At Young Performance, we use a number of tactics to create greater power output for the athlete. Power, simply, is just the ability to produce force in an instant. So when we think of power, we think of things like jumps in a variety of fashions.
In reality, I should start off by saying that we need to start by building a strong foundation of strength before we really dial into power. Some key differences in strength versus power would be the amount of time you’re actually moving the weight. For power, time is a variable that is measured; and, for strength time isn’t considered necessarily (of course we have our tables that measure relative time under tension, but for the sake of simplicity). I know this is a huge dump of physics review and believe me I’m gagging just thinking about it.
Now you have a variety of options available to you to help enhance power. There exists a continuum from general strength to speed/power. Of course we can start to differentiate different movements into the continuum, but again for the sake of simplicity we will just say that strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed are all products of power.
When I think of my hockey, football, and rugby athletes I think of performing the Olympic lifts and loading them up to fairly high intensities. The reason for this is to help the athletes absorb force as well as produce a lot of force in an instant to get the bar moving. I will usually use Olympic lifts with my other athletes as well–baseball excluded mostly–but to a much less degree. I like to spend my weekend evenings sifting through peer reviewed articles and I have been able to find some interesting statistics. Mostly that you only need roughly 40% of someones 1RM, or 1 repetition max, to help develop power. That’s particularly nice for my non-contact athletes who don’t necessarily see the value of a heavy hang clean.
For those athletes who have contraindications to Olympic lifting, or are baseball players, we have a number of other options that we can use. Most simply, I like to use jump squats with either a weighted vest or dumbbells. My next go-to would be the kettlebell swing varieties. It helps to teach extension of the hips and knees in an explosive manner and it does well to keep most athletes in neutral. I have also programmed things like RFE split squat jumps (RFE=rear foot elevated), split squat jumps, single leg jumps on a box/bench, and landmine push presses. I feel that these different options help to reinforce the triple extension/jump patterns and offer a variety to the athlete.
We also have our own little built in showcase almost every day. Especially for our general prep guys. In our plyometric/power section of the day we include either box jumps or hurdle hops. We have a number of ways that we can perform them–single leg, medial/lateral, stick, mini-bounce, etc–but the point remains clear. I am not programming these exercises to weighted, instead, I want to see improvement with the power output. In other words, I want to see how high they can jump today.
So there you have it, my take on programming for power. Again, develop your foundation for strength first and then you can enhance your power output. If you are in general prep or a new athlete to the performance world, you can still jump to enhance the movement pattern.