Power is an important part of everyday life and one of the components of a well-rounded training program. Many functional everyday tasks require power; getting up from a seat, going up stairs, running, hopping, jumping, even staying upright. Likewise, just about every sport requires power in a variety of movements; kicking, throwing, hitting, hurling, etc.
Strength training improves the maximal force component. But due to the principle of specificity, strength training alone won’t produce optimal force over time results. Developing power requires training your ability to apply maximum force rapidly, with endurance.
Ballistic training, plyometric training, boxing, and Olympic lifts are common ways to improve power.
Because power training engages a lot of muscle fibers, including type II muscle fibers, it also builds strength and carries many of the health benefits of strength training. If you keep the rest periods between sets reasonably short or at least not drag out too long, it is also a great way to build aerobic capacity.
Alternatively, just like strength training, if your goal is to build maximum power, you’ll see better results with more extended rest periods between sets. Allowing time for your muscle fibers to recharge ensures maximum motor unit engagement to develop maximal force production for each set. Put another way, longer rest periods will enable you to work your hardest every rep of every set.
Power training does come with a warning. The rapid application of high force means that it carries a higher risk of injury.
When done correctly, it requires a substantial warm-up. I also wouldn’t include demanding power training into my fitness program until I have developed significant strength and conditioning for a reasonable amount of time. That time depends on your initial level of fitness, age, and what exercises you plan to do.
I eased power training into my program at the end of my workouts to get a feel for my body’s readiness. This way, I had a long warm-up before getting into the movements which minimized the risk of severe injury.