Developing Muscle Power

Muscular power (speed-strength) is the key to sports performance. Developing power in the gym means doing fast actions so that a muscle’s rate of force development is increased. Given that the greater the strength, the more power we can develop, it is crucial that strength be developed first with heavier loads, then the load lightened and the speed of contraction be increased progressively. However, once we have developed strength and then start developing power (speed-strength), we must continue to maintain strength by 1-2 sessions per week of strength training. The table below summarises the key factors to be considered when developing muscular power.

Factor Novice Advanced
Muscle Action Sport-specific Sport-specific
Loads 30-60% 1 RM 30-60% 1 RM
Repetitions 3-6 1-6
Progression Reassess 1RM every

2-4 weeks

Increase load 2-10%

Reassess 1RM every 2-3 weeks or

drop reps and increase intensity 2-10%

Sets 1-3 3-6
Exercise Selection Multi-joint exercises Multi-joint exercises
Free-Weights or Machines Free weights and machines Free weights
Speed of Movement Fast with good technique Fast with good technique
Rest between Sets 2-3 minutes for multi-joint exercises (e.g. bench press)

1-2 minutes for single joint exercises (e.g. leg curl)

2-3 minutes for multi-joint exercises (e.g. bench press)

1-2 minutes for single joint exercises (e.g. leg curl)

Frequency 2-3 times/week with 48 hrs between sessions 4-6 times/week depending on sport/event/training phase
Range of Motion Complete or to individual tolerance Complete or to individual tolerance