Before you can train specifically for strength and power, you should know what the terms really mean. Both are particular physical parameters but are often misunderstood.
Strength is a strange term. In physics terms it is the ability to withstand an applied stress or force. However that will mean little to most of you and has little practical use in terms of health and fitness. Strength in exercise terms is the ability to generate force usually to overcome load or resistance i.e. lifting a weight. The stronger one is, the larger the load one can lift.
To improve strength the evidence shows that in session and in each set one needs to work to fatigue. This is temporary fatigue, the type of fatigue that prevents the next rep but doesn’t prevent the next set after a short break (30 seconds to 90 seconds depending on load). Fatigue maybe achieved by high load or many reps. For strength training, high load is recommended. Of course don’t push/pull anything you aren’t accustomed to managing. Several (3-4) sets are recommended, performed at least twice a week. Strength changes will take around 4-6 weeks to become obvious. Factor this in before significantly increasing the load.
Power in physics terms is the rate of work. Work is energy expenditure in joules. Unlike strength this can easily be extrapolated to health and fitness. Power is the ability to generate force quickly e.g. jumping or change of direction. Power training requires speed or more accurately rapid acceleration. Plyometrics, which includes jumps and bounces; hopping, change of direction drills, short sprints and pushing weight rapidly are all examples of power training. Power training doesn’t require high load like strength training. The research suggests using body weight or less as the load. Power training is best performed in bursts. Cessation of the burst should come at anaerobic fatigue rather than muscle fatigue i.e. keeping going until you are so breathless you could not hold a conversation. Power changes will take as long or longer than strength changes, around 6 weeks to observe a change. Optimum power training is 3 times a week or every other day. Long sessions of power training shouldn’t be performed on consecutive days to allow the body to change and adapt. Power training has the ability to subject the body to high forces rapidly so control of the load is of paramount importance. Strength training is different to power training but strength is a pre-requisite of power so for best results perform a combination of both in your training programme. For more details on power and strength training contact Super Fit here.