// PTontheNET - Power output

by Jeff Thaxton


I was hoping someone could take me through how to periodise and progress a program for an athlete looking to increase his power output, specifically after the strength phase where trainers may utilise lighter weights in comparison to their 1RM and focus on speed, or after they have created that base strength but are looking to take that strength and convert it to power.

Answer :

The first step to increasing an athlete’s power output is best accomplished by increasing strength as much as possible. Having greater maximal strength leads to a greater amount of explosive power than can be generated by an athlete. Exercise economy, endurance performance and power potential are increased by the maximal strength phase of a program.

Once the maximal strength phase of a training program is completed, the type of training must change in order to convert the strength into power. This is done by increasing the tempo with which the weightlifting exercises are performed and by combining this training with plyometrics, where maximal speed and explosive movements are used in the exercises.

Simply put, power equals force times distance divided by time. One component of a program to convert strength to power involves the use of weights that are about 75 to 85 per cent of an athlete’s 1RM for a given exercise. This will allow about three to five reps per set to be performed at maximal speed. Good guidelines for this program are to pick two to five exercises to perform per session and to complete three to five sets of each one. Allow for longer recovery periods of between two and five minutes between sets and perform two or three sessions per week. Single effort sports, such as the discus or shot put, may better use 80 to 90 per cent of 1RM efforts and one or two reps per set.

The use of plyometric exercises will also assist in achieving maximal power. Examples include jumping onto or over boxes of various heights, side-to-side jumps, overhead medicine ball throws and plyometric pushups. All exercises are done as fast as possible and often use only body weight or lighter weights. Usually, plyometric workouts should be limited to one to two times per week since they are high
intensity and require longer recovery periods than many other types of training. No definitive protocols exist as of yet regarding an exact number of reps, sets and volume of exercises for plyometric workouts, although many experts have weighed in on the issue. When looking to increase power output for athletic clients, it is best to focus on exercises that involve the most sport specific movements to your client’s particular field. Box jumps, for example, are a great choice to use with long jumpers or basketball players.


Jeff Thaxton

Jeff is a certified personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Eastern Washington University and has continuing education certifications in human movement, advanced program design, nutrition for special populations, counseling for health and fitness professionals and overcoming fitness plateaus. Jeff is the owner of an in-home personal training business, Fit for Life, and has volunteer experience in physical therapy clinics and cardiopulmonary units.