The human body is designed to be powerful, I cannot stress that enough. But what is power? Just like anything in life, power comes in many different forms. The physical power we can produce is astonishing and although it requires an incredible amount of work and determination, it can be achieved by all. While we may not all reach the same level of power, we may still yet reach the fullest of our own true power. True power is when not only are we the strongest physical version of ourselves but also the most confident. When one thinks about physical exercise, however, it is easy to believe that simply hitting the weights is all that is needed. But there are so many aspects of physical exercise that we must attack it from all angles.
Physical power in my mind is the ability to move with force and energy. I believe that power is a combination of both strength and speed. It is the ability to move hundreds of pounds or sprint at incredible speeds or jump several feet into the air. While heading to the gym is the most obvious choice for increasing physical power, we must also take a look at the world outside of the gym where even more power can be obtained. On top of that, we must also understand that when training our bodies there is a very large amount of math and science involved.
While it may seem as simple as picking up some weight and performing a few repetitions over several sets. Physical training is far more complex than just that. The first thing to understand is that reps and sets play a large role in it. Generally speaking, the lower amount of reps provide strength gains while higher reps improve muscle growth and endurance. Sets are kind of the opposite where a larger volume of sets benefit strength whereas a lower amount of sets are better for muscle growth. The speed of exercises also play a large role; the faster you perform the concentric motion the better it is for strength, the slower you perform the eccentric motion the better it is for growth. However, no matter how much weight you lift and for how long, form is the key. It is far better to squat ten times with perfect form than it is to squat twenty times with bad or even moderate form.
So strength gains are best obtained in the gym with weights, but what about speed gains? Speed and agility in my mind are synonymous and as such I will use them interchangeably. Although weight training can give us some essential speed gains, it is outside of the conventional gym where we can find the most gains. Specialty equipment such as speed ladders, agility cones, box platforms, etc. are essential items but something as simple as straight track can do wonders for improving our agility. Just like weight training, doing these athletic exercises need a lot of practice, patience and persistence.
So before you head to the gym just to get your reps in, consider why and how you are exercising. Physical power is essential for a functional body to work at its fullest potential. While having large or well-defined muscles can get you some good looks, those looks do very little in helping you survive in a physical situation. Though there will always be specialists in either domain, someone who is proficient in both arenas is far more functional and practical than either alone. Consider that while that athlete may not be the best in either field, they are far more likely to dominate an overall competition between the three different athletes.
This here is just a very brief and broad analysis of sorts of my views on physical power. Stay tuned for the next two components of a functional training system, conditioning and mobility.