Travis Cummings is the facility manager of our South Chandler, Arizona sports training clinic. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and former college athlete, and he has a decade of experience as a trainer. Here, he discusses how to train for power and strength to increase your speed as an athlete.
The most common request we hear from the young athletes at our FAST Arizona sports training facilities is to help young athletes become faster. After taking them through our initial fitness evaluation, it usually becomes clear that they cannot achieve the level of speed they want because they don’t have the strength required to move faster.
Impact of Strength on Speed
So how does strength relate to speed? In order to move your body easily through space, you need to have a great strength-to-bodyweight ratio.
The formula for strength is Strength = mass x distance.
So moving heavy weights from one place to another requires strength – and the more strength you have relative to your size, the easier it will be to move your body.
In my ten years of training experience, I’ve realized that athletes who can perform traditional strength training with the most ease are also the fastest, can jump the highest, and usually see the most playing time. In any sport, the fastest athletes are also usually the leanest, meaning their body fat percentage is lower.
How Does Strength Affect Power?
Strength is a component of power – so if your strength is low, your power will also be low.
The formula for power is: Power = strength/time.
As an athlete, it takes a certain amount of strength to overcome a stationary position. The faster you can display that strength, the better – and this is what is called power: the ability to generate the most force as fast as possible.
A vertical jump, a baseball or softball swing, and an Olympic clean and jerk are all examples of power. Imagine someone trying to hit a baseball while swinging slowly – the ball wouldn’t go very far.
Examples of Strength and Power in Athletes:
Imagine two athletes with the exact same weight. Both are instructed to do a 100-pound squat and lift the weight as fast as possible on the way up. They cover about 3 feet of distance during the squat. Athlete 1 performed the squat in 3 seconds, and Athlete 2 performed it in 1 second.
Strength = 100lbs x 3ft = 300 units of work
Athlete 1 = 300 units of work/3 seconds = 100 units of power
Athlete 2 = 300 units of work/1 second = 300 units of power
As you can see, Athlete 2 is faster than Athlete 1 – and they are 3 times more powerful. Athlete 2 will most likely be able to jump higher, accelerate more quickly, and be more agile because he or she can express strength faster.
So How Should Athletes Train?
Athletes should train with the goal of becoming more powerful. More power will allow you to excel in your sport, and you will also increase your strength along the way.
During workouts, try these power exercises:
- Plyometrics: repeated jumping, hopping, or bounding
- Olympic Lifting: clean and jerk, snatches, and other variations
- Medicine Ball Throws
After you complete 3-4 sets of 1 or 2 of the options above, move on to exercises specifically for strength training. Helpful examples of exercises to perform can be found here.
FAST Arizona sports training clinics are dedicated to helping you reach peak performance and become the best athlete you can be, in whichever sport you play. Our hands-on, individualized approach to fitness is guaranteed to deliver results. Schedule a free evaluation of your fitness strengths and weaknesses online here, and check out our blog for more training tips.
Post Attributed to Travis Cummings, CSCS (South Chandler Location).