Exercise Power Building Tips

Exercise power is your ability to rapidly do a bench press with heavy weights or to jump as high as you can for a vertical jump. The National Strength and Conditioning Association defines power as your ability to use as much of your strength and force in a particular direction, as fast as possible. Though power training is largely used to train athletes, you can also use machines in your gym to increase your power.

Train Specifically for Your Activity

Muscular adaptations to increase strength and endurance are specific to your activity. If you need to jump very high and very quickly for basketball or volleyball, you must train to increase the power of your legs in a vertical direction. Do squats to build power in your legs, and in this case, do not use the leg extension machine for power-building exercises.

Increase Your Strength and Speed

Power is a reflection of your strength and speed, calculated as work divided by time. For example, your power for 10 reps on the bench press can be calculated first by multiplying four numbers: the weight you lift in kilograms, the speed/force of gravity pushing down on you, or 9.8 meters per second, the distance the bar must move in meters and the number of reps you do. Then, divide the product by the total time it takes you to complete the reps. Your power will increase the stronger you become as long as you can perform the reps quickly.

Use Training Cycles

Your power training should peak during the most critical period of your sport or activity season. For instance, football games start in the fall and end in winter. Work to increase your power at the beginning of the football season, not during the summer. Plan your training cycle backward from your particular season. Using football as an example: October to January, train for power; July to September, train for strength; April to June, train for endurance and general conditioning; and use February through March for cross-training.

Use Moderate and Heavy Loads

During your training power cycle, primarily use either moderate or heavy weights. A volleyball or basketball player should train starting with heavy weights while doing squats, then use mostly moderate weights. Defensive football players should start with moderate weights during their power cycle, then use mostly heavy weights. According to a 2009 article by John Kronin, Ph.D. and Keir Hansen, published in Strength and Conditioning Journal, moderate and heavy weights should be used in a power training program to fully develop your muscles’ power components.

About this Author

Paula Quinene has been writing since 2006. Her book, “Remember Guam,” won two Gourmand Cookbook Awards and she was featured in “Oxygen Fitness Magazine.” She\’s certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, was a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a CPR/First Aid instructor. She earned her bachelor\’s degree in exercise and movement science from the University of Oregon.