What Is Power Training?

In sports, power training holds a great significance. If you want to do better in sport and improve sports performance it’s important to understand the concept of power training and how to apply this knowledge to your training.

The article and video covers

What is Power

Before understanding what Power Training is, let’s start defining what is Power.

The physical formula of Power is

  • P = W / t – Power is work per unit of time
  • P = F * v – Power is the product of force multiplied by velocity

How can that be the same? Well, I asked myself the same question, when I was in my early days studying sports science.

I have outlined the mathematical derivation in the article

and also in the image below

Power and Power Training

Power and it’s implications for Power Training

Bottom-line, Power is force multiplied by velocity.

What is Power Training

Very often power training and strength training are used as synonyms, but they are not the same thing.

I have outlined the difference between power vs strength and power training vs strength training in the article

In very simple words

  • strength is the ability to exert force to overcome resistance
  • power is the ability to exert force (to overcome resistance) in the shortest period of time

Consequently, power is the application of strength coupled with speed. A typical Power Training, therefore, is characterized by fast movements.

I will get into the details a bit later.

Why Power Training is important for sports

From the outline above, it becomes clear why Power is important for sports.

If you look at sporting actions, very rarely you have a lot of time to apply force.  I have outlined a few examples of the time of force application in different sports disciplines and sporting actions such as running, jumping, throwing, hitting and kicking in the article

In a nutshell, in sports, you don’t have that much time to apply force and you only have milliseconds to produce as much force as you possibly can and Power is this ability in that short time frames to apply the highest amount of force as possible.

In a classical strength training, where people do their maximum lifts, be it bench press or a squat, it can take seconds to complete the movement, as I have outlined in the article

How to train for Power

When you are designing your Power Training program, you need to consider a few training variables. Important to consider for your Power Training program

  • Training Effort
  • Training Mode
  • Training Intensity
  • Training Volume

As you will see, all the variables are interconnected and can’t be viewed or considered in isolation.

I have outlined how training intensity, training effort and training mode work together or influence each other in the articles

Power Training Effort

I have taken the idea of a training effort from the book Science and Practice of Strength Training, Second Edition from Zatsiorsky and Kraemer.

Zatsiorsky and Kraemer describe in their book 3 training efforts

  • Maximal effort: lifting a maximum load or working against a maximal resistance
  • Repeated effort: lifting a submaximal load to failure or near failure
  • Dynamic effort: lifting a submaximal load with the highest attainable speed or effort

In order for a Power Training to be effective, you need to use the dynamic effort, which means working against a submaximal load (as outline in Power Training Intensity) with a maximum voluntary effort.

I have decided to divide the dynamic effort into

  • Dynamic effort: where you try to do the concentric movement with the highest effort possible and as fast as possible.
  • Ballistic effort: where at the end of the movement, the object goes into a free flight. That object (can be the body or external weight.
  • Plyometric effort: an effort that elicits the stretch-shortening cycle.

If you want to read up on the stretch-shortening cycle, what it is and why it is beneficial, have a look at the articles

With regards to the different efforts, dynamic effort, ballistic effort and plyometric effort, all effort carry very similar characteristics and dividing it into these categories is debatable.

I have chosen to categorize it into these three different efforts, as it helps me as a coach in the planning of the training.

Power Training Modes

I have outlined what training modes are in the article

Basically, the training mode describes the implement you are using for your training.

You have to consider different training modes in order to do your power training. These training modes could be body weight or external resistance, such as a barbell, dumbbell or a kettle bell, it could also be a medicine ball, a training machine, cables or bands.

These are the different training modes to choose from for power training. In most cases, the training mode you chose depends on the power training intensity and the power training effort.

Power Training Intensity

Power is trained over a broad spectrum of intensities, from unloaded or 0% 1RM to fairly heavy loaded 70 – 80% 1RM.

The training intensity changes for the different efforts or you use different efforts depending on the training intensity.

  • For training intensities of 50 – 70% 1RM, you use the dynamic effort
  • For training intensities of 20 – 50% 1RM, you use the ballistic effort
  • For training intensities of 0 – 20% 1RM, you use the plyometric effort

Important note

It’s also important to note here that these numbers are not written in stone. They need to be viewed as training zones and serve as a good guideline.

Bringing it all together, training intensity, training mode, and training effort. Have a look at the table, which shows how all the variables fit together.

different types of Power Training, different Power Training methods

Power Training Volume

I have outlined the relationship between training intensity and training volume in the article

Explaining that there is an inverse relationship between training intensity and training volume, which means if training intensity is high, training volume is low and vice versa if training intensity is low / lower, training volume is high.

With Power Training this rule doesn’t necessarily apply.

The reason is that Power Training targets the nervous system and in order for a Power Training to be effective, the Power Training has to be in a state of little to no fatigue and also should not produce any fatigue.

Consequently, training volume needs to be kept low.

Concluding What is Power Training?

The expression of Power is of vital importance for most sports, therefore Power Training plays an important role in the physical preparation for the sport and competition.

Power Training focusses on expressing force as quickly as possible and can be trained through a range of different training intensities, training modes and training efforts depending on the desired outcome and demand of the sport.