Precisely Prescribing the Intensity of a Workout

June 8, 2020
This week we are continuing to list our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Help Return Athletes to Play. This being the second week of the installment, we have #2: Precisely Prescribing the Intensity of a Workout.


The weight an athlete lifts during a workout, or intensity, is usually dictated by a percentage of their 1-Rep-Max (1RM) (the most amount of weight an athlete can lift for 1 repetition). However, when athletes return to campus their 1RM will be unknown due to the sporadic nature of their recent training, and therefore it is very difficult to prescribe the proper weight and workout. With VBT, a coach can instead prescribe a velocity and the athlete can find the weight that allows them to lift at that speed, taking the guesswork out of training. Too slow, take weight off. Too fast, add weight.

I don’t need to know what my athlete’s 1RM is or even how much weight they can lift. I know that to maximize peak power, they should be lifting between 0.7 – 0.77 m/s. That’s where they will stay when they return. We have so much insight, it almost feels like cheating.

Noel Durfey, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football, Duke University

intensity of a workout, Duke, Perch


Strength training and conditioning is a supplementary component to sports performance. Athletes need to perform in their sport. While weight room work can enhance that, chasing numbers in the weight room can be inhibitive as well. Velocity based training can be prescribed to train for specific qualities and the adaptations can be assured when staying in the appropriate VBT zone. Each athlete will have a slightly different speed affiliated with percentage load, but the zones are general recommendations that can help guide programming.

Think of your athletes, the sport, the timeline, and what traits you want to primarily focus on to get your athletes ready. Then use VBT to guide training sessions, monitor athletes closely, and keep progressing. Check out the chart below to get started understanding what speeds relate to what traits for both traditional percentage based training, and velocity based training.


  1. Select the trait you want to train for
  2. Enter velocity zone/threshold into your device
  3. Lift!

If you’re above the threshold, add some weight.

If you’re below the threshold, remove some weight.

Properly prescribing the intensity of a workout has never been easier with VBT. Using velocity to dictate load will ensure you are providing the appropriate stimulus to yield the desired training adaptations. Every time.


Check out other posts in our Return to Play series

Check out Noel Durfey’s Coach’s Corner to see how Duke uses VBT


Keep checking back for more velocity based training content, tips, tricks, and tools. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .

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