In Physics Power is defined as “the time rate of doing work”. It is often confused with strength and speed. In Power lifting you’ll find that there is an emphasis on fast-twitch explosive movements, motor neuron firing, and discussions on tendon attachment. Recovery and rest between training sets and sessions is an integral part of putting together a successful formula for power-lifting. The benefits of power in Mixed Martial Arts and other combative sports appear to be obvious. You’ll typically see the arm of the athlete with exceptional striking power raised in victory at the completion of the bout. Coaches all over the globe will always stress the necessity of power in regards to striking. Strength coaches will state that power training is the main ingredient in their recipe for success for their fighters. So why are fighters still adopting the classic bodybuilding routines that are commonly seen in Bodybuilding periodicals? In this article we’ll discuss the benefits of power increase for fighters, along with giving a few training tips of how to achieve this.
When your training goal is bodybuilding or to increase muscle size (hypertrophy), multiple sets and training volume are essential. But when trying to achieve power we need to disregard many of the techniques involved in bodybuilding. Physics defines power as the rate of which work is performed. Human Physiology defines power as the ability to generate enough energy to accomplish your feat of force in the least amount of time possible. Simply put… if you want to be the very best at life you need to mix in the components of power into your training regime.
The first component of power is the strength factor. There is no denying that strength is a way to gauge force. Creating enough strength or force to move an object and then to measure that distance is a way to asses one’s ability to perform work. You need a foundation of strength to achieve strides in power training. Lifting heavy weight loads is how this can be achieved. Put aside the sets of 12-20 repetitions and dig into sets consisting of 4-8 repetitions. Exercises such as the rear barbell squat and bench press are perfect for this. Start with 8 repetitions on the bench press and time how long it takes to complete this set. Your goal should be complete the same number of repetitions with the same load in less time. As you increase your load decrease your repetitions and time with the objective always being to move more weight in less time.
To write about power, I must bring speed into the formula. Lightening quick reflexes and the ability to get from 0-100 defines sports today. Along with speed you need to include efficiency of movement. This is where weighted vests, medicine balls, sandbags and kettle bells become tools of the trade. Customary resistance machines can camouflage movement inefficiencies, by minimizing the recruitment of many of your stabilizers and core muscles. One of the best ways to increase leg power is performing 40yd. sprints with 15 second rest intervals prior to your weight training. Start with 6 sprints and increase your volume by 1 sprint each workout until you can complete 10. If necessary, drop your distance initially, gradually increase it once you reach 10 sprints. Your goal is to decrease your sprint times. This is why we limit the distance to 40 yards, because an all-out effort is imperative. You want to increase your force output in less time. Don’t take this lightly. Hit the track and then the weight room for a sure spike in leg power. Collaborating speed work into your gym program may feel a little odd initially, but it’s something that if you can add it in will produce much greater transition, greater strength and improved power in your overall workouts.
No doubt you’ve heard of plyometrics. This wouldn’t be a power article without mention of this result proven training principle. Bringing speed and strength together is the name of the game. Plyometrics stems from the Greek words “more and measure “which we have appropriately turned into- more power. Plyometric activity elicits physiological response involving the excitation of the neurological system of the elastic capabilities of muscle. Muscle has that ability to stretch and then rapidly contract. When a proper force is applied to the stretch the muscle must respond by contracting more forcefully. The key is to apply proper force. It’s typical protocol to pre-stretch a muscle prior to executing any type of movement. A simple example of this is like jumping. Prior to jumping we drop down into a squat position before rapidly firing upward. That is known as the pre-stretch. The pre-stretch is known as the eccentric or negative portion of the movement while a concentric or positive takes that built up energy of the movement being created by the stretch and then converts it to a more forceful contraction. Plyometrics have proven again and again to show marketable improvement s in the power band, but proper exercise progression is a must. It’s recommended with plyometric training to use 5-6 short sets of 5-8 repetitions taking at least 90 seconds rest in between.
Power is always going to be dictated by a person’s need. The power requirement for a football player is going to be different from that of a mixed martial artist. Exploding out of a 3 point stance by generating a burst of hip extension is going to be different from rapidly throwing an overhead cross punch using deltoid and elbow extension. Heavy rear barbell squats is ideal for one while heavy medicine ball throws is good for the latter. Again the key is heavy load and speed within the movement. Good luck in your quest for power gains, and remember to work hard and smart.
Article Credit: T. Howard