Rough power could be the most neglected attribute in the gym besides skipping your warmup. People often think they don’t need to train power because they’re not an athlete. They think they got no need to dunk a basketball or to sack the quarterback. However, they would be wrong.
What Is Power?
Force is the push or pull from the object’s interaction with another object, like the pull of gravity or the concentric phase of pushups.
Acceleration is the rate at which an object changes its speed, like you sprinting to catch a bus or a car moving from a dead stop.
- Better cardiovascular function – Training power encourages the heart to pump more blood with each pump and to return to a resting heart rate faster after exercise.
- Increased strength – Most power exercises involve rapid contractions that build and enhance fast-twitch muscle fibers.
- Increased calorie burn – Using the big muscles of your arms and legs increases the number of calories burned during the workout and up to 24-48 hours later.
- Better force absorption – Every time your feet hit the ground, three times the force comes right back through your body. Training power better prepares you for this.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that training power is not only essential, but it is also fun. Now let’s get started.
When Do You Train Power?
- Train power after your warmup when your muscles are ready to go but are not fully taxed.
- Training power is demanding on your neurological/muscular system, so the best time to train is when you’re fresh.
- Furthermore, it sets the table for the rest of your training because your fast-twitch muscles are ready to lift some weight.1
- For example, if you’ve got heavy squats on the agenda, then program in some jump squats for three sets of six reps.
Or if you’re training the upper body, doing a med ball slam wakes up those fast twitches of your back. Do three sets of 8-12 reps.
How Many Reps?
For most people, this lies somewhere between 4-12 reps or 10-20 seconds of full-on effort.
How Much Rest?
Although you may feel recovered after about 30 seconds, it usually takes (for most people) anywhere from 60-180 seconds to fully recover to get the best out of your next power set.
However, play around with your rest periods to find what works for you.
If You’ve Never Trained Power?
You haven’t? Well, that’s a shame. It’s usually better to have a strength-base, but the moves here are on the most fundamental part of the spectrum when it comes to power.
And performing them will help get you stronger. It is a win-win.
Upper Body Power
My power favorites are medicine ball throws. They’re easy to perform, highly effective, and fun. Most gyms have them tucked into a corner, unclean and unloved, but once you use them, you’ll never let them go.
The exercises below are best done on upper body days so you can crush your pushes and pulls. However, they can be performed at any time, because who am I to tell you what to do?
When performing these exercises, make sure you follow through with your arms. This follow-through helps bring the ball back towards you, which allows for a smoother transition between repetitions and gives you a little extra oomph.
2. Lower Body Power
There is a multitude of exercises to choose from here. Still, for the sake of simplicity, the exercises below are relatively safe, easy to do, and an excellent introduction to total body power.
However, if you have any knee/lower body issues, please let pain be your guide and put your safety first.
Pairing power exercises into a superset before moving on to the central part of your training is a great way to insert power into your routine.
1A. Med Ball Slam: 8 reps
1B. Jump Squats: 6 reps
Rest 1 min between exercise and 2 min between supersets.
Repeat 1-2 times.
Or, you can pair a power with a mobility exercise to train your power and movement simultaneously.
1A. Jump Squat: 6 reps
1B. Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: 30 seconds on each side
Power Density Circuit
For more power, you’ll perform eight repetitions of the following per minute. Once you’ve done eight reps, rest the rest of the minute before moving on to the next exercise. Do 3-4 circuits for a total time of 15-20 minutes that will leave you sweating and smiling.
1A. Med Ball Overhead Throws: 8 reps
1B. Med Ball Chest Pass: 8 reps
1C. Med Ball Rotational Throws: 4 reps on both sides
1D. Med Ball Slams: 8 reps
1E. Squat Jumps: 8 reps
1A. Incline Plyo Pushup: 8 reps
1B. Squat Jumps: 8 reps
1C. One-Handed Med Ball Slam: 4 reps on each side
1D. Med Ball Overhead Throw: 8 reps
1E. Rotational Med Ball Slam: 4 reps on each side
A small power investment pays enormous dividends for you in and out of the gym. And who knows? You’ll be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound similar to another famous superhero.
1. McBride JM, et al. The effect of heavy- vs. light-load jump squats on the development of strength, power, and speed. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):75-82.