Monday, August 20, 2012

Poliquin On Strength/Power Relationships

In applying this to work with clients and athletes, you need to identify ratios of strength between the muscles, and consider how previous training or lack of it will influence power. For example, say you have a client who has been doing lots of endurance running but wants to become more powerful to be able to jump higher to play recreational basketball.
You will need to account for the fact that their running is training them to be slow and have compromised power. Perhaps more applicable to the readership, if you have a lifter who can power clean nearly as much as they can back squat, they need to increase squat strength in their training because they are weak for their speed.

One of the things that differentiates training for appearance from training for performance is the concept of "adaptive demand."  In short, and this is obvious to anyone who's given it any thought at all, the body adapts to training in response to the ways that the training stresses the body.  If you demand that you body deliver oxygen and fuel to the leg muscles via long, slow training, to some degree you compromise the body's ability to generate speed and power.  This is especially true of young teens - some experts say no 12-15 year old should be allowed run/swim/bike over 8s continuously, to ensure that the speed and power genes are not being turned off.  The only good thing about long, slow training is that it is better than nothing.

If you can sprint, sprint!  Jump onto a box, and down if you are healthy enough to take the beating.  Olympic lifts are in vogue as a methodology to create more powerful athletes, and of course, they are little more than jumping with a barbell (they are also a heck of a lot of fun).

However, reality is that most of us will not dramatically increase our speed and power - there are limits, largely neurological, and some say the room for improvement in speed is no more than 5%.  Strength, however, can be improved for a long time.  This is why the slow lifts are the kings of the strength and conditioning world.  Squats, deadlifts, presses - these should be the heart of S&C, along with body weight training, metabolic conditioning intervals and run/swim/row/bike efforts of mostly 800m or less.

The good news is that a well trained strength and power athlete can easily gain competence in endurance, whereas the opposite is usually not true.

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