Power Development, Part III: Raw Power and Starting Strength

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In athletics, an important factor for developing power is generating explosive movement from a static position. Whether you're a sprinter coming out of the blocks or a lineman exploding off the ball, raw power and starting strength impact your game positively. Below are two ways you can develop these attributes:

• Concentric-Only Lifts
• Pause or Dead Stop Exercises

Concentric-Only Lifts
In these exercises, your muscles shorten and work against an object. To work the lower body, one great exercise is the Front Squat from the rack. To perform this lift, set the catches, or safety bars, at the bottom depth of the machine. Place the bar on the catches and load the bar. Position yourself under the bar, tighten up, take a deep breath and explosively drive the bar up. Drop the bar back to the catches and repeat for the prescribed amount of reps.

For the upper body, use the Bench Press from the rack. Set the catches at the bottom of the movement. Position yourself on the bench underneath the bar, tighten up, take a deep breath and press the bar up as fast as possible. Drop the bar back to the catches and repeat for the prescribed amount of reps.

I recommend two sets for the lower body and three sets for the upper body. Use 40-60 percent for raw power development and more than 80 percent for starting strength. This method is challenging for even the strongest athletes. You might struggle with it at first, so use light weight until you get comfortable with the lift.

Pause or Dead Stop Exercises
This involves adding a dead stop or pause to traditional weight room or plyometric exercises. Whether it's a Bench Press, Squat, Split Jump or Squat Jump, the philosophy is the same. Lower the weight or your body in a controlled manner and pause at the bottom of the movement for at least two to five seconds to ensure that all momentum is lost, then explosively complete the movement. This method requires extreme discipline and concentration in order to pause, stay tight and explode.

If you are a beginner lifter who has not spent much time in the weight room, first work on good technique, proper positioning and applying maximal effort from a dead stop or static position. The exercises described above should be done only by more mature, more experienced athletes.

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Kiel Holman is the executive director of Church of Iron in Indianapolis, where he also serves as throws coach for Lawrence Central High School. Certified by the CSCS, USAW, CrossFit L1, and USATF L1, he has worked with NFL defensive back Rashad Barksdale and UFC fighters Chris Lytle, Matt Mitrione and Jake O'Brien; and he has been a speaker at several coaching events, including USA Track and Field Elite Coach's Camp, IATCCC State Clinic, National Throws Conference and Anderson University. Holman graduated from Ball State University, where he played four years of Division I baseball.

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