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Sport-Specific Power Training - Part 1: Strength (Force)

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

For example, a rugby player is both strong (applies a big force) and fast (can move objects and himself with great speed). And so, he is very powerful.

For this particular rugby player, he can't afford to be force or velocity deficient, he needs to have a good balance of both and so must train for it.

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

Training for Strength (Force)

Getting strong can be achieved quite simply with traditional compound exercises and their bilateral and unilateral variations. There are other ways you can strengthen the body (eg. strongman training), all that matters is you're moving challenging loads and targeting the right movements. More info on the details of strength training here.

What About Sport-Specific Strength Exercises?

Sport specific strength exercises are exercises that aim to replicate movements found in the sport. And by movements i mean what's happening at the joints and muscles rather than what's happening technically, because technically speaking there is only one way you can get better doing your sport and that's actually doing it. Let's look at an example:

Incorrect Application of Sport-Specific Strength Training

Correct Application of Sport-Specific Strength Training

The INCORRECT way has a weak technical stimulus and no strength (force) stimulus:

  • You're on a gym floor, not a wrestling mat

  • Sprawling on a body is a very different stimulus technically than sprawling on nothing with a rope clenched in between your butt cheeks.

  • It's not getting you strong because you can't lift anything heavy anyway.

The CORRECT way has no technical stimulus, and a strong strength (force) stimulus:

  • You're strengthening the sports-specific movement which is HIP EXTENSION

  • You're strengthening the joints and muscles involved in HIP EXTENSION

  • You're increasing you're force capability in HIP EXTENSION

  • All the exercises shown help do one thing and one thing very well, increase HIP EXTENSION strength (force)

  • No technical stimulus because that's how it should be.

So when you're picking you're strength exercises, make sure you look at how your joints and muscles are moving and replicate that instead of actual techniques.

Quick Mention - Balance Training

Balance training usually involves little-no resistance, perturbation or some sort of gadget like a wobble board, water filled bag or bosu ball. Problem is, balance is incredibly task/sport-specific and so no amount of balance training will transfer directly to your sport. If there is any transfer, it's likely from the strength stimulus you get if you're really weak.

Just getting strong and really good at your sport will help you handle the distribution of force in unstable environments and develop your sport-specific awareness. The body is incredibly plastic and can adapt to anything. Check this article out to read more on why people who do balance training are no better than people who don't do it.

In Part 2, we'll talk about velocity which is a little more complicated and misunderstood in the S&C context. Stay tuned.

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