If you have finally realized that training to increase athletic performance is much different from training for wellness, bodybuilding, or power lifting then you must begin with a program that will increase your power and speed.  Traditional weight training or bodybuilding routines will not help you be a better athlete, at least on the field, court, track, or pool.

So let’s first break down the difference between power and speed.  Power in sports is defined as the ability to produce force rapidly.  Power is the most important factor in sports such as tennis, football, soccer, and basketball.  Athletes also need power during endurance sports such as distance running, skiing, and swimming.

Some of the elements of power that we need to look at are genetics, metabolic capacity, muscle size, skill, and nervous system capacity.   Great athletes such as Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali were born with an ability to create great power when they moved.  These great athletes started at a much higher level than others but still needed to work hard to get to the level they achieved.  But with the correct strength and conditioning program that increases performance in power and speed sports you too can become a great athlete.

Speed is defined as the ability to move quickly from one position to another, throws, and move fast across the field or court.  Basically it is an athlete’s ability to perform a skill rapidly.

So then how do you train to increase your power and speed as an athlete?  First of all you need to dismiss those who want to tell you to spend more time in the weight room.  Although training with weights is an important part of gaining strength it will not increase your power or speed.  Doing circuit training or isolation exercise will not improve your athletic skills.  Understand you must increase your strength in movement not muscles.

Some exercises that will help you increase whole body power are: squat snatches, clean and jerks, power cleans, upper and lower body exercises at the same time, sled pushing or pulling, and squat snatch presses.

Exercises that will help you increase your speed and lateral movements are exercises such as: short sprints (20-50 yards), lateral sprint movements, backward sprinting, downhill sprinting (2-3% grade), speed chutes, and harness sprinting.

Integrating these movements into your athletic conditioning program is essential to better sports performance.  Without them you are spinning your wheels and will not become a better athlete.  So take the time to step out of the weight room and onto the field.  If you strictly add the above movements into your routine you will be on your way to athletic greatness. Seek out a Certified Specialist in Strength and Conditioning, like myself, in order to get a detailed program to follow!

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