It’s a very timely topic today on power development and power output because we’re heading into a season for most athletes that work with us. Specifically, we have many softball, baseball and track athletes who rely heavily on power output and speed to be successful.
What we’re gonna do is give you the grassroots understanding of what does it take to create a program for power development by first looking at what is power and what’s important to consider if it’s time to be working power output ,
The first thing we want to consider is that power is certainly going to be somewhat dependent on the total strength of an athlete. Meaning if they don’t have adequate strength and force output capabilities in general, then that can never be translated into speed where it would be shown as power. Power is force times velocity, and therefore we have to have an adequate amount of force for the power to be a high level. Secondly, there won’t be velocity without certain amount of force output, to move the body or move a implement whether that be you, a ball, a bat, a tennis racket, or striking something like a volleyball
If you’ve never seen this, this is a good thing to picture as we’re deciding on correct exercises to use in time of year to be using set exercises. What I am referring to is the Strength Speed Continuum. You put absolute strength on the left side of a line, and then you work from absolute strength towards strength and then strength-speed going into speed-strength, then speed, and then finally absolute speed on the far right.
Absolute strength exercises would be like a one rep max deadlift, or a very significantly heavy squat or lunge, moving towards strength and strength speed you may have exercises of multiple reps a little bit less weight may be in the 80% rep range of intensity versus closing in at 100% Moving into strength speed you would be doing exercises more in the 60 to 70% intensity of a squat potentially or moving into more higher velocity movement exercises if you choose to use an exercise like a clean or a clean pull.
To work speed-strength we are going to be getting into exercises where there is more of a ballistic nature or a lighter load. Weighted jumps, throwing medium weighted medicine balls fit this description. To transfer into a higher velocity movement beyond that into speed and absolute speed we are going to be doing super light throwing exercises, very light weighted jumps, maximal sprints, and maybe even assisted jumps to supermax your velocity and change in direction time at the bottom of a jump.
An important consideration, when you’re training for power, is thinking about the force velocity curve. So the force would be on the left in this example and velocity on the bottom, and you’re looking at a slope that is pretty steep at first levels out a little bit, and then it gets pretty flat as it goes far into velocity,
Essentially what we want to do is work the optimal or maximum power output in this time of the year if we’re trying to improve or maintain power and so there’s going to be some things we need to consider to make that optimal.
The best example I can give is when you’re doing a movement, let’s say a full squat, when you’re working at or near your maximum weight potential, you’re going to be moving relatively slow and that velocity is going to be low but the force output is high. This is also why if you can lift a weight it isn’t always the best idea to add weight to the bar because if you always add weight, you maintain the same velocity and then sometimes you slow down the velocity. At the under other end of the spectrum with max velocity there’s very little force output, and therefore power output is low as well.
If you don’t have a fancy tendo-unit or myo-test or another way to test your actual power, here is a way to do an “eye-test”. When you add weight to the bar, there will be a break-point when velocity drops significantly. Ideally you want to work with max intent right before that drop-off. It will be from this weight and down that we will want to work, but there will be another break point where the velocity won’t improve significantly no matter the weight you take-off. You will want to work between those break points for optimal power output. As long as you have picked the right type of exercises on the continuum, transfer will be greater.
The last main consideration that we want to have as we build our program to improve and maintain power output in season as we want to make sure that we are using exercises that are plane specific. What that means is if you want to be better at jumping you need to utilize exercises that produce power down to the floor similar to jumping. If you want to rotate better, you need to utilize exercises that are utilizing that same movement pattern, and also allowing for rotation. If you are looking to move forward very fast as a sprinter, you need to utilize exercises in the same plane of motion for the best carryover and power transfer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to know to train power, but I believe it does give you the fundamentals to understand to help you create a better program. Remember, power requires force and velocity. It will be a give and take relationship so you want to sacrifice the smallest amount of velocity for force output, and vice versa.
Strength is an underlying component of power output, without any strength, you can’t produce power
Strength-speed continuum helps understand what power type of movement or exercises might be optimal to be working optimal power output for our goal.
Train in the correct plane of motion for optimal carryover.