Power, defined in this context, simply means the combination of strength and speed. And, while you may perform skills that are strength or speed based alone; it is the combination of these two components that produces power.
A practical example of power might be two road cyclists racing and the one who is pushing the biggest gear (strength) going the fastest (speed), wins because they cover the greatest distance in the shortest period of time. And, while you may not be road racing, the possession of power impacts your everyday life which is why we all need to train for power.
Consider the following benefits of power training:
Increase in use of your fast twitch muscle fibers, particularly type II which improves your muscular development. Improving muscular development and definition enables you to move through your day with greater power which may help to prevent injury and may decrease the fatigue levels as the day progresses.
Improved neuromuscular adaptations—this usually leads to quicker reaction time and understand that regardless of your age, fitness level or gender, you may benefit from reacting quicker. Not just during sports, but in everyday life. Think of tripping and NOT falling—this may be in part due to your ability to react quickly. And, there is evidence which suggests that improved reaction time attained through appropriate/supervised power training may help to prevent falls in older adults leading to fewer hip fractures.
Improve efficiency within your energy system that resides right at the muscle site (i.e. ATP-PC or the Phosphagen System). Without delving deeply into exercise physiology, suffice it to say that you have three basic energy systems and the one described above is ready for immediate use. This system is low in capacity, but high in intensity (i.e. power) and you may train your body to improve it. Conjure up the image of an Olympic short-distance track sprinter—they tend to possess a well-tuned, highly trained phosphagen system, enabling them to explode off of the blocks and down the track. And, while some of their phosphagen system capacity may be genetically pre-determined, effective power training may contribute to the “winning edge” that wins races.
Your ability to flush and buffer the build-up of metabolic wastes which may help to reduce and perhaps delay fatigue. When the body has been effectively and consistently trained for power, it is more efficient at removing those waste by-products so you may recover more quickly and be able to repeat the effort optimally.
Also, hormones and neurotransmitters, such as testosterone, norepinephrine/epinephrine and cortisol may increase in production leading to greater force production within your muscle contractions as well as access to your stored energy (i.e. ATP-CP).
Wondering how you might be a candidate for power training when you have never been an athlete or currently reside on the lower end of the fitness level spectrum? Well, there are appropriate progressions/regressions of power training for every level of fitness. And, these may be accessed through consulting your fitness professional. Once you have contacted your fitness professional, set up a goals/objectives consultation, have a functional movement screen performed (FMS) to access your current fitness level and then have them design an individual exercise program concentrating on power training. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.