Many athletes don’t understand the difference between strength vs power. There are total differences between the two that I will bring to light here. As I grew up as an athlete I had no clue about any strength and conditioning jargon or how one would improve certain aspects of athletic performance. I knew that working out was good, running was good, training sports specifics was good, and that eating fast food was bad. That was the knowledge limit when it came to sports performance improvements. However, as I grew up I fell in love with the thought of performance enhancement through proper programming, nutrition, and coaching. Strength Vs Power is easily explained and it is actually easily programmed as well. We will go into some more details in this article.
Strength is a loaded term. There are some many different types of strength. I am talking about physical strength. I have written about the different types of strength that are outside of the physical realm but when it comes to physical strength there are different types of strength inside that as well.
We will talk about the strength curve in a different article and I invite you to look at it here. For the purposes of this article, we will talk about absolute strength.
Absolute strength is the one’s maximum force production without a time constraint. For example, this is shown in the deadlifter who fights against a heavy load for 10 or more seconds until they are standing at lockout.
Power is pretty simple. It is a more complicated attribute to obtain but it is far more simple. Power= Force x Velocity. That is the equation for power. A powerful athlete has the ability to do the same amount of work as a really strong athlete over less time OR the ability to move a load faster than a really strong athlete.
For example two athletes are doing deadlifts. 315 is on the bar. They both have to do 10 reps. They both complete it but one does it in half the time of the other. That athlete is two times as powerful as the slower athlete.
Strength vs Power Programming
Programming can be tricky. It does not matter what your goals are it can be daunting to really dig into training for those goals efficiently.
Absolute strength is not defined by time. It is your ability to produce maximum force no matter how long it takes. programming for this is fairly simple. You want to constantly train it. Staying ins the 1-3 rep range. Changing the movements as often as possible. For example if you add variables that allow you to change the load but the effort remains the same is important. This is very much like the westside barbell way of training.
Week 1 Safety squat bar 3 rep max
wk 2 straight bar deadlift 3 rep max
week 3 Box squat 3 rep max
Waving the weeks changing the movement every week will allow you to change up the load so you are not constantly training the same movements and becoming adapted to that movement. Taking the time to really let you body keep guessing and changing in order to maximize its strength capabilities.
The force velocity curve is an extremely good way to see what velocity you should be training at to achieve the most amount of power. The great thing about the force velocity curve is the fact that corresponding load percentages go with the velocity which can then be applied to a well known chart that will lay out the optimal rep/set scheme.
These two graphs can put you on the path to immense power generation. It is possible to get extremely strong and extremely powerful at the same time. In fact without absolute strength your power will own go down. Your ability to produce work will diminish. Absolute strength will drive the force the velocity curve to move up and to the right which will only allow you to become more powerful when you move into those training percentages. So the idea of strength vs power is absurd. You need both it should be strength alongside power!