A well-rounded fitness program consists of the following nine elements:
- Local muscular endurance
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Strength endurance
How many do you include in your training?
While my weekly workout routine tends to be varied and fairly comprehensive, the component I’m most likely to miss is power.
The ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed. (e.g. jumping or a sprint start)
By regularly incorporating power training in your workouts, you can expect to see:
- improved reaction time; particularly important in sports that require rapid directional change
- enhanced cardiovascular function; power moves ‘teach’ the heart to pump more blood with each contraction and to return to pre-exercise heart rate more quickly after high intensity exercise
- increased strength; most power exercises involve rapid contraction of the large muscles of the arms and legs, contractions that build and enhance ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers
- elevated calorie burn (both during and after the workout); using big muscles explosively increases the number of calories burned during the workout and up to 24 hours later (the ‘afterburn’ effect)
- improved efficiency of movement; over time, the body learns to produce more force with less effort, thereby increasing endurance with the energy saved
But don’t over do it. A little power training goes a long way. When done properly, training for power should involve near-maximal effort. You shouldn't be able to do very many repetitions before needing a rest. I like to place my power exercises near the beginning of my workout, always after a proper warmup and before the muscles needed for speed and strength are already tired. And I rarely train for power two days in a row.
Add Power Training To Your Workout
Choose one upper and one lower body power exercise from the suggestions below. Aim for explosive movements, with little to no rest between repetitions.
Perform 5 to 8 reps of each of the two exercises, resting for 60 to 90 s between. Repeat both exercises, then proceed with the remainder of your workout.
- Upper body power exercises: plyometric pushups, TRX inverted row, barbell push press, medball slams.
- Lower body power exercises: box jumps, weighted squat jumps, weighted split lunge jumps, kettlebell swings.
Do you train for power?
What are you favorite power training exercises?