Power is defined as the relationship between work being done in a given amount of time. Mathematically, it is quite simply P = W/t. Work can be defined with the relationship between force and distance, as well as the angle of application of the work. As a mathematical equation it looks like this: W = F x d x cos(theta). If you combine the two equations together you get P = Fdcos(theta) / t. Using our EliteForm system we have found that, in the squat pattern, maximum average power output is typically produced between 60 and 70 percent of a person’s 1 repetition maximum. This is a good mix between a weight that is not too heavy and not too light, that can be moved at an explosive pace but also not at maximal velocity. Understanding the physics behind power is key to helping an athlete achieve their potential to produce as much power as possible.

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Besides understanding how to produce maximal power and the physics behind it all, there are different forms of power production based on body type, athletic ability, and especially needs of the sport, and position within that sport. For example, a football defensive lineman will always have to produce power against a very large and heavy resistance (i.e. another lineman) while a sprinter will always produce high velocity power against no resistance. These two athletes are both producing an immense amount of power, and in theory could have identical numbers of power output, but both vastly differnt ways of achieving that number and physiological functions occurring differently to reach such numbers as well. Since power is a function of force applied and time (and other variables), a large amount of force applied will produce a high power output. Conversely, a small or medium force applied at a rapid rate (short amount of time: t = small value), will also have have a high power output. There are different ways to produce a lot of power, and subsequently different ways to train the body to get to that point. Knowing the physics behind power production is absolutely key.

Jim Kielbaso deals with college and NFL athletes all the time, and has a huge amount of experience training these players to produce the greatest amount of power based on their position. He argues that an athlete whose role is to run fast or be agile may not need to be lifting maximally heavy weights regularly, but rather little resistance, or no resistance, at a very high velocity would be ideal training for such a player. A lineman, who will seldom sprint down the whole field and whose workload is usually less than 10 seconds, would benefit from heavy resistance for a short period of time. Now this is not to say that a lineman shoudl never do sprints and a sprinter should never lift heavy loads. There is certainly room in every program for diversity, and resistance training balanced with conditioning is a great combination for any athlete. However, what Coach Kielbaso is saying in the video below is simply that it is best to train the body’s energy systems specifically and in a manner appropriate for the needs of the sport, resulting in athleletic development – specifically power generation – that is meaningful and useful.

Watch the CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association, Jim Kielbaso, asks an excellent question about power and then talks through athletic scenarios which demonstrate different “power” on the vid below.:

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