When training for power, or the ability to produce force quickly, it's important to consider the direction in which you train as it relates to your sport. If you are a rotational-based athlete and play sports that require you to hit/throw a ball or puck hard, your power training should indicate that.
Power training is plane specific; meaning the direction in which you train for power will be the direction in which you become more powerful. Performing Olympic lifts and other power moves such as Weighted Jumps and Kettlebell Swings will absolutely make you more powerful when programmed and performed correctly, but the power you develop may not directly correlate to an increase in velocity when hitting or throwing. Unless you are training powerful hip rotation and a movement that's similar to your performance on the field, your training won't carry over to your sport as much as you likely desire.
With that in mind, here are the seven exercises I program the most for my rotational athletes when training for power.
Note: While training for power it is all about intent of the exercise. If you're not putting maximal effort into your power training and giving yourself enough rest between sets you won't get optimal results.
The Best Way to Use These Exercises
There are a couple ways to program these exercises for maximum results. It all depends on how much time you have before your season starts and what phase you are in during your program.
The first way to program these exercises is to perform them after the warm-up and before the strength training portion of the lift. This allows you to train maximum force production when you are the most fresh and activate your central nervous system to get you excited for your lift by firing high threshold motor units (which gets your brain and body ready to lift heavier weights).
When performing these exercises with the intent to train power, sticking with 2-5 reps per-side is a good range. Higher rep ranges can become more of an endurance or conditioning exercise. To ensure you are getting good force production, take 60-90 seconds of rest between exercises and have a violent, aggressive intent on every rep. Use this approach during your offseason when you have three or more months before your season starts.
A1. Pass into a shot put toss 2x5 per side
Rest 60-90 seconds
A2. Standing wall slams 2x6 per side
Rest 60-90 seconds
A3. Back to wall tornado ball slams 2x10 seconds
B1. Safety bar squats with a 4 second eccentric (60-70% 1 RM) 4x5
B2. RKC planks 4x5 seconds
C1. Goblet Bulgarian split squats 3x8 per side
C2. Stability ball deadbugs 3x8 per side
C3. Band pull aparts 3x20
D1. Barbbell glute bridges 3x15
D2. Wide stance cable chops 3x12 per side
D3. Reverse hypers 3x15
The second way to implement these exercises in your program is to use "contrast training." This means you'll be pairing a rotational power movement with a strength movement. Do this a month or two before your season starts to produce the greatest power gains in a short time. Note that this is most effective when you have performed three months or more of general preparation training beforehand, as consistent contrast training isn't always the best for long-term results.
When performing your strength training sets for your main lift an example would be a Squat or Deadlift. Rest 15-20 seconds after a heavy set and go into your rotational power exercise.
So fatigue doesn't play a role, the strength training exercise shouldn't take more than 10 seconds (3-5 reps is a good ranges). It's important that you stick with 15-20 seconds of rest before the power exercise so you can recover from fatigue, but your central nervous system is still excited from the lift.
This type of training will allow you to transfer your strength training into a sports-specific power move. While performing this, you should not feel fatigued as you might after a traditional strength training circuit. You should feel very energized and excited. After 5-10 sets, perform a few accessory movements that hit your back side or core—this shouldn't be very taxing and that should be the extent of your workout.
Beforehand you should perform some sort of power exercise for 2-3 sets. This could be sprints, jumps or more rotational power exercises. This will get your central nervous system ready to do some heavy lifting and explosive movements. The power work should be exciting, not fatiguing.
An example of a preseason contrast training workout for a rotational athlete is as follows:
Dynamic Effort Day
A1. Trap bar deadlift with 50lbs in chains (75-85% of 1 RM) 6x3
(rest 15-20 seconds)
A2. Shot put toss 6x3 per side (rest 2 minutes or more before the next set)
B1. Single leg hip thrust with a 2 second pause on every rep 3x12 per side (just use body weight)
B2. Half kneeling cable chops 3x12 per side
C1. Suite case carries 3x20 yards per side
C2. Back extensions 3x15
Things to Consider
Bear in mind that if you are a rotational athlete you shouldn't just be doing rotational power exercises during your power work. You should still be sprinting, jumping and training different planes of motion during your power movements to become a well-rounded athlete.
The workouts above are examples if your main focus point was rotational power for that day. When contrast training, every day should not be a "dynamic effort day" like the one shown above. There should only be two dynamic effort days—one that focuses on lower body and another that focuses on upper body. The other two days should look like the offseason training day and anything else should be mobility/corrective exercise oriented or a conditioning day.
If you are a rotational athlete, rotational power exercises should be used as a staple in your program. The seven exercises above don't need to be done all in one day, and neither do they all need to be in your weekly program. Spread three or four of these exercises throughout the week and change them up after four weeks or increase the weight, sets or reps.
You can perform these exercises for multiple days throughout the week, the more repetition the better. When incorporating them in your program be sure it's in the beginning of your workout for 2-3 sets of 2-5 reps or use it as a contrast exercise during your dynamic effort day, full recovery between sets is vital in order to truly train for power.
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