May 31, 2017
Training an athlete for power, or more specifically, training their ability to rapidly produce force, has to be coached, periodised and programmed properly for all athletes. Let’s be honest, majority of sports require athletes to be able to express high amounts of power. When all else is equal, 99% of the time, the athlete who is stronger and more powerful will win out. But too often it’s done poorly and impractically and the result is my eyes begin to bleed while watching…
Training to improve power is so vital. But it must be done properly. You can’t just throw in some box jumps or barbell jump squats because you saw it on Facebook and it looked cool.
Commercial franchised gyms will promote their services as high intensity interval training, or HIIT as it is affectionately known. In these semi-private group sessions they assure you that you’ll leave their gym “smashed” and wake up the next day cursing your trainer’s name. This is the most backwards way of training anyone, let alone an athlete. Fatigue is the worst indicator of adaptation. Adaptation comes from doing something consistently but also doing it consistently with sound technique. When you push someone to absolute fatigue in exercises such as box jumps, barbell jump squats or Olympic lifting you are playing with fire. These types of exercises are for developing strength and power. They are not and never will be a way of conditioning your athlete or client.
Let me explain;
These types of exercises are highly technical. While you may think that jumping on a box is pretty simple, there’s far more to it. Body and knee position in the jump phase is crucial; body position in the air is crucial and body and knee position when landing is highly, highly important. What happens after the person lands is then also critical. The depth of the dip prior to the jump will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the jump as will how well an athlete can incorporate their arms throughout the entire movement.
These types of exercise also take a huge amount of mental and physical effort to do properly and will fatigue you very, very quickly. So it shouldn’t take a genius to realise that if something fatigues you very quickly, your ability to execute this exercise properly will begin to diminish very quickly also. This is why training for strength and power is about quality not quantity. Let me say that once more, because a lot of rogue trainers out there feel the need to consistently break their clients or athletes spirit as a badge of honour. It’s about QUALITY. Quality repetitions every time. Correct jumping and landing mechanics and a huge effort on every rep. This is why my athletes complete no more than 5 reps per set when training power movements and with a big break in between sets. It’s never about quantity where you drive a person into the ground with set after set of 20 box jumps with 30 seconds rest in between each set.
As previously mentioned, you’re literally playing with fire. By fire, I mean the fire your client or athlete will feel when they likely injure themselves or more scary will be the fire you deal with when an angry parent begins spitting fire your way after you injure their child who has been trusted in your care. Lastly, the words “you’re fired” from your boss’s mouth are not what you want to hear.
Make sure you always program any power raining at the beginning of a session when the athlete or client is fresh. Program a rep range of 3-5 per set and allow long breaks in between so the body can recover fully.
A concentrated block of power training can give some of the most rewarding and satisfying outcomes for anyone due to the fact that the results are very tangible. When anyone sees their vertical jump or broad jump score increase by several centimeters, it’s always a great feeling of accomplishment.