Tag Archives: power development

Boost Your Performance with Contrast Training

19 Apr

There are various differences in the physical demands of sports, based on factors such as the sport, itself, and positional differences among and between athletes.  Different sports require athletes to move through unique movement patterns which, for training purposes, can be categorized into vertical, linear, and lateral.  Exercises that focus on strength and power development, in these three areas, should be at the forefront of every athlete’s training program.

One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase the athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time.  Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Agility with Balance Training

13 Apr

airex_balance_beam_square[1]Balance should be considered as a potential predictor of agility, according to a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.  The article also cited speed and power development as having an impact on agility; and gender-specific influences  — power development having a greater impact on agility in women, and balance training having a greater impact on agility in men.

Agility isn’t simply how fast you move.  It refers to your ability to accelerate (speed up), decelerate (slow down), and change direction; and how quickly you can recognize and react to a stimulus.  We also acknowledge that agility is contingent upon ground displacement: The stronger you are through the lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground.  With practice, increased ground force generation equals improvements in agility-related performance.

Balance training should include unilateral lower-body exercises, such as the single-leg squat, Bulgarian split squat, stepup, single-leg Romanian deadlift; and ankle, knee, and hip balance and stability exercises (pictured).

Speed training should incorporate max effort sprints, and assisted/resisted (uphill, parachute) running.

To increase power production, perform Olympic lifts (for example, the hang clean), squat jump, single-leg squat jump (also incorporates balance), and plyometrics.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Try the 10-5-20 Workout

7 Aug

Hang-Clean[1]If you’re looking for a little variety in your training routine, here’s a workout for you to try:  The 10-5 20 Workout.

This 3-day per week workout combines the benefits of muscle building (hypertrophy), strength and power development, and muscular endurance.

Exercise selection is at your discretion, although we encourage total-body workouts and not “body-part” training.  Additionally, we suggest keeping the same exercises for the entire week.

Here’s how it works (it’s actually quite simple):

  • Monday (or day 1) – perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions of all exercises, using loads that challenge you through this range of repetitions — about 75% of your 1 rep max (1RM)
  • Wednesday (or day 2) – perform 4 sets of 5 repetitions of all exercises, using about 87% 1RM
  • Friday (or day 3) – perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions of all exercises, using about 50% 1RM

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With Contrast Sets

21 Jan

hex-bar-girl[1]One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time. Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed (acceleration) and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Here’s an example of a simple contrast model for athletes to build explosive power:

  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

Incorporate this superset into your workout for speed development:

  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

And finally, a superset using two explosive/plyometric exercises:

  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 1-3 sets

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Why Extreme Conditioning Programs Are Wrong for Athletes

13 Jun

CrossFit-204-Girl-Interrupted-start[1]Extreme Conditioning Programs (ECPs) like P90X, Insanity, and CrossFit have become very popular with fitness enthusiasts.  And while these programs may be appropriate for some — within reason, just about any exercise is better than none — they are clearly not the right choice for everyone.

Athletic performance training should not necessarily be a time-constrained, physical challenge.  There is no scientific rationale for the “as many as you can, as fast as you can” approach.  And since injury prevention should be an important consideration in the development of any performance training plan, programs that encourage quantity over quality should be carefully scrutinized.

Research shows that full muscular activation can be achieved well before the point of total exhaustion or fatigue.  Simply stated, when an athlete’s form begins to “break down,” during the course of any given exercise, it’s time to put the weight down.  When athletes become fatigued and technique gets sloppy, exercise range-of-motion becomes compromised and the chance of injury increases.

Scientifically speaking, the development of sport-specific strength and power — and the activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers — involves performing exercises using heavy loads, through a narrow range of repetitions, with technical correctness (full range-of-motion), and adequate time for recovery between sets.

Here’s an article from Tony Duckwall, athletic performance director for KIVA volleyball and IFHCK field hockey and co-owner and sports performance director for Louisville-based EDGE Sports Performance.  Tony discusses 5 Reasons Young Athletes Shouldn’t Use Standardized Programs Like P90X, Insanity and CrossFit.

Another article, this one from STACK Media Associate Editor, Sam DeHority, provides insight into Why Athletes Shouldn’t Just Jump into CrossFit.

Here’s the deal: If you want to try CrossFit, or some other ECP, give it a try.  But first do a little research, understand what you’re getting yourself into, and make sure that whatever you do is aligned with your strength and/or fitness goals.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

7 Ways to Build Explosive Strength

3 Mar

Dumbbell-Squat[1]Explosive strength is the key to performance in most sports. It’s the ability to move things—including your own body—really fast.

Whether you’re running, jumping, hitting or throwing, you need to apply maximum force as quickly as possible. This is power. There may be people out there who are stronger than professional athletes, but they aren’t on the field or on the court for one reason. They can’t apply their strength quickly enough.

So how you do you develop power? It all starts with your core—and I don’t mean just your abs. Explosive force is produced from your torso and hips.

To improve this ability, you must perform exercises explosively and emphasize hip extension. Your goal isn’t to max out but to perform each rep with maximum strength and speed.

Some of my favorite exercises for building explosive power include:

  • Squats
  • Trap Bar Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift
  • Step-Ups and Lunges
  • Hang Clean (my favorite) and Push Press
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Plyo Push-Ups
  • Sled Drives, Hill Runs, and Parachute Runs

Perform your power exercises towards the beginning of your workout, directly after your dynamic warm-up. Since you won’t be fatigued from other exercise, you’ll be able to do each rep with max intensity.

For any weightlifting power exercise, aim for three to five sets of three to five reps at 75 to 85 percent of your max and rest for two to three minutes between sets. For plyometrics and sprinting drills, make sure to recover fully between sets, resting three to five times longer than the duration of the exercise.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Boost Your Performance with Contrast Training

13 Dec

Lead%20Photo-1[1]There are various differences in the physical demands of sports, based on factors such as the sport, itself, and positional differences among and between athletes.  Different sports require athletes to move through unique movement patterns which, for training purposes, can be categorized into vertical, linear, and lateral.  Exercises that focus on strength and power development, in these three areas, should be at the forefront of every athlete’s training program.

One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase the athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time.  Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Agility with Balance Training

20 Mar

airex_balance_beam_square[1]Balance should be considered as a potential predictor of agility, according to a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.  The article also cited speed and power development as having an impact on agility; and gender-specific influences  — power development having a greater impact on agility in women, and balance training having a greater impact on agility in men.

Agility isn’t simply how fast you move.  It refers to your ability to accelerate (speed up), decelerate (slow down), and change direction; and how quickly you can recognize and react to a stimulus.  We also acknowledge that agility is contingent upon ground displacement: The stronger you are through the lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground.  With practice, increased ground force generation equals improvements in agility-related performance.

Balance training should include unilateral lower-body exercises, such as the single-leg squat, Bulgarian split squat, stepup, single-leg Romanian deadlift; and ankle, knee, and hip balance and stability exercises (pictured).

Speed training should incorporate max effort sprints, and assisted/resisted (uphill, parachute) running.

To increase power production, perform Olympic lifts (for example, the hang clean), squat jump, single-leg squat jump (also incorporates balance), and plyometrics.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Resistance Training, Part 5: Training Load and Repetition

8 Oct

Load is the amount of weight lifted (pushed or pulled) during an exercise set.  It is an important component of a resistance training program.

There is an inverse relationship between load and repetitions.  The heavier the load lifted, the fewer the number of repetitions that can be performed.  Load is usually described in one of two ways:

  • One-repetition maximum (1RM) is the greatest amount of weight that can be lifted with proper technique for only one repetition.
  • Repetition maximum (RM) is the most weight that can be lifted for a specified number of repetitions.  For example, if an athlete can perform 10 repetitions with 200 lbs in the bench press exercise, his or her 10RM is 200 lbs.

There are a few different ways for the Strength and Conditioning professional to assess and determine an athlete’s training load:

  • Actual 1RM (directly tested).
  • Estimated 1RM from a multiple-RM test; there are prediction equations and tables available to estimate the 1RM from multiple-RM loads. (see NSCA website)
  • Multiple-RM based on the number of repetitions planned for that exercise (the goal).

Load and repetition assignments should be based on the athlete’s training goal.

  • If the athlete’s goal is Strength development, loads (%1RM) should be 85% or more; repetitions should be 6 or fewer.
  • If the athlete’s goal is Power development, loads should be 75-90%; repetitions should be in the 2-4 range.
  • If the athlete’s goal is Hypertrophy (muscle growth), loads should be 67-85%; repetitions should be in the 6-12 range.
  • If the athlete’s goal is Muscular endurance, loads should be 67% or less; repetitions should be 12 or more.

As the athlete adapts to the training load and repetitions, it’s important for the Strength and Conditioning professional to have a progression strategy.  Advancing exercise loads ensures that improvements will continue over time.  It is necessary for the trainer and athlete to monitor and chart each workout and the athlete’s response to it.

A conservative method that can be used to increase an athlete’s training load is called the 2-for-2 rule.  If the athlete can perform two or more repetitions over his or her assigned repetition goal in the last set in two consecutive workouts for a certain exercise, weight should be added to that exercise for the next training session.  (Baechle, T. and Earle, R.; Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning)

The quantity of load increases, when progression is warranted, should generally be about 2.5-10%.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Next: Volume

Developing Power vs. Strength

12 Sep

Power is defined as the ability to produce strength quickly.  It is essential to performance in almost every sport since virtually no skill is ever performed slowly.  Fortunately, power is trainable.  Although Speed is a key component of power, Strength also plays a key role.  If you aren’t strong and cannot exert great amounts of force, then you simply won’t be powerful, no matter how fast you move.  To get stronger, you’ve got to train with heavy loads.  Your training program should incorporate three to five sets of exercises performed at no less than 80 percent of your max.  Exercises like Squats, Romanian Deadlifts, Bench Presses, and Rows – done once or twice per week, with heavy loads – will help you get stronger.

Power is a Trainable Skill

The ability to focus, react, and explode as quickly as possible at the right moment is a skill.  Therefore, it must be practiced year round.  This is best accomplished by devoting at least one day per week to power training, more as the season approaches.

Power workouts can include Olympic Lifts (Power Clean, Power Snatch, Push Jerk, etc.) and their variations, Medicine Ball Throws, Plyometrics, Squat Jumps and anything else that involves explosive movements. Every rep should be fast with perfect technique.

It’s not about how much you can lift, but how fast you can lift it. This means you should keep the volume low (no more than six reps per set of Olympic Lifts); lift at 60 to 80 percent of your max; and rest for two to three minutes between sets to fully recover. Also, perform just a few quality exercises rather than a wide variety of exercises at which you might not be as proficient.

Power is Sport-Specific

There are differences between training to increase your vertical jump, improve your long jump, throw harder, and explode out of the starting blocks.  Strength training helps to provide a base.  Power development must reflect the demands of your sport(s).  This can be accomplished by directly practicing your sport or incorporating exercises that mimic the movements you are trying to improve on the  field or court.

Your thoughts?

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