Training for Power – Part II
In part one, I gave a little background information on the Olympic Lifts and expressed my interest in using them. I also mentioned that there are several times where it is contraindicated, ineffective, or just plain dangerous to perform Olympic Lifts. So, what do you do when you can’t (or shouldn’t) use Olympic Lifts to train for power?
1. Plyometrics – There are few ways to train for power that are more simple, yet effective, than plyometric training. Jumps, skips, bounds, and bounds can all be used to increase an athlete’s power production. This is not limited to lower body exercises, pretty much any exercise done with an emphasis on rapid contraction qualifies as a plyometric (by loosely using the definition). I think of it as controlled chaos, with both parts mandatory (control to avoid injuries and chaos to make sure you’re training in an explosive manner).
2. Medicine Balls – These are a great way to train the core for explosive and/or rotational movements. You can train every muscle by utilizing throws, slams, and tosses with a medball. It takes a great amount of core strength to transfer the force generated from your legs to the release point at your hands. I am a big fan of medball training.
3. Kettlebells – Kettlebell swings are an excellent alternative when Olympic Lifts are contraindicated. They allow an athlete to focus on getting full hip extension and firing the posterior chain.
4. Dynamic Lifts – This is a concept made popular by Louie Simmons and the guys at Westside Barbell. The basic idea focuses on speed as the determining factor for volume rather than RMs. For example, let’s say your performing dynamic pull ups and know you can get ten before failing. Perform the lift as fast as possible until your speed drops (usually around halfway to failure, in my experience). So, in this scenario, you would perform 5 dynamic pull ups, exploding upwards each rep as fast as possible, and as soon as you feel your speed slow or you notice a sticking point on rep 6, the set is done. The idea behind this method is to train the neuromuscular connections with the fast-twitch fibers, increasing the rate of recruitment, thus allowing more powerful contractions.
These are just some ways to train for power outside of Olympic Lifting, all of which I use in my programs and find very effective. If you know of other methods, please feel free to share and email me at Drew@HenleySP.com, or on Twitter at Twitter.com/DrewBHenley.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES