Power Training and Athletic Performance

Power Training and Athletic Performance

by Britt McNeill, UrbanFit Instructor

Power is the ability to do work over a duration of time. Every single movement that we make has a power level that can be measured, but the casual movements of everyday life are not necessarily “powerful” movements.

Every time I step into the gym at Urban Evolution, I see athletes performing powerful moves. People in parkour classes perform dash vaults and huge kong precisions, aerialists plummet towards the ground at amazing speeds only to stop a ponytail’s distance from the ground, gymnasts flip and tumble their way across the floor, and my UrbanFitters squat, deadlift, press, clean, etc. large amounts of weight. These types of moves are seen by the casual onlooker as amazing movements because of the speed and grace (or sometimes lack thereof) that the athletes are performing these movements.


If we break the definition of power down, we see two distinct aspects that must be measured in order to get an accurate reading of the average power during said movement: the work performed, and the length of time that it is performed. When measuring work in athletics, we can look at many different things, the height from which someone drops combined with their weight, their sprinting speed, and, yes, the weight of the barbell that is on their back. The quicker an athlete can perform a movement makes the movement inherently more powerful.


“Daniel Ilabaca is the picture of a powerful athlete”

Using a barbell is an excellent way to improve an athlete’s power capacity because the use of a barbell will help improve the athlete’s maximum strength. The movements performed with a barbell are typically easily modeled in real-world scenarios, and we can build strength (the ability to do work) through this training. A jumping motion is very similar to a back squat motion, and performing the weighted squat will develop a stronger motion all together. Building strength in the legs through heavy squats will also help increase your top speed in a sprint. Training the deadlift will build your grip strength and increase latissimus dorsi activation when performing pull-ups.

In UrbanFit, we program to build overall maximum strength while adding in other more explosive training necessary to perform quick and powerful movements. Squatting multiple times a week helps provide stimulus to the muscles that execute these powerful acts. Adding in other explosive work like box jumps and some minor plyometric movement helps to build an athlete’s quickness, agility, and overall bodily awareness while moving in our other programs.

All that being said, power is an awesome thing to have. It is amazing to look back at memories of an untrained body on an athletic field while I am performing at a higher level now even though I don’t practice those fine-tuned skills needed on a football field or baseball diamond. I know for a fact that barbell style training has changed my athletic career, and it will do so for you as well!


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