man playing basketball

You’ve probably heard of the term power before. For example, when a boxer knocks out an opponent, people praise the athlete for having great power.

But what exactly is power, and does it matter as much as people believe? More importantly, is being stronger good for your power output, or are the two unrelated?

Let’s discuss.

What Is Strength?
Before looking into power and its meaning, we first have to look at strength, which refers to our ability to exert force. More specifically, strength measures a person’s ability to exert force on physical objects.

For example, dropping on the floor and doing a push-up means you can produce enough force to press your body against the ground. Bench pressing is similar because you exert force, but instead of pressing your body, you’re pushing a barbell away from yourself.

There are different types of physical strength, each with its applications in our everyday life and training. For instance, strength-endurance measures your ability to exert force over a specific period. We also have maximal strength, which measures the total force you can produce, detached from time.

Another type of strength is our ability to produce force quickly. Let’s take a look.

Power: A Component of Strength?
Power is what you get when you combine strength with time. Unlike absolute strength that only looks at your maximum ability to produce force, power measures how quickly you can produce force.

Being stronger can benefit your power output, but you need to train that characteristic with purpose. For example, a strong squat can improve your vertical jump, but you have to include power-specific training in your program. In doing so, you can first develop strength, then learn how to produce force more quickly.

How to Get Stronger And Increase Your Power
Concurrent power and strength training is an excellent way to improve both characteristics. One simple option is to have strength and power-specific days in your training.

For example, one lower-body workout can focus on heavy lifting, and the other can include sprints and jumping. One upper-body workout can focus on heavy pressing and pulling, and the other can be about throwing, barbell speed training, and other power-based movements.

Strength training is about focusing on three things:

  1. Frequent enough exposure - researchers suggest that training the lifts we want to improve more frequently leads to quicker strength gains.
  1. Dedicated practice - contrary to popular belief, pushing yourself to your limits might not be the best way to get stronger. Instead, performing enough repetitions with a heavy enough load seems more critical.
  1. Adequate recovery - resting enough between sets is important for managing fatigue and performing enough quality sets to stimulate hypertrophy and neuromuscular adaptations.

Similarly, power-specific training requires an emphasis on fundamental principles:

  1. Use lighter weights and utilize bodyweight exercises.
  1. Lift the weight or move your body through space as quickly and explosively as you can.
  1. Limit the number of reps you do to prevent excessive fatigue that can lead to technique breakdown or slower repetitions.
February 18, 2022 — Daniel Felstein

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