You’ve got a pretty clean diet. Good.
Foam rolling and mobility work are daily rituals. Great.
You do some form of conditioning on a regular basis. Wonderful.
Sleeping is a skill listed on your resume. Awesome.
You strength train hard and heavy. Fantastic.
So… what’s missing?
Well that good news is that if you’re doing everything I just mentioned, you’re doing EXCELLENT and deserve a pat on the back. Keep it up, superstar.
But there’s one variable that many people, perhaps unknowingly, don’t incorporate into their training… maybe because they feel it’s too intense or it just doesn’t apply to them and their goals.
I’m talking about training for power, speed, and explosiveness.
Now some of you may be reading this thinking, “I don’t need that Chris, I’m a (profession that doesn’t involve a lot of movement aka almost all of them).
WELL HOLD THE PHONE THERE, BUDDY.
Right around the ripe age of 30, your body fully matures in terms of growing and developing. After this, unless you do something to prevent it, your strength levels and muscle mass will slowly but surely steadily decrease year after year. If that’s not bad enough, your power (the ability to express strength very quickly, like sprinting after your kid who’s about to unknowingly run into a busy street) decreases about 1.7x faster than muscle strength and size does.
This means you might still be decently strong as you get older, but you’ll be slow. You’ll be a stereotypical, crossword puzzle doing, eating dinner at 4pm, slow old person.
Don’t be that person.
Unfortunately, no one thinks about needing to be powerful or explosive until a dicey situation arises and by then it’s usually too damn late. Things like…
- catching yourself after a stumble
- preventing your kid/pet from getting themselves into a dangerous/harmful situations
- <— like this
- emergencies where fast reaction times and/or movements could save your life
- dominating in your pickup leagues
- and just preserving your youth in general
And let’s be realistic, most people really don’t need to be powerful or explosive on a daily basis, especially in the modern world. But I can guarantee that having the ability to display power if necessary is an absolute improvement in overall quality of life.
So how do you go about training POWER?
Well, you’ve got a couple of options. And good news, a lot of them are actually… pretty fun.
But before you read ahead…
Training for power and training until fatigued DO NOT MIX. If you get fatigued during any of the methods I’m about to list, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Don’t be stupid you moron.
And ideally, training for power is best done first thing in your training when your muscles and nervous system are fresh and ready to go.
THROWS AND SLAMS
I’ll start off with one of my favorite ways to train power, as throwing something as hard as you can is quite enjoyable. I literally cue clients to try and break the ball when performing these. Who doesn’t love breaking shit? No one, that’s who.
Got a med ball? Great! Slam it to the floor as hard as you can! Careful with the rubber ones because they’ll bounce back and break your face. Literally.
Got a concrete wall? THROW THAT DAMN BALL THROUGH THE WALL. Or at least try.
Throws are almost universally user friendly. Unless you’ve got some serious shoulder issues, basically everyone can do these. Now, these aren’t the only two throws you can do as there are tons of variations. Scoop tosses, shot puts, forward throws, backwards throws, underhand throws, rotational slams, RDL to slam, shuffle to throw… the possibilities are endless.
Plus, throws are excellent stress relievers.
JUMPS AND PLYOMETRICS
The great thing about jumps and plyometrics is that almost anyone can do them (given that you follow proper progressions, of course) and they don’t usually require fancy equipment.
Just don’t go balls to the wall and perform 3 million jumps in one day. Remember, you’re training for power, not fatigue.
By the way, if you need to land your box jump in a deep squat, just stop. Stop it. That box is too high. You should be able to land your jump in a pretty similar position from which you initiated your jump.
I’m clearly using bands, but you don’t need to. Just jump! Be sure to stick that landing though.
The last video is a bit of a progression for hurdle jumps, but your options are limited only to your creativity really. You can go forwards, sideways, multidirectional, varying heights, etc.
As a rule of thumb….
- Focus on sticking all your landings first. Emphasize quality over quantity. Soft landings, butt back, chest up.
- Don’t let your knees cave in during your jumps.
- Try to be quick! The less time you spend on the ground for your landings, the better.
I saved this one for last because it’s by far the most technique intensive method you’re gonna read on this list. When it comes to Olympic lifts you’ve got the snatch, clean (and jerk), and all of their variations.
Before you start Olympic lifting, you should already be pretty good at performing the barbell front squat and conventional barbell deadlift as they’re essentially the foundations from which Olympic lifts are built.
If you suck at front squats and deadlifts, you’ll probably suck at the Olympic lifts.
These will take time to perfect, and quite frankly, might not be a suitable option for everyone despite their rising popularity due to Crossfit type workouts.
Olympic lifts also require the most hip and shoulder mobility out of everything listed so far, so just be aware of this fact before you start banging out numerous snatches in your next training program.
SPRINTS, SHUFFLES, ETC.
If you’re strapped for time, lacking equipment, or you possess the creative prowess of a goldfish, you can always perform some good ol’ fashioned sprints to help train for power.
Sprints are probably extremely underutilized by many people because they’re deemed as ‘hard’. But guess what? So is life. So stop being a little bitch. And if you’re offended by me telling you to stop being a little bitch, well… it’s probably because you’re a little bitch.
Shuffles work just fine and dandy as well for training for power, and they even add in the benefit of training outside of the sagittal plane (straight forward).
You could even combine the two and shuffle into a sprint.
Just make sure whatever you’re doing (sprints, shuffles, shuffle to sprint, etc.), it’s gotta be all out effort, otherwise you’re defeating the purpose.
But there you have it. Some excellent ways to preserve your youth, ensure your body can handle whatever life throws at it, and feel good all at the same time. So maybe next time you’re about to run through your normal routine, throw in some jumps, throws, or sprints before hand. I promise it’ll be fun.