Force = Mass x Acceleration
Power = Force x Velocity
Velocity is the rate of change of displacement with time
WTF? Why am I talking about physics?
Now I’m not a physicist, but you can apply some simple concepts in physics to weight training. Newton’s second law is simply; force equals mass times acceleration. Now as a weight lifter, you’re main goal is to increase the amount of force you can apply to a weight. What are we doing in weight lifting? We’re lifting a weight at a certain speed along a plane of motion. The common method of developing more force/power has been to increase the amount of weight being lifted, while generally sticking to a controlled tempo, (most likely, up 2 seconds, pause, down 4 seconds). However, as we all know, there is a limit to how much weight we can lift (if there wasn’t anybody training for more than a year would be lifting in excess of 1,000lbs). One way to develop more power is to increase acceleration, increase the velocity with which you lift that weight.
Explosive training has been used for a very long time. Olympic lifts are based on explosive lifting, Westside Barbell commonly encourages a dynamic day to supplement increasing weights lifted. Why is this? Simple, force is a produce of mass and speed. If we increase either of them, we by default increase force. More force = more muscle recruitment. If your goal is to bust a plateau or simply increase your PR, throw in some explosive lifts. Theses work especially well with compound movements.
The common methods for doing this are to use 50-70% of your 1 rep max, and lift the weight as quickly as possible and lower the weight under control. Using power bands or chains to decrease the stress on the joints at the start of the motion. Olympic lifts, such as the snatch, power clean, clean and jerk are perfect for developing full body power and speed. Plyometric body weight movements are also good at training your neural system and are a good warm up exercise. I recommend doing these movements at the start of your workout for safety and performance reasons.
How often in life or sport do you perform an activity slowly? I guess that 90% of the time you’ll be trying to perform as quickly and as powerfully as possible, throwing a ball, jumping a fence, running up stairs, swinging a club, tackling, punching, even changing direction on the pitch. We don’t perform these movements slowly, so why train slowly? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there from trainers & coaches to back up training explosively in developing power force and muscle mass.