Friday, June 12, 2009

Power Training - Ivan Dunbar

Power Training
by Ivan Dunbar

The term power training has, if only by its constant and continuing use over the years, now found a regular place in bodybuilding jargon. Often a bodybuilder when discussing training problems will announce – with sudden and mysterious aplomb – that his next schedule will be a power course. It seems he has at last found the true secret of strength and musclebuilding success.

Power training – what does it mean?

Put in simple terms, merely the use of heavy weights and selected movements which impose an extra demand on the muscles which (if the application is right) respond by getting stronger and larger – though the latter condition need not necessarily occur. In this respect it might be said to be a companion of bodybuilding, as it follows that if a muscle becomes stronger (via the power training), a return to normal bodybuilding will enable the lifter to use heavier weights in his movements and thereby gain muscular size from his newfound strength.

What then is the complete definition of this elusive power? Is it an increase in strength on such movements? Not quite, though this will certainly help. But power in the true sense belongs to the privileged few. This can best be illustrated by the example of the bodybuilder who could Bench Press 400 lbs. yet failed to support half this weight overhead. No, power in the true sense is all round-strength that enables the lifter to engage in all forms of strength from pressing (both flat and overhead) to curling and deadlifting, to snatching and jerking, to chinning and grip strength.

What basic principles then should the lifter apply when embarking on a power program? The first and most obvious is that he must strive to use increasingly heavy poundages. This can best be achieved by doing high sets and low reps. He must also exercise the muscles from many angles. And it will be necessary to include half and quarter movements – sometimes referred to as short range movements. However, before detailing a sample program, a word of caution. If you are about to begin a power training program give yourself a two to three week period of adjustment, and at all times be in control of the weight. Do not sacrifice exercise form in your anxiety to increase poundage. If you do, it may lead to injury.

Now, for a sample program :

1.) Jerk Behind Head – Place the bar on your shoulders as in the squatting position. Start with a weight equivalent to your best pressing poundage. Begin by bending the legs to the quarter squat position and then thrust the bar upwards with leg and shoulder drive. Stay tight. When the bar has moved approximately three-quarters of the movement range dip below it to get the final lockout. Do 5 sets of 3 reps, working up to 5 sets of 6 reps before increasing the weight. Aim for a target poundage 70 of 80 pounds above your best press. Use a medium – wide grip.

2.) High Pullups – Use a clean or snatch grip (medium to wide) starting with 20 to 30 pounds below your best press. Pull the bar from the floor towards you, moving upwards as you do so – rather like a heavy upright rowing motion. Return to floor and repeat. Same sets and reps as above exercise. Pull as high as possible, to at least belt level.

3.) Bench Press – 2 sets of 6 reps, without cheating. Then 3 sets of 3 reps, lowering the bar to chest and pausing for two seconds between each rep. Finish with 3 sets of 3 reps of half-press lockouts in the rack, lowering to about midpoint and pressing out. Work up to 6 reps before increasing the poundage.

4.) Squat – Begin with 2 sets of 8 reps, full squat. Next, 4 sets of 6 reps to the parallel position. Finish with 4 sets of 3 on the quarter squat, working up to 4 sets of 6 before adding weight. Always be careful to adopt the right get-set position before doing the quarter squats.

5.) Barbell Curl – 6 sets of 3 reps with the heaviest poundage you can handle. Work up to 6 x 6 before increasing the weight and beginning over again.

6.) French Press – Begin with 1 set of 8 reps, the 6 sets of 3 working up to 6 x 6 before increasing the poundage and dropping back to 6 x 3 again.

Adapt this sample program to your own needs, give it six to eight weeks of hard work, and then return to a regular bodybuilding routine for two months. You will be pleased with the results!

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