February 28, 2017

Fitness

5 ways to increase your power for on the field or in the gym

LAST WEEK I received an email from a GAA player looking for some good power exercises to bring into his gym programme, so today I’m going to show you some movements that can improve your all-round performance, particularly for field-based athletes in the likes of GAA, rugby, hockey and soccer.

I always recommend bringing strength and power-based drills into your gym routine if you’re trying to improve in your chosen sport.

In previous articles I have given advice on some of the best mobility, strength and core movements, which you can find here.

I have always said that building a strong foundation is the key to anyone’s gym programme. Mobility and strength are the foundation for pretty much everything fitness related.

If you haven’t already checked out some of the best strength-based exercises then have a look at these first, and incorporate some of those drills into a 6-8 week plan focusing on building strength, before pairing in some power or speed-based exercises.

The end result of training for power is better performance in the gym and improved performance in your sport — in terms of your ability to accelerate, decelerate, jump higher, sprint faster, and change direction.

Having access to gym equipment like battle ropes, plyometric boxes, kettlebells, prowlers and med balls is always a good sign of a good training facility and I have included a lot of those in the exercises below.

The exercises I have included this week are for the beginner right up to the advanced athlete.

The key here is do the movement that you are technically and physically ready for. For instance, Olympic lifting is one of the more complex power exercises below but there is no point in going near it until you have a couple of boxes ticked.

Go for the movement that will give you the best bang for your buck. If you have poor mobility and still can’t do a kettlebell swing then I suggest you work on these areas before you attempt the snatch or clean.

If you are still lost on what to do then source a coach or trainer who will guide you in the right direction.

Bodyweight

I’m covering three basic bodyweight, power-based movements here.

A lot of people feel they need bundles of equipment to improve power but doing drills like this below works just as well.

The jumping lunge, kneeling jump and the box jump are three excellent lower-body progressions to work on.

 

Kettlebell

I’m a huge fan of the kettlebell and it’s one of the reasons why we have so many at our gym.

The kettlebell swing is one of the first things I teach when working with a new client, along with a couple of other movements.

The swing is a movement I see performed incorrectly far too often and I have put together a tutorial here on how to swing correctly.

Not only are these super for doing power-based exercises but they are quite portable and extremely versatile when looking for a full-body workout.

Here, I’m focusing on the Russian swing and using a relatively heavy bell for 8-10 swings.

I then tied a resistance band to a slightly lighter bell which made it that bit more difficult.

Adding band resistance to this movement adds extra complexity at the top while addressing the end range of hip extension, and it’s also quite a handy trick when you don’t have enough heavy bells as you get stronger.

 

Med ball

The med ball is another very handy piece of equipment which is ideal for power-based drills.

Below, I’m working on the med ball toss and the med ball slam.

Throwing is an expression of power and throwing a med ball around the gym is unlike any exercise that can be done on the gym floor.

This toss is working on the transverse plane, which, in my opinion, every athlete should be training.

This drill is user-friendly and the risk of injury or anything going wrong is relativity low compared to other drills like Olympic lifting or kettlebell work.

The overhead ball slam is another drill I would encourage you to bring in to your routine.

Driving from the core and the hip is key. Shoot for 6-8 reps on each side and then take your time on each rep for the overhead slam, making sure to get your set-up right. Ideally, you should go a little heavier for the slam.

 

Battle rope

The battle rope slam is a no-nonsense exercise and 15 reps of these will jack your heart-rate right up.

This exercise forces you to generate power and speed as you chip through the reps.

There are many variations of drills using the battle rope and the two examples below are simple and worth incorporating for all fitness levels.

 

Barbell

Olympic lifting and power go hand in hand as Olympic lifters are among the fastest and most powerful athletes out there.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge increase in interest in Olympic lifting in Ireland.

It’s great to see and perhaps down to the arrival of CrossFit that Olympic lifting got males and females so interested in the barbell, working on the clean and jerk, and snatch.

Oly lifting is a sport within itself and can be a very technical and complex route to go down. If you are interested I suggest you go source an Oly lifting coach or gym that specialises in this area and go from there.

Above I am working both movements from ‘the hang position’ — the barbell starting position is between the hip and the knee, before finishing in the power position, catching the barbell in the rack position in the power stance.

I feel this format is perfect for any field-based athlete. Oly lifting requires that bit more patience, coaching and technical skill.

The below exercises are both excellent to have in your locker when you’re aiming to develop power or speed. But like I said above, only bring in these movements once you are ready for them.

Like the kettlebell swing, I have seen a large amount of people attempt these movements only to adopt poor form after a couple of reps.

 

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below.

You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.