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Power is the ultimate combination of the two most fundamental human factors of survival: speed and strength. We can hear your brain now: So what? What will being more powerful do for me? Will it help me look better in the mirror?
Here’s your answer: The advantage of power training is that if you improve your rate of force development, you inevitably improve neural recruitment, which means you’ll activate muscle fibers more efficiently and effectively. In the long run, this means that when you do pure strength or hypertrophy-type training, you’ll activate more fibers and increase muscular size. Increasing power is also great for busting through training plateaus, a problem that every trainee is bound to face eventually.
Developing power is all about first increasing speed with very light weight before moving to heavier resistance. When doing true speed work, the weight being used should be less then 30% of your 1RM (power training, as you’ll learn shortly, is best performed with weights between 30% and 60% of your 1RM). By dropping the load way down, the lifter must focus solely on moving the weight as fast as possible on each rep. The goal is to focus on getting the neurological system to fire faster then it ever has before. This will be a precursor to power training in that it forces you to move fast with minimal resistance before adding weight.
Like strength training, somewhere around six reps per set is ideal, so as to maintain proper lifting technique on each and every rep. You’ll rest a minute and a half or so between each of 3-5 sets per exercise. If the weight is sufficiently light and the movement is fast and clean, this type of movement can be done up to twice weekly for each bodypart. Examples of appropriate exercises for doing speed reps will be provided with our Power Play Program at the end of this series.