Power is one of the main elements that will make you stand out amongst the others. Power training has been an absolute game-changer for many of the Rugby League players I have trained, particularly the older guys who were already relatively strong to start with. It’s the x-factor that every player wants but doesn’t quite understand how to develop.
Power just doesn’t happen. You have to train for it, and you have to train for it correctly.
Firstly let’s understand what power actually is. Without all the scientific jargon, simply put, power is strength and speed combined.
- The difference in simply palming someone away and sending them flying is 💥power.
- The difference between just bending the line and totally smashing through that line is 💥power.
- The difference between just making contact and totally whiplashing the ball runner backwards is 💥power.
The purpose of this article is to help you incorporate power into your training programs correctly and efficiently.
Quality over Quantity
Now before you think of plyometric exercises like box jumps and med ball throws, I want you to understand that plyometric exercises assist the main explosive lift, just like an incline barbell press is an assistance exercise to a heavy flat bench press to increase strength.
The primary method I use to develop power is 1 rep max percentage based on main lifts like the bench press, overhead press and barbell squat. I tend to favour working with 50% of a person’s 1 rep max, I’ve tried higher percentages, and I just don’t like the overall speed. Our sole purpose is to move and snap that bar up as fast as possible, and I have found 50% of a 1 rep max the most beneficial for what I am after.
You will perform these main explosive lifts at the very start of your session before anything else is done. That way, you are fresh, and there is no exhaustion previously set in.
One of the biggest reasons athletes fail to train for power accurately is that they perform their explosive exercises sporadically throughout the session when fatigue is already present.
You cannot develop speed in the presence of fatigue.
Keep the reps short and take a good couple of minutes in between sets. I like 4 sets of 6 reps with about 2-3 minutes rest. The qualilty of these reps need to fast and crisp, so total rest is required in between sets.
Be aggressive and have intent.
Once you have completed your main explosive lift, you could then move onto a plyometric or a ballistic exercise relative to what you just performed. So a med ball throw or power push up would complement the explosive bench press perfectly. As would a box jump or seated vertical jump for an explosive barbell squat, again keep the reps short. You may want to use the same set and rep scheme I mentioned above. Just make sure they are performed with total aggression, speed and intention.
There are a million different plyometric exercises. You don’t need to do them all. Pick your favourites and stick to them. Remember, the main lifts are the biggest bang for your buck when training for power, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Practicality works the best for most of us; hooking up powerbands to every orifice of our bodies isn’t.
How to program power training
You can program your explosive lifts at the start of your session and then move onto your strength lifts. This programming works exceptionally well for your heavy lifts as your nervous system is really pumped and fired up from the lighter explosive lifts. After that, finish off your session with all your bodybuilding accessories.
You could also just focus on a single block of power training for 2-4 weeks, ignoring your strength work. You shouldn’t lose too much strength during this time. I admittedly like two-week power blocks. That way, I know for sure none of my guys will lose strength while on the hunt for more power.
You could also have a day dedicated to power and a day devoted to strength; typically, that four-day split would look like this:
Monday – Upper Body Explosive
Tuesday – Lower Body Strength
Thursday – Upper Body Strength
Friday – Lower Body Explosive
Whatever you choose to do is totally up to you and what fits into your schedule best. As long as you are training for power, it doesn’t matter as long as it is getting done.
So please don’t be the rugby league player that neglects power training!