Essential Power

Power denotes an element of speed. In recent years strength professionals have referred to this as “speed-strength”. The formula for power is: the force applied to an object, multiplied by the amount of distance it is moved, divided by the amount of time it took to move it (force x distance/time).

The aspect that draws most of us to watch sports is the power element. The ability to generate explosive power is often the difference between first place and last place. A marathoner’s last sprint at the end of a 26-mile run is an expression of power. In fact, it is safe to say, that in many instances it is a distance runner’s anaerobic capacity and ability to generate a relatively large amount of “power” that will decide who will cross the finish line first and who will come in eighth.

Olympic weightlifting is all about power. Competitive Olympic Weightlifters are some of the most powerful athletes on the planet. Lifting large amounts of weight overhead can only be accomplished with power and, of course, technique.

We are most often attracted, either consciously or sub consciously, to powerful movements. When we see a gymnast performing multiple flips and round-offs, a football player diving over other players to land in the end zone, or a basketball player dunking a basketball with so much force that the boards explode we stare in awe at their athletic prowess.

For the athlete power can be the difference between winning and losing, for the average person developing and possessing power can mean more fun on the tennis court, golf course or an easier time chasing a three year old around a department store.

Power- Endurance refers to the ability to execute repeated bouts of explosive movements over time. The exercises of choice would be high rep cleans, snatches, jerks, sprints or the appropriate plyometric exercises. This is most likely THE deciding factor between winning and losing in most sports (all other things being equal).

This will apply to a grappler shooting in for one more take down in the last 10 seconds of a long bout, a football player pushing through one last drive, a boxer putting together one last flurry of punches when he can barely keep his hands up and a marathoner sprinting to the finish line to beat out the competition by two seconds.

By the way, if you believe the marathon is an endurance event I would have you reconsider. I propose that if it were a true endurance event the winner would be the one who ran the longest before collapsing. I believe that a marathon is a power-endurance event. I believe this because the winner is the one with the FASTEST time in a set distance. Speed equals power.

Developing Power

Developing power is accomplished by lifting quickly and explosively. This is the main difference between absolute strength and speed-strength. The percentage of one’s 1RM will be between 70-80% of a weight that can be lifted safely and properly (generally less resistance is needed to develop power, as compared to the resistance to develop “strength”). Reps should be kept between two and five. The number of sets can vary between two and five as well.

Depending on the intensity or difficulty of a specific set, on a given lift, rest should be adequate enough to allow the lifter to perform another set. This will generally take between 30 seconds to two minutes. Generally the explosive lifts, such as cleans, jerks, swings, snatches, and push presses are chosen to develop power. These lifts require a great deal of energy and mental focus and are usually performed at the onset of training.

Developing Power-Endurance

High repetition “snatches” and “clean and jerks” are not uncommon with lifters posting total numbers in the “100’s”. Obviously the weight must match the exerciser’s fitness to perform at this level. Usually when training repetitions are kept around 15, while performing 3-5 sets. This is very challenging training and should be approached with the utmost care and planning. The exerciser will quickly begin to feel the effects and will often feel like they ran a few wind sprints.

The key is to use the heaviest weight that the lifter can handle for the prescribed number of repetitions while maintaining proper form and safety. When developing power-endurance a variety of lifts can be utilized as long as the intensity and repetition range is adequate to achieve the goal.

Cleans, jerks, push presses snatches and even squats are examples of exercises that can help the exerciser increase power-endurance. I prefer high repetition total-body lifts (such as “snatches” and “clean and jerks”) and compound lifts (such as “squats and presses” or “squats with high pulls”) for developing this type of power. Perform the movements explosively and under control and you can't go wrong.

As with strength and power development, adequate rest periods are essential when training for power-endurance. If lifting technique begins to suffer and the lifter cannot continue with proper form than the exercise should be terminated.

Challenging sets with high reps should be paired with enough rest to perform the subsequent sets properly. For some this may take a minute or more. For well-trained individuals, compressing the rest periods will increase the intensity and create a more challenging training environment.

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