Strength vs Power: Understanding the Difference in the Gym

Strength and power are desirable qualities to possess. A commonly held belief is that ‘power training’ is only reserved for elite athletes and high functioning individuals. This however cannot be further from the truth, as the human body uses ‘power’ for both everyday movement as well as for athletic pursuits. Training both strength and power can provide unique benefits for both physical performance as well as injury resilience. Unfortunately, strength and power are often overlapped in terminology, causing confusion with how to appropriately train each physical quality within the gym environment.

Why is it important to understand the difference?

Understanding the difference will allow you to better recognise your physical weaknesse. By better understanding whether it is strength or power that is holding you back, you can then develop a more tailored training program. Optimising this training process will then produce a flow on effect to both your physical performance during competition as well as your resilience to injuries.

What’s the difference?

Strength is the maximal amount of force you can produce in movement. This is also known as ‘peak force’. The key ingredient to strength training is that the load (weight) needs to be high. Examples include Back Squat, Front Squat, Bench Press, OH Press, Bent Over Row, Loaded Chin Ups etc.

Power is the velocity (speed) that you produce force in movement. This is also known as ‘rate of force development’. The key ingredient to power training is the speed of the movement. Power movements include jumps, hops, throws, bounds etc. Examples include Jump Squat, Bench Throw, Lateral Bounds, OH MB Toss.

How can I use this knowledge?

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between strength and power, you can use this information to better plan your training sessions to ensure you are developing both qualities. When programming exercises, follow these key basic programming principles:

Power

– Focus on speed/velocity component of movement

– Low to moderate load (weight)

– Low volume (reps)

– Moderate-Long recovery (rest between sets)

– Jumps, Hops, Bounds, Throws, Speed

Strength

– Focus on maximal force component of movement

– High Load (weight)

– Low volume (reps)

– Long recovery (rest between sets)

– Compound Strength Lifts

Want more help?

Just want to focus on training and let a professional program for you? Want regular strength & conditioning and physiotherapy support? If you need help or would love to have an assessment on your current physical health and training program, drop in to BeFit Training Physiotherapy today at either our Coogee or Double Bay locations.

Sam Wadley - BeFit Training Physio Coogee & Double Bay

Sam Wadley - BeFit Training Physio Coogee & Double Bay

Sam Wadley is a physiotherapist based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Sam has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Sam has extensive experience in strength and conditioning which is expertly applied in physiotherapy. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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