Power Training(dont know what else to call it...)

It is my understanding that muscle size determines absolute strength while CNS capabilities determines its functionality(max strength, speed strength, strength speed, ballistic strength, etc). So I was just pondering what about an employment of a program where rather than using max strength loads and rep ranges, use hypertrophy rep ranges for specific areas. Here is what I was thinking.

Day 1

  1. Acc. Dev.
  2. Form of Speed Resistance Training(vary from cycle to cycle with med ball throws, oly lifts, different forms of plyometrics, etc)
  3. Gymnastics movements for upper body strength(there are many variations of these bodyweight exercises that decreases leverage and also possibly a weight vest could be worn to increase resistance for very advanced athletes?)

Day 2
GPP Bodyweight exercises(ie push up, dip, squat, pull ups, etc)

Day 3

  1. Special Endurance
  2. Form of hypertrophy training for lower body(deadlift variations, squat variations, to build up muscle hypertrophy in specific areas, lower back, hams, glutes mainly, along with a knee flexon exercise with the same purpose)

Day 4
Repeat Day 2

Day 5

  1. Max V
  2. Limit Lower Training(heavy clean and/or jerks, these are heavy enough to develop limit strength)
  3. Gymnastic movements

Day 6
Repeat Day 2

Day 7

  1. I think this plan would give sufficient upper body development and strength, while keeping the upper body as lean and light as possible while allowing for the required upper body development of a sprinter(gymnastics movements).

  2. While the hypertrophy training will not only unload the nervous system, it improves the absolute strength for the most important muscles in sprinting(ham, glutes, low back)

  3. the speed training on the track and in the weight room along with the max strength training will lower the strength deficit, making the hypertrophied muscle functional.

  4. While the idea of days between CNS intensive days is to work on technical aspects, i think the body weight exercises would be a very nice addition as they would work on general fitness and muscular endurance, as well as a good restoration method by pumping blood into muscles and joints to help repair connective tissue and muscle.

  5. As for the core issue, the gymnastics movements require tremendous core strength and endurance, so I thought this could save training time perhaps as improvement in gymnastics movements(via length of time help, number of repetitions done, weight of weight vest used) would not only be an expression of increases strength in specific muscles, but the core as well for it is able to hold more, or longer in a good position. Light core work could be done on tempo days still however.

  6. Thoughts on this idea?

Numba, it is great to see how much thought you put into your program ideas.

Following are a couple concepts, which you may or may not already be aware of:

Absolute strength is a quality that may be trained and developed, however, not voluntarily expressed. Absolute strength is the strength that is available during the ‘fight or flight’ response. Max strength is the percentage of absolute strength which we are able to call upon voluntarily.

The higher the skill level of the lifter, the greater percentage of absolute strength they are to express. Hence, the greater number of MU’s they are able to recruit voluntarily.

Fiber diameter (hypertrophy), as it increases, also increases the potential for greater force production. However, this increase in fiber diameter must be ‘tought’ how to produce greater force. Hypertrophy on its own, does not directly translate into greater force production.

It is for this reason why most heavy weight bodybuilders are not nearly as strong as heavy weight OL lifters or Powerlifters. However, those bodybuilders who are incredibly strong (Coleman) are an illustration of the strength capabilities for an extremely hypertrophied individual who also trains for strength.

The ‘functionality’ that you referenced is a result of the training stimulus introduced to the body.

Regarding your day 5, I would advice against the utilization of OL variants for limit development, as OL lifts and their variants develop speed strength/power much more so than limit strength. This is a concept which I feel many individuals are not fully aware of; take an elite lifter who is able to power clean >400lbs. That same lifter is more than likely able to Squat and DL 2-300lbs more than he can power clean. So as you can see, the clean represents, in this example, only a small percentage of the squat and deadlift.

Squats, deadlifts, and presses are more of an optimal means for developing limit strength.

Although a 400lb power clean may be a max attempt for a 700lb squatter, the execution of near max cleans is not the optimal means for increasing limit strength for the entire organism.


  1. yes that is true, i suppose a subsitution of squat or deadlift variation could be used

  2. i understand those facts you outlined. I believe sprinting, gymnastics movements, plyometrics, med ball throws, oly lifts and limit strength movements will teach the hypertrophied muscles to be functional.

alright, so as I see it, these would be my training principle to a sprinter, very general but a start. In fact these would be them to an athlete in general(cof course variances would occur based on sport)

  1. Tons of GPP bodyweight circuit work for fitness(push up, pull up, squat, ab, etc… all variations…).

  2. Tempo would be used to perfect technical aspects.

  3. Sprints themselves to develop speed.

  4. Hulk out the p-chain in the weight room using hypertrophy training.

  5. Keep the upper body small but very strong via gymnastics positions.

  6. Use sprints as a means of making the hypertrophied muscles functional.

  7. Use accenuated eccentrics as a means to hypertrophy the muscles(shown to specifically target fast twitch fibres and motor unit, guarntees most of hypertrophy is done in fast twitch fibres)

  8. Alternate intensities(high and low, CNS/Muscularly intensive day and very low cns/muscularly intensive day)

  9. Recovery would be highly emphasized(cold showers/baths, contrast methods, massage therapy, etc…)

  10. High emphasis on abdominal strength and endurance(taken care of by gymnastics really as both are requirements to even perform them)

Now more points/questions

  1. What are everyones thoughts on this?

  2. I do run into a problem however, priming of the nervous system. Charlie did this with the bench press. I do not know if I can do this with gymnastics movements(for some reason I doubt it because of the balance/stabilization element).

  3. So how could one go about doing this?

  4. I am not saying I do not like the bench press, just thinking that gymnastics moves can have an equal effect as far as upper body strength(to hold proper sprint position) without the higher amount of muscle(and it is true that these can build the back and frontal strength needed for the holding of the proper sprint position, as I mentioned before, pull up with 75lb attachment not even hard first time ever doing a weighted pull up, 400lb deadlift first time ever deadlifting).

  5. Thoughts on this?

Regarding the efficacy of the employment of gymnastic movements into the training program of a sprinter/athlete, here are a few thoughts:

  • although gymnastic movements require/develop high levels of relative strength, core strength/stabilization, and specific hypertrophy, is there a more optimal means of developing these qualities that is also more specific to sprinting/the sporting activity?

  • in the grand scheme, what is the result of the cost:benefit when weighing the efficacy of utilizing gymnastic movements in the training program of a sprinter/athlete?

  • the employment of basic gymnastic movements is a highly valuable means of developing basic athletic qualities, during the early developmental stages of athletic development. The training anals of the former USSR has shown the world this valuable concept. However, the question must be raised as to what is the validity of employing gymnastic movements into the training program of a sprinter/athlete much later in the developmental/competitive career (eg an athlete in their later teens/twenties)

  • Bondarchuk has covered much ground (I wish I could get a hold of more of his material) with respect to the importance of specificity in exercise/movement selection in regards to perfecting skill and speed in sport (specifically hammer throw) and the results of his athletes speak volumes. Thus, we must question, again, is there a more optimal means of acheiving the same developmental results as gymnastic movements, with other movements/exercises which may offer additional benefits to the sporting activity itself.

  • I would view the utilization of gymnastic movements to be indirectly proportional with the bodymass of the athlete (eg it would not be reasonable to ask football linemen to perform extreme gymnastic movements)

  • would the necessary flexibility/hyper mobility of the shoulder joint (among other joints) prove to be detrimental to athletes of other sports (specifically contact sports)?

  • gymnastic/bodyweight movements are not a sufficient means for CNS stimulation (general or specific) with regards to power development activities/competitions.

  • would the utilization of gymnastic movements yield excessive muscular soreness for an athlete who does not perform the movements at high enough a frequency to adapt the specific stresses? Would the frequency required to develop enough proficiency in performing gymnastic movements take too much time away from perfecting sport skill/specific strength development?

Some concepts to think about…I love to think


i think the forum is in agreement that general strength training, which is specific in its strengthening of specific muscles used in sprinting, is the best means. And i dont know if there is confusion here, but i meant the exercises gymnast use outside of events(plance pushups, lever pull ups, etc). These are not hard to learn as there are many progressions and people of any size can do them for this reason. And because of the huge reduction in leverage these exercises should develop great strength. As well time(the progression is work up to holding each position for one minute straight) spent doing them would be no longer than what a normal upper body workout it. I think it is optimal in that it does as weight training does, strengthening the upper body so that the proper sprint position and technical aspects can be carried out, without the mass. These are my thoughts, and again i must clarify that i am not talking about rings, pommel, etc… but ancillary bodyweight exercises. ie How many push ups can you do? now how long can you hold a frog stand? As well I believe u said you could do 20-30 pull ups, but how long can u hold a lever with legs tucked and a curved back(first progression)? Try it, see if you can do it.

something you brought up reminded me of this article refered to by tom of www.elitefts.com on 4/23/03 in the Q&A section

“Strength Training Fundamentals in Gymnastics Conditioning” by John Major located at usa-gymnastics.org

are you making any distinction between myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? as i understand it, the training for either one is different from the other.

to reiterate Fuscia’s question - myofibrillar hypertrophy or sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? What is the rep range proposed on Day 3?

Article Lyyb refers to: http://www.usa-gymnastics.org/publications/technique/1996/8/strength-training.html

just to elaborate on my question, as i understand, the rep scheme 5x5, adopted by so many powerlifters, is designed to develope maximum strength. the intent is to develope CNS response to the challenge. it is also my understanding that myofibrillar hypertrophy often accompanies progress in this approach, myofibrillar hypertrophy being the increase in fiber density. the body building scheme, commonly 8-12 reps in sets often to failure, is intended to develope sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, an increase in the fluid content of the muscle. the third rep scheme is 12+, designed for strength endurance, or an increase in the muscle’s ability to use oxygen (or, something like that).

in my view, the intentions of the heavy weight/low rep scheme and the light weight/high rep scheme, are obvious. what i’m most curious about is the purpose of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. is it a good idea to lift heavy or lift a lot, but not both? or, is there a hydraulic advantage to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? consider the following: what if one were to stay at a constant weight through a long development in the use of pullups? let’s say one was only able to do 3 pullups, at first. considering the first paragraph, this would put one in the heavy weight/low rep scheme. as one progresses, one would end up in the 8-12 sceme, assuming one remains at a constant weight, and eventually into the 12 or more scheme. in short, one begins with myofibrillar hypertrophy, moves through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and eventually ends up using pullups as a strength endurance exercise. so, is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy the body’s preperation to doing more reps (a hydraulic preperation), or is it a response to wear and tear injury? in either case, as sprinting is not essentially and endurance sport, is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy anywhere near as useful as myofibrillar hypertrophy?

Fuscia, I think you are reading too deep into the hypertrophy issue.

Here is the general breakdown, and incidentally, the hypertrophy debate these days remains to be fully understood. Siff references this in Supertraining.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is an increase in intracellular fluid (sarcplasm) within the skeletal muscle. (Size not necessarily strength, eg bodybuilding) This type of muscle growth is generally due to the utlization of sub-max weights performed for mid-high repetitions under slow/controlled tempos with incomplete rest intervals.

Myofibrillar being an increase in the diameter of the myofibril itself, due to an increase in muscle fiber density. (Strength not necessarily size, eg OL, powerlifing) This type of muscle growth is generally a product of the utilization of max weights and sub-max weights, low repetitions, but under tempos of speed/power/compensatory acceleration etc, with longer or complete recoveries/rest intervals.

Functional or non-functional, is primarily a ‘function’ of where the hypertrophy occurs on the body, SPP methods, and it’s relation to the prime movers of the sporting activity, and the sporting activity itself.

A football lineman ‘tends’ to benefit from bodymass increases in general, even if a certain percentage is non-functional (eg a fat gut), however, a sprinter will not benefit from non-functional hypertrophy because any addition of bodymass that detracts from the power:weight ratio will hinder sprint performance.

Form follows function.

Identify your weaknesses, and train specifically for your sport.

gee, i’ve never been accused of that before! :rolleyes:

thanks, jman. that’s a pretty clear explanation, though i still wonder if sarcoplasmic hyp. has a function, or if it’s more like an injury response.

This question, when asked in general, will have subjective responses. We must first define parameters in which to ask this particular question.

For example, as I stated, certain athletes will benefit from an increase in bodymass (hypertrophy) even if the skeletal structure to which the hypertrophy occurs is not a prime mover of the sporting action. For instance, other than football, contact sport athletes in general may benefit from hypertrophied proximally located muscle groups, so as to better absorb the shock associated with hitting. The more muscle that is built upon a skeletal structure renders that structure more resilient to blunt impact forces.

If by injury, you are asking whether the increase in intracellur fluid is a physiological response to the microtrauma undergone by skeletal muscle fiber during intense strength training; then yes, the microtrauma sustained, along with a host of other variables, will yield growth.

i suppose, also, there is an overlap effect?

Excellent comments about hypertrophy and max strength. I think alot of people have made the mistake of just developing bigger muscles without understanding that max strength must be done afterwards to reap the benefits. If not max strength then speed work with technical work to “teach” the enlarged muscle to fire properly. A few sessions over two to three weeks will take care of this strength deficit that is experienced after hypertrophy training.

so basically hypertrophy is good to develop greater limit strength which in turn would have greater max strength due to OLs than to not get hypertrophy???

I am not quite sure what you are asking.

  1. just to clear things up, i am speaking of myo hypertrophy via accentuated eccentrics. Eccentric actions specifically load fast twitch fibres, and because of the lengthened TUT hypertrophy in specific areas can be achieved without bodybuilding. I am talking about only hypertropy in the p-chain, via deadlift variations.

  2. Then using maximal effort training along with sprint training to make the new muscle functional.

  3. And use gymnastics along with loaded bodyweight movements(dips, pull ups) to develop upper body strength with as little mass development as possible.

  4. Strength endurance qualities would be taken care of with longer sprints and bodyweight exercises on low intensity days.

why not just worry about developing speed strength and let your body decide whether it needs hypertrophy, or not? in other words, go directly to the goal rather than introducing other concerns that you only hope would lead to faster times.

because, muscle hypertrophy opens up the potential for a greater contraction speed and more forceful contraction. so why wait for it to develop over time when you could do it now and limit strength training along with sprinting “teaches” it to be functional?