“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
Now, many people become confused when the term “power” is bandied about in relation to weightlifting, and this is usually attributed to the term’s unfortunate association with the sport of power lifting, a sport that is seriously misnamed and, I’m sure suffering an identity crisis as a result; the sport should more properly be called strength lifting, or raw strength lifting – something along those lines. Real power lifting, of course, is more fully exhibited in the sport of Olympic lifting, where speed of movement execution is of paramount importance. I don’t bring this up so as to be a schoolmarm of sorts, but to point out the correct association of speed to power production. And it has always been my contention that (with equal skills) the athlete who possesses the greater power/bodyweight ratio in a particular set of movements is, hands down, the better athlete.
That said, let’s zoom in a little closer, and take a look specifically at the power zone:
In many of my workout write-ups you will see the term speed-strength or strength-speed emphasis used as an identifier – what I’m identifying is, which of the two available power equation variables it is that I’m choosing to emphasize in a particular workout. If you look at the elementary power equation (which is fine for our purposes), you see that there are only two variables for a given movement that we can realistically affect – speed and external loading. Yes, “distance” may vary slightly between similar movements, but not enough, in relation to speed and load, to precipitously effect the overall outcome.
In considering the overhead press as an example, here, we can see that as I slide the fulcrum from dead-center toward the left that I begin to enter to realm of added speed emphasis, and hence the realm of the “jerk” variation of the movement. In contrast, sliding the fulcrum further to the right has one loading up the bar – but at the expense of execution speed; the push-press would be a good example here. Now we’re in the realm of strength-speed, with the movement still rather fast in relation to raw strength or bodybuiling-type movements, yet “slow” in relation to that same movement done with an emphasis placed on speed. Ideally in this zone what I’m shooting for is an equal and overall high power production from the movement – a play of speed against external load – attempting to hone in one the sweet spot of peak power production from the particular movement. Realistically, though – and as is expressed in Olympic style lifting (and in the Oly derivatives) – speed of execution will trump external load. That is to say, once external loading has increased to the point of slowing the movement down, power production will begin to suffer.
I’ll touch on these concepts a little more in some upcoming posts.