S&C

How to Train for Strength and Power Development

Ben Smalley

[4 minute read]

Introduction /

Strength and Power development are two vital elements of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) training. When we speak of strength, we refer to the ability of muscles to produce force. Power however is the rate (velocity) at which this force is produced1.

RYPTxDSS-benefits-of-strength-and-power-development
Image 1: The Benefits of Strength and Power Development

We know from the research that strength is a vital foundation for athleticism, as it underpins so many physical qualities2. Strength is the main driver in the ability to express high power outputs (Force x Velocity) and so strength training should always be present in the programme3. It should be noted that sporting actions are occurring at faster rates than maximal force can be expressed, therefore tailoring training to develop force production and force acceptance qualities at high velocities will likely maximize transfer to performance and injury reduction.

Strength = The ability to generate force

Power = The rate at which force is produced

A method for increasing strength and power is by programming physical training across the Force-Velocity (FV) Curve (Image 2). By doing so, you address a variety of loads and velocities, which help prepare the body to handle a range of production & absorption demands. Emphasis along this curve will depend on the demands of the sport and the training age of the athlete.

Force-Velocity-Curve
Image 2: Force-Velocity Curve

Programming for Strength and Power Development /

For field-based, team sport athletes, we need to address the entire FV curve across all three planes of motion (Image 3). In addition, both unilateral (single-limb) and bilateral (double limb) variations should be incorporated.

RYPT-DSS-planes-of-motion
Image 3: Planes of Motion

Some examples include:

Lower Body Power

  • Med Ball Variations (vertical / horizontal / lateral / rotational)
  • Jump & Plyometric Variations (vertical / horizontal / lateral / rotational)
  • Loaded Jumps & Olympic Lifting

Lower Body Strength

  • Knee Dominant e.g. squatting and lunging patterns
  • Hip Dominant e.g. hinging patterns (Deadlift, Hip Thrust)
  • Frontal / Transverse Plane e.g. side-to-side or rotational (lateral or rotational lunge)
  • Distal Hamstring Work (knee dominant variations e.g. Nordics)
  • Standing Calf Work (gastrocnemius)
  • Seated Calf Work (soleus)
methods-of-strength-and-power-development
Image 3: Methods of Strength and Power Development

Upper Body Power

  • Ballistic Actions
  • High-velocity Weight Training

Upper Body Strength

  • Horizontal Push e.g. Bench Press
  • Horizontal Pull e.g. Barbell Row
  • Vertical Push e.g. Overhead Press
  • Vertical Pull e.g. Chin-up

The Importance of the Trunk for Strength and Power Development /

The trunk is vital in facilitating the transference of forces through the kinetic chain and it’s position & activation in a movement (or lack thereof) can often be the deciding factor in injury occurrence. It is important to train and challenge the trunk in a wide range of positions, and so coaches should include both anterior and lateral bracing movements as well as rotational and flexion-based work, out of dynamic, prone, supine, kneeling and standing positions in their programming.

Injury reduction and player well-being are always at the forefront, and so it is also important to systematically & incrementally progress exercises, so athletes are getting the appropriate stimulus at the appropriate time. This will ensure athletes progress in a safe and effective manner.

An example of a progression model is that of Graeme Morris in his excellent article – ‘The Guiding Principles of Training’.

Example 1

A sequence you may take your athlete through to enhance lower body power through vertical jumping progressions may be as shown in Figure 1 below.

We first establish landing mechanics as well as developing force acceptance qualities in block one, before progressing to jumps with a concentric component in blocks two and three.

Block 1Block 2Block 3
Drop LandSquat JumpLoaded Squat Jump
Figure 1: Vertical Jumping Progressions

Example 2

A sequence you may take your athlete through to build vertical pressing strength to lay a foundation before training with higher velocities may be as shown in Figure 2 below.

Block 1Block 2Block 3Block 4
Landmine PressOverhead PressPush PressSplit Jerk
Figure 2: Vertical Pressing Progressions

Conclusion /

Strength and power are both vital elements of athletic performance. The development of both must be a holistic, whole-body method and ensure that the body is equipped to not only produce force but also to absorb and control it.

There are many methods to do this, however coaches should take into account the following when designing a strength and power development program:

  • The sport the athlete is training for
  • Athlete’s needs
  • Force-Velocity Curve; and,
  • Planes of motion

Strength and power development will help increase speed, strength, and control, help reduce injury risk, and will equip the athlete with the tools to improve sports performance. Therefore, it is strongly advised that strength and power are considerations in all S&C programs.

References

  1. Haff, G. Gregory; Nimphius, Sophia; “Training Principles for Power”, Strength and Conditioning Journal: December 2012 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – p 2-12.
  2. Stone, M., Moir, G., Glaister, M. and Sanders, R., 2002. How much strength is necessary?. Physical Therapy in Sport, 3(2), pp.88-96.
  3. Lauersen, J., Bertelsen, D. and Andersen, L., 2013. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(11), pp.871-877.

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