The Acute and Chronic Effects of Implementing Velocity Loss Thresholds During Resistance Training: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Critical Evaluation of the Literature

Sports Med. 2023 Jan;53(1):177-214. doi: 10.1007/s40279-022-01754-4. Epub 2022 Sep 30.


Background: Velocity loss (VL) experienced in a set during resistance training is often monitored to control training volume and quantify acute fatigue responses. Accordingly, various VL thresholds are used to prescribe resistance training and target different training adaptations. However, there are inconsistencies in the current body of evidence regarding the magnitude of the acute and chronic responses to the amount of VL experienced during resistance training.

Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to (1) evaluate the acute training volume, neuromuscular, metabolic, and perceptual responses to the amount of VL experienced during resistance training; (2) synthesize the available evidence on the chronic effects of different VL thresholds on training adaptations; and (3) provide an overview of the factors that might differentially influence the magnitude of specific acute and chronic responses to VL during resistance training.

Methods: This review was performed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Five databases were searched, and studies were included if they were written in English, prescribed resistance training using VL, and evaluated at least one (1) acute training volume, neuromuscular, metabolic, or perceptual response or (2) training adaptation. Risk of bias was assessed using a modified Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing the risk of bias in randomized trials. Multilevel and multivariate meta-regressions were performed where possible.

Results: Eighteen acute and 19 longitudinal studies met the inclusion criteria, of which only one had more than one risk of bias item assessed as high risk. Based on the included acute studies, it seems that the number of repetitions per set, blood lactate concentration, and rating of perceived exertion generally increase, while countermovement jump height, running sprint times, and velocity against fixed loads generally decrease as VL increases. However, the magnitude of these effects seems to be influenced, among other factors, by the exercise and load used. Regarding training adaptations, VL experienced during resistance training did not influence muscle strength and endurance gains. Increases in VL were associated with increases in hypertrophy (b = 0.006; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.001, 0.012), but negatively affected countermovement jump (b = - 0.040; 95% CI - 0.079, - 0.001), sprint (b = 0.001; 95% CI 0.001, 0.002), and velocity against submaximal load performance (b = - 0.018; 95% CI - 0.029, - 0.006).

Conclusions: A graded relationship exists between VL experienced during a set and acute training volume, neuromuscular, metabolic, and perceptual responses to resistance training. However, choice of exercise, load, and individual trainee characteristics (e.g., training history) seem to modulate these relationships. The choice of VL threshold does not seem to affect strength and muscle endurance gains whereas higher VL thresholds are superior for enhancing hypertrophy, and lower VL thresholds are superior for jumping, sprinting, and velocity against submaximal loads performance.

Clinical trial registration: The original protocol was prospectively registered ( ) with the Open Science Framework.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Athletic Performance* / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Running* / physiology