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The Plus Side of Power Training

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Power training can easily be confused with traditional strength training. So what is the difference between the two and how do you incorporate it into your workout program? Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Ryan Sheppard, MSEd, takes us on a deeper dive into power training’s true purpose.

Power training defined
Power training is designed as something that can be incorporated into any workout program regardless of fitness level. It is done by taking any exercise and placing emphasis on the speed of the movement with light to moderate amounts of weight. This teaches the body to produce force quickly and utilize various ranges of motion in controlled movement patterns. “Power training is helpful in increasing your ability to move swiftly and stabilize your body if you were to fall or need to physically react quickly,” explains Sheppard. “Power training is also a good way to build strength and muscle using lighter weights by emphasizing speed with control.” As we age, we lose power and speed before we lose strength and endurance. This is why it is crucial to take the initiative to maintain and increase power through an exercise routine.

Power training vs. strength training
Most strength training exercises can actually be used in power training by focusing on increasing the speed of each rep rather than lifting heavier weight at slower speeds like regular strength training.

Sheppard explains that power training is a component of strength training. “A well-rounded program would include power training with lighter weight at an increased speed one to two times per week,” states Sheppard. “Power training also allows you to use lighter weight which can give some relief to joints allowing you to build muscle in areas where strength training may be too stressful on your body.”

Power training put to practice
The beauty of power training is that it can involve as much or as little equipment as you so choose. Use your body weight, dumbbells, cable machines, resistance bands or medicine balls—whatever you prefer! Keep in mind the weight should be light enough to perform the movement quickly but controlled. Generally, each exercise should be performed for 2-3 sets of 5-20 reps. A few examples of exercises that can be used while power training include:

  • Push movements on a cable machine
  • Pull movements on a cable machine
  • Kettlebell or dumbbell swings
  • Squat jumps
  • Cardio machine sprints

If you choose to use a cardio machine, sprint for 10-30 seconds and recover for 50-90 seconds for a total of 10-20 minutes.

Sheppard encourages his clients to choose movements and weight increments that will not hurt your body. For example, if you have knee problems, avoid adding jumping movements to your workout regimen. Instead, choose a cardio bike sprint that will be easier on your knees but still allows you to train and build power in your lower body.

Begin to incorporate power training into your strength training routine to experience the benefits of weight lifting without sacrificing power! Combining both of these methods of exercise, the differing speeds and weight loads of power training and weight lifting, can help you achieve a balance of strength and power for overall health.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.