Training for Strength and Power

In sports such as track and field, and boxing, coaches and athletes are often reluctant to train for strength in the belief that a gain in muscle mass will negate any gains in power. Apart from muscle hypertrophy and hyperplasia there are other means of increasing maximal strength and power. The adaptation of the nervous system plays a key role in developing an elite level speed-strength athlete.

A further way to increase power involves the ability of all muscles involved in movement, agonists, antagonists, and synergists, to cooperate fully with the movement. Specific strength training strives mainly to optimize intermuscular coordination. Therefore, this method is coordination training rather than strength or power training. The adaptation of muscles often takes several months depending on the quality and quantity of training. Improvements in strength and power takes a minimum of two weeks.

For base development in speed-strength sports, a cycle of 6-10 weeks can be used to increase muscle mass and maximal strength. A standard method would be with a load of 80-85% 1 RM for 5 sets of 5-6 repetitions each, with a rest of 2 minutes between sets.

After a strength base is established, the athlete will switch to increasing force output. Training methods of this type produce a neuromuscular adaptation along with only a small increase in muscle mass. The training cycle lasts from 6 to 8 weeks. The method uses short-term, extremely fast maximal movements against near maximum loads, or in the case of eccentric actions against an overload. The neuromuscular recruitment will be high even if the movement velocity is low to the heavy loads.

Stretch-shortening (Plyometrics) cycles are aimed at improving the adaptive potential of the nervous system. They must be performed in a well-rested state. Beginners can stick with single or double-leg hopping, or alternate step hopping. Depth jumps off a rise are appropriate for intermediate and advanced levels athletes. Most common in hopping movements includes hopping with both legs (1) at a personal rhythm, (2) with maximum frequency (maximum number of ground contacts as possible), or (3) for maximal height. You can perform 30 repetitions with a rest of 5 minutes between each set. Methods can be combined in a workout.

Depth jumps can be done for 3-5 sets of 10 repetitions each, with a rest between sets of 7-10 minutes. The dropping height (height of box) varies depending upon the individual athlete.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed