Athletic speed and power is all about force. How fast can you move weight through space. Sprinters are powerful humans. As are boxers, football players and many other athletes that rely on short bursts of speed and explosiveness to succeed in their careers. They all have power that lasts; power that’s applicable to real life situations.
There’s also the balance of building a great looking body and a great performing body. Some feel that the two have to be separated to see the best results. But I’m not one of those people.
There are thousands of examples of great athletes who have great physiques. Guys who are strong, powerful, and are at the height of their sport, but also look great.
That’s what we’re going to focus on. How to build speed and strength – or athleticism – but also a great looking body. In my mind, training for performance with some hypertrophy mixed in is the best way to train for either goal. You just have to find the right methods and the right balance.
Athletic Power and Strength
Where training for power you need longer rest periods, and way fewer reps. Training to build your ideal body, and building speed and strength that will last in the fourth quarter, or the final round of a fight, requires a completely different training style. Here’s a few time how to accomplish both.
Many of the same principles apply to getting stronger, as they do to building lean muscle and a better looking physique:
Progressively overload: if you’re going to improve, you’re going to need to be pushing yourself in the weight room. When training for power, you don’t want to be doing maximal lifts, nor do your want to be lifting to failure. You want to be keeping within that 85-95% of your max, while keeping one in the tank. The exercise has to be explosive, you don’t want to be doing a slow last rep.
Recovery: you actually need more recovery during your sets, and it’s easily just as important – if not more important because of the weight you’re lifting – to allow your body enough recovery time between training days.
A couple other things to remember when training for speed and strength:
Explode on the concentric phase of the lift. The eccentric phase of the exercise isn’t as important in training for power as it is in training for lean muscle mass gains.
In many exercises, like deadlifts, cleans, and the snatch, there often isn’t even a eccentric phase at all. You simply drop the weight after you’re finished your rep.
Power starts with the lower body. We’re talking about full body strength here, which includes the pushing and pulling muscles of the upper body, but with athletics, the power always starts at the base.
Even with punching. You first start a chain reaction that ends with the fist hitting the target with your back foot.
Training for speed takes less work – in time and duration – than training for lean muscle mass gains or fat loss. Power is all about the fastest possible route to a destination. The faster a fist can hit it’s target, combined with the weight and velocity behind it, the more damage it will do.
Have a look at these videos. Both give you great exercises for athletic explosiveness.
Building Knockout Power
Improving Your Leaping Ability
Combining strength/power/athleticism training, with ‘bodybuilding’ to build your ideal body.
Most workouts I have done in the past – that were unsuccessful – focused on one style of training, and that was it. In the last article I talked about intramuscular tension, or the amount of muscle fibers activated in an exercise.
Some will say that the heavier you’re lifting, the more muscle’s you’re activating. Other’s say it lies in the time under tension you’re placing your muscles. I’ve found that I get a lot more out of my workouts, when I’m combining powerlifting (heavy lifting), with combined sets, and burnout sets.
I hit my muscles in 3 different ways in one workout. As a result of this training I gained 32 pounds in 32 weeks while dramatically improving my strength, speed and athleticism at the same time. I even dropped bodyfat percentage as well.
Have a look at me before and after I started training like this. Hundreds of other guys have altered their training like this and have seen some pretty incredible results as well.
To find more about how to train for mass, fat loss, and athleticism, take a look at the PowerHowse Challenge; the program that changed my life, and will do the same for you if you have what it takes…