When it comes to training for powerlifters, we see a struggle of looking to balance weight class with the highest possible repetition maximum. This means that where possible, we look to rid the body of any tissue which doesn’t contribute to aiding a lift; generally in the form of adipose tissue. A powerlifters regime can be ridiculously repetitive, however, is speed based or sprint training a reliable, alternate method to offer variety and beneficial adaptations? Let’s find out how you can use Speed Training for more Power.
The Science of Speed Training for more Power
A peer-reviewed article by Sleivert, Backus, & Wenger, (1995), suggests that power and sprinting hold strong correlations, with both comprised of short and explosive bursts. The pair of activities largely recruit the same, type 1, fast twitch muscle fibres, with the duration of the activity suiting the ATP CP system. Another similarity noted between sprinting and powerlifting is the particular muscle groups required, with the Sleivert et al. piece recognising the importance of major leg muscles, namely the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, accompanied by the lower back complex, in particular throughout the deadlift and squat.
Hoffman, Cooper, Wendell, & Kang, (2004) look to American football players and the comparison of both Olympic and traditional powerlifting for results in power, with the study utilising sprint training throughout the traditional powerlifting. The results suggested that through the sprint training, greater constant activation of fast twitch muscle fibres was allowed and resulted in greater percentage gains in explosive power, measured via 1RM lifts of the squat, conventional deadlift, and bench press.
In terms of physiological adaptations of speed or sprint training, we see Ross, & Leveritt, (2001), suggest that production of the enzyme responsible for ATP production, ATP synthase, can increase, meaning that the potential for greater energy production may result. The enzyme phosphofructokinase is also shown to spike, aiding further energy production for sprint efforts through the removal of waste products.
In terms of body composition, sprint training is proven to reduce adiposity levels due to its fat burning properties. Romero-Arenas et al., (2017) states that with the increase in metabolic functioning, paired with a constant elevated heart rate, we witness appropriate conditions for burning fat.
How often? Piven and Dzhym (2015) conducted a study which focused on optimal results and gains in power, and 1 repetition maximum lifts for junior powerlifters. The results promote using sprint or speed training 2 times per week for peak power, adjusting this depending on your goals, and accounting for interindividual differences. Sprint training would be beneficial in greater quantities when looking to ‘cut’ or reduce fat levels.
So what exactly should powerlifters make of sprint training? Sprint training should serve as an alternate training method for recruiting type 1 fast twitch muscle fibres, and as a well-combined form of cardiovascular based training for fat loss.
References for Speed Training for more Power
Hoffman, J., Cooper, J., Wendell, M., & Kang, J. (2004). Comparison of Olympic Vs.Traditional Power Lifting Training Programs in Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(1), 129–135. Retrieved from http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.24.1b/ovidweb.cgi?WebLinkFrameset=1&S=BBKLFPGPGMDDIAEDNCHKIELBIIEEAA00&returnUrl=ovidweb.cgi
Piven, O., & Dzhym, V. (2015). Study of Junior Weight Lifters’ Special Fitness with Different Methods of Speed-Power Training in Preparatory Period of General Preparatory Stage. Pedagogics, Psychology, Medical-Biological Problems of Physical Training and Sports 9, 51-56. Retrieved from http://www.sportpedagogy.org.ua/html/journal/2015-09/html-en/15pobgps.html
Romero-Arenas, S., Ruiz, R., Vera, A., Colomer-Poveda, D., Grau, A., & Márquez, G. (2017). Neuromuscular and Cardiovascular Adaptations in Response to High Intensity Interval Power Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(5), 1165-1189. Retrieved from http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.24.1b/ovidweb.cgi?WebLinkFrameset=1&S=IELOFPHPFCDDIACBNCHKMHOBILMJAA00&returnUrl=
Ross, A., & Leveritt, M. (2001). Long-Term Metabolic and Skeletal Muscle Adaptations to Short-Sprint Training: Implications for Sprint Training and Tapering. Journal of Sports Medicine 31(15), 1063-1082. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11735686
Sleivert, G., Backus, R., & Wenger, H. (1995). The Influence of a Strength-Sprint Training Sequence on Multi-Joint Power Output. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 27(12), 1655 -1665. Retrieved from http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.24.1b/ovidweb.cgi?WebLinkFrameset=1&S=EJPDFPGOIODDIAIINCHKOFFBEBNAAA00&returnUrl=