Strength Profiling Part 2: Creating the Strength Profile

In part 1 of Creating the Strength Profile series we explained a tweak in the warm up strategy that allows lifters to immediately gather feedback on their training readiness, understand their conditions for the day, and eventually adjust the following workout seamlessly.

Two important takeaways from the article that we are going to use now :

  1. Always use the same loads during the warm up and push the last warm up sets as fast as possible. See Table 1 for the complete warm up.
  2. Evaluate speed at a certain reference load (usually the last heaviest set) and understand progress.

Another advantage provided by this kind of warm up is the opportunity to build the Strength Profile for the exercise without any dedicated “testing” session.

Strength Profile

A Strength Profile ((Jidovtseff et al 2012 – 1RM prediction and Load Velocity Profile)) is basically a reference composed by two relationships that describe the best and expected performances in a chosen exercise. The Profile allows us to do several important things when it comes down to training decisions:

  • choose the load after a target performance is selected
  • Evaluate progress
  • Evaluate weaknesses and strengths,
  • Estimate 1RM and Best Power Output.

Down to maths, two easy formulas describe the relationship between Load and Velocity (aka LV Profile) and between Load and Power (aka Power Curve).

LV Profile is represented by a linear relationship, its chart will be a line :

Speed = m * Load + b

where m – represents the steepness of the curve, I know I’m getting a little bit nerdy here,I will come back to these coefficients later as they are very interesting.

b – is the intercept, or the value of the curve when load is zero. That ideally represents our Speed at zero load : the highest it is the fastest we are. Again we’re coming back to this value later.

The inverse relationship might be used as well where

Load = m * speed + b

In this case b represent the Load at Zero Speed ((Jovanovic,, a concept close to the 1RM.

What are the differences?

The first relationship helps us quickly predict the speed we should perform given a specific load, the second relationship does the opposite, we can enter the target speed and predict the correct load for the day. Now I consider this a little bit too annoying and nerdy… as once we have a spreadsheet in place (and we will soon), we will just stick our index finger on the chart and take out both the values of load and speed at the same time, forgetting about the rocket science behind all of this. Simplify our training experience, in the end this is why we are here.

Power profile is represented by a quadratic relationship and its chart will be a downward facing parabola. This is quite important, as a matter of fact the top of the parabola represents Max Power Output and that is one of the metric we’re looking for.

Power = A * Load ^2 + B * Load + C

Load Velocity Relationship

Figure 1 : An example of Load Velocity relationship.

Power Load Chart

Figure 2 : An example of Power Load relationship

Quick Steps to build the profile during warm up

Back to Table 1, we have four sets available to track data.

Step 1 – Begin with First set, make sure full speed is reached during the concentric phase.

Step 2 – Enter the load into the spreadsheet

Step 3 – Enter Speed.

Step 4 – Enter Power.


((Kraaijenhof, What we need is speed: Scientific Practice of getting Fast))

As a note, profile can be built with Average Set Values, this case values must be taken from the Velocity Based Training Widget and from the Power Set by Set widget. A common solution relies on building the profile with Max Values instead, in this case choose the best bars from the Rep edit View.

Step 5 – Repeat the same steps with other 3 different loads

Data Entry Table

Figure 3 : Data Entry table from the Spreadsheet

Estimate 1RM

In order to correctly estimate 1RM, 1RM speed for the exercise needs to be estimated. The main thing to consider is that 1RM happen at the slowest speed possible for the lift. Try doing one set to failure just to record the speed of the last rep and use it as the best estimate.   Every exercise has its own 1RM speed, for most of the athletes, speed will be slightly different. In Figure 4 some of the most common values found in research.

A table from Lorena Torres collecting indications on 1RM speed for the main exercises. Table has been created gathering data from studies by Sanchez-Medina

Figure 4 : A table from Lorena Torres collecting indications on 1RM speed for the main exercises. Table has been created gathering data from studies by Sanchez-Medina

Part of these were taken from the awesome work of Lorena Torres, summing up different values taken from literature, especially from the Spanish researchers Gonzalez-Badillo and Sanchez-Medina, who did tons of research ((Gonzalez-Badillo and Sanchez-Medina, Movement Velocities as a Measure of Loading Intensities in Resistance Training))((Gonzalez-Badillo y Juan Ribas Serna, Bases de la Programacion del entrenamiento de fuerza))((Gonzalez-Badillo, Sanchez-Medina, Velocity-and power-load relationships of the bench pull vs. Bench press exercises))on the topic.

There are two main strategies to determine 1RM speed (or MVT Minimum Velocity Threshold) with more detail :

Directly measure 1RM speed with a 1RM test

Indirectly estimate 1RM speed from a Rep to Failure set with 75-80% 1RM and mark the speed of the last rep.

In my experience most of the pro strength coaches we partnered with go by trial. They are not really interested in guessing the real 1RM as they are interested in the estimation of the load at a determined constant reference speed. 

A practical example: even when 1RM is over/under estimated because MVT is innaccurate, if the 1RM increases that still is an evidence of progress as long as MVT is constant.  

Don’t get psyched if speed can’t be estimated correctly though. Most of the time the only interest will be to understand how this value is progressing rather than getting a score itself. It is key to understand that 1RM will grow or diminuish with the linear relationship linking load to speed. In other words again, by selecting a pre-determined speed as a reference and by using the same speed as a reference over and over again in profiling the same exercise either an increase or a decrease in the corresponding load will be obtained indicating the athlete is improving or not. This is the real advantage in dealing with 1RM Speed: only 4 sets and a lot of informations can be estimated for the day. The score immediately tell if it is a good day or a bad day and the results can be challenged. One of the best thing a powerlifters told me during tests once was : “Please can you estimate my 1RM so I can try to beat it”. It is human vs machine. It is competitiveness! Think about the fire in your eyes once you see your 1RM is going up and you still haven’t begun your training session! That literally lights the workouts!

Estimate Max Power Data

Sometimes Max Strength is not the main focus because the practical interest is Power. The Power Load relationship is a convex parabola (it is downfacing) and it has a particularity: his Vertex point, usually somewhere from 50% to 80% of 1RM. Some interesting metrics come out of here :

  1. Max Power Output for the exercise
  2. Max Power Load
  3. By crossing informations with the first chart, we can estimate Max Power Speed.
Power Load Chart

Figure 5 : Max Power can be estimated around 1200 Watt using approximately 90 Kg

Max Power Output represents the maximum Power Output we can generate in the exercise. We can use this metric for different evaluations like finding the exercise that guarantees the most power output for my lower body training, is it the Squat? is it the Deadlift? Is is the Power Clean? Is it the Squat Jump?

Sliding down from the vertex the x-axes can be cross on the chart, indicating the Maximal Power Load ((Loturco, Nakamura, Determining the Optimum Power Load in Jump Squat Using the Mean Propulsive Velocity)). Many coaches and athletes can get rid of a lot of stuff after they marked this value. Without bar speed tracking devices there is no way maximal power output and maximal power load  can correctly be estimated. Further, this value is floating with days and by following these simple steps optimal training conditions for the day are guaranteed.

To make sure the target is in reach,  just cross informations between the two charts and estimate the Max Power Speed. That is the target Speed for the day for the Maximal Power Training Method.

This is the Sacrum Graal for many coaches using the Maximal Power Training Method ((Bosco, La Forza Muscolare, Aspetti Fisiologici ed Applicazioni Pratiche )). This also corresponds to the concept of Dynamic Effort ((Simmons, the Westside Barbell Book of Methods)) coming from the old school Russian coaches((Verkhoshansky and M.Siff, Supertraining))((Verkhoshansky, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches))

The Dynamic Effort method,  as described by the Russians((Zatsiorksy and Kraemer, Science and Practice of Strength Training)) or by Westside Periodisation((Simmons, Special Strength Developments for All Sports)), consists of constantly waving volume, intensities and exercises around this optimal condition (lifting submaximal loads at maximal speed). Maximal power output is therefore guaranteed. At this point, a decrease of speed in time will indicate a decrease in Power. An increase of speed will instead dictate an increase in Maximal Power. Bang! Another PR, you’ve just become more powerful!

The real difference between using Power and Speed lies in the usability of the metric: it is easier to remember a 2 digit speed value than a 3 sometimes 4 digit power value. Also, as speed does not depend on the load, some optimal Speed values are recurring ((Bryan Mann, Developing Explosive Athletes: the use of velocity based training in Training Athletes)) among similar exercises and they are easy to remember (most of the classic lifts like Squat, Bench and Deadlifts require 0,8 – 0,9 m/s).

This might be a gateway to a new world for newbies entering bar speed tracking, as there is ton of training research and papers about this ((Pareja-Blanco, Rodriguez-Rosell, Sanchez-Medina, Effects of velocity loss during resistance training on athletic performance, strength gains and muscle adaptations)) ((Baker, Selecting the Appropriate exercises and loads for speed-strength development))

Thanks to accelerometers and bar speed tracking devices, this training methodology is now much more friendly and applicable to basically every training session!

Timeframe for the Profile

Daily performances provide a daily Profile. Profiles must be treat like fresh milk, adaptations will happen quickly over time and “expire” soon.  Nothing can stop from creating a profile comprising a larger time frame, for example a month wide or, better a cycle wide or a wave-related profile.

In this case filter the data for the desired timeframe must be filtered out. Estimations will be based on a more stable set of data thus cutting daily noises and oscillations. This is a good strategy to research the value and the effects of each training waves on performances.