Power in fitness can be the difference between a haymaker and a jab, a homerun and the warning track, a birdy and a bogey.
Power also becomes important as we age. It can be the difference of being able to get independently out of a low chair or needing assistance.
What’s the difference between strength and power?
Strength refers to the ability to overcome resistance, while power refers to the ability to overcome resistance in the shortest period of time.
Why do you need more power?
In physics power = Force x Velocity
Power is the rate at which work is done or energy is transferred in a unit of time. Power is increased if work is done faster or energy is transferred in less time.
More power is seen when the system is both strong in force and fast in velocity.
Some examples that demonstrate differences in power for the same activity:
When you walk a mile time is measured when the work is done. When you run the same mile, you are doing the same amount of work but in less time.
The runner has a higher power rating than the walker, putting out more watts.
A car with 80 horsepower can produce faster acceleration than a car with 40 horsepower. In the end, both cars are going 60 miles per hour, but the 80-hp engine can reach that speed faster.
In other words, in order to increase your power you need to increase force and/or speed.
Training and assessing power is typically saved for the end of the movement health journey due to safety. Moving at fast speeds while generating increasing amounts of force requires greater amounts of control. Once we have established a solid foundation for movement and stability then we can begin to train power.
At Stretch Affect we utilize the Keiser Fitness Functional Trainer for assessment and training power. The functional trainer is designed to move faster than the fastest human being with virtually zero shock loading. These features increase safety while moving at high speeds.
Our assessment of choice is the Press Pull for upper extremity. We load the Keiser with a percentage of your body weight, train the motion and then release the beast! The Keiser Functional Trainer gives a power output reading that can then be tracked over time.
Another power fitness assessment we use is the My TPI seated chest pass. This test only requires a few items including a chair (with a back), a medicine ball (4kg for men, 2kg for women and juniors), and a tape measure. The subject sits in the chair with their back touching the seat back. Without losing contact, the subject performs a chest pass and launches the ball as far as possible. The best of 3 trials is recorded.
Keep in mind, the average PGA TOUR professional scores between 18-20 feet!
Once we establish your baseline for upper extremity power fitness then we train with accessory exercises and reassess a few weeks later.
Because the energy systems that you use for power deplete quicker than strength, we use alternating strength and power exercises to get the most out of your progression.
Now that we covered how we assess and train power for the upper body. How about training power fitness for the most powerful muscles in your body i.e. your legs?
The Keiser Fitness Functional Trainer is still a great way for us to objectively measure your power output.
A Keiser forward jump, records baselines for how much force you can generate while leaping forward. This gives us information on how well you can produce forward explosive power. Football linemen, long and high jumpers, volleyball and basketball players: we’re talking to you.
Kettle bell swings, box jumps for height and broad jumps for length all help train and pattern the right muscles to improve your explosiveness and power scores next time you’re tested.
Kick field goals? Soccer player? We can measure and work on kicking power too. Check out how we assess kicking power and break down and train the kinetic chain of the kick one segment at a time.
We cannot bring up the topic of power fitness training in our movement health continuum without talking about power lifting! Squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches and all their variations train multiple muscle groups all at once and promote global speed and strength of the entire musculoskeletal system.
From a performance standpoint it has been well studied that sprint speed and vertical jump have a direct correlation to squat strength.
So if you want to run faster and jump higher, you better be building your squat strength through power lifting. A strong posterior chain in general helps in almost all athletic and functional activities.
From a health perspective we know that power lifting improves overall strength, aids in fat loss and increases bone density. We know that as we age, muscle mass and bone density decreases and there will be a day where simple movements that we’ve taken for granted will become difficult.
Training your musculoskeletal system to build a strong base slows that aging process and delays those days of difficulty moving.
Power for fitness is not the only place we use power. There are things we do every day that take power without us even thinking about it.
Remember that power = force x velocity. There is a forcefulness and speed component.
This means that power is the difference between struggling to get up off the toilet and standing up quickly without a second thought.
Power is the difference between successfully reacting quickly to catch a falling object from a shelf vs. attempting to do so and either the object breaking or pulling a back muscle.
Power training gives you the capacity to pick up the pace while trying to cross the street with a 3-second countdown on the crosswalk light.
As you can see, power has many applications that are equally important. In sport, if you are looking to improve your performance, or if you are struggling performing every day activities. At Stretch Affect we can help identify and prioritize areas where power may be the missing component to achieving your goals.
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