There are many facets to working out that include aerobics and flexibility in addition strength and power. Most people prioritize one over the others either because they do not know that others exist, their importance, the benefits, and the differences between them all. Strength and power are two that many believe are pretty similar but in fact very different. Here’s a quick answer to the difference between strength and power training.
Power is defined as the ability to generate as much force as fast as possible. It is needed for athletic movements such as olympic movements (clean and jerk), swinging a baseball bat, swinging a golf club, and running through a tackle. Power does require strength and speed to develop force quickly. The load or resistance must be heavy enough to allow for maximal force to be applied but not so heavy that the exercise is performed too slowly. If the load is correct the trainee should be able to lift the weights as fast as possible with proper form as when performing a snatch or the clean and jerk. Exercises that can develop power are plyometrics such as depth jumps, hurdle jumps, lateral hops, and clap push ups.
Strength is the amount of force a muscle, or group of muscles, can exert against and external load. A 1-repetition maximum test is performed where a trainee assesses the greatest weight they can lift with proper form. Speed of the movement is not important when testing strength. It is developed by lifting heavy weights normally around 80 percent or more of the trainee’s 1-rep max. Since the load is heavy the time it takes to perform one repetition is slow therefore strength trainees perform 1-5 reps per set. Rests between sets are usually between 3-5 minutes to ensure the lifter can lift as heaviest as possible the next set. The best way to develop strength is to focus on compound or multi-joint exercises that safely allow for heavy weights to be used. Examples are squats, shoulder presses, pull up / chin ups (weighted), bench presses, and deadlifts are ideal for increasing strength. Exercises like flyes, press downs, bicep curls and generally not used for maximal strength gains.
After learning there is a difference between muscle strength and muscle power as an athlete it is important to realize which is most beneficial to your sport. A track and field athlete would want to focus more on power while a power-lifter would want to focus mostly on strength. I would suggest that all trainee’s switch their modalities of training up and utilize both power and strength workouts on occasion for optimal muscle performance.
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