View Full Version : Training for strength / power

02-23-2010, 02:33 AM
Anyone know of a good beginning level training routine focusing on developing strength and power?

I'm not concerned about the coolest lifts in the gym or building a beach body. I want it to focus on performance.

02-23-2010, 03:12 AM
IF your starting off I would focus on basic lifts. Pull ups, bench or pushups, military press, dips and curls. You could also throw in a leg press machine.

That will get you strength and power, but this answer is based off the assumption your level is that of = > 0.

County Mike
02-23-2010, 10:47 AM
When lifting to increase strength, you typically want to go with high weight and lower number of reps. If you can do more than 7 or 8 reps easily, then add some weight. Always start with a warm-up set or two of lighter weights, but then go for heavy lifts. I like to finish with a lighter set to burn out as many reps as possible, but the majority of the workout is heavy. You'll also want a higher calorie, high protein diet. When I say high-calorie, I don't mean a bunch of junk food. I just mean you can't go starving yourself and expect to gain any size/strength.

02-24-2010, 05:36 AM
First of all, which are you most deficient in - strength or power?

The very definition of power is: force x velocity

So, if you lack strength, I would concentrate on developing strength, first. That's the "force" aspect of the power equation.

It is very difficult to really maximize these two qualities simultaneously because both qualities are very taxing on the central nervous system.

So, I would begin with a focus on improving maximal strength. Personally, I actually like the approach of the Westside system for this - where you focus on two max effort days and two dynamic effort days. The max effort days allow you develop maximal strength and aids in improving nervous system maximal recruitment (i.e. "turning on") of muscle fibers/motor units. The dynamic effort days help train the nervous system to recruit ("turn on") those muscle fibers at a faster rate; thus, you are developing the "rate of force development."

Once you have built a foundation of strength, then I'd back off of the maximal strength and put it into maintenance mode. At this point, I'd focus on power through full-body, high-velocity movements such as plyometrics and Olympic lifts or Oly lift variations such as using dumbbells.

Another option is known as "contrast training" or "complex training." For this type of training, you would pair a strength exercise with a power exercise. The idea is that the nervous system would "turn on" more motor units (nerve + all of the muscle fibers that it stimulates) during the strength exercise and you'd get a greater neural effect for the plyometric activity. An example would be something like a heavy squat (reps x 3 or 5) coupled with an immediate set of 5 box jumps.

Now, the research suggests taking long breaks between the two exercises when contrast training - 3-4 minutes, I believe is what I have seen. However, most people that I have seen utilizing this training superset the two exercises. To me, it makes more sense to superset. Otherwise, I feel that you'll lose that neural stimulus that is gained from the heavy strength exercise if you allow the body a reasonably full recovery. I can present arguments for and against. But, I personally advocate a superset approach. A year from now, I may completely change my opinion. But, that's my approach for the time being.

So, those are some basic ideas.

02-25-2010, 12:48 AM
I really appreciate the contributions I've gotten so far. Anyone have any online sources they can point me to as well?

02-25-2010, 02:19 AM
Anyone know of a good beginning level training routine focusing on developing strength and power?

I'm not concerned about the coolest lifts in the gym or building a beach body. I want it to focus on performance.

Stronglifts 5x5

04-29-2010, 03:43 AM
Olympic lifts are hte way to go cleans, clean and press, clean and jerks, dead lifts, squats, bench press, shoulder press, dips, pull ups, chin ups, pushups... cant think of any more but those are things that i throw around


04-29-2010, 11:53 AM
I was reading an article in the September 2009 issue of MuscleMag International and it was in regards to, basically, the same as your article here, except they called it "Rest-Pause Technique" and uses a fixed rest period along with the "3 reps" you're discussing.

This basically calls for you to use your 5-6-rep max and shoot for 2-3 reps followed by a 15-second rest and repeat 4 times; this makes 1 set. They call for 4 sets per lift. As the article states:One of the most underused strength- and mass-building techniques, it takes advantage of your body's rapid-recovery energy systems. When you start a heavy set, you rely primarily on phosphocreatine (PC), the primary energy source stored in skeletal muscle tha fuels short, powerful bursts of activity. PC depletes rapidly, but fortunately it also replenishes rapidly, usually in 10-20 seconds.

To capitalize on this, select a weight that causes muscle failure at 5-6 reps, but perform only 2-3 reps, then take a 15-second rest. Get right back in and do another 2-3 reps. Repeat this sequence, doing as many good-form heavy reps as you can by taking 3-4 brief rests. The main benefit of employing rest-pause training is that you'll have lifted more total pounds in a give set simply by mixing in these calculated rest periods. Your PC levels never replenish completely after you start a set, so expect some fatigue as you near your target number of reps. After each exercise, allow 2-3 minutes of rest and repeat the same exercise three more times before moving on to the next exercise.

I started incorporating this as part of my strength-training for bodybuilding with my most recent bulk and was able to blast my bench press, squat, and deadlift by 60 pounds in just 16 weeks. I only did this for about 3 weeks, then followed by 5 weeks of upper/lower split training, 2 weeks break, then back on again (so technically, 18 weeks if you include the 2 week break).

See the ZIP file below for some sample routines of what I'd done with my past bulk. As for abs, I'm not a fighter. I spend a total of 5 minutes a week doing abs and haven't had any problems with them. Focusing on heavy compound lifts, especially squats and deadlifts, are going to give your abs plenty of development.

BTW, gymcoach, I took your advice and added more compound lifts to the routines rather than an excessive amount of curls and other much less useful lifts. :wink: