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Train Fast, Boost Power

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Training for power is essential and don't think you don't need power training just because you're getting a little older. According to a presentation at a 2003 conference hosted by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, power declines fast as you age and it's essentially to moving well when you're older. Highlights from the presentation:

1. You lose power almost twice as fast as strength, which puts you in trouble when you need to move fast.

The research: Between the ages of 65 and 89, explosive lower-limb extensor power has been reported to decline at 3.5 percent per year compared to a 1 to 2 percent per year decrease in strength (Skelton et al. 1994). Also, in elderly males, maximal anaerobic power has been reported to decline 8.3 percent per decade from age 20 to 70 (Bonnefoy et al. 1998). 

2. Power helps you prevent injury (and might help you dodge assisted living when you're older).

The research: Power is one of the major performance variables associated with independence (Foldvari et al. 2000), preventing falls, (Whipple et al. 1987) and rehabilitation following injury (Lamb et al. 1995)

3. Older people who train for power are more independent, fall less often, and recoup faster after an injury.

The research: Research has confirmed that training is speed specific and therefore increases in power and speed of movement require both strength and contractile speed to be addressed. (Kanehisa & Miyashita, 1983, Coyle et al., 1985, Ciaizzo et al., 1986.)

So does this mean plyometrics for grandma and grandpa?

Probably not. But you need to introduce a velocity component to your training, and there's no better way to train for power than to use equipment specifically designed for power development. The Keiser equipment line was created by Dennis Keiser, a genius who was well before his time, to allow training at speed with complete safety. It may have taken those of us in the athletic world to get Dennis the recognition he truly deserves.

The Total Gym and the MVP Shuttle both allow for elements of power training, as does on old staple, the medicine ball. In fact, the medicine ball may be the least expensive tool for power training and offers huge bang for the buck.

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. He is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.

Tags: Power, Strength, Medicine Ball, Longevity

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