Use the 10 Percent Rule to Train for Success

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If your sport requires jumping, speed, agility and quickness, you need to gain power by using explosive movements and exercises like med ball work and sandbag training.

Like traditional strength training, such power drills and exercises should be planned using specific sets and reps. But unlike traditional weight training, in which athletes often take their workouts to failure, when you train for explosive movements, you should never reach that state of exhaustion.

For power training, you need to base the number of sets and reps on drop-in power and force production—and not just push through a workout. Once you start to move more slowly and are unable to produce force at a high level, your training session is not delivering the results you need.

How do you know whether to keep pushing yourself or take a break? Fully equipped gyms have devices that attach to things like weight lifting bars that measure speed of movement and power output. These are great tools, but what if you don't have access to one? That's where the 10 Percent Rule comes into play.

Once your power output drops below 90 percent of what you can normally do in a power exercise or movement, you're not getting great results. If you're giving anything less than 90 percent of your best effort, the drill should stop. But first, you must set up the 10 Percent Rule, which is fairly easy.

For example, perform four or five Overhead Med Ball Throws and mark your best distance. Subtract 10 percent from that distance and mark the spot. You must surpass this second mark—your minimum target zone—on each subsequent throw.

During your workout, if two consecutive throws fall short of the minimum target zone, stop for that set. Rest, recover and go to the next set. If your next two throws fail to reach the target zone, you are done with that drill for the day.

By implementing the 10 Percent Rule, you might not achieve your previous number of reps in each set—but that's okay! Remember, you are training for power and speed, not just working out for fun.

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