Power = Strength + Speed
That is right. It is just an equation. If you want to be more powerful in your activity, build strength and build speed. If you lack one, develop it. How do you know if you lack strength or speed? Easy. First, you already know if you lack power. If you are skilled yet feel like you are underperforming in your sport whether it is golf, snowboarding, rock climbing, softball…you probably lack power. All these sports require short bursts of energy to make faster movements. This blog will help you figure out how to get the most out of your gym workouts to improve your performance.
It is possible to test power however it requires some specific equipment and second person. See specifics below in Nerds Corner…
So, you think you lack power. Make sure you have enough strength before trying to build speed and power.
This can be done by performing an 8 repetition max strength test for the upper and lower body. Do a push, pull and leg press. According to TPI the average PGA golfer can cable press 55% of their body weight, cable row 65% of body weight and leg press 220% of body weight during 8 repetition max test. Want to test yourself? See specifics below in Nerds Corner…
It is safe to say that most of us lack strength. It is also safe to say that more women lack upper body strength and more men lack lower body strength. Many people lack strength because they have mobility or core strength limitations. Make sure you check this before attempting to lift a bunch of heavy weights. Building strength on top of immobility is an injury waiting to happen.
To Train Strength? Do the movement you are weak at. If your press is weak work your pecs, anterior deltoids, triceps. If your pull is weak work your rhomboids, lats, traps and, rear shoulder. If your squat is weak, work on glutes, quads and hams.
Did you know that there are 2 windows of opportunity during development where we can maximize our potential for being fast? For girls (age 4-7 and 11-13) and boys (age 6-9 and 13-16). Luckily, we can still improve speed at an older age. However many of us are not going to get out on a track and sprint. Not a bad idea, however, you can incorporate speed into your workout by doing contrast training. This involves alternating a set of strength exercise followed by a plyometric exercise. This type of training has been shown to be superior and faster for achieving power gains.
To train strength and speed? Contrast training (examples; pics to come)
1) Pull ups (strength) followed by medicine ball smash (fast and powerful)
2) One legged squats (strength) followed by box jumps (fast and powerful)
3) Bench press (strength) followed by medicine ball chest pass (fast and powerful)
Now you are ready to get more out of your workouts and improve your performance. This is how I exercise myself and how I exercise my athletes. Results are much quicker with fat loss and power improvements. I even named my class Power to Perform. Come check it out at Full Throttle Fitness in Spearfish. Go to the facebook page or my blog for updates on class times. Read Nerds corner below for more specifics on testing protocol.
Testing Power :
First find a medicine ball that equals 1 lb/every 20 lb of your body weight. For example: a 140 lb person would use a 7 lb medicine ball.
1) For testing upper body power: Sit in a chair and do a chest pass with the medicine ball. If you throw less than 15 ft, you lack chest power
2) For testing abdominal power: Lie on the ground and place the medicine ball over your head. Sit up and throw the ball as far as you can. If you throw less than 15 ft you lack power.
3) For testing lower body power: With both legs in a stationary position jump as high as you can and touch a wall with a piece of tape on your hand. Stick the tape on the wall. Stand next to the wall and measure your arm (with normal posture) span up the wall. Take the difference in height to get your vertical.
*there are more detailed norms for age groups and gender but for simplification shoot for 15 ft
1) For testing pushing strength in upper body: Using a seated cable chest press machine, perform a 8 repetition maximal set. Start with 30-40% of your body weight. After 1-2 reps if it feels like you can easily do more than 8 reps, increase the weight by 10%. Repeat this a couple of times until you feel you are at an 8 rep max weight. This is very subjective. Motivation is important. If you are not used to maximal testing, you will probably fail this. The 7-8th rep should be completed with good form but almost impossible. Remember the goal or normal is about 55% of your body weight.
2) For testing pulling strength in upper body: Using a seated cable row machine (not the cardio one), perform a 8 repetition maximal set. Use the same criterion as above. The goal or normal is 65% of body weight.
3) For testing lower body strength: Using a seated leg press machine, perform a 8 repetition maximal set. Use the same criterion above. The recommended goal, normal according to TPI is 220% of body weight. This will be difficult for many to achieve. An alternative test is the single leg squat. If you can do 8 reps at 75% depth you are essentially squatting 2x your body weight.
*The norms listed above are based off PGA tour golfers. If you are close to the norms, strength is probably not an issue.