Becoming a POWERFUL athlete
Strength is the big show of most performance programs, although, the quality that best translates to sports performance is POWER! Don’t get me wrong you need strength to develop power, so strength is still very critcal to all athletic development. Power is measured with the equation force x velocity, in other words how fast (velocity) can you move (force) an object (bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell). Power is how fast you can express your strength, therefore both strength and speed need to be developed.
Why is power so important
Being strong and resilient is obviously important on the sporting arena, although, those athletes that can move fast tend to be the ones doing the most damage. Power training is an effective way to transferr gym strength onto the sporting field. Think of Dustin Martin breaking a tackle, Lebron James dunking over a 7 footer, Pat Cumming bowling 150km/h beamers.
How does power training help athletes
Power can come in many forms and can be developed in many ways, for example; sprinting, jumping, cutting, throwing, kicking and tackling. While practicing these skills in your sports training will help develop some power, you wont be maximising your power development. During a sporting competition maximum intensity is usually not required (more lots of sub-max power efforts), therefore, maximal power is not achieve. You need to train power to develop it and the best place to do this is in the gym. Developing power in the gym allows you to generate more force and velocity in a controlled environment, so when you go back to your sport you can express your new found “powers” with ease.
What does power training look like
Power is developed across a spectrum of force and velocity (force/velocity curve), therefore it’s wise to train power in a few different ways. Here are some of the best ways to develop power –
Weighted Jumping: Squat jumps and vertical jumps with external loads like dumbbells, trapbar and weighted vest.
Plyometrics: Bounding, continuous jumping as high and as fast as you can.
Kettlebell Swings: Moving a heavy kettlebell with speed.
Olympic Lifts: Power cleans and snatched, moving heavy weights fast.
Medicine Ball Throws: Chest throws, jumps into throws, rotational throws using lighter medicine balls for weighted speed or heavier medballs for raw power.
Resisted Sprinting: Lightly resisted sprints for speed and heavy sleds for sprint specific strength.
The most important thing to remember when training for power is INTENT! You have to move the load as fast as you possibly can, even if it doesn’t move that fast, the intent to move fast is critical. The beauty about power is that it can be developed with simplist of movements. Build your strength base first by mastering the main movements (squat, hinge, push, pull) with good form at a controlled tempo, then add speed to those movements (squat jumps, medicine ball throws). Once you’re doing the simple movements well with speed then you can introduce the more complex movements (olympic lifts, kettlebell swings, plyometrics).
Being strong is one thing, but being strong and fast is a whole different beast…