Quick, , explain power with regards to training… go!
What could you tell me?
Maybe that the NSCA says power is:
“…precisely defined as the time rate of doing work, where work is the product of the force exerted on an object and the distance the object moves in the direction in which the force is exerted.”
– Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2nd Edition
Well that’s exciting… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Maybe you could talk about rep ranges, exercises, percentages, etc…
And you’d probably be right, but…
But what do you think of when you hear the word power?
Here’s a few things that come to mind for me:
- A drag racer bolting off the line
- A missile launch
- Holly Holm head kicking Ronda Rousey nighty-night
How about this jaguar?
To us, power comes down to intent…
The intent to be violently explosive.
The intent to put a hole in the wall with our medicine ball throw.
The intent to punch the ceiling when we jump.
The intent to move an implement as rapidly as possible.
And yes, everyone can train for power.
I could seriously stop right there, but…
Let’s take a few steps back for a moment and fill in some gaps.
If you were to program power right now, how many reps would be appropriate? Give me your lowest number, give me your highest number…
Come on, don’t look ahead- formulate an answer in your head right now…
I’m guessing you said something in the ballpark of 1-5 reps.
After all, the NSCA has this to say about power:
3-5 sets of 3-5 reps @ 75-85% 1RM for multiple-effort event; 1-2 reps @ 80-90% 1RM for single-effort event
– Paraphrased from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2nd Edition
Shocker, but we are going to agree to disagree. You see, we are not creating weightlifters…
We are creating athletes, weekend warriors, better desk jockeys, blowing off steam, helping people drop body fat, whateverthehellyouwantttt.
We only care about intent.
But, let’s agree on 1 rep to 8 reps for some examples.
Why up to 8? Uhhhh:
- 8 kettlebell swings
- Hang power cleans performed as 4 clusters of 2 (that equals 8)
- 8 Skater Jumps
What else would these be? I think we can all agree that these would still appropriately be labeled as power.
You want 10 reps say you? Cool, I’m sure you could make that work…
Remember our RPE scale?
@10: Maximal Effort. No reps left in the tank.
@9: Heavy Effort. Could have done one more rep.
@8: Could have done two or three more reps.
@7: Bar speed is “snappy” if maximal force is applied.
@6: Bar speed is “snappy” with moderate effort.
Don’t limit yourself to “bar speed,” but you get the point… Make it specific to whatever implement you choose.
We are probably never going to program a medicine ball throw with an RPE of 10. But we might, once in a black moon, which is way more rare than a blue moon, program an RPE of 10 for a clean…
Don’t over-complicate this shit.
Many people approach periodization much like this simple to follow chart:
Let’s look at an easier approach.
Non-Linear Alternating Periodization
As you’ve probably caught on to, we plan 4 phases (typically a month each) to comprise one block of training. So, with regards to power, this means we need to come up with 4 different rep choices…Let’s use the 8 reps – 1 rep example from earlier.In a linear periodization approach we could come up with lots of options here, but let’s look at two:
- Month 1: 8 reps / Month 2: 6 reps / Month 3: 4 reps / Month 4: 2 reps
- Month 1: 8 reps / Month 2: 5 reps / Month 3: 3 reps / Month 4: 1 rep
In a non-linear alternating periodization approach we simply flip the middle two numbers:
- Month 1: 8 reps / Month 2: 4 reps / Month 3: 6 reps / Month 4: 2 reps
- Month 1: 8 reps / Month 2: 3 reps / Month 3: 5 reps / Month 4: 1 rep
Now we’ve created a “less predictable” path of progression. There’s a different type of stress with a jump from 8 to 4 than 8 to 6. Ever heard Dan John talk about inefficient exercise for fat loss? Well, we are creating inefficient jumps here. But wait, what if we are in a hypertrophy phase? Oh yeah, it works for that too. And honestly, a fat loss phase might have even crazier jumps, maybe using that 10 example from earlier…
- Month 1: 10 reps / Month 2: 4 reps / Month 3: 8 reps / Month 4: 2 reps
But that’s a whole ‘nother lesson in itself.
What to do now?
You’ve been experiencing this style of programming for the last 2+ months of training. So, you’ve probably developed at least some sense of an opinion on this stuff. Think about how you can apply this to your program design with YOUR clients. Create menus of power reps to choose from. The more menus you create, the less work/thinking you have to do every time you start a new client or progress a client to their next block.
Go do it! Create your power periodization menus…