Power = Work / Time
Power = Force x Distance / Time
Power = (Mass x Acceleration) x Distance / Time
Training for power doesn't always mean we have to train for maximal power, with heavy resistance as the key variable. And when we do need to train for maximal power, we should have the tissue and joint infrastructure ready to handle the demands of those tasks. We need the right foundational movement competencies so we are prepared. As James Marshall said in his most recent HMMRMedia article, we need a system and framework that purposefully provides the following elements:
1) Precision in the accuracy of movement.
2) Variety of movement within a theme.
3) Progression in terms of complexity, rather than sets/reps/time.
Ground-based power is the coordinated summation of segments. I start teaching this concept from day one with the Medball Squat and Press Series and progress the athlete through different movement experiences. Athletes need to move themselves and a variety of small objects before they try to move bigger objects like barbells.
I make extensive use of dumbbells early in the process via swings, muscle snatches and the squat & press. We use one or two dumbbells, vary our stance and start with a mellow tempo to make sure everyone feels the connection from the legs into the dumbbell. We strive for mechanical efficiency and repeated excellence. No energy leaks.
We can then progress things -- be more powerful -- by playing with speed and amplitude of movement. We learn movements from a taller position (high hang, hang) and work down to the floor. We learn to make a variety of shapes, from a coiled triple-flexion to a big and tall triple-extension. Begin with basic sagittal plane work and then expand the envelope with transverse and frontal plane variations as we master the basics.
These movements can serve as warm ups, recovery day movements or as terminal power work if that's all we need to accomplish our goals. The concepts learned with these dumbbell movements provide a good foundation for the barbell movements if you choose to advance to those. If you and your athletes have been trapped in power clean purgatory, I encourage you to try some of these dumbbell movements. They can be fast, fun and done by all ages. You might even put some of them together for a dumbbell circuit.