frequency” by Coach Matt Shiver

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Basics of Training Frequency

by Coach Matt Shiver

One of the biggest questions we hear as fitness professionals is how often should I exercise? The question then gets broken down into: “How often should I train specific movement patterns or specific body parts?” Well the answer to this question is “It depends”. Like many of the training variables, frequency is going to be changed throughout one’s fitness career based on their goals, training history/progress, and lifestyle. But the basics of frequency need to be laid out so that is what I will do here.

High Frequency Training for Strength

The most effective way to increase strength and hypertrophy is through resistance training using progressive overload. The easiest way to “progressively overload” an athlete is to increase the total poundage of weight lifted over a given time period. The equation is as follows: weight x sets x reps. If you did 100lb squats for 3 sets of 5 reps in one week, your total volume will be 1500lbs for that week. Your body will adapt to the 1500lb stress you applied to it. This means that the next week, you need to use more than 1500lbs to elicit an anabolic response.

To get more poundage added in your training program, at least one of the three variables (weight, sets, or reps) must be increased each week. Notice how I highlighted each week. You do not have to add weight, sets, and reps to every training session. Instead you can add another training day. For example, if you are used to squatting 1x a week and you start squatting 2x per week, you increased the frequency and total volume just by adding one more day. You do not have to add more sets or reps to each workout with an additional training session. You could actually decrease the amounts of sets and reps you do each day and spread them out over the week to leave your legs feeling fresh and still progress through the principle of overload.

For example, if you did 100lb squats for 2 sets of 5 reps twice a week, you have a total of 2000lbs of total volume. By taking this approach, you actually decreased one workout’s sets by one set in the process and increased the total workload by 500lbs.

You do not need to train your body to exhaustion by adding weight, reps, and sets to one day of training to make progress. By spreading out the amount of times you stress that muscle each week, you can directly increase the total volume. This approach allows you to get more work done and feel much better through the process.

We all have done a typical bodybuilding split that had its leg day. The leg day consisted of absolutely demolishing the legs. The DOMs you got made it difficult to use your legs the next day. Your legs sometimes took a full week to recover from the training stimulus.

This approach is most likely not optimal for maximal strength gains. It limits the total poundage that can be lifted due to the muscle damage that was caused from such a high volume. If we took an approach that lessened the muscular damage done in one session, allowed us to train a movement pattern more often, and increase the total poundage of weight lifted over a given week why not do it?

High Frequency Training for Hypertrophy

My biggest concern for doing the classic “bro split” (spending one day on a specific muscle group) is that you are could be missing out on more opportunities to stimulate growth of the muscle tissue. If the body part is fully recovered in 48-72 hours, why wait another 4-5 days to stress it again? You will be getting much more bang for your buck by increasing your exercise frequency over a given week rather than increasing the amount of total work done in a single session.

If you are currently training using a conventional “bro split” for hypertrophy and want to give this a try, here is how. First, you need to find out your baseline volume. You need to find out how much total volume you need to continue to make adaptations in your training. I suggest doing this by tracking your workouts for an entire week. Then break down the week into movement patterns or body parts: vertical pressing, horizontal pressing, vertical pulling, horizontal pulling, squats, hinges, carries, core, etc. OR biceps, triceps, chest, back, quads, hamstrings and glutes, calves, etc.

Then, find the total SETS for EACH movement pattern/body part. From there, decide on how many days a week you want to exercise. For most people I would suggest doing full body workouts on each of these days splitting up the amount of sets of each muscle group evenly over these days. If you were used to training vertical pressing 1x per week with 9 sets, now try to train vertical pressing 3x per week with 3 sets each. You are going to be stimulating growth more frequently than you were before. You will NOT be as sore. Soreness is not a marker of muscle growth. You do not need to be sore to increase your muscle size. If you can hit a muscle group more often with less damage, you are setting yourself up for success.

Experience Determines Training Frequency

Frequency is also going to be determined by how the experience levels of the athlete. The more experience you have, the higher frequency you will need to have to meet the total volume needed to adapt to an exercise stimulus. This is what we see when we have elite level weightlifters training 9-12 training sessions a week. They have built up to this level of frequency. There is no reason to start a program that makes you train 5x-7x a week if you are used to 2x. That is a huge jump! You are actually going to LOSE gains from this. You could easily continue to make gains with minimal jumps in total training volume. By increasing your frequency and total volume too quickly, you are going to be making a new set point for your body. Now to improve, you have to increase even more in total volume. Why would you want to train for 2 hours a day for 5-6 days a week if you can get the same, if not better, response to exercise from training 3 days a week for 45 minutes to an hour. It gives you more time to focus on what really matters in life. More is not necessarily better when it comes to hypertrophy and strength training.

Next week our latest e-book “Bar Speed” drops teaching you guys everything there is to know about velocity based training for all athletes (Weightlifting, Powerlifting, SuperTotal, Athletic Performance, and CrossFit). Coach Spencer Arnold from Power & Grace Performance and I explain all the ways that VBT can be applied to each sport, and we give you sample programs for each sport.

Until then you can download our Free E-Book “Mash Method” to learn several ways to set new records in your training right now. Check it out at: ==>

“Don’t Brace Before You Breathe” by Coach Paluna Santamaria

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This article is the first one of a short series on breathing.


As lifters we tend to put a big emphasis on bracing for better spine stability but we rarely address the fact that many of us have faulty breathing patterns due to postural issues or injury.


Breathing and bracing is not the same thing so let’s start by defining the functions of our main breathing muscle, the diaphragm:


  1. Respiration: inhalation and exhalation of air.
  2. Stabilization: integration of all abdominal muscles/pelvic floor and diaphragm working together to create a base of support.
  3. Sphincter


The first step to identifying faulty breathing patterns is by assessing your posture.


No one will have perfect posture all the time but you can definitely aim for a neutral spine.


Neutral spine is when the cervical, thoracic and lumbar curves in the spine are in their natural position.


When you lie on your back with the soles of your feet flat on the ground and your arms resting at the sides there should be a bit of space between the back of your neck and the ground as well as between your lower back and the ground.

Your shoulder blades should feel wide, flat and heavy.


This is the best way to test your neutral spine and to start identifying your breathing patterns because gravity allows you to fully relax into the position.


Without a neutral spine they’ll be no efficient breathing and in consequence no efficient bracing.


Before we even worry about bracing let me list the benefits of adding breath work to your practice:


  1. Reduce anxiety/elevate mood
  2. Increase mental focus
  3. Aid digestion
  4. Eliminate oxidative stress
  5. Lower blood pressure
  6. Aid sleep




So this week I encourage you to bring awareness to your breathing by doing the following:


  1. Be aware of your patterns: are you holding your breath randomly through the day? Is your mouth fully closed when you breathe? Do you snore?
  2. Take 5-10 anatomical breaths before you sleep. Don’t over think it, simply lie on your bed, take a breath through the nose allowing your ribcage to expand in all directions, letting your belly naturally and gently rise and exhale through the nose or mouth as slow as you can.


Next week, we will introduce specific exercises to help you become more efficient at anatomical breathing before we address bracing!



Velocity and the RPE Scale

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Velocity and the RPE Scale

This week I had the privilege of podcasting with Coach/Athlete Mike Tuchscherer. I am pretty sure that Mike is the first guy to introduce the Powerlifting world to the RPE scale, and now thanks to him I use it in the weightlifting world. Let me explain the RPE System a little better.

RPE stands for rate of perceived exertion. This scale originated in the running world, but Mike borrowed it for a couple of reasons. Typical periodization utilizes percentages to prescribe intensities on a daily basis. These programs have all been shown to be effective, but they have one major flaw. Standard periodized percentages don’t take into account daily stress or each person’s normal hormonal cycle.

Studies have shown that an athlete’s 1-repetition maximum can range 18% up or down on a daily basis. That’s a 36% swing, and that makes percentages sometimes less than optimal. These daily swings are taken into account with the RPE System. Here’s the way it works:

RPE 10- Maximal Lift
RPE 9- One repetition is left in the tank
RPE 8- Two repetitions are left in the tank
RPE 7- Three repetitions are left
RPE 6- Four
REP 5- Five
RPE 4- Six
RPE 3- Seven
RPE 2- Eight
RPE 1- Nine

There are two ways that this scale can work with a coach and an athlete. First this is a great way for the coach to communicate with the athlete the optimal intensity for the day. This starts to quantify the desire of the coach. With online coaching this can be a real help. Sometimes it’s hard for the athlete to understand what the coach is trying to communicate. For example, if I tell an athlete that I want them to go light in the squat on a particular day, I am not certain that the athlete will comprehend my intent for them. “Light” for one athlete isn’t “light” for another. If I tell them to work up to a 7 RPE, there starts to be a better comprehension.

Second it’s a great way for an athlete to communicate with the coach. If an athlete performs a lift and tells the coach that the lift felt like an 8 RPE, the coach will know that there is plenty more in the tank. This can be especially helpful at a meet when choosing attempts.

However there is one major problem with this system, and that’s it can be very subjective. In a world of numbers like powerlifting and weightlifting, subjectivity can be a real problem. I believe that this system could be really effective for more seasoned athletes. It’s the brand new ones that this could be a problem. When a person first starts training, they simply don’t know their bodies well enough to decide between a 7, 8, or 9 RPE. How can this be quantified?

This is where velocity can come in. There are a few affordable options out there that could work well like “Open Barbell” or “Form Collar”. The key is to find solid velocity numbers for each athlete starting with a maximum lift. Most people start to shortly after .3m/s. However some can finish a lift at .15m/s if they have amazing grind abilities like my friend Hayden Bowe.

Once you can establish a 1RM velocity, you can then start working down. For example you will know that for a person with a .3m/s velocity during a 1RM, a lift moving at .75 m/s is no where near a 9 RPE. Everyone is slightly different, but you could start with a scale like this:

10 RPE- .3m/s and down
9 RPE- .3 to .5 m/s
8 RPE- .5 to .75 m/s
7 RPE- .75 to 1 m/s
6 RPE- 1 to 1.3 m/s
5 RPE- Greater that 1.3 m/s used for starting strength or warm up
1-4 RPE- Warm up weight used for technique and recovery.

Velocity is simply the best way to quantify training intensity. I love all the different ways that velocity can aid a coach or athlete in the weight room. Louie Simmons used to talk about velocity all the time back when I was competing, and I just thought that he was trying to sound smart. Now that I am a coach, I totally understand why he talked so much about it.

In a couple of weeks, Coach Spencer Arnold (Power and Grace Performance) and I are releasing our new book “Bar Speed”. Right now velocity based training has made its way through the strength and conditioning world. We are going to bring it to the strength and CrossFit world in an attempt to improve the world that we love so much. This book is going to be great for:

• Weightlifting coaches and athletes
• Powerlifting coaches and athletes
• CrossFit coaches and athletes
• Strength and conditioning coaches and athletes
• High School weight room coaches for safety and teaching tool
• SuperTotal coaches and athletes

I can’t wait to release this book, as the programming inside will be different from anything that I have ever published. This book will help coaches and athletes:

• Define daily intent
• Keep the weight room safer
• Teach effort
• Prevent over-training
• Guarantee that all qualities of strength are being trained

Stay tuned! If you are not on our newsletter list, you can get a FREE Copy of our E-Book “The Mash Method” all at the same time at:

The Truth About Knee Valgus

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The Truth About Knee Valgus

We’ve had a couple of internet coaches giving their feedback on one of our lifters this week regarding knee valgus, so I thought that I would take this time to give some feedback. First, I am a strength coach and weightlifting coach. I am not a physical therapist nor do I want to be. A lot of trainers and coaches out there are trying to be both. When an elite level weightlifter moves 1,000 miles to train with me, my job is to get them as humanly strong as possible. That’s exactly what I try to do. We have three men competing at the World Championships this year, which is more than any other club in America. This is how I measure success, and it’s the only way that I measure success.

When the Carolina Panthers take the field on Sunday, do you think that the owner is watching their functional movement patterns or the result on the scoreboard? My point is that the elite level weightlifters that I coach do not have weak glutes. December Garcia clean & jerks 116kg/255lb weighing 63kg/138lb. She has a monster butt, and I promise that it’s not weak.

Now on the other hand if I have a 12-year-old just starting to train, my goal is to stabilize that young athlete. I prefer to teach them a squat with the knees and toes aligned in a very stable manner. As an athlete advances, their body will learn movement patterns that will allow them to move the most weight. As long as that athlete doesn’t have any specific anatomical weaknesses and especially no asymmetries, then I am going to let an advanced lifter do their thing.

Once again, I am a strength coach, so I am going to let my Physical Therapist friends talk about the science behind knee valgus. First here’s a video from my good friend Dr. John Davidson:

A couple of points to note:

1. If the foot is stable, then we are pretty darn safe.
2. If there is no pain present, then there’s not a lot of concern especially in a strength athlete.
3. There is not one size fits all with a reference to Usain Bolt crossing midline with his knees.

Here’s my other buddy Dr. Zach Long getting detailed in an article:

A couple of points:

1. Adductor Mangus acts as a major hip extend or during ballistic movements.
2. The slight knee valgus present with high level weightlifters is probably a type of stretch reflex mechanism that fires the glutes creating more propulsion upwards.
3. Do you really think that Mattie Rogers has weak glutes? If so, we are all doomed.

I admit I added the “If so, we are all doomed” part, but it’s so trues. Athletes like December and Mattie Rogers are the strongest athletes in America. I promise that they can perform body weight squats without valgus. They can also jump and land without any valgus. The valgus present during their lifting has nothing to do with weakness. They are simply asking their bodies to be as humanly strong as possible, and their bodies are doing just that.

One last point, I am 44-years-old, and I have zero valgus present during any of my movements. Does that mean that my knees are unbreakable? No! I promise because my knees hurt a lot. My pain comes from lack of mobility. I can’t perform a knee valgus movement if I want to. That’s a real problem that no one talks about.

When you are working with high-level athletes, the goal is to be as strong as possible. If I see a weakness that might cause an injury, I will 100% address that weakness or asymmetry. Other than that, I am going to help them get strong and win medals.

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