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Training For Power

Last week we talked about training like an athlete. Power is a crucial component of an athlete’s program, but is there any reason to train it outside of sport?

As with any athletic ability, power follows the paradigm “use it or lose it.” Every decade after age 40, strength declines by roughly 10%. Power declines at about twice the rate of strength, at 17% each decade,

So what is power? Why does it matter? How do we train for power and explosiveness?

What is Power?

Power=Work/Change in Time. Essentially, power is generating as much force as you can, as quickly as you can. Power is also involved in coordinating movement.

Why Does Power Matter?

Power matters because power is involved in many activities of daily living. A 2019 study researching the correlation between muscle power and longevity notes that, “Rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depend more on muscle power than muscle strength.”

Another important point is that power involves our type II muscle fibers. These are the fast twitch muscle fibers. While these muscle fibers are obviously important for explosiveness in movements like the shot put, a baseball pitch, or acceleration on the field, they are also the same muscle fibers that help us catch ourselves if we fall. This becomes important as we age and the risk of fall increases.

Dr. Pavlovic in his article Power Training is for Everyone notes that, “While many attributes of power such as speed, acceleration, and deceleration come to mind when thinking about sports, they are equally as important in activities of daily living such as standing up, stopping a fall, jumping, pushing a door, etc.”

Training for POWER

  • Moving lighter weights faster.

  • This could be done with almost any movement in the gym. For example, let’s look at the back squat. Choose a weight that is challenging, but not something you feel you could only lift for 1 rep. Do 6-10 reps, focusing on moving the weight as quickly as possible when you stand the weight up from the bottom of your squat.

  • Medicine ball movements

  • Medicine balls are a common piece of equipment in most gyms. Slams, throws, and rotational throws are all great ways to improve power with limited equipment.

  • Olympic lifts and their derivatives

The snatch, clean, and jerk are all very technical movements that require a high amount of skill, practice, and mobility. Many Crossfit gyms incorporate olympic lifts into their programs and many strength coaches can coach you through them if you express an interest in it.

For those new to olympic lifting (and still used for elite and in-season athletes), derivatives of the lifts can be used, meaning breaking down the movement into smaller pieces. For example, snatch and clean pulls are great movements for improving power. Just focusing on the pulling component eliminates the “catch” in both positions that may be hindered by strength or mobility limitations in beginners.

Here at Prime, we recognize that a training program should be highly individualized and strategically tailored to meet each patient’s needs. Bearing in mind age, fitness background, and injury, we believe power training can be a beneficial part of a rehab program, as it aids in developing type II muscle fibers, athletic ability, and overall injury prevention. Power training can be beneficial whether you are a high school football player returning to sport after an injury or a nurse with nagging shoulder pain. Looking to incorporate power training into your program or wondering if it could be right for you? We are here to help! Reach out to to set up an initial consultation.

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