This article is brought to you by ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association)
Power training is essential for athletes. It isn’t as common for the average personal training client. However, it can still be beneficial to many of them depending on a variety of factors. It is important to understand your client’s fitness level, goals, and limitations so you can determine if power exercises are the right addition to their workout.
As a personal trainer, if power exercises are something you are looking to incorporate into your client’s training program, keep reading for a few of our training tips and some of our favorite exercises to help improve power.
What Is Power?
Simply stated, power is the ability to move weight in a very short period of time. So, ultimately, it is force times velocity. The client/athlete generates a lot of force very quickly, so power exercises are typically explosive moves.
5 Tips for Improving Power
There are many important things to consider when training a client with explosive movements. Here are a few of our top tips.
1. Body Control is Essential
Although explosive movement is the goal, it is essential the client’s form is correct and their movement is under control. Improper form is a catalyst for injuries. And, when those moves occur at high speeds, it can be even more damaging. Start slow to develop proper form and control before advancing in weight or speed.
2. Don't use too much weight
More weight typically slows down the speed of the movement. However, muscular strength and heavy strength training exercises are important components in developing the muscles so the client is able to generate more power. Recruiting more motor units to help lift heavy weights may provide more potential within the muscles to create explosive power once the weight is reduced.
3. Don't do too much
Power moves are explosive moves that require the recruitment of many motor units. So, if they are done correctly, the client should only need 1-10 repetitions (3 to 6 sets). And, they should typically rest about 3-5 minutes in between sets. Volume is not the goal. Correct, explosive movement is the goal for their workout.
4. Power Moves Are Typically Not Beginner Moves
Power exercises shouldn’t be integrated into the training program until the body is properly prepared for explosive movement. So, your client should have solid balance and good body control, and have developed some muscular strength (in the joints and muscles) before attempting explosive movements.
5. Exercise Selection Should Match the Goals of the Client
One of the key components in training is specificity. This means the exercises need to be the right exercises to help accomplish the goal. So, make sure to consider the movement patterns the client is training for, and make sure that the power exercises imitate those movements.
Exercises to Improve Power
Remember, choosing exercises specific to the client’s needs and goals is essential. There are many exercises to help improve power. Here are a few of our favorites.
Start your client in a push-up
/plank starting position. With core engaged, they will slowly bend their arms at the elbows and lower themselves into a push-up. They will explosively push off the floor with the intention of generating enough force to lift their torso up in the air and hands off the floor, in one fluid movement. Toes will remain on the floor throughout the entire movement. Ideally, as the client comes down, they will transition right into the next repetition.
The client will begin with feet shoulder-width apart. They will slowly lower into a squat position and explode up off the floor, fully extending the ankles, knees, and hips. This should occur in one fluid motion. They should land under control and lightly on the ground in a squat position and explode back up for into the next rep, just like the explosive push-up.
The client should stand in a starting position with feet shoulder-width apart, facing the plyo box. They will hinge at the hips and slowly lower themselves into a squat position. They will then explode up from the ground high enough to land on the plyo box. They should attempt to land lightly on the box in a partial squat. Have the client step down off the box and reset themselves before exploding up again.
Your client will begin in a lunge position with their left foot forward. With one fluid explosive motion, the client will jump up off the floor. Mid-air, the client will alternate front and back knees so that they land with the right leg forward. A gentle landing is important. The client will explode up again and continue to alternate front and back legs throughout the rest of the reps.
Medicine Ball Slams
The starting position for medicine ball slams is an athletic stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. Your client should hold the ball in a comfortable position around belly button height. The core should be engaged and shoulders pulled back. They will slightly squat down and, in one fluid motion, press up through their heels and fully extend their ankles, knees, and hips. As they extend their legs, they will simultaneously lift the ball above their head. Using the entire body, in one explosive motion, they will slam the ball down to the ground in front of them. They can immediately squat down (with proper squat form and a straight spine), pick up the ball and complete the next repetition.
Focus on the Client and Their Goals
Training explosive movements may not be for every client. But, if power is the goal, there are many exercises to help them improve. Know your client and understand their goals so you can determine if explosive moves are right for them and, if so, what moves are best for their goals.