Strong or Powerful.. which are you?

Today I want to discuss the difference between strength and power.

Unfortunately, anytime we go to the gym and lift weights in ends up falling under the blanket term "strength training." While it's not entirely wrong to say this - because lifting weights will make you stronger - it could be a little more precise. There's a spectrum of training from strength to speed in relation to force produced and velocity of contraction. This is - aptly named - the force-velocity relationship and follows the curve below.

Interpreting the graph you can see that the slower the velocity of contraction, the larger the force you can produce. This is your maximum power. With a large velocity there will be less force produced. This is your maximum speed. Right in the middle of the curve, the blend of speed and strength, is your power. I like to look at it as being a large force produced at rapid contraction velocity. It's an explosive type of movement.

To put it into context I find it easier to take a look at a sport like football. Your big guys, your offensive line will be very strong. They have to produce a large amount of force to keep the D from breaking the line. While the initial movement after the snap will be very quick/powerful, they will have to maintain a large force production slowly to keep the D at bay, this is strength.

If we take a look at a different position, lets say a guy like J.J. Watt at defensive end. J.J. has to produce a large amount of force quickly in order to break through the line and get to the quarterback. If he produces this force too slowly he won't be able to overcome the offensive line, if he is too quick he won't be able to produce enough force to get through. That's J.J. is powerful, he produce a large amount of force rapidly.

That's it really. It's not too hard of a concept.

slow speed + very high force = Strength
rapid speed + high force = Power

Hopefully that helps explain this a little. Stay tuned for how to train differently to meet the goals of strength or power.  if you have any questions, please comment below, or email me.

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