This is not the tesla kind of alternative power, this is not about solar panels and windmills. Today we talk about being fast, explosive and athletic. Power is an important part of athleticism and is an important quality for athletes to develop. Different sports need it to varying degrees, but usually the person who puts out the most force the fastest wins.
So what is power?
Power is defined as work done over time, so for our purposes it is Strength X Speed. So really simply put, if you want to be more powerful you have to get stronger and/or faster.
If you’re strong, but slow. Focus on speed of movement
If you’re fast, but weak. Focus on strength
Most people use the Olympic lifts to train power. Cleans, Snatches and Jerks are awesome to develop power. If you watch the weightlifters at the Olympics, it’s the picture of fluid, fast and explosive movement. The problem is that most athletes can’t do this. Cleans are great …. But not for everybody. To develop this takes a lot of time and practice. A weightlifters sport is weightlifting, their strength and conditioning is training the skill of their sport. A rugby player has to train rugby, do fitness work, train individual skills and do strength and conditioning work. A field, court or combat sport athlete does not always have the time to develop the skill to do the Olympic lifts.
I think the Olympic lifts are awesome, but they are not practical to do in most cases. Most athletes take a long time to learn to do them properly, this is usually time you do not have because of competitions etc. They are not mobile enough to do them well and it will take too long to get the mobility needed to do it.
Why do we do Olympic lifts? What is the principle behind them? Triple extension. This is extension of the ankle knee and hip. This happens when you sprint, jump, punch and tackle. It is common to many sports. The Olympic lifts are basically loaded triple extension movements.
What are the key point then?
· Fast triple extension (Speed)
· Move some weight (Strength)
There is an alternative…
Efficiency is the key to training, we want to do the least amount of work for the most benefit. So what are some alternatives to develop power?
The pull variations of the Olympic lifts
Most athletes struggle with the rack position of a clean or the catch position of a snatch. So remove the difficult part. We just need to focus on the triple extension part of the lift, this happens in the pull phase of the lift.
Clean Pulls, Snatch Pulls, Hang Snatch Pulls, Hang clean pulls.
Jumping variations are awesome to develop power and speed of movement. We get triple extension and speed we can work in different directions and on one leg. Now we are adding another dimension of movement that does not get covered by the lifts.
· Squat jumps
· Broad Jumps
· Lateral Jumps
· Step jumps
· Lunge jumps
· Explosive push ups (jumping on your hands)
These are all good jumping variations that can be used for developing power, most of them can be loaded increase the difficulty and strength demand.
Med ball power exercises
Med balls are great to train power, they are versatile and allow you to train in multiple planes. Especially rotational power. There are many variations that you can do with a med ball.
For rugby and combat sport athletes, wrestling drills and tackling drills are great for power development. It adds the element of moving another person around (chaos), it is more specific to your sport and trains some missing links.
To put it simply, get strong in compound multi-joint exercises like deadlifts, squat, military press and bench press. Move fast, with weight, with out weight and in many planes of motion.
What is the take home?
· Understand the principle of power training
· Train the principle not the movement
· Get stronger
· Move faster
There’s a lot more detail to this picture and more concepts and exercises we will add in future. The main thing is to understand the principle behind the movement and train that. The movement is interchangeable, the principle is a constant.