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Sport-Specific Power Training - Part 2: Speed (Velocity)

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

Power is simply a product of your strength (force) and speed (velocity).

For example, a boxer has moderate to high levels of strength (applies a moderate to high force) and is fast (can move himself with great speed). And so, he is very powerful.

Think Mike Tyson, one of the fastest AND hardest hitters of all time.

Let's dig into what some of that training looks like.

Training for Speed (Velocity)

Firstly, we need to categorise the two types of contractions involved in power output, concentric only and reactive:

  • Concentric Only contractions are movements where you're moving your body, limbs or object from a stationary position. This is also referred to as accelerative strength or ability to overcome inertia (i'll interchange these 3 terms throughout the blog, they all mean the same thing).

  • Reactive contractions are movements that utilise the stretch reflex to contribute to power output. Movements include jumping, sprinting, changing direction, punching and kicking, pretty much any movement that involves a wind up or rapid stretch (or rapid wind up) prior to a concentric contraction.

Concentric Only Power Development

To develop concentric only power the method is simple, get strong and move fast. Building raw strength will assist you in overcoming inertia, whether it be your own body or an object. Imagine trying to lift somebody up from the ground but lacking the strength to do it, you probably wont be able to or it will take you a long time to do it and in that time your opponent has probably countered you or you've totally fatigued yourself.

Technique and Concentric Only Power Development

If you're drilling/moving fast and with intention in training, the 'fast' aspect will look after itself. Why do i say that? Because there's a significant technical component that renders any non-specific form of speed training useless as in order to become fast, you not only have to train fast but you need to be proficient in the movement/technique you're trying to move fast in. No amount of barbell bench press or landmine throwing will make you punch fast because neither are as fast as a punch nor technically the same. This becomes more apparent as the movements/chain of movements (and speed of them) becomes more complex such as in MMA or freestyle wrestling.

Intention in Training and Concentric Power Development

You MUST train with intention. Every kick, sprint, punch, throw has to be done with intention to move as fast as possible (not always of course). If you are training a sport where there are constraints around how hard and fast you can punch/move/throw (partner drilling/sparring) then it's imperative that you drill specifically using bags, pads, dummies or if with a partner (which is best) using crash mats, protective gear etc.

Greco-Roman Wrestler Aleksandr Karelin Lifting and Throwing his Opponent with Intention (The Face Says it All)

Non-Specific Speed Tests

Now you can use non-specific tests to see if you're responding to a block of training ie. if you've completed a strength block and your landmine punch speed has improved, then chances are your regular punch speed has also improved. But to train the landmine punch throw with the intention of developing faster punches? it just won't work as it violates the principal of specificity and is just not as fast as a punch. Remember, train fast to get fast.

Force Velocity Curve Categorised by Sport

Reactive Power Development

Reactive power or strength is developed using plyometrics. This can be developed in beginners using the sport itself or non-specific forms such as skipping, sprinting and various ground-based hops and jumps. In more advanced athletes, hurdles, loaded jumps and jumps from height can be used to further enhance reactive strength.

Practical Examples (Combining Part 1 & Part 2 Content)

Below are a few practical examples putting all the content from both Part 1 & 2 together.

Powerful Punching

Bench Press + Banded Punches (Bands are great for creating intention) + Reactive Medball Drops + Bag Drilling. Some lower body work may also be necessary here.

Powerful Suplex

Hip Thrust + Medball Suplex + Hurdle Hops + Partner Drilling (ideally similar weight)

Hope you enjoyed Part 2 of Sport-Specific Power Training. Feel free to leave any comments, questions or feedback below.

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