What is Power Training?

Sandra Koehler

Power training, also known as ballistic training, is a form of strength training with a twist. The main goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes you to apply a force. Any sport which involves quick changes of direction, quick bursts of speed, jumping or even kicking can be enhanced through adding power training to an exercise routine.

Soccer is just one sport that can benefit from the speed and strength gained through power training.
Soccer is just one sport that can benefit from the speed and strength gained through power training.

Power is the combination of speed and strength. The main focus of power training is to maximize strength in the smallest amount of time. The most common sport that necessitates quick strength is Olympic weight lifting. However, many sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, or even things like martial arts and gymnastics, require explosive power.

Acrobatics and gymnastics require explosive physical power.
Acrobatics and gymnastics require explosive physical power.

Plyometrics is a form of exercise designed to improve sport performance by increasing speed along with power by training contracted muscles in a rapid sequence. First, the muscle must be stretched, or loaded, then contracted, or tightened. This generates a strong contraction in the shortest amount of time.

Jumping to a box, the most common plyometric exercise, uses body weight and gravity to build muscle. This requires an individual to squat down and a use double arm swing to jump up onto a box. Starting from a static position requires the individual to produce maximum force since it takes more strength to move something initially. Once momentum comes into play, the amount of force and speed needed diminishes.

Another common plyometric exercise is performing a push up with a clap. This is an example of adding a challenge when your arm muscles are already in a state of contraction. It forces you to put more power behind the actual push up to attain enough height to clap.

This type of training is not for the beginner. It is a high-intensity workout requiring strong, sudden muscle contractions. This type of training demands a high level of body control. It is necessary to regulate your breathing patterns while commanding the appropriate muscle contractions to maintain form and perform at peak ability.

Good physical strength, flexibility and proprioception, or knowing where your body is in space, are prerequisites to avoid injury. Since this training typically is used by elite athletes to enhance performance, a high degree of physical fitness must be reached before attempting it. If you are not in the greatest physical shape, it is best to begin with a standard strength training routine for several months.

When power training, it is important to continue a stretching and a warm up routine. This will also combat injury. Another important tip is to start off slowly. Listen to your body. People who suffer from a recent injury should be medically cleared for vigorous training. For those who suffer from a chronic injury, power training may not be the best option.

Powerlifting is a combination of speed and strength.
Powerlifting is a combination of speed and strength.

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