You might have heard, that sports require the athlete to be powerful, rather than strong. Why is that?

Why is Power Training important?

And what are the adaptations you can expect from a Power Training Program?

This article and video covers

  • Why Power Training is important
  • The benefits of a Power Training Program on Motor Unit Activation?
  • The benefits of a Power Training Program on Muscle Fiber distribution?

Why Power Training is important

To recap, the definition of power is, that power is the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time.

Check out the difference between Strength Training vs Power Training

With this definition in mind, for most sporting actions there is a time limit for the application of force. In other words, there is a limited amount of time, where you can apply force.

Let’s look at an applied example like running, or better sprinting.

The ground contact times during a sprint stride is as short as 100 milliseconds or less. The higher the level of the sprinter, the shorter the ground contact times.

Consequently, the time, when the foot is on the ground is short and the athlete can only apply force during this 100 milliseconds, it doesn’t matter how much force can be applied after half a second, a second or five seconds.

This example demonstrates the necessity of power – the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time. In the given example 100 milliseconds.

For a more elaborate derivation of  the physical formula of Power and the different times for force application in different sports and sporting actions, please check out the article

What are the benefits of a Power Training Program on Motor Unit Activation?

The primary three mechanisms of motor unit activation are

  • The recruitment of motor units
  • The firing frequency of motor units
  • The synchronisation of motor units

The recruitment of motor units refers to how many motor units can be activated and is usually trained via a classical maximum strength training with high intensities and low repetitions.

The firing frequency refers to how fast motor units can be activated and is usually achieved through a power training program, that teaches the nervous system to fire a fast signal to the muscle fibre.

The synchronisation of motor units refers to how coordinated the effort of the activation is. The idea behind the synchronisation is, that the agonistic (or working) muscles are activated and the antagonistic (opposing) muscles are deactivated. This is also called reciprocal inhibition and is an adaptation to a longer term strength training and certain stretching techniques, that you can find for examples in Yoga exercises.

What are the benefits of a Power Training Program on Muscle Fibre distribution?

In the human body there is a continuum of muscle fibre types, basically, there are so-called

  • slow twitch fibres
  • fast twitch fibres
  • and intermediate fibres or Type 2A fibres

Slow twitch fibres are also referred to as Type 1 fibres or oxidative muscle fibres.

Fast twitch muscle fibres are also referred to as Type 2X  or glycolytic muscle fibres.

Intermediate fibres are referred to Type 2 A fibres or mixed oxidative – glycolytic fibres.

A strength training program focused on maximum strength development targets the fast twitch fibres, but also the intermediate fibres. This can lead to a long-term adaptation of a fibre type transformation from fast twitch fibres to intermediate fibres. In other words, the athlete will over time have less fast twitch fibres and more intermediate fibres.

Depending on the requirements of the sport, this can be a beneficial or not beneficial.

However, if you are interested in maintaining a high proportion of fast twitch fibres or are even looking to increase the fast twitch fibres proportionally, a well-designed power training program can be the answer. This is also coined selective hypertrophy.

For more information on Power Training program design, check out the articles

Concluding Why Power Training

The majority of sports and sporting actions require you to exert force in a limited time period, consequently, Power Training addresses this quality of exerting force in the shortest period of time.

A well-designed Power Training program can target selective muscle fibres and train the nervous system to fire faster.

More information on Power Training

The 101 of Power Training for Beginners

The Importance Weight Training Has On Power

3 Steps to Develop your own Power Training Method

Power Training vs Strength Training – what is the difference?

What does Power Training Improve?

What Is Power Training?

What does Power Training Do?

or the Power Training library