Get Powerful with These Essential Exercises: A 20-Minute Power Workout Guide

Power: The Key Ingredient for Fitness Success

Each month, our expert trainers bring you the best workouts to help you achieve your fitness goals. Follow along with us each week as we introduce new and effective ways to sweat it out.

If you’ve ever taken a physics class, you may remember certain formulas, like force equals mass times acceleration. But did you know that these formulas extend beyond the classroom? In fact, they can be incredibly useful when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. One formula in particular stands out: power equals speed times strength. And if you want to build this essential fitness component that is connected to bone health and reduced injury risk, power exercises are the way to go.

So, what exactly is power in fitness? When it comes to strength training, it’s often measured by how much weight you can lift and how many reps you can do in a set amount of time. In running, measurements such as stride length, steps per minute, and mile time all contribute to the power equation. Essentially, power is the combination of speed and strength.

Vince Sant, lead trainer and co-founder of V Shred, describes power as the ability to perform an operation explosively or rapidly. It’s all about how much energy you can compress into a short amount of time while executing a fitness move. Whether you’re lifting dumbbells above your head, jumping explosively off the ground, or sprinting with powerful strides, you’re exerting force and demonstrating power. Nell Rojas, a professional runner sponsored by Nike, explains that power allows runners to generate more force with each stride, which ultimately results in covering more distance in less time.

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But how does power differ from strength? According to Sant, power is often confused with strength, but they are not one and the same. Strength refers to the amount of resistance you can handle, whereas power incorporates the speed at which you can manage that resistance. To distinguish between the two, Sant suggests observing the amount of resistance you’re working against and the number of reps you can complete in a given time frame. While calculating absolute power without lab equipment can be tricky, an increase in reps within the same time period indicates improved power.

Training for power comes with numerous benefits, both inside and outside of the gym. Gerren Liles, a fitness trainer and instructor with Lululemon Studio, explains that most workouts and sports require power output, such as jumps, sprints, and burpees. By training for power, not only will you enhance your sports performance, but you’ll also improve your ability to tackle everyday activities that demand exertion, like running to catch a bus or hopping over objects. Additionally, power exercises contribute to healthy bone development and muscle growth, reducing the risk of injury. In running, power training can enhance stride mechanics and overall performance, helping you stay on track and avoid visits to the physical therapist.

When it comes to safely and effectively training for power, exercises with an explosive or plyometric element are highly recommended. Plyometrics, in particular, work on recruiting muscle fibers explosively and training the stiffness and elastic recoil of tendons and ligaments. However, it’s important to build power gradually and not rush into explosive lifts with heavy weights. Sant advises incorporating plyometrics into bodyweight HIIT workouts as a starting point. It’s crucial to master the basic movements with proper form and core engagement before progressing to power variations. Once you’ve increased reps and sets in the correct form, you can begin incorporating power variations and continue progressing from there.

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Remember that power exercises require your full effort, so they should not be performed daily. Instead, aim to include these exercises in your training regimen once or twice a week, while also balancing them with strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and rest.

To give you a head start, here are some power exercises recommended by Vince Sant and Nell Rojas. Explosive push-ups, jump squats, squat thrusters, and long jumps are all excellent choices. For runners looking to build power, pogo jumps, depth jumps, and bounds (exaggerated skipping) can be highly effective.

If you’re ready to take on a power-oriented workout, look no further than Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club. Trainer Sara DeBerry has designed a 20-minute routine specifically focused on building power. The workout incorporates various recommended moves, with an emphasis on completing reps as quickly as possible. Expect classic power exercises like weighted squats with knee drives, push presses, and squat jumps. DeBerry’s key message? Give it your all, show up, and show out.

Are you up for the challenge? By incorporating power training into your fitness routine, you’ll unlock a whole new level of strength, speed, and overall performance. So why wait? Start building power today and unleash your full fitness potential.

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