How to improve power training
To measure a measurable increase in your power training is a bit more complicated, than for example endurance training or maximum strength training.
To measure a measurable increase in your power training is more complicated, than for example endurance training or maximum strength training.
In maximum strength training, you can fairly easily see, if the loads you lift go up over time while maintaining repetitions, that you get stronger.
The same is true for endurance training if you look at simple example running. If you are able to run a certain amount of kilometers in a certain amount of time, if you now run more kilometers at the same time or same the number of kilometers in less time, you probably increased your endurance.
So, why is it more complicated for power training?
How to improve power training and its difficulties
I have outlined in a previous article, that the formula for power is power equals force multiplied by velocity.
Whilst you can measure force easily, to measure velocity is more complicated and requires the use of some technological devices, such as position transducers, accelerometers, or for plyometrics you can use a contact mat to measure contact time and flight time.
An absolute necessity to improve power training is training with a maximal intent, as outlined in the article The Absolute Easiest Way to Increase Strength and Power
An absolute necessity to improve power training is training with maximal intent.
So, how can we measure improvements in power?
How to improve power training through measuring the velocity
Imagine you perform a Jump Squat with a load of 60 kgs as in this example of Track Cyclist Roy van den Berg
Let’s assume Roy can jump with a velocity of 2 m/s (meters per second).
In order to improve power over time, the goal is to increase this 2 m/s to 2.2 m/s, 2.4 m/s, and 2.6 m/s to see an improvement.
Another option is to maintain the velocity of 2 m/s and increase the load over time from 60 kg to 65 kg and 70 kg.
To measure and administer changes in velocity is a bit more complicated and also requires real-time feedback.
Check out how an example could look like
Figure the position transducer between Justin’s feet, that can measure the velocity of this Squat Jump.
How to improve power training through measuring contact times and flight times
Another example of how to improve power training, if you use the plyometric effort is to use a contact mat and measure the flight time in milliseconds (ms) and contact time in ms.
- Flight time refers to the time you are in the air and is measured in milliseconds
- Contact time refers to the time you spend on the ground and is also measured in milliseconds
Check out the difference between short contact and long contact in this short video demonstrated by 6-time world champion Harrie Lavreysen.
The video on the top is the short contact, which focusses on minimizing contact time on the ground, the bottom video is a long contact, which is needed if you want to maximize jump height.
For more information, check out the article about short contact and long contact, as well as different jumping strategies
Back to the topic of how to improve power through measuring contact time and flight time.
If you use a Drop Jump from a height of 30 cm and you get a contact time of 200 ms and a flight time of 400 ms, how can you improve that?
Same as in the other example.
Option A: maintain contact time of 200 ms and increase your flight time to 450 ms or 500 ms.
Option B: maintain flight time and reduce contact time to 190 ms, 180 ms, and even below 180 ms.
Why below 180 ms?
Because this is considered to be the threshold for a short stretch-shortening cycle.
180 ms is the threshold for a short stretch-shortening cycle.
Let’s take the question of how to improve power training one step further and look at the relation between contact time and flight time.
How to improve power training using the RSI
If you want to take it a step further, you can also measure and track the reactive strength index (RSI).
The RSI is flight time (in ms) / contact time (in ms).
Going back to the example from above, 400 ms flight time divided by 200 ms contact time is an RSI of 2. If you now improve as outlined
Option A: 500 ms flight time and 200 ms contact time would increase the RSI to 2.5
Option B: 400 ms flight time and 180 ms contact time would increase the RSI to 2.2
What is better?
It depends on what you want to improve, in short, lower contact times mean more reactivity and elasticity, higher flight times, a higher vertical jump.
Concluding How to improve power training
Improvements in power training are a bit more difficult to gauge, as improvement in strength or endurance.
However, in order to see improvements in your power training, you need to measure velocities and forces for the ballistic effort, and contact times and flight times for the plyometric effort.