At Boxing Science, it’s not just about lifting the heaviest weight! We’re not here to create the biggest squatter or the fastest runner, our program aims to improve physiological characteristics to unlock a boxers’ potential.
This is evident in our recent work with English Cruiserweight title holder Callum Beardow, who has improved his explosiveness at lighter loads without increasing his one rep max.
In this article, assistant S&C coach Tommy Munday will explain how we utilised Velocity Based Training to improve Callum’s strength, speed and explosiveness on his way to an impressive campaign at the National Elite Championships, where he reached the final and secured himself in the top two in the country at 86kg.
Rebuilding the Beast!
If you’re a keen Boxing Science follower, you will already be familiar with Callum Beardow, as he is the longest serving athlete on the program. In fact, he was part of the program even before the launch of Boxing Science in 2014.
Over the past five years, Callum has shown copious amounts of dedication and motivation to succeed, and the hard work paid off last season capturing the English Cruiserweight title and a Bronze medal in the Elite Championships in his debut season at senior level. He recently went one step further in this year’s national championships – achieving a silver medal losing out in the final to Bryce Goodridge.
During this time, the 23-year-old has built a reputation of being the strongest on the program – lifting the most on squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifting variations.
WATCH- Boxing Science Profiles Episode 4- Callum Beardow
However, the program isn’t designed to be creating the biggest and strongest lifters – we lift to meet the demands of the sport. In order to throw fast and hard punches repeatedly, we need to access our fast twitch capabilities, and apply high amounts of force in short time frames.
When we first carried out a Load Velocity assessment on the Trap Bar Deadlift on Callum in September 2016, we compared his data to our baseline data for what velocities we expect athletes to hit at varying multiples of their body mass (1.2 x BW, 1.8 x BW, etc.).
We can see here that Callum was below the baseline at all loads, however this wasn’t too much of a concern as it is harder for larger athletes to score well on “Pound for Pound” measures. However, what we could see is that the gap is smaller at higher loads compared to lower loads.
This meant that Callum was well adapted at maximal strength, however struggled to transfer that force into fast, explosive movements at lower loads.
We had to adapt our training strategy to meet the demands of the sport.
How Velocity Based Training Can Help?
Velocity Based Training (VBT) encourages athletes to lift at speed. VBT is a method whereby the speed of a lift is used to monitor performance and structure programs. It’s often used in strength and conditioning for improving strength and speed.
Barbell velocities can be monitored using linear position transducers (LPT) or wearable accelerometers (e.g. PUSH band) to give instantaneous feedback on the movement velocity during an exercise. In our case, we use an LPT (GymAware) to assess mean velocity.
Gaining information quickly allows coaches to give very specific feedback to athletes, which increases motivation, competitiveness, mood and performance.
For example, let’s take the Trap Bar Deadlift.
If an athlete lifts 110 kg at 0.67 m/s in an initial assessment, then in a follow up assessment 4-6 weeks later, after a period of VBT, lifts 110 kg at 0.77 m/s, and perhaps 120 kg at 0.67 m/s, we now know a few different improvements have been made.
- Our athlete is now stronger and able to apply more force during the lift across a period of time (improved Impulse).
- Our athlete is now faster, and able to develop the force they apply more quickly (improved Rate of Force Development/RFD).
Both Impulse and RFD are massively important to punching hard, therefore if the athlete has made improvements in their lifting velocities, we should see these improvements transfer over to a harder punch.
How We Used VBT For Callum?
We developed and created Load-Velocity profiles with Callum, which gives him target velocities to hit, depending on the weight he is lifting.
This season, Callum has undergone two 12 week cycles, to peak for his English Title Defence in October, and also the National Championships in April. Each cycle has included the following phases, each lasting 4 weeks-
- Max Strength (>90% 1RM)
- Strength-Speed (65-85% 1RM)
- Speed-Strength (40-65% 1RM)
This means that for 75% of his training this season (18 weeks), he has been working under 80% of his 1RM. This allows Callum to be fresher and sharper for his Boxing sessions. Combining this with Velocity feedback has allowed Callum’s training to be hugely optimal, in all areas.
Results From The Program…
We can now see that Callum is faster at both lighter and heavier loads. This indicates he is now a stronger, more explosive, and faster athlete.
If we take a few key loads, we can see that Callum has improved relatively less at heavier loads, but massively at lighter loads.
IMPACT: This means that despite not getting significantly stronger and increasing his max force production, Callum is able to be faster and more explosive with lighter loads.
VBT can be a really useful tool for enhancing and optimising time spent in the weight room.
We know that if an athlete lifts the same load at a faster speed, they have improved their force production and rate of force development, meaning they are faster and more explosive.
Callum Beardow has used VBT improve his speed and explosiveness, without massively improving his max strength.
Learn More About Velocity Based Training
This article has just scratched the surface on how we use velocity based training at Boxing Science… if you want to learn more, we have the perfect workshop for you in our Combat Conditioning Conference 2018.
S&C Danny Wilson presents ‘Velocity Based Training for Boxing and Combat Sports’ – giving you a fantastic insight to our programming and shares tips on how to apply VBT in the gym.
This is part of a series of 12 fantastic workshops in a totally unique event that brings together the leading names in combat sports, including talks from the UFC Performance Institute.