Power, a unit measured as work/time, can be enhanced with a properly designed regimen that specifically focuses on power development (McGuigan, 2017). Specifically, the three common variables that determine power are force, displacement, and time. An increase in power can improve sprinting, jumping, throwing, change of direction and other forms of rapid movements. From a biological level, power is dependent on stored sources of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and generates by muscular force and contraction (Gastin, 2001; Rassier, MacIntosh, Herzog, 1999).
Ballistic-like or semi-ballistic movements, such as the power clean or squat jump, have been shown to result in higher power outputs compared to heavy-weighted squats (Cormie, McCaulley, Triplett, & McBridge, 2007, Grahammer, 1993; McBride, Haines, & Kirby, 2011). The reason is due to the nature of the high velocity movements of the power clean and squat jump. On the other hand, heavy-resisted movements tend to produce high force with low velocity. The identification of velocity and force is the first step towards designing a program to enhance power output. In order to jump or sprint fast, one must be able to develop maximal force through a maximal displacement in a short a amount of time.
In this blog post, I will briefly discuss three topics or steps on how to improve power: 1) assess power, 2) programming power and 3) implementing power training exercises.
#1: Assessing Power
One must be able to identify baseline measurements in order to witness progression long-term. Common equations to predict power output while jumping include the Bosco, Harman, Sayers, and Lewis formula (Bosco, Luhtanen, & Komi, 1983; Harman, Rosenstein, Frykman, Rosenstein, & Kraemer, 1991; Sayers, Harackiewicz, Harman, Frykman, & Rosenstein, 1999; Fox & Mathews, 1974). These types of formulas generally measure one’s jump height and body mass. Some examples of assessments of power include the bench press throw (upper body), countermovement jump (lower body), and Olympic lifts (total body).
#2: Power Program Design
Properly designing a program to enhance power output is critical for continuous growth. One could enhance power short-term by simply implementing power movements into their own regimen, but one must install power periodization to achieve long-term success with power output. Periodization, or the bird’s eye overview of the program, is typically based on one’s overall goal or competitive schedule (McGuigan, 2017). Next, planning is implemented to form the foundation for choosing a training model. Lastly, programming is added for modes and methods used.
#3: Power Training Exercises
Power training exercises can be grouped into upper, lower, and total body exercises. Implementing specific exercises should be based on the sport you play or the goal you wish to achieve. For example, a baseball pitcher would be wise to include upper body rotational exercises to improve rotational power. The addition of power training aids ( i.e. medicine balls, resistance bands, Olympic weightlifting barbells) can be used to enhance power (McGuigan, 2017). HERE I AM DEMONSTRATING A TOTAL BODY POWER EXERCISE: THE CLEAN & JERK. However, body weight landing mechanics and body weight power movements are highly recommended before adding any specific overload for novice lifters.
Future posts will consist of specific types of exercises, programs and assessment tools that you can use to enhance power. In the meantime, feel free to reach out about any questions that you may have in the comment section below.