Eccentric and Velocity-Based Training for Collegiate Athletes

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Introduction:

Typically, strength training is used to enhance low-speed strength, while plyometrics and Olympic movements/derivatives are performed for power output. With the recent surge of velocity-based training (VBT), strength and power were hybridized by focusing on higher concentric velocities. VBT has demonstrated enhanced power output at various speeds and intensities. When we combine VBT with an eccentric focus (VEB), it may be proposed that the additional eccentric stimulus may enhance power and strength adaptions. “The purpose of this study was to determine if combining velocity-based training with eccentric focus (VEB) and velocity-based training (VBT) results in power and strength gains.”

Methods:

The subjects included 20 Division III track and field athletes; 11 of which were male and 9 of which were female. Athletes included throwers, jumpers and sprinters. The subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: VBT or VEB.

Pre-experiment testing included 1RM squat, 1RM bench press, vertical jump, and medicine ball throw. The training program took place over a 12-week period. Training frequency was 3-4 days per week, rotating lower- and upper-body exercises for the 12 weeks. The first 6-week period held a frequency of 4 days per week, whereas the final 6-week period held a frequency of 3 days per week.  Periodization for the 12-week program included three 3-week cycles, with one deload week after the first two cycles, and ending the programs with two weeks of tapering for peak. Details of the core and power lifts periodization include:

Cycle 1: 4-5 sets x 6-8 repetitions at 50-60% of projected 1RM
Cycle 2: 3- 5 sets x 4-6 repetitions at 60-70% of projected 1RM
Deload week: 3 x 4-5 at 70% of projected 1RM
Cycle 3: 4-5 sets x 2-4 repetitions at 70-80% of projected 1RM
Final Two Weeks: 4-6 sets x 2-5 repetitions at 55-65% of projected 1RM.

The programs for both groups consisted of power movements (snatch, hang clean, power clean, and high pull), core movements (back squat, bench press, shoulder press, leg press, and incline bench press), and finally accessory movements (lunges, push-ups, pull ups).

The primary differences between groups were the tempos prescribed for each movement. The VBT group followed a tempo performing all three phases as explosively as possible (X/X/X). The VEB group was instructed to perform a 3 second eccentric, then complete the movement as explosively as possible (3/X/X).

Results:

19 of the 20 subjects completed the program, with one dropout due to injury. The primary results show no significant differences between groups, as both groups improved strength and power. However, within the VEB group, men responded better in the 1RM squat, vertical jump, and medicine ball throw. Within the VBT group, both the men and women improved the 1RM squat significantly.

Discussion:

It seems the primary findings are that VBT will indeed enhance power and strength, regardless of the eccentric focus (VEB), particularly as observed in the squat. The high velocities may enhance power and strength by way of increasing total motor unit recruitment, rate coding, and additional neuromuscular pathways. Unfortunately, some facets of this study were poorly controlled such as: gender, age, varying training ages, and the differing events. Anthropometric measures were also not taken, were as VEB may induce a more hypertrophic response when compared to VBT. It should also be noted that athletes in the VEB group required more time to train each session, yet yielded similar results to the VBT group. VBT may be efficacious to yield positive strength and power adaptations, in a timely manner, while also allowing less fatigue from a lesser magnitude of muscle damage.

 

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Thanks, 
AJ

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