BASIC PRINCIPLES OF POWER
The principles behind power training are quite similar to bulk training. I mentioned that one of the requirements of bulk is for the arms to get stronger. However, in power training we take up where bulk training stopped.
To do this, we must conserve every drop of energy to be converted into power and we must forget, for the time being at least, about the size of shape of our arms. Power is as much a specialized branch of arm training as is bulk, definition, a high biceps, or what have you. If you go all out for power, that, and ONLY THAT, must be your aim.
Since conservation of energy is vitally important, none must be wasted in flushing, mental contraction, etc. Everything should be geared up for BRUTE FORCE. And here's how to do just that.
You must become lazy in your daily life. Don't waste any energy that you really don't have to. Don't sit when you can recline. Don't stand when you can sit, and don't walk when you can ride. Try not to get excited about anything, for emotions use up energy.
Eat wholesomely, though not too heavily at any meal. A big meal uses up energy for digestion. Rather, eat more often each day -- three major meals and then several snacks in between.
Isolate your training to one or two exercises only. It is best to concentrate on only one part, such as the biceps -- or else the triceps -- or else the forearms. Don't try to build maximum power in all at once. You just can't do it.
Then, keep the repetitions low -- VERY LOW REPS AND HIGH SETS! Never perform more than 3 repetitions in any exercise. Rest a long time between sets. A workout, on ONE exercise, should last about 2 hours.
Now, here are some sample routines.
For real triceps power and lock out strength, one of the best exercises is the power bench press off boxes. Use a moderate weight for the first set and warm up with 3 presses. Rest at least 5 minutes and then add about 20 pounds and perform another 3 repetitions. Continue to rest and add weight to the barbell until after 6 or 7 sets you can only perform 2 repetitions. Now, increase the weight more gradually, only 5 pounds at a time, and continue to perform the exercise until you have reached your one repetition limit for that particular day.
Then, if you want, you could do the same thing with the floor barbell curl for the biceps. However, working to maximum power in more than one exercise is not to be generally recommended. It is better to practice only one exercise training between 2 and 4 times a week depending on how you feel, than to try to do more.
When training for power in this manner DO NOT exercise any other part of the body. For maximum results you must exercise only one part, preferably only one exercise.
This was the way Doug Hepburn trained when he held the title of the world's strongest man before he turned professional wrestler, and it is essentially the way Paul Anderson, who succeeded Doug for the title of world's strongest man, trained for many years. In his case, he specialized on the squat and did little other than squats for several years, performing low repetitions and high sets as outlined above.
You can use this same principle on the cheating barbell curl, bench press, floor press and bridge, two arm jerk, power press out, one arm swing to shoulder, and in fact any of the exercises listed and specified as being good for power.
It is also practical to use this same principle in any exercise, even if it is not essentially a power movement, if for some reason you want to build up for poundage in it.
When training for power you must be willing to sacrifice something in definition and proportion. You can always regain your proportion again by training with that aim in mind, and while you may lose some of your power in doing this, you will still be stronger than you were before. Many bodybuilders go on a power binge every once in a while using very low repetitions in all exercises. They smooth out when they do this, but after a month or two they train for more definition and end up even better looking than before, and much stronger.
Only you know how important maximum power is to you.
If you have a specific goal, such as breaking a record in some lift, then any sacrifice will be worthwhile. And, as I have said, once you do reach your power goal, you can always change your training and specialize for muscularity again.
Of course, some bodybuilders such as Reg Park and Marvin Eder, due to physical make-up do not lose definition when training for power, but they are the exceptions which prove the rule. Ross, Reeves, Stephan and other high level bodybuilders smooth out when training for maximum power and you probably will too. However, only a test will serve as definite proof.
There is only one danger in power training. If you happen to be a nervous type your nerves may rebel at the monotony and the concentration of such training. There have been certain bodybuilders who followed power training to its extreme conclusion -- training in what is termed a rest, pause, method. They would do a set of an exercise, low repetitions and high weight, and then rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Then another set and another long rest. And so on until they had been training for 5 or 6 hours, even longer in some cases, on one exercise! This played havoc with their nerves and ended up in more harm than good. If you find yourself getting nervous and irritable in your power training, then stop it at once and go back to a more orthodox routine.