Last Updated on November 12, 2012 by Jimson Lee
This article is guest blogged by Joel Jamieson from www.improve-vertical.org
Power is very commonly mistaken as strength, the ability to output force, or the ability to lift heavy weights. In reality, power is dependent on both velocity and force, and is usually referred to as explosive strength, an important aspect of athleticism and especially to improve vertical jump.
In simple terms, athletic power refers to the ability to apply force throughout a full range of body-joint movement with speed for maximum time or distance.
The vertical jump is a perfect display of power. A high leap requires the generation of a lot of force in a fraction of a second.
This makes it so that power can be defined as:
Force x Velocity, or Strength x Speed
What This Means for Athletes
Power is the product of strength and speed, and so athletes that want to increase their power need to work on both sides of the equation. Most recreational athletes are weaker on one side, and in a lot of the cases, they are weak on both. In those cases, it is a good idea for them to focus on their weaknesses, while making sure to not ignore the other side of the equation. What this means is that a certain level of balance is required, and that is due to the fact that focusing strictly on one side of the equation will eventually cause a decrease in the other side.
How to Increase Power
This makes it so that power can be improved in 3 ways:
- Increase strength
- Increase speed
- Increase both speed and strength
Increasing strength is most commonly achieved by doing a given weightlifting exercise for multiple sets with a low number of repetitions (3 to 6) using 80 to 90% of your max.
Increasing speed can be done in many ways: Plyometric exercises, bodyweight exercises, and weightlifting using between 20 and 40% of your max with high acceleration.
Increasing both speed and strength can be done by either implementing the previous methods in the same training cycle, or more efficiently by focusing on exercises that require both speed and strength. Some of the most beneficial exercises for doing this would be the Olympic lifts and their variations, such as the power clean and power snatch. Other methods would involve using loads between 50 and 70% of your max and performing the given exercises with high acceleration. This usually referred to as “power training”
Using Power to Improve Vertical Jump
These different methods might bring a bit of confusion on what needs to be done to improve power, and subsequently improve vertical jump. As a general rule, which I mentioned briefly earlier, most athletes will benefit the most at first from focusing on their weaknesses.
What this means is that if you are weaker in the strength part, then you will benefit from a training program that will have you focus on increasing your strength, while mixing in some speed or more preferably, some power training, which would help keep your speed consistent or slightly increase it.
On the other hand, if you are speed-deficient, but have a good strength base, then you will benefit most from a training program that will have you focus on speed training, bodyweight plyometric exercises, and low weight accelerative weight training, while mixing in some power training to keep your strength consistent or slightly increase it.
Power is a very important aspect of all sports, and it is important to develop it. It is very commonly focused on when looking to improve vertical jump simply because the vertical jump is a measure of raw power output. Considering this, there are several methods and paths that can be used to do this, and it is important to assess deficiencies in order to train correctly and maximize your benefits.
Joel Jamieson is a strength and conditioning coach from Canada. He runs a vertical jump website with plenty of solid and good information on how to improve vertical jump.