Everyone working on their fitness goals should know the difference between power and strength before picking their workout routine. Many gym goers use the two terms interchangeably, and they might be synonymous in many cases, but it is not the same when it comes to physical training.
In the fitness context, strength is simply one’s ability to exert force, whereas power is the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time. Both training techniques can positively impact one’s body depending on the outcome the person is seeking.
We will discuss the two terms in detail and examine how we can achieve these core fitness objectives. Understanding them will help you choose exercises that you can use to train your body in either aspect and achieve your primary training target.
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What is Strength?
Strength refers to a physical application of force to move or lift an object while being free from the constraints of speed or time. The generic exercises with barbells or dumbbells are a good example of strength-based activities.
Another good example of strength training can be a simple weightlifting exercise that all of us are familiar with. So, if you pick up a certain weight in one repetition, 1RM in training language, that attests to your strength to that degree regardless of how long you held it or how much time you took to lift it.
Strength training is highly effective and can benefit fitness people in many ways. Some benefits a person can reap from strength training include the following.
Helpful for Weight Management
A recent article by Mayo Clinic shows that strength training can help reduce body weight. The training increases the body's metabolism and can help burn excess fat.
Promotes Stronger Bones
Strength training exercises can also increase bone density and make them stronger overall. Some strength exercises that can help strengthen bones include deadlifts, shoulder presses, squats, and lunges.
Those who want to strengthen their shoulders to have more defined muscles can go for rear lateral raise exercises and dumbbell front raises.
Those struggling with mental health problems can also benefit from strength training as it boosts brain function. Exercises based on strength building can elevate mood, help one relax, overcome anxiety and stress, and maintain improved body-mind coordination.
What is Power?
Like strength, power is the ability to exert force in the shortest amount of time. It highly involves the speed with which you lift or move an object while training. So, one has to be mindful of time while working on increasing their power. Simply put, if you work on your strength and focus on your speed while doing so, you are training to build physical power.
If you read up on the recent research about power training, you will find out that the fitness strategy can be beneficial in multiple health aspects. It can alter your living experience by resolving many critical health issues.
Better Day-to-Day Life for the Elderly
A major benefit of power training exercises is that they can enrich the life experience at an older age by boosting the functional independence of aging adults. The exercises can assist in attaining muscle balance and give them more mass. Furthermore, it also makes aged individuals look more appealing aesthetically.
Stronger Connective Tissues
With consistent power training sessions, your body starts developing stronger connective tissues that are responsible for giving your muscles structure. The tissues help protect delicate organs by forming fibrous capsules while supporting other body tissues. It also reserves energy and manages immune response, principally.
Which is More Important — Power or Strength?
The simple answer to whether you should go for power or strength improvement is that it depends on your main training target. For instance, athletes who want to acquire the skill to be fast are suggested to train for power. On the other hand, anyone getting into fitness for rehabilitation or general health may go for strength improvement first and then consider power exercises.
Since strength improvement or endurance is a part of power improvement strategies, the basic focus of both power and strength training will overlap as you will always be working on strength enhancement.
Considering this, many of you might think that focusing on strength is enough for those whose target does not involve athletic performance. Now, this is not the right approach because power training deeply impacts your general health and physical abilities to perform day-to-day tasks so that it can enrich your life overall.
How to Train for Improving Strength?
Building strength is simply a training approach where you use your energy to overcome resistance. Suppose you visit the gym and train yourself to lift heavy weights using dumbbells. You start with 1 kg of dumbbells, and with practice, you become strong enough to work out with 5 kg. There are plenty of exercises that you can use for building strength. Here, we are listing a few exercises that anyone can start to improve their strength.
Barbell Back Squats
Squats are one of the most commonly used exercises for strength training. The exercise tones/builds the quads, hamstrings and glutes. It is useful for building strength output in your lower body. Here is how you can perform barbell back squats, step by step:
- Rest a barbell on your back
- Stand in a position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Next, bend your knees until you reach a point where your hip joint is lower than your knees.
- Keep your core engaged the whole time.
- Lastly, stand up again and repeat to complete the required numbers.
Sit-ups are mostly done to target abdominal fat, and it improves abdominal endurance, which improves your body’s overall strength. Situps are also very easy and effective exercises that can be done anywhere without needing equipment. In order to progress, you can hold a weight like a dumbbell or weight plate. Slowly increasing from week to week will increase your abdominal strength. Let’s have a look at how you can do it properly.
- Lie down on the ground with your face upward and your knees bent 90 degrees.
- Next, place your hands beside your head, so your elbows touch the ground.
- Now, move upward and bring your elbows to the front while crunching your abdomen until you can place your elbows on your knees.
Barbell Bench Press
Barbell bench presses are a perfect training pick for those struggling upper body strength. The training has a combined effect on different muscles and helps reduce calories. It also assists trainees with chest and tricep strength enhancement. The step-by-step instructions for barbell bench press are as follows:
- Lay on a flat bench.
- Push your feet into the ground, round you back slightly but still maintain a braced core.
- Grab the barbell with a little wider than shoulder width grip.
- Lower the bar to your lower chest, bending your elbows on a 45 degree angle.
- Once the bar lowers to your ideal depth, extend your elbows and press the bar back up to the starting position.
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How to Train for Improving Power?
When there is an explosive movement like a jump or a snatch in an exercise, it becomes effective for power training. Such exercises can train the mind to be more active and act quickly while also building the muscles to help you move faster.
Different trainees can use Power training exercises with beginner, intermediate and advanced training experience. Let’s take a look at some of the examples that are suitable for beginners all the way to advanced lifters.
Recruiting the lower body, glutes, hamstrings, and abdomen, jump squats are often used for improving athletic vertical jumps. The training promises better agility and more power if consistently practiced. Jump squats are amazing for those who enjoy explosive and active workouts. Here is how to do it:
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart from each other
- Move lower and bend your knees until your hips are slightly above the knee line
- Now, aim for a moderately high point and jump
Barbell Snatch is an advanced lift where the trainee must pick the barbell from the ground and hold it above their head in one go. There are several variations of snatch that one can perform to reap the benefits that it offers. Here’s how to perform it:
- With the bar on the ground, position your feet under your hips with your feet slightly turned out.
- Grab the bar with a wide grip.
- Bench down with your chest up and core braced.
- Extend through your hips, ankles and torso to propel the barbell upward.
- Keep it close to your body as you do this.
- As the bar reaches its maximum height drop down underneath it and extend your arms catching the barbell overhead.
- You should be in the bottom of the squat at this point. Brace hard and stand tall.
Sprints are fast running exercises where a person has to run as fast as they can for a certain period and then take a break. This also helps in power enhancement.
- Position your elbows at 90 degrees bent and run with a high knee lift
- Make sure your hips, shoulders, and head are aligned while you run with your full potential
1. What are some of the best physical training approaches for athletes?
Athletes can use many training strategies for maintaining energetic and strong physical health. Some of the best exercises for athletes include aerobics, power, and strength training.
2. Can strength training workout routines help in injury recovery?
Yes, strength training can help patients with rehabilitation. According to a detailed study on the subject, strength training exercises may not be a treatment but can play a crucial role in improving the normal functions of muscles.
3. What is the key difference between strength and power?
The main difference between strength and power is that strength is the ability to exert force without considering speed, whereas power is the same but with speed or time being considered.
The Bottom Line
Strength and power are two different workout styles training coaches use for different purposes. Power training usually includes strength training, but the main focus is to move faster and speed up. Strength training, however, only concentrates on building the potential to lift heavier and resist more load. Understanding the difference between the two will help you choose exercises to train your body in either aspect and achieve your fitness objectives more efficiently.