The Best Power Exercises to Build Your Strength Fast
You know those athletes, the ones who can build explosive power from a seeming standstill and launch themselves into all kinds of incredible moves. But how can you get those results for yourself? The key is power exercises.
Power exercises let you build up the explosive energy you need for success. No matter what your ultimate goals are, these exercises will help you reach them by focusing on power, rather than strength alone.
Not sure which power exercises to try, or how to get started? We can help.
What Are Power Exercises?
Many people use “power” and strength” interchangeably. However, the two terms actually have different meanings when it comes to your workouts.
As an athlete, you’ll use both strength and power, as well as endurance. Strength refers to how well your muscles can create force against resistance. With strength training, you’re generally moving slowly and carefully. For example, when you’re training with heavy weights, you’ll usually go slow and use controlled movements.
Endurance also refers to strength: it means creating force against resistance for a longer period.
Power, however, means you can move that weight at higher speeds, too. Basically, power combines strength and speed. You can have strength but lack power if you don’t incorporate power exercises into your workout regimen. With power, you can do movements that require strength, plus add explosive speed to them.
Power exercises can look like strength training exercises, but you’ll do them differently. They usually involve higher speeds and more intensity, with shorter rest times. You can also combine strength and power exercises into “supersets.”
Who Should Do Power Exercises?
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As a new athlete or even a non-athlete, you might wonder if power exercises are right for you. These exercises work very well, even for beginners.
In fact, the sooner you start, the easier it will be to build power. If you invest too much in strength and don’t focus on power at all, it will get harder to add power later. Strength and power complement each other well, and beginner power exercises will help you work your way up to more intense moves.
Most of the time, people consider explosiveness an intermediate or even advanced skill. They’re not wrong. However, that doesn’t mean a beginner can’t start working their way up to it. By starting with the right exercises for your level, you can gradually build your power safely and effectively. Just make sure to practice your moves and master the techniques before adding more speed.
The Importance of Power Exercises
Does everyone need power exercises? The answer is yes — even if you’re not an athlete (but especially if you are).
Without power, you can’t react quickly. This means you won’t be able to make that catch or maneuver around an opponent. But lacking power can also affect your everyday life. For example, without power, you can’t catch yourself if you lose balance.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of power exercises, no matter what your lifestyle is like.
Increase muscular coordination
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Power actually doesn’t have all that much to do with the strength of an individual muscle. Instead, it has to do with the ability of your muscles to work together to execute a move.
With power exercises, you can increase the speed and skill of your muscles working together. That makes it easier to do athletic activities, but it also makes it easier to do everyday things, like carry heavy groceries. As a bonus, power training will give you more muscle mass and definition, too.
Strengthen connective tissue
Power training isn’t just good for the strength and coordination of the muscles. It’s also great for your connective tissues. The tendons, joint capsules, ligaments, and other tissues that support your bones and muscles will all benefit.
It makes soft-tissue injuries, like strains and sprains, much less likely. Since these injuries can seriously interrupt your quality of life, it’s best to avoid them.
Build the right kind of muscle
Did you know that not all muscle tissue is created equal? Power exercises specifically help build type II muscle fibers, which are crucial for that explosive motion you want.
Type I, or slow twitch, muscle fibers are great at slow, extended work. They don’t get tired as fast as other muscle fibers, so they work well for a long haul. However, when you want quick strength and speed, you’ll need type II muscle. Type II, or fast twitch, muscle fibers build up from power exercises.
Type II muscle fibers can work faster, so they give you those bursts that type I fibers can’t provide. Your muscles also get their size and shape mainly from type II fibers, which is why power exercises are great for building definition and shape.
Improve quality of life
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Even if you’re not sprinting, lifting, or doing other workouts that require power, power exercises make your life better. They build the kind of strength that can benefit you as you age, keeping you agile and preventing injury. As people age, power tends to decrease faster than strength. The older you get, the more important power exercises become.
And, of course, power exercises will help you get a toned, fit look if that’s your goal.
Why You Might Lose Power
As you get older, you naturally lose power, but other factors can also affect your power. Luckily, power exercises help combat all of them.
First, the wrong diet can affect your power. If you don’t consume enough calories, including plenty of protein and healthy fats, your muscles might stay strong but less powerful.
Hormone imbalances can also cause power loss. But power exercises can help get your body to produce more muscle-building hormones.
Also, if you focus primarily on cardio, you’ll need to add power exercises if you want to keep building muscle tissue. Cardio is very important, but cardio-heavy workout plans can quickly get unbalanced and start to reduce your muscle mass.
Safety Tips for Power Exercises
Anyone at any skill level can do power exercises safely. Just make sure to keep these safety tips in mind.
First, be sure to stretch. It’s always important to stretch before a workout. But when you add both speed and strength to the mix, your risk of injury goes up if you don’t remember to stretch before and after.
Next, pay close attention to form. Build your way up to the highest speed, but don’t start there. It’s important to perfect your form before you move quickly. Otherwise, you’re more likely to get injured.
Make sure to focus on all your muscle groups, not just the ones you want to see, like your abs and biceps. If you don’t balance your workouts by focusing on every muscle, you’ll create muscle imbalances that increase your risk of injury.
Finally, keep in mind that you can’t use a spotter for power exercises. They happen too quickly for a spotter to help safely. It’s a good idea to hire a professional coach as you work your way up to more advanced power exercises with weights, so you’ll know you’re doing them safely.
Our Favorite Strength-Building Power Exercises
Now, you’ve got all the knowledge you need to get started. Let’s delve into the top power exercises that anyone can try.
If you’re new to power exercises, starting with bodyweight workouts is a great idea. Many bodyweight exercises have a lower injury risk, and you can do them even if you’re not at the gym.
For a clapping pushup, start with a regular pushup, but bring yourself up with enough power to clap your hands before you land. This move can take some practice, so start with pushups on your knees if you need to. You also don’t need to clap: start by focusing on just getting your hands off the ground.
Just like when you were a kid, you might want to pretend the floor is lava for this exercise. The key is to not stay on the ground for too long, so you’ll build power with each step.
Use your arms to assist you as you move. You’ll move like you’re running, but leap off of one leg at a time, and try to get as much forward motion as possible. Try to extend the rear leg behind you on each step, too.
With bounding, each step has an explosive force, so you’ll quickly increase your power.
This exercise might also remind you of your childhood. Did you ever try to skip as high as you can? You were actually building power when you did it. Now, try skipping while jumping as high as possible, plus raising each knee as close to your chest as you can. With each “skip,” you’re building power.
Reverse lunge with knee raise
For this exercise, start with your feet hip-width apart, then bring one foot back for a reverse lunge. Shift your weight to the foot underneath you, and engage your core and glutes. Then, bring the rear foot up and raise the knee toward your chest while jumping on the other foot. Try to land softly and get right back in the reverse lunge position.
Classic yet challenging, mountain climbers let you build power with all sorts of variations.
For a basic mountain climber, you’ll begin in a plank position. Make sure your core is active, and your wrists are under your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from the shoulders to the heels.
You’ll bring your right knee into your chest, place it back on the ground behind you, then repeat with your left knee. Make sure you keep your form as you move.
Mountain climbers naturally require lots of power. But to add more power to this move, add a long jump between each mountain climber rep (a rep is two on each side).
Whether you love burpees or hate them, they’ll help you build your strength, endurance, and power all in one.
To do a burpee, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees into a squat with your hips pushed back, then put your hands on the floor inside your feet. Move your weight to your hands and jump backward with your feet into plank position.
Next, jump your feet back to the outside of your hands. Jump up with explosive energy, raising your arms as you go. Move right back into a squat and continue doing reps.
Box jumps offer another simple way to build power with bodyweight. This exercise is straightforward: You’ll jump with both feet onto a stable box or a raised platform. However, you’ll need to approach box jumps carefully to make sure you’re really building power.
Don’t focus on achieving the maximum possible height. Instead, work with a manageable height, and prep each jump carefully. The jump should happen fast, but you can take your time to build up power in between.
Try to land softly: the more controlled your landing, the better. And you should only jump onto the box — step down instead of jumping down.
Alternating lunge jump
Start this power exercise from a low lunge position, with one foot in front and one behind you. Make sure your front knee is above the front ankle.
Move your weight over the front foot, and power yourself into a jump. Switch the position of your feet in mid-air, so you land in a lunge with the opposite foot forward. To get the most out of this exercise, focus on jumping as high as possible, not as fast as possible.
Frog squat jump with dumbbell
As you master your bodyweight workouts, you can start making them more challenging by adding weights. Dumbbells are a great way to start doing power exercises with weights safely.
Begin this exercise by standing upright while holding a dumbbell by one end with both hands. The other end of the dumbbell should point at the floor.
Move slowly into a frog squat with your arms hanging down before you. Keep your knees back and your lower back straight.
When you feel the end of the dumbbell touch the ground between your feet, jump up with as much explosive force as you can muster. Keep your arms straight while you jump. When you land, start moving back into your squat slowly. You can also start without the dumbbell if you don’t feel ready.
Ready to Build Your Power?
These power exercises will help boost your speed and strength, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete. Beginners should start with a careful focus on form, while advanced people can add modifications or weights to boost the difficulty.
No matter what your goals are, make power exercises a part of your fitness routine. They’ll help with everything from everyday activities to winning the game.
Which power exercises have you tried, and how did they go? Keep us updated on your fitness journey in the comments section!
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