A powerful athlete is always going to be a better athlete than someone who lacks it.
Quickness is something that will always give an athlete an advantage. Power is a direct relative to quickness. Sometimes we think of quickness as how fast someone can change direction. But speed is also a determinant of power.
Power is work/time. There is a time component to power. Strength is not reliant on time. In order for something to be powerful it must be done quickly.
Now we can break speed down into many categories if we would like to. I am not getting that far into that. Athletes need to work on being able to run fast, jump high, throw far, swing fast, etc.
The way to get there actually starts with more basic movements.
Basic Strength and Stability
Working on basic movement patterns is the first step in laying the foundation for power. In this stage athletes should focus on progressively adding weight and reps in simple strength movements.
Athletes should spend a lot of time mastering the following categories:
- Knee Dominant
- Hip Dominant
- Core Stability
Perfecting these categories is setting the groundwork for control. Control is one of the most underrated qualities that athletes can possess. Being able to control your body is potentially more important than being able to lift a house or produce a ton of force.
If you play a rotational sport, having the core stability to provide a solid column to swing around is insanely important. This will prevent you from losing any effort from the wasted energy a lack of control creates.
The same goes for a task as simple as running. Losing control of your torso, arms, and head can make for slow running. Fast runners appear to not even move their torsos when they are running at a really high speed.
Master the basic strength movements and learn to control your movement in your sport.
Going back to the power equation, I had it as work/time. The higher work is or the less time it takes will increase power. Well work is force x distance.
The way to improve force is through strength training. Once we have trained and mastered our basic movement patterns we can get a little bit greedy and work to get as strong as possible.
There is no limit to strength and no negative effects of being strong. The negative have to do with gaining size or losing mobility. Keep nutrition under control and continue with mobility work to solve that. There are plenty of people that are immobile and have too much size from a sedentary lifestyle so let strength training reinforce the foundation we made.
This is where we can progressively load squats, lunges, deadlifts, pushes, chinups, etc.
You cannot safely get through this stage without going through the first one. This stage allows for us to effectively utilize the third stage.
Once you have developed your strength base it is time to hammer on the power training.
I like using a lot of different methods for developing power. Jumps, medicine ball work, and resistance training can all provide an unlimited amount of power production.
When using jumps I will start with using single jumps while sticking the landing. Then we can go continuous with 2-5 jumps. We could also add resistance, assistance, or a light weight but that would depend on the goal.
We should also use as few reps as possible. If you’re doing 60 jumps, I doubt anything more than 15 is going to be very powerful. Power training is not supposed to be conditioning.
The name of the game is speed here. I know 20 lb medicine balls are cool but they cannot be used for power training. I always get funny looks from college football players when I tell them to throw a 4 pounder. I tell them that if it is so light then they can break it and I won’t care. It doesn’t happen often.
We cannot use weights that are too heavy and expect power to increase. The goal is to move quickly. We also must give ourselves enough time in between our efforts to make sure that each one is as powerful as possible.