Combining scientific research into practical methods to increase the effectiveness of maximal power training
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Power is the most desired physical quality for a number of sports because it entails both force (strength) and velocity (speed) aspects. Power is typically defined as the rate at which work is performed (Mass x Distance / Time). For coaches and sports people it is more often described as strength x speed. Because both strength and speed can be improved by many different training variable manipulations, training to improve power output has been described as requiring a multi-faceted approach (57). However a cursory glance at many resistance training programs or recommendations aimed at increasing muscular power would typically reveal a high proportion of Olympic weightlifting (e.g. power cleans, pulls), plyometric exercises (eg. jumping, bounding) or even rubber tubing exercises (3, 45, 51). While Olympic weightlifting methods of training often produce tremendous increases in lower body power, other methods or exercises, especially for developing upper body power, appear less explored. For example, maximal upper body pressing/pushing power is of importance to football players (rugby league, union, Australian and American football) as well as boxers and martial artists to enhance the ability to push away/strike opponents. However most articles concerning power-training methods involve Olympic weightlifting exercises and lower body plyometrics, paying scant regard to the upper body requirements. However there has been some tremendous research done lately, (especially in Australia or by Australians) that has inspired coaches to be more creative in their power training prescriptions and methods. The purpose of this article is to outline some of this research and how it can be used in your program to develop both upper and lower body power. Most importantly practical methods that improve the effectiveness of maximal power training are detailed. Astute coaches will be able to determine the relevance and application of these concepts and methods to the broader area of athlete preparation for their sports.