Being strong and lifting heavy is all well and good, but you’re missing a trick if you’re not adding power exercises into your training.
Why you should add power exercises into your training
I’m always harping on about the more muscles you can make work together, the more force you can produce and the more weight you’ll be able to shift. Going into a little more detail, this means that power training improves the efficiency of your nervous system. It allows for greasing the groove of knee and hip extension with lower weights, which is a key component of both the squat and deadlift. Greasing this groove is important for two reasons;
- Intramuscular coordination: single muscles working to produce force, such as your quads in a squat.
- Intermuscular coordination: a group of muscles working together to produce force in a certain movement pattern, such as your quads, hamstrings and glutes in a squat.
These two terms sound similar but have a lot of differences. Most lifters have intramuscular coordination, such as being quad dominant in the squat. They never feel anything in their glutes which will seriously hinder their chances of lifting heavier.
Adding power exercises into your training with lighter loads helps work your intermuscular coordination. Not only does it improve a single muscles ability to produce force, it allows groups of muscles to work together. Think back to the nervous system I mentioned before.
Lifting heavy weights all the time creates massive amounts of stress on your nervous system. This is because it takes so much out of you. Training power requires using lighter loads which produces less stress on your nervous system. Therefore you can recover quicker and get more volume into your sessions as well as improving your squatting or deadlifting technique. Think about greasing the groove which I mentioned before as well.
Go to power exercises
Now that you know the benefits of power training when it comes to getting stronger, here are my top three go to power training methods;
Using jumps is the simplest form of power training. Jumps teach you to apply force into the ground quickly, as well as to absorb force when you land. The importance of this is often overlooked as the ground reaction forces produced when landing are quite high, leading to strengthening of your muscles and connective tissue.
The best use of jumps is at the end of your warm up, just before you go into your main lift of either squat or deadlift. This is to make sure your nervous system is fired and ready to go.
Ideally you want to be performing vertical or box jumps, aiming for 3-5 reps of 3-4 sets with up to a 2 minute rest between sets.
- Kettlebell Swings
The kettlebell swing is a hinge movement, similar to that of a deadlift. That is why it is an awesome power exercise as it hits your glutes and hamstrings and teaches you to be a bit more aggressive when it comes to lock out. Another benefit of the kettlebell swing is that it actually gets your upper back and lats involved in the movement which is a sneaky carryover to help your bench as well.
Similar to the jumps I just spoke about, kettlebell swings can go in between the end of your warm up and before your deadlift session. Alternatively, there’s no reason you couldn’t slot them in as a lower body hypertrophy exercise alongside exercises such as Stiff Legged Deadlifts or Hip Thrusts.
Ideally you want to be performing 10 reps of 3-5 sets with up to a 2 minute rest between sets.
I’ve mentioned a lot about power exercises for your lower body to help with your squat and deadlift, mainly because those are the most well-known exercises. However, power exercises also have great benefits for your upper body and bench press.
A go to exercise would be an explosive chest throw. This is because it teaches you to move the ball with speed, firing that nervous system up which I’ve spoken about all the way through this article. These, again, can used between the end of your warm up and the start of your bench session. Alternatively, you can add them in between sets.
Ideally you want to be performing 5-10 reps of 3-5 sets with up to a 2 minute rest between sets.
Even though powerlifting and getting stronger is about moving as much weight on the bar as you can, it doesn’t mean lifting heavy all the time is going to get you there. Give the exercises I’ve mentioned a go and see how you progress.
Thanks for reading,