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Training for speed and power in sport and fitness
Training for speed and power in sport and fitness

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3.3 Developing power: weight training

Image of men and women performing a snatch lift with a barbell in a gym
Figure 7

In strength and conditioning, it is important to prescribe the correct intensity/load (i.e. % of repetition maximum (RM), number of repetitions, sets and amount of rest in relation to the training goal to gain maximum results). Table 2 shows that for power, high load and relatively few repetitions are recommended.

Table 2 Training principle recommendations for training goals
Training goal


(% of 1RM)

Repetitions Sets Rest
Maximal strength ≥ 85 ≤ 6 2–6 2–5 minutes
Power single-effort event 80–90 1–2 3–5 2–5 minutes
multiple-effort event 75–85 3–5
Hypertrophy 67–85 6–12 3–6 30–90 seconds
Muscular endurance ≤ 67 ≥ 12 2–3 ≤ 30 seconds
Source: Sheppard and Triplett (2016)

A single-effort event is where one maximum-power effort is required (i.e. shot put, high jump, power lifting). A multiple-effort event is one where repeated maximum-power efforts are required (i.e. rugby, volleyball).

For power, the type of exercise is also important to achieve training goals. In this section you will consider some examples of weight-lifting exercises that are suitable for developing power. As you would expect, given the definition of power, such exercises involve fast, explosive movements; you will investigate some of these in Activity 6.

Activity 6 Being explosive in the gym

Timing: Allow 10 minutes for this activity

Watch Video 6 in which you will see several weight-lifting exercises designed to develop power. Which exercises would be most appropriate for developing explosive leg power? Watch from 02:32 (‘Once you have a basis of strength …’) to 03:35 (‘… high-velocity power output movement’).

Video 6: Weight-lifting to develop power [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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In Video 6 you see a variety of exercises being performed, including power cleans, power snatch and squat jumps. What all these exercises have in common is that they’re performed with fast, explosive or jumping movements – so they differ from more traditional weightlifting exercises which tend to be performed more slowly. Explosive exercises require relatively more technical input from a qualified strength and conditioning coach. Weight training exercises to develop power include Olympic lifts (such as snatch, clean and jerk). Squat jumps, the snatch and the clean are very effective at developing explosive leg power for sprinting.