No, not the power to rule the world or for the minions to service your every need. I mean the power lift things faster, run faster, pull heavy weight from the ground faster or your basketball pick up partner eats you dust as you blow by him or her.
That’s the kind of power I’m taking about, so get your mind out of the clouds. Was it good while it lasted?
But now we’re about power, what is it?
Power is determined by Force and Acceleration (P = F x A). Think of force as a push or pull from the object’s interaction with another object, such as the pull of gravity on you or the up phase of a push up.
Acceleration is the rate at which an object changes its velocity, like sprinting to catch the bus or a car moving from a dead stop. Combine these two and magic happens.
And as you age, you lose around 1.5% of your strength per year after the age of 50. More alarming, you lose twice that, around 3% of your power or the ability to move quickly every year after the age of 50.
However, there are many benefits to adding power to your exercise routine including,
- better cardiovascular function; training power encourages the heart to pump more blood with each pump and to return to resting heart rate faster after exercise
- increased strength; most power exercises involve rapid contractions that build and enhance ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers
- increased calorie burn because using the big muscles of your arms and legs increases the number of calories burned during the workout and up to 24-48 hours later.
- better force absorption; every time your feet hit the ground, the 3 times the force comes right back through your body. Because every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction
Other benefits of training power are you feel like a bad ass and it’s a great stress reliever. If you’re having a bad day, go throw a medicine ball into the wall rather than punching it.
Hopefully, now I’ve convinced you training power is not only essential but is also the bomb.
Now let’s get started.
When do you train power?
Power is best trained after your warm up, when your muscles are ready to go but are not fully taxed.
Training power is demanding on your neurological/muscular system and is best trained while you’re fresh. Furthermore, it sets the table for the rest of your training (if you’re going any further) because your fast twitch muscles are now primed to lift some weight.
For example, if your going to train legs then program in some jump squats for 3 sets of 6 reps.
Or if you’re training upper body, doing a med ball slam wakes up those fast twitches of your back. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
How many reps you should do?
When you’re training power, you need will be as explosive as possible. The moment you lose the pop, you’re not training power anymore you’re training muscular endurance.
For most people, this lies somewhere between 4-12 reps or 10-20 seconds of full on effort.
How much rest between sets?
Although you may feel recovered after about 30 seconds, it usually takes (for most people) anywhere from 60-180 seconds to fully recover and get the best out of the next power set.
However, play around with your rest periods to find what works for you.
I never trained power before?
You haven’t? Well, that’s a shame. It’s usually better to have a strength base but the moves I’m about to show you are on the easy part of the spectrum when it comes to power.
And performing them will help get your stronger. It is a win-win.
Now I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the fun part.
Upper body power
My personal power favorites are medicine ball throws. They’re easy to perform, highly effective and fun. Most gyms have them tucked into a corner, unclean and unloved but once you use them, you’ll never let them go.
When performing these exercises, make sure you follow through with your arms. This helps bring the ball back towards you, which allows for easier transition between repetitions and gives you a little extra oomph.
However, if playing with balls isn’t your bag, here are a few exercises you can perform with your body weight. But, if you’re not great at push-ups, stick with the med ball chest passes for now.
Lower/ total body power
There is a multitude of exercises to choose from here, but for the sake of simplicity, the exercises below are relatively safe, easy to do and a good introduction to total body power.
However, if you have any knee/lower body issues, please let pain be your guide and put your safety first.
Pairing power exercises into superset before moving on to the main part of your training is a great way to insert power into your routine. For example
1A. Med ball slam 8 reps
1B. Squat weighted throw 6 reps
Rest 1 min between exercise and 2 min between supersets. Repeat 1-2 times.
Or you can pair a power with a mobility exercise to train your power and movement simultaneously. For example
1A. Jump squat 6 reps
1B. Half kneeling hip flexor stretch 30 seconds on each side.
However, of you having too much fun, your entire training can be power. For example,
You’ll perform 8 repetitions per minute. Once you’ve done 8, rest the rest of the minute before moving on to the next exercise. Do 3-4 circuits for a total time of 15-20 minutes that will leave you sweating and smiling.
1A. Squat weighted throw -8 reps
1B. Med ball chest pass -8 reps
1C. Med ball twist throws- 4 rep on both sides
1D. Med ball slams – 8 reps
1E. Squat jumps – 8 reps
1A. Incline plyo push up 8 reps
1B. Squat jumps- 8 reps
1C. One handed med ball slam – 4 reps on each side
1D. Med ball overhead throw- 8 reps
1E. Rotational Med ball slam – 4 reps on each side
Don’t lose your power, use it and use it for good, not evil. Because a small power investment pays you body huge dividends. And who knows? You may be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound.