Power Training = Power Athlete

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Most of the athletes I come across are looking to be more powerful. They want to be stronger, faster, and more explosive. 

First, let’s get down to the cellular level.

The primary adaptation to anaerobic (intense, short duration) exercise, strength and/or power training, is an increase in muscle cross-sectional area, known as muscle hypertrophy. Muscle fibers both increase in size and in quantity in response to the high intensity contractions of weight training and/or sprint training. 

Nutrition is critical to hypertrophy gains…without adequate food intake or protein intake, amino acid availability and/or surplus energy won’t be available to stimulate this process. But, that’s another topic for another day…

In addition to changes in cross-sectional area, anaerobic exercise can enhance the activity of ATP-PCr (immediate short-burst energy stores) system enzymes and the glycolytic system enzymes. These changes help to increase the rate of energy transfer within the muscle, allowing for more rapid responses to energy demands in the future. 

Training

Most athletes have some kind of pre-season, competition season, and off-season. We will assume the athlete is using proper periodization when training during each of these seasons. 

The “power athlete” can cover a broad spectrum of athletes out there: baseball, football, shot-putter, 100m sprinter, high/long jumper, etc…

The training philosophy is simple: use powerful movement in the weight room to get power results in your sport. It’s not just a mindset, it is physically training your brain to recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, and training each of those fibers to fire at a high rate of speed. The meat of your off-season should be spent in the power/strength phases of training. We don’t want anyone coming right out of the competition season and throwing stacks of plates on the barbell and maxing out within a week or two. That’s foolish. Spending the entire off-season in power training will lead to the athlete over-training and regressing in just about every category. Today, we are only addressing that heart of the off-season, where the athlete is spending his/her time gaining power and strength. 

The goal of the strength/power phase is to first maximize strength gains with an increase in training intensity and decreased volume. You should start focusing on moving the weight a little faster through your range of motion. Each set should be heavier than the previous. After a few weeks of that, the goal is then to maximize power output. Exercises should be performed quickly, with proper weight. There should be an increase in time between sets. The power phase is extremely taxing on the neuromuscular system and will completely drain you without proper rest periods. 

Similar exercises can be used for both the strength and power phases. The only difference is going to be a drop in weight and doing the movements quicker or adding a plyometric touch when in the power phase.

For example: Strength phase – Heavy DB box stepups —–> Power phase – DB box stepups with a hop

Strength phases will typically entail sets of 4-6, with the reps being between 3-6.

Power phases will primarily be sets of 3-5, with reps of 2-4. 

So, the volume decrease in the power phase, but the movements will be much more difficult for your body to keep up with. 

**Obviously, serious athletes should always try and seek out a trainer in the off-season (or sometimes even year-round, if possible). But, for some it’s just not an option due to various factors. For those with a trainer, you may never have to worry about all this complex stuff. More power to you!

Be a beast. 

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

 

 

 

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Adding Sprinting to your Strength Training

While sprinting has been around since the dawn of man, only in the past few years has it really taken off as true fitness trend. In other words, it was either what we did to kill our dinner in prehistoric times, or it was a modern athletic competition. Only recently have we realized that doing sprint work for our interval training is a tremendously effective way to get/stay lean, enhance mobility, improve athleticism, and prepare ourselves for the demands that life throws our way.

Obviously, if you haven’t even gone for a jog in recent years, it would be unwise to go out and start doing high intensity sprints tomorrow. There are some things you will want to nail down before sprinting: mobility, good tissue quality, and strength.

Be sure that you have no problem completing simple stretches before you begin sprinting. Good examples of this are a hip flexor stretch in a lunge position and a downward dog yoga pose.  These both require flexibility either in the hips, hamstrings, or the thoracic spine, which all play a role in sprinting. 

DO NOT sprint at 100% intensity right away. This may be common sense to some, but it still needs to be reiterated! Sprint work does not have to be at 100% in order to gain benefits from it.  Most sprinting should be in the 70-90% range.

If and when sprinting days become part of your workout program, two days a week is plenty of work to derive benefits. Don’t let the sessions last longer 30-45min, and that includes the resting in between sets. Also, no other lifting should be taking place on these days. One or two days should be set aside throughout the week, on non-consecutive days.

At first, you should avoid sprinting through fatigue in your workouts. Fatigue can cause breaks in form during sprinting that can lead to hamstring, calf, or even achilles injuries. Once you feel that you are using great form and have been conditioned quite a bit, sprinting through some fatigue is necessary. Fat-loss can still be seen when not sprinting through serious fatigue.

Don’t go out and sprint on pavement. Pavement can cause lower extremity injuries because of the unforgiving surface that it poses. Choose between artificial turf, grass, or a track surface!

Here is a great day-by-day cycle of where to incorporate sprinting. This kind of program would only be suitable for athletes or experienced lifters due to the volume of training (6 days), but anyone can get the idea of where sprinting should be placed. 

Mon: Lower body strength training

Tues: Upper body strength training

Wed: Sprint work

Thurs: Lower body strength training

Fri: Upper body strength training

Sat: Sprint Work

Sun: OFF

The benefits of using high intensity interval sprints is undeniable, and as of late, the research supporting this has really taken off. So if you’re looking to build lean muscle and trim off body fat, you may want to ditch the slow, long distance runs and try out sprint work. I believe you will be pleased with the results.

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.