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.
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.
Move to the beat of your own drum.