The main benefit of using velocity exercises is to teach your body to sustain strength and power and mentally stay on task. The longer you can sustain both physically and mentally, the longer you can compete and train at a safe level.
Unlike most training done today, the velocity movements are pure, constant output – just like the flow of water – using strength and speed together with no recovery or rest in the movement pattern.
The Battle Ropes Training System teaches you not only to create velocity but more importantly, to sustain it. Learning to sustain output, especially at higher and higher intensities, yields amazing increases in work capacity and the ability to maintain a high level of performance over a longer period of time.
As John started sharing the velocity system that he had created, he noticed that it seemed to be a missing link in everyone’s training. Regardless of their training background, everyone – including elite athletes – struggled to maintain the intensity of their waves and fatigued quickly within the first minute.
Those with a strength background were able to move the rope well and put enough force into the rope to create a strong, fast wave, but were unable to continue with the same amount of force for very long. Those with an endurance background were used to longer training intervals but not while also maintaining a higher level of force output and speed.
The required combination of the constant output of speed, strength, and endurance is unmatched in any other training method yet it carries over to every discipline; it yields great results across the board, no matter your training goal.
With diligent training, everyone makes quick improvements in their ability to sustain over longer periods of time. This doesn’t only apply to their ability to create waves for a longer time, but also into other areas of training and performance. Those training for endurance events finds that they can push harder earlier and for longer than they were previously capable.
Even more interesting are the benefits were seen for strength and power athletes. With their increased work capacity, they are capable of maintaining their strength, power, and quality in training and competition over a great number of sets and for a longer period of time. For example, a strongman competition or a weightlifting meet might last over a period of many hours. Those who have the ability to sustain their velocity and focus can maintain their high level of performance throughout that entire time.
Shorter vs. Longer Intervals
Typically, when you see people use velocity exercises in their training programs, they are implemented using short time intervals – usually, 20-60 seconds – and are often combined with multiple other exercises in circuit fashion. While this can be great for conditioning and fat loss, it also misses the elements that make the velocity system so unique.
The greatest benefits and the greatest transfer into other areas of training and performance only occur when an individual is also trained to sustain their strength and speed for longer times. When they can keep their waves moving at a good pace on one exercise without switching for at least five minutes and up to 20, 30 minutes or more, they will experience the true value of the Battling Ropes velocity system.
In addition to improving the physical ability to sustain, it also develops true mental toughness – teaching you how to stay on task and not give up even after things get hard or you begin to fatigue. Training with shorter intervals won’t yield this result. When you only have to work hard at an exercise for 20-60 seconds at a time, even if you move quickly to another exercise and keep moving, you are still allowing yourself to stop something before it really gets hard. In essence, you are teaching yourself that when something starts to get hard, you can either quit or just change what you’re doing.
Often, in order to get through something in life, we don’t have the option of quitting or moving on to something else. If you’ve developed the mental toughness to continue working and pushing forward even after things get hard, you can be successful in many more areas of life than just physical training.
Unique Aspects to the Velocity System
1. Pure output
Almost every other training method includes a recovery portion within the full movement pattern. Each of the velocity exercises requires constant output – both arms are constantly working in multiple directions. There is no rest or recovery. This makes the exercises quite challenging, but also extremely effective in developing work capacity and the ability to sustain.
2. Simple to learn
Many training methods have a big learning curve and may take a while before becoming an effective training tool. In contrast, the velocity exercises are simple to learn, providing an appropriate challenge and immediate benefit to everyone right from the first day.
3. Tough to master
The endless progressions within the system allow for continuous improvement and challenge for every level. They can be easy enough for a beginner and challenging enough for the elite athlete. No matter how far you advance within the system, you can always increase the difficulty, intensity or challenge of the exercise to continue making progress.
All of the exercises within the velocity system are very safe, barring a pre-existing injury. There is no impact on the joints, and no matter how much effort and force you put into the rope, there is no force coming back at you. In fact, many of the velocity movements are being used in physical therapy programs for shoulder rehab.
5. Balancing both sides
When using the velocity movements in training, you’ll often notice that one arm fatigues more quickly, might move slower, or even starts moving differently than the opposite side. This usually indicates a difference in your ability to produce strength speed or power between your left and right sides. Because each side has to work independently, with continued rope training, the two sides begin to balance out automatically without any special corrective training.
6. Visual motivation
As with most of the Battling Rope concepts, one great thing about velocity training is that your rope is often your best teacher and motivator. If you watch your rope as you create waves, you get immediate feedback. You don’t need to wait for someone to tell you how your movement looks or to watch a video of yourself to judge your performance or intensity. Simply watch your rope!
If your waves aren’t reaching the anchor point, you need to create more force. If you have only one wave in the rope instead of multiple waves, you need to work to move faster. If the wave is choppy, you aren’t transferring force as efficiently as you should, and you’ll need to work to move more fluidly for efficient force transfer. Use this as motivation to always strive to be better.
We often use time to prescribe and measure training within the velocity system. You could also count the number of reps per arm. In addition, if you count the number of times your arm moves per minute, you can also track and prescribe a specific cadence to maintain. This becomes important when training to sustain and build work capacity. We don’t want to slow down in an effort to keep the waves moving for a longer time interval. Instead, we want to train to build our ability to move the ropes for five, 10 or 20 minutes at the same pace we could initially move them for just one minute.
The 50-foot, 1.5–inch-diameter rope is the best rope for everyone to start with in the velocity segment. John tested ropes of various diameters and lengths in order to find the best rope to challenge the ability to sustain a combination of strength and speed in order to increase work capacity. Beginners and elite athletes alike should start with the same rope – from a 13-year-old kid to an NFL lineman.
You might think you want to use a shorter rope for a younger participant or a beginner. However, it’s still best to use the 50-foot, 1.5-inch rope, even if they can’t initially get their waves to travel down to the anchor point. This alone is great motivation to work harder and make progress – they can watch and track how far their waves travel, and work to improve both within the session and over time. Regardless of the intensity of the waves, when someone works to their ability level, they will be challenged appropriately. You’ll find that with regular training, people improve quickly, and a shorter rope will become too easy in a short time.
At the other end of the training spectrum, the stronger or more advanced user often assumes they should use a larger, heavier rope, such as a 2-inch rope, to match their ability. However, no matter how strong the individual, the weight of the heavier rope causes their waves to slow down, limiting their results. Remember that the velocity movements require both strength and speed in order for them to improve work capacity and transfer over into anything else.
It’s imperative to start everyone on the 1.5-inch rope and become proficient at sustaining waves at a certain speed and intensity before using one of the many progressions within the Battling Rope system to create a greater challenge. The heavier rope is considered a progression from the 1.5” rope – for everyone.
Progressions for the Velocity System
One of the easiest ways to progress a velocity exercise is to move into a kneeling or seated position. As soon as you lower the body – and therefore the ropes – closer to the ground, you have to move much faster in order to maintain the intensity of your waves and to keep them moving to the anchor point. In addition, as you move to kneeling and seated positions, you eliminate the ability to use the legs to assist with creating waves, making these movements much more challenging. Most of the velocity movements can also be done from a kneeling or a seated position
As a general example, if an individual moves the waves at a pace of 80 waves per minute in a standing position, they will have to move the waves about 100 reps per minute in a kneeling position and 120 reps per minute in a seated position.
- Kneeling – be sure to ground your body just as you do in a
- Half kneeling – one knee down, opposite leg forward, foot on the ground
- Seated in a chair
You can use the rope in a seated position with a few variations:
- Legs together, straight in front of you
Distance from the Pole
As you progress and the velocity movements become easier, you can increase their difficulty by simply stepping forward to move yourself a short distance in toward the anchor point. When you do this, you have the same amount of rope in a shorter distance. This forces you to increase your intensity, force, and cadence in order to continue moving the waves down the rope. Be sure not to just increase the size of your waves. While they might increase a little, remember that we want to continue making smaller to mid-sized waves and just increase their speed and intensity.
Start by moving in just a few inches or a foot at a time. You’ll be surprised at how much such a small change can make. Over time, little by little, you can work to complete a full workout much closer to the pole.
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