If you’ve followed what I have talked about before, you will be well set up to work on building power and speed.
It is very important that you have a good base before starting this phase. This is reasonably high level training. You can’t do fast dynamic movements if you have a poor base to work off.
In the past I have talked about learning basic body movements and understanding how the body moves and making sure you can move well. Taking your work outs up a level using progressive overload. Honing in on specific skills relevant to your sport or a particular area of fitness you want to work on.
I’ve even gone through recovery for make sure your body is firing at all cylinders for your next work out.
Now obviously you don’t have to follow exactly what I say. However, having those boxes ticked that you are competent in exercise movements, have built strength and muscle mass using progressive overload techniques and it ties in with a specific skill you train for is important to have when it comes to training for speed and power.
This is a very athletic way of training. Now you don’t need to be a world class athlete to train this way, but this is not aimed at beginners. However, if you are new to this way of training, then this is for you.
See the reason for having a base level of strength, is that strength, power and speed are all very closely related.
Allow me to explain:
- Strength is how much force you can generate
- Speed is how fast someone or something can move
- Power is a combination of the two
So you can’t be powerful if you can move fast. If are naturally quite strong or have developed a decent amount of strength, then you need to work on getting fast.
To improve power then we need to understand the rate of force development or ROFD.
This is something that is very under looked in the nearly every person’s gym routine.
This is basically the ability to generate the most amount of force in the shortest amount of time.
The faster your ROFD, the quicker and more explosive you or your movements will be.
So an example of this if two guys can lift the same amount of weight. This means that yeah are able to generate the same amount of force. However, one has a faster ROFD. This means that it they will take a shorter length of time to produce the forced needed to loft the weight.
If you’re spending a longer period of time getting the weight moving, it takes you longer to complete the lift and you could fatigue before you get to lock out.
This is why improving ROFD is so important. And you can imagine how beneficial this would be if you do anything remotely athletic.
So why is this not talked about more?
Everyone who has ever been to a gym will hear people comparing numbers. How much they bench, how much they squat, how low they squat etc. This is talked about in every gym in the world.
But power output and how fast you went doesn’t get mentioned.
Simply because it’s quite hard to measure if you’re not in a lab and so few people actually understand it. However, studies show that once you add this type of training to your arsenal you had another dimension to your workout routine.
Now I want to say I’m far from an expert with this type of training and I’ll be keeping things as simple as possible.
A good example of this training is the depth jump. This is when you drop off a box, land, absorb the impact, and then instantly jump as high as you can.
This has also been known as shock training due to the body’s ability to absorb the shock of the impact.
This is a great way to improve speed fast.
So what’s actually happening here? How was this able to improve how high you could jump?
Well, you are playing around with the elasticity of the muscles and tendons and manipulating the body’s stretch-shorten cycle.
This is basically where the muscles contract eccentrically (when the muscle fibres are long) then following up by an instant concentric contraction (muscle fibres are shortened).
Studies have shown that this can improve the concentric phase, meaning that it increases force production. This is why in a depth jump you are able to jump higher than if you did a normal static jump. You use that elastic energy that is build up from when you land to help the muscles contract when you perform the jump itself.
And these results aren’t short term. More studies showed that if you did an actual depth jump program, you can gain around 15% increase in max strength.
But don’t worry, there’s much more to this than depth jumps and jumping higher. With modern sort science, plyometric techniques have been developed to improve overall power and speed.
Stretch-Shorten Cycle. Building Power
This stretch-shorten cycle is a part of what is known as Ballistic resistance training.
Basically, explosive weight training. This is where you apply max force to the resistance with the aim of lifting it, moving it or throwing it as quickly as possible.
This now goes way further than improving your vertical jump and get really quite interesting.
When you perform a normal squat or bench press or any exercise like that, your body naturally decelerates when you get to the top.
A study showed that on a one rep max lift, around a quarter of the lift time is spent decelerating. A lift that’s 80% of your max, deceleration can go up to as much as 52%. Even if you are doing speed reps, the speed still decreases when you get to the top of the lift.
This is actually a safety mechanism in your body to protect itself and look after the joints. But doing this training vertically gets rid of the deceleration.
A good example of this is the bench press vs a plyometric push up. Very similar motions, but that safety mechanism is done when you are trying to push your body into the air as much as you can. Because that’s gone, you can now get max acceleration and max power. You are now able to recruit all those fast twitch muscle fibres.
I will continue with this blog on speed and power another time. This is a lecture so I’m not going to bombard you with information. This is just an introduction to this style of training and now hopefully you see how adding this extra dimension your workouts can be a game changer.