Are you looking to become more powerful for your sport? You have heard about strength training, weight training, explosive strength training, ballistic training, plyometrics, and so on and on… In my opinion, the best way to the best power training method is to design it yourself.
The aim of this article is to show you, how you can design your own Power Training Method!
Just read on, no strings attached.
Table of content:
- What method should you use for Power Training
- What are Strength Training methods and Power Training methods
- Understanding different Energy Systems
- Step 1: How many repetitions
- Step 2: How many sets
- Step 3: How much weight
What Method to use for Power Training?
There are quite a few different strength training methods out there and in late 2015 EliteFTS published 20 Most Popular Training Methods of 2015 based on a survey to find out what are the most popular strength training methods. In conclusion, strength training methods or training methods, in general, are a hot topic.
While my take on training methods is a bit different, I would like to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
This quote outlines the importance of understanding the underlying principles, which will ultimately allow you to select your own method or give you the ability to evaluate popular methods whether they make sense or not.
What are Strength Training methods and Power Training methods?
While strength training methods and power training methods have certainly evolved over time, if you look at early definitions in the classic sports science literature, you can see three different types of training methods.
- The continuous method
- The interval method (further divided into extensive interval method and intensive interval method)
- The repetition method
The methods are based on the rest periods between efforts or the work to rest ratio.
The rationale behind these training methods is based on the energy supply and the duration it takes to replenish energy for the next effort.
Understanding different Energy Systems
The human body makes use of 3 distinct energy systems
- The Phosphagen System (ATP – CP System), which delivers high amounts of energy and lasts for short a duration
- The Glycolytic System, which delivers moderate amounts of energy and lasts for a medium duration. The glycolytic system can further be sub-divided into the aerobic glycolysis (delivering energy in the presence of oxygen) and the anaerobic glycolysis (delivering energy in the absence of oxygen)
- The Oxidative System, which delivers low amounts of energy and lasts for a long duration
Please note, that all energy systems work at the same time, depending on the intensity there will be a dominant energy system. For more information on energy systems read the article from Breaking Muscle Understanding Energy Systems: ATP-PC, Glycolytic, and Oxidative, Oh My! – or have a look at the video below
To be honest, they missed the aerobic glycolysis in this video.
Have a look at how that unfolds in the table below.
As you have already seen in the video, each energy system provides energy for a certain amount of time before it’s literally empty.
Let’s use the numbers below as a rough guideline
So the next look is to see, how long it takes to restore each energy system. Once you know how long it takes to restore or replenish the energy system for the next effort, you can determine the rest period in seconds or minutes.
As we have discussed in previous articles, Power Training requires a great effort
- The 101 of Power Training for Beginners
- Power Training vs Strength Training – what is the difference?
Consequently, you need the Phosphagen system to supply sufficient energy to produce high amounts of Power and you need to give the Phosphagen system enough time after your effort to restore or replenish sufficient energy for the next effort (set).
Step 1: How many repetitions for Power Training?
Let’s look at the table
The question that stands out is basically how many reps can you squeeze into 6 seconds.
As a practitioner I say, it will be around
- 4 – 6 hurdle jumps
- 2 – 5 box jumps
- 3 – 4 weighted Jump Squats
- 6 – 8 repeated med ball wall drills
So you get a good idea, how many reps you can do for Power Development.
Step 2: How many sets for Power Training?
As I have outlined in the article The Holy Grail of Strength Training – Sets and Reps there is a close relation between repetitions, sets, and intensity / load.
In Power Training the load is not necessarily a limiting factor since it’s most of the times sub-maximal loads, but it’s a maximal effort.
The fact that every repetition is a maximal effort leads to low training volumes (total reps: reps * sets). To be really honest, there are a few sources, which suggest a total amount of repetitions for a Power Training, but I have found from my experience that the training volume should be much lower than what is usually prescribed. The reason is, that you are looking for a high quality in effort, which can be measured in velocity (in meters per second) or Power (measured in Watts) and what I have seen is that athletes are just not able to maintain high velocity or high Power output for an extended period of time.
My deduction from that (which is purely based on my observation and experience) is that I tend to keep total training volume at the lower end of the spectrum around 15 – 30 total reps per session.
Step 3: How much Weight should I use for Power Training?
In my experience, the selection of load or weight for power training isn’t always clear, and in addition to that, there seems to be some conflicting information regarding the appropriate training intensity or load choice.
For example, if you check a popular article on the topic training methods Size, Strength, Or Power? A Training Method Primer you can see, that the prescribed training intensity for strength, size and power is very similar (all intensities are in the range of 65-90% 1RM), and only differs by rep range and the rest between the sets.
To add to the confusion, the power training method is prescribed with 75-90% 1 RM and high speed, just try to lift 90% of your 1 RM with high speed. Good luck!
I have outlined in the article What is Power Training? that power is the product of force and velocity (force * velocity = power), hence in order to maximize power, you can either maximize the velocity, which means lower loads and higher velocity or you can maximize force, which means lower velocity, or you can work just in the middle of this range.
Check out the table to understand what I mean:
- Plyometric effort: maximizing velocity
- Dynamic effort: maximizing force
- Ballistic effort: the middle range between maximizing velocity and maximizing force
I have discussed the different training intensities, training modes and efforts in the article The Importance Weight Training Has On Power.
Further recommended reading:
The article Power Training for Sport from Jen Reviews has collected some of the most important aspects of the scientific literature and outlines different methods to develop power for sport.
If you are interested in more advanced power training methods, the article Power Training (Methods) from Strong By Science offer some examples as PAP (post-activation potentiation), cluster sets, and a form of VBT (velocity based training) with velocity cut-offs.
Concluding What Method to use for Power Training
The intention of this article was you being able to design your own Power Training method and your own Power Training program. So here are the steps:
- Chose a load and training mode appropriate to your training goal
- Chose a repetition and set scheme, taking the total training volume in consideration
- Ensure enough rest between sets so the energy system is restored and able to deliver sufficient energy in the next set
There you have it, your own Power Training method in three steps.