The importance of power training throughout life

Power training (i.e. simply defined as a combination of strength and speed), should be an integral part of most exercise programs and this applies to youth through our advanced older years.

If you have ever been a serious cyclist or triathlete, you may be familiar with Joe Friel, who is one of America’s leading endurance sport’s coaches and has written numerous books including, “The Cyclist’s Training Bible”, “The Triathlete’s Training Bible” and “Cycling Past 50”. In his most recent book, “Fast after 50”, he shares interesting research, that he personally has experienced as an over-70 athlete (you may also follow his series of blogs tracking his personal progress at

Some of the research and personal experience that he has shared includes that “… 70% of your athletic power after turning 50 remains under your control…” — good news, and that a loss of power due to a decrease in training intensity as we age, may negatively impact our performance going forward.

While there are certainly situations when an individual, due to specific, serious health issues, may need to avoid power training, aging alone does not dictate whether or not someone should perform regular power training.

What occurs in many cases, as an individual ages, is that they begin replacing power training with lower intensity training. It may be easier, but eliminating power training, eventually causes decreases in reaction time, and increases fat storage and muscle loss all of which contribute to a diminished level of performance. And, this applies to everyone, not just current or former athletes.

As with all types of physical training, a well-designed periodized training program needs to be created and followed regardless of your age or ability level. Consequently, if you have not been training for power, or used to and have abandoned power training for lower intensity training, consider integrating power training into your exercise and training program. Below are a few easy tips to keep you safe and ensure the effectiveness of your power training. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Tip 1: Chat with your physician to make certain there are no contraindications which would prohibit your including power training in your exercise program.

Tip 2: Once you have determined that you are physically able to perform power training, consult with a certified, qualified and experienced personal trainer or coach, having them perform a thorough fitness assessment and then, designing a program specifically for you which includes periodized power training.

Tip 3: Be patient. As with any new training modality, you will need to adapt to it progressively. While power training should always be taxing, you will eventually possess a better mind-body understanding of all-out power exertion and true active recovery intervals leading to more productive training sessions.

Tip 4: Perform consistent muscular strength training combined with inputting high quality protein within 15-45 minutes following your muscular strength training program. This leads to increased muscle mass, elevating your metabolism resulting in a more desirable body composition (i.e. lean to fat ratio).

Tip 5: Track your progress. Once you have integrated power training into your exercise program, you will begin to notice an improvement in your performance. But, tracking that performance progress is what leads to long term results!

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