Very often strength vs power training are utilized conversely and individuals ask ‘Is strength and power something very similar or totally different?’ To answer this question, we have to look at both training principles separately and then compare them in detail. Let’s do that right now!
They are similar to each other but not the same thing.
There are considerable contrasts with significant preparing suggestion, which is the subject of this article.
All in all, what is the difference between strength vs power training?
This article outlines:
- A Definition of Strength and Power
- A Definition of Strength Training and Power Training
- The differences between Strength Training Programs and Power Training Programs
- Strength Training Methods vs Power Training Methods
- The Differences in Adaptations to Strength Training vs Power Training Programs
Strength vs Power – The Definition
Before I begin to characterize strength vs power, we should explain both of the terms.
What is Strength?
The definition of strength is:
Strength is the ability to exert force (measured in Newtons) in order to overcome the resistance.
The physical formula of force is Force = mass * acceleration (F = m * a).
What is Power?
The definition of power is:
Power (measured in Watts) is the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time.
The physical formula of power is Power = Force * velocity (P = F * v) or Power = Work / time (P = W / t)
Hang on a second, by what means can these two formulas be the equivalent?
Truly, I know it’s confusing and it required some time to get it, particularly, since I endured a lot during my school years attempting to understand physics.
It would be ideal if you look at the picture below, that improves the scientific derivation and the connection among strength vs power.
From this image it becomes clear, that Power = Work / time (P = W / t) and Power = Force * velocity (P = F * v) are the same thing.
Wrapping Up The Difference
From these definitions over it’s clear, that strength, just as power incorporate the exertion of force, while strength focusses on the ability to exert force to overcome resistance, and power focusses on the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time.
Strength Vs Power Training – Defining Them Again
Since you comprehend the difference between power and strength, the following stage is to investigate how this strength vs power difference unfurls in the strength vs power training practice.
What is Strength Training?
Presently, that you know, that strength is the capacity to apply power so as to defeated opposition, the following logical question is: What is strength training?
In extremely basic words, strength training trains the ability to overcome resistance, this is your large lifts, where you center around moving however much weight as could be expected for the given number of reps, that is illustrated in your strength workout.
The emphasis is on moving the weight from direct A toward point B. Look at one of my folks, Koen van der Wijst, pounding out a reiteration during our 1 RM testing.
Figure how long it takes him to finish the repetition.
What is Power Training?
Power Training focusses on overcoming resistance, so does strength training, however power training likewise focusses to defeat the opposition in the most limited timeframe.
Therefore, the resistance is lower and the movement velocity is higher.
Look at this case of another of my folks, Twan van Gendt during an applied power test at the Red Bull Performance Center.
Despite the fact that he is in a machine, it is a similar movement as above, an resisted Squat, yet this time the attention is on maximizing the velocity of the movement (in order to jump as high as possible, with the given weight).
The Real Differences
I talked about, the differences between strength vs power by using a definition, now it’s an ideal opportunity to examine the contrasts between a typical strength vs power training plan.
I will begin with the typical Strength Training Program, as it is more direct than a Power Training Program since there are various kinds of Power Training and different Power Training methods.
How Does A Typical Strength Training Program Look Like?
As discussed, the main goal is to overcome resistance, consequently a typical strength training work with high intensities (above 85% of the 1RM for a given exercise and low repetitions). The movement velocities can be low, which means the time it takes to complete a strength exercise or strength lift can be multiple seconds. It is not uncommon, that a true 1RM Back Squat can take 5 or 6 seconds just to complete the concentric phase, as you could see in the video of Koen van der Wijst.
Check out the example Strength Training Workout below, you can see the higher training intensities (above 85% 1RM) and low repetitions (between 2 and 4 reps).
Exercise Intensity Sets Reps Total reps
Power Clean 90% 1RM 5 2 10
Back Squat 85% 1RM 5 4 20
RDL 85% 1 RM 4 4 16
How does a typical Power Training look?
There are different types of Power Training and different Power Training methods. Power Training can be trained with a wide variety of training intensities and efforts.
One classification I use for myself is to categorize the Power Training into 3 different efforts:
- a Plyometric Effort, characterized by involving a short stretch-shortening cycle or long stretch-shortening cycle
- a Ballistic Effort, characterized by a ballistic movement, where the object, whether it is an implement or the body goes into a free flight (like in the video of Twan van Gendt)
- a Dynamic Effort, which is usually done with free weight and bands or chains attached to it to avoid the deceleration and breaking phase
Check out the table outlining the different training intensities, training modes (implements used) and efforts for the different types of Power Training.
It’s important to note and understand, that the intersections are much rather fluid than strict. Which means in practice that there is not a big difference between 49% of the 1RM and 51% of the 1RM, while there is a difference between 25% of the 1RM and 55% of the 1RM.
Ok, enough theory, how does such a Power Training program look?
Power Training Workout with plyometric efforts.
Exercise Intensity Sets Reps Total reps
Drop Jumps (short SSC) BW = 0 % 1RM 5 3 15
MB Power Drop (short SSC) 2% 1RM 4 4 16
Box Jumps (long SSC) BW = 0 % 1RM 3 3 9
What the heck is 2% 1 RM?! Will be the question, right?
Well, if you think about an athlete, who can Bench Press 100 kg and you would want to do an Upper Body Plyometric exercise focussed on a short-stretch shortening cycle (SSC), you would probably use a 2 or 3 kg medicine ball, which makes it 2 – 3 % 1RM.
Power Training Workout with ballistic efforts
Exercise Intensity Sets Reps Total reps
KB Throws (backwards) 20 % 1RM 4 4 16
BB Jump Squats 30% 1RM 3 4 12
Bench Throw 40 % 1RM 3 4 12
How do you measure the intensity of a KB Throw? Can you possibly do 1 RM testing?
However, if I think about the movement of a Kettlebell Throw backwards, it comes fairly close to a Snatch or Power Snatch, so I use that as a reference. For example, if the athlete is able to Power Snatch 70 kg, the athlete can use a 16 kg Kettlebell for throwing movements.
Is that accurate?
It’s probably not 100% accurate, but it works as a good indicator.
Power Training Workout with dynamic efforts.
Exercise Intensity Sets Reps Total reps
(from the block, mid-thigh) 65 % 1RM 4 2 8
(added bands, 20%) 70% 1RM 5 3 15
(added bands, 20%) 70 % 1RM 4 3 12
The added band percentage refers to how much of the total intensity is due to band tension, consequently, 20% means 50% comes from the free weight, 20% comes from band tension in the top position of the movement.
Strength and Power Training Methods: What are training methods for Power Training vs Strength Training?
A lot has been written about strength training methods and power training methods, essentially it comes down to a strength training method, like Westside Barbell method, 5-3-1 method, the Bulgarian training method, the Russian training method, or any other strength training method.
Every time a discussion about strength vs power training method comes up, I have to think about the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson
A good quote that sums up the discussion about Strength Training methods vs Power Training methods
Whatever ‘strength training method‘ or ‘power training method‘ you chose to follow, it will entail a few of the now listed elements or essentials.
The Essentials Of Strength Vs Power
Strength Training Method Essentials
Essentially all strength training methods are characterized by high intensities (above 85% 1 RM), low repetitions (below 5 reps, better 3 or less), and a maximum effort.
The training mode is usually free weights and sometimes strength training equipment/strength training machines. The reason for free weights is, that the more advanced the athlete is, it becomes increasingly difficult to find ways to overload and set a sufficient strength training stimulus that is able to elicit adaptations. Free weights have the benefit, that the scope for overload is almost infinite, whilst most strength training machines or cable have a limit.
For more information about the overload principle as one of the main principles to elicit adaptations read the story of Milo in article Fundamentals of Strength Training.
More details on how to structure a strength training program:
Power Training Method Essentials
As outlined above, power can be trained effectively with a range of intensities, hence a Power Training Method is generally characterized by intensities between 0 – 70% 1RM, moderate repetitions between 2 – 6.
Power Training can be divided into different training efforts, as outlined the plyometric effort, the ballistic effort, and the dynamic effort.
The training modes are more diverse, as compared to strength training methods (similar to the training intensities ranging over a broader range) and can include body weight, light implements, such as medicine balls, or kettlebells, free weights and using accommodating resistance.
More details on how to structure a power training program:
Adaptations to Strength Vs Power Training Programs: What are adaptations to Power Training vs Strength Training?
Power is the ability to overcome resistance in the shortest period of time, consequently, the chronic adaptations of Power Training are to be able to produce higher velocities against a given load.
The neurological adaptations are higher firing frequency and a stronger activation of the high threshold motor units.
It is debated whether Power Training can potentially lead to a shift in the fiber type spectrum towards a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers.
Strength training is the ability to exert force in order to overcome resistance, therefore your strength training efforts lead to a higher recruitment of muscle fibers and a stronger synchronization of muscle fibers.
Power Training vs Strength Training Conclusion
Next time you get asked about the difference of strength vs power training, you can answer, they are not the same thing, but they share similarities.
Consequently, Power Training and Strength Training are not the same thing, even though the terms are often used interchangeably.
The main difference between Strength vs Power Training is, that strength refers to the ability to overcome resistance, while power refers to the ability to overcome resistance in the shortest period of time.
Power Training also comes in a variety of forms, including different training intensity ranges, different training efforts and the use of different training modes. In order to put together a successful Power Training program and / or Strength Training program, you need to the training intensity ranges, training efforts and training modes, so that you can select the appropriate Power Training exercises or Strength Training exercises.
Check some other useful guides too:
- Increasing Bench Press: 10+ Ways To Lift Heavy Weights!
- Leg Curl Alternative: 10+ Best Lower Body Exercises!
- What To Eat After A Run: 25+ Superfoods For You! (2020 Updated)
- Free Weights Vs Machines: Which Are The Best?
- Benefits Of Sprinting: Upgrade Your Cardio Routine!
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