Perch: The Future of Strength Training

  • Post category:TRAINING

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Imagine a high school weight room that has cameras mounted on equipment with immediate feedback on tablets so players can fix technique and receive motivation for the next set.

That setting may exist as early as this fall if Perch ( catches on at the prep sports level.

Perch uses 3D depth cameras and machine learning to quantify bar path and orientation in 3D space. By analyzing bar path, Perch can extract useful information regarding velocity, power output, and movement quality.

Velocity based training (VBT) is a new training methodology that utilizes the velocity of every rep as an objective feedback measure. By programming with velocity instead of just weight, athletes and coaches can: control for fluctuations in daily energy, improve motivation, analyze longitudinal trends, enhance training specificity, and observe the quality of movement of every athlete regardless of coaching staff size.

“As athletic development and technology continually evolve, I’m always looking for new ways to maximize my athletes’ potential,” said AC Flora High (S.C.) strength coach Micah Kurtz. “Perch is extremely intriguing because it shows the potential to become an efficient, affordable and portable method to quantify my athletes’ strength, power and movement quality.”

Perch was founded by three student-athletes at MIT – Jacob Rothman, Nate Rodman and Jordan Lucier. They set out to improve on older VBT devices that include strings and wearables for athletes.

“The string-based devices  slow down the workout and wearables are tough to implement in a team setting,” Rothman said. “We capture body  movement without changing weightroom workflow . We attach cameras to the racks to allow athletes to work out as usual, nothing attached to the athlete, nothing to the bar, and then use analytics to enhance their performance.”

The goal for Perch is to decrease the risk of injury and create more efficient workouts by adjusting the target goals for each lift depending on the athlete’s fatigue and power supply.

“Instead of basing workout intensity on a 1 RM that was measured weeks ago, we program with  velocity targets,” Rothman said. “This is daily feedback based on fatigue and energy levels. By basing workout intensity solely on weight, a coach has no idea of the athletes’ quality of movement, his speed, or his explosiveness; there’s no deeper level of feedback. Velocity closes the loop, providing a deeper level of feedback to coaches and athletes on a daily basis. We then store it online, and the coach can look at trends to figure out how to adjust the program.”

One other function Perch offers – which has become popular among strength tech companies in the industry – is software that organizes workouts and player results so that players and coaches can see organized information on computers, tablets and devices.

Some of those other companies include TeamBuildr, EliteForm and Volt Athletics. Used by over 100,000 coaches and athletes, Volt’s Intelligent Training System delivers sport-specific training that is optimized to your team, customizable to your needs, and personalized to each athlete. TeamBuildr has an intuitive reporting and notification system that will alert you when there is a new team record or an athlete beats their body weight goal. EliteForm’s integrated system offers athletes real-time feedback during workouts to add competition and buy-in for every rep.


3 Benefits of Velocity Based Training

Programming workouts.

A coach can prescribe velocities at which his athletes should be lifting. The athlete then finds the correct weight. If an athlete arrives for a workout low on energy, he can lift a lighter load. By training at the correct intensity, regardless of the weight, Perch can obtain the desired training adaptations, maintain proper form, and avoid injury.

Training specificity.

Velocity enables the coach to tailor workouts for individual athletes and for athletes to train for specific outcomes, leading to optimal performance on the field.

Motivation, feedback, and education.

Velocity numbers are often immediately shown to athletes upon completion of a rep. This is not only to ensure athletes are lifting at the programmed intensity and volume on a given day, but also to enhance motivation. This provides the athlete with a single metric they can utilize to see improvement, compete individually or with others, and push themselves.