What is power? While many have tried to answer that question in general terms, regarding the physical, power is strength over time. Power is the ability to move something heavy, quickly. You may have heard fitness enthusiasts talk about ‘building explosive power,’ in that phrase the term ‘explosive’ is redundant.
So why train for power? Aside from the benefits of being stronger and faster, power benefits the body in one huge way. By working muscles harder and faster, more muscle fibers are recruited across all exercises– you literally train more muscle with each movement, instead of breaking down the same exact fibers.
The most common weight-lifting techniques involve contracting a muscle 8-12 times with a weight that will challenge that amount of repetitions. When lifting for power, you want to exhaust a muscle as quickly as possible, but still be able to manage more than two repetitions. By performing exercises with 80-85% of your 1 rep max, muscles are worked to failure quickly, but not immediately. Most of the exercises you already perform with heavier weights can be integrated into this approach: bench press, military press and squat. The goal in this style of lifting is to be able to perform 3-4 reps in 4-5 sets.
Exercises Outside of The Box
There are a good number of exercises that build power without using much weight, exploiting the body’s ability to work harder in certain motions. You may have seen people at your gym or in videos on the internet jumping onto high boxes. The box jump is a simple but effective form of plyometrics. This type of exercise adds an element of speed to a squat movement, building power throughout the lower body. Medicine ball slams and rotational throws, when performed at maximum strength and speed, build power in the core. Typically, these aren’t exercises that require many reps per set, typically 4-8.
Your first lift for power can be a bit daunting. Heavier weights mean that you should definitely enlist the help of a fellow fitness-partner or a spotter for your power sets.
When you’re ready to train for power, talk to one of the professionals at our gym to learn more.