The basic principles of training for power are quite similar to those outlined for bulk training. The diet must be substantial, more than average rest and sleep should be obtained, workouts should not be taken more than three times a week for any particular body part, and the weights used should be heavy and the repetitions low.
If only a general step up in power is desired, and the bodybuilder has no desire to specialize only on setting poundage records, then he can combine power training with an all around course. This means that he can either train three times a week, starting off with his front chest and upper back exercises, and then follow these with exercises for the rest of his body. Or, he can follow the split routine style of training, performing his specializes exercises two or three times a week, only, and the rest of his body on two or three other days of the week.
The sets, repetitions, and concentrated attempts to use heavier and heavier weights as explained for bulk training should be used. Only the actual exercises will be different. Even here, the exercises will be much the same ones that were used for bulk training, but their method of performance will be altered.
Most important for the individual who is interested in increasing his power is to make sure that he handles very heavy weights. One way to do this is to employ bouncing or rebound exercises extensively. If this is done, the power-bodybuilder can work up to near fantastic poundages which strengthen ligaments, joints, muscle attachments, etc., adding tremendously to his power.
Not too many different exercises should be practiced in any one workout. If the front chest and upper back are being specialized on, then merely add one biceps exercise, one triceps exercise, one lower back exercise, one waist exercise, and one exercise for the thighs to round out your routine. If you add any more you are almost certain to go stale and that must naturally be avoided.
Rebound exercises for the biceps and triceps are explained in my book Massive Arms for You (elsewhere on this blog in its entirety). However, if you refer to back issues of Muscle Builder and Muscle power magazines you will see many rebound exercises for other parts of the body.
It is best to practice only two rebound exercises for the front chest and two for the upper back. A sample routine would be this:
1) Rebound Bench Press, No. 5
2) Rebound Lateral Raises, No. 13
3) Rebound Rowing, No. 21
4) Rebound Shrug -
this exercise is not listed but is performed the same as exercise No. 18, except that the barbell is rebounded off a flat exercise bench to permit the use of heavier weights.
Another sample routine:
1) Rebound Bent Arm Pullover, No. 3
2) Rebound Bent Arm Laterals, No. 13
3) Rebound One Arm Rowing
same as No. 27 except dumbbell is rebounded off the ground
4) Rebound End of Bench Rowing
same as No. 22 except barbell is rebounded off the floor
Many of the exercises listed in this course are suitable for rebound versions and with a little experimentation you can arrange many different routines.
The preceding advice applies to the bodybuilder who is seeking overall power increase. However, the lifter who desires 'all out' power and who may want to try to break some record, particularly in the bench press or press behind neck, which are about the only really competitive lifts included in this course, will have to follow another plan.
For all-out power, you can only train on one exercise at a time. And, you must remain on this particular exercise until you have reached a peak of your power in it.
You must conserve all of your energy for the exercise and not spend any on other physical activity.
I will use the bench press as an example. Here is the way to train for maximum power in that exercise. And what applies to the bench press applies to any other exercise you may ever decide to build maximum power in.
You must follow all the basic principles of bulk training as far as a substantial diet, rest, and peace of mind are concerned. In fact, you must not only possess peace of mind, but you must actually gear yourself up mentally to an utter contempt of heavy weights. DO NOT TOLERATE ANY MENTAL BLOCK. Do not feel that because you have only succeeded with a certain weight in the past that this means you cannot exceed it by 50, 100, or even more pounds. And do not be awed by the lifts of strength champions. Rather, be mentally sure that what they have done, you can do too. The fact that they have done it proves that it can be done. And, while proving that such a lift can be made, it in no way means that even more cannot be lifted. So, if more can be lifted, why not by you?
That is the attitude to strive for and it will pay off in big lifting dividends. And now for your training.
When training for all-out power you cannot set any definite schedules of sets, repetitions, poundages used, or frequency of training. You will have to rely on your experience and the knowledge of yourself to indicate when you should take a workout and what you should do.
Train only when absolutely fresh and practically raring to go. If you have a soft job, get a lot of rest and eat nourishing foods, you may feel like training every day. If you have a harder job to take care of, or if for some reason your energy can't stand daily training, you may do better training 5, 4, 3, 2 or even once a week! But -- if you don't feel fresh and full of energy at least one day a week and cannot take a very satisfying workout on that day, then there is something radically wrong which will have to be corrected before you can hope to reach your peak of power.
Generally speaking, training 3 times a week will suit most power-seeking bodybuilders best. Try that first and then if you feel you should, you can experiment with other frequencies.
Now, here is exactly what you should do, and remember we are using the bench press as an example. This same plan can be used for any exercise.
Warm up with about one half of your maximum weight and perform 3 or 4 easy repetitions. Take a short rest and add 15 or 20 pounds. Perform 2 or 3 repetitions. Take another short rest, add some more weight and perform another 2 repetitions. Your muscles should now be warmed up.
Take a slightly longer rest and then add some more weight and perform 1 repetition. Another rest, another adding of weight and then another single repetition. Continue doing this, adding only 5 pounds at a time as you approach your limit. Continue to force out a single repetition with each increased weight until you fail to squeeze out even on repetition. Then, take a 10 minute rest and try that same weight, the one you failed with, again. Whether you make it or not, drop the weight down 30 or 40 pounds and perform as many repetitions as you can with this lighter weight. It probably won't be more than 3 or 4. Then, quit.
And, don't take another workout until you really feel full of energy. You follow the same procedure the next workout and keep following this plan indefinitely. However, you can only force power into any set of muscles in a concentrated manner such as this for about two months. After a two month period, it is better to go back to a rather general program, or if you so desire, you can pack power into some other major body part. Then, you can come back to the bench press again after such a rest and push your record up once more.
Next: Training for Definition.