In the first part of our Volleyball Power Guide we introduce to you basic types of strenght. Now let´s see the difference between the types of power training.
Below are four methods of power training. A prerequisite to starting one of these routines is the development of a solid base of functional strength. Power training, particularly plyometrics and ballistics, becomes less effective and the risk of injury is increased if a phase of anatomical adaptation has not already been completed.
Heavy Strength Training
Strength training alone can increase explosive power by positively affecting the top half of the power equation or the peak force production. Most athletic movements also start from a stationary position and it is this early phase of moving a resistance (be it a medicine ball or bodyweight) that requires the most effort. Therefore the greater an athlete’s strength is, the more explosive this initial phase of motion will be. However, once this initial inertia has been overcome less force and more speed is required to continue the movement and heavy strength training becomes less suitable.
Additionally, lifting weights of 70-100% 1-RM has also been shown to reduce the rate of force production which is counter-productive to power development. This may explain why in strength trained individuals heavy resistance training is less effective at increasing vertical jump performance compared to ballistics or plyometrics for example.
For an athlete who already has a solid base of strength training (+6 months) gains in power are minimal with further weight training. Of course, untrained individuals can significantly improve their power with weight training and this is a safer and more favorable mode of training than some of the advanced techniques that follow.
Explosive Strength Training
Once a plateau in strength has been reached, more sport-specific types of power training are required. One of these training methods is a variation of traditional resistance training. As mentioned earlier, maximal power production occurs when moderate loads of about 30% 1-RM are used.
Completing traditional weight lifting exercises as fast as possible with relatively light loads produces in theory, the greatest power output. Unfortunately there is a problem with this approach…
Lifting a bar rapidly loaded with 30% 1-RM is difficult to execute, particularly in the final phase of the movement. The athlete must decelerate and stop the bar in order to keep it under control. This deceleration activates the antagonist muscles negatively affecting power output and hinders the required adaptations.
Ballistics and plyometrics avoid this problem, as there is no deceleration. The athlete is free to jump as high as possible or throw an object as far as possible without restricting the movement.
If free weights exercises are used for power training, loads of 75-85% are recommended for sets of 3-5 repetitions.
|Explosive Strength Training Guidelines|
|Load (single effort events)||80-90% 1-RM|
|Load (multiple effort events)||75-85% 1-RM|
|No. exercises||2 – 5|
|No. reps per set (single effort event)||1 – 2|
|No. reps per set (multiple effort event)||3 – 5|
|No. sets per session||3 – 5|
|Rest interval||2 – 5 minutes|
|Speed of execution||Fast|
For single power efforts such as the throwing events in athletics, a higher load (80-90% 1-RM) can be used for a smaller number of repetitions. A multiple power effort sport as volleyball requires repeated efforts.
Sets are not performed to exhaustion as the quality and speed of each lift is the most important factor. Rest intervals are also kept high for the same reason.
During a ballistic action, the force far outweighs the resistance so movement is of a high velocity. The resistance is accelerated and projected. Examples include a medicine ball throw and a jump squat. The aim is to reach peak acceleration at the moment of release projecting the object or body as far as possible.
While there is no definitive guidelines for the resistance used with ballistics, Fleck and Kraemer suggest a load of 30-35% 1-RM should be used for exercises that include free weights such as jump squats. For many ballistic exercises the weight of the objects themselves dictate the load i.e. medicine balls ranging from 2-6kg. Parameters for ballistic power training are summarized in the table below:
|Ballistic Training Guidelines|
|Load (medicine balls)||Variable|
|No. exercises||2 – 3|
|No. reps per set (medicine ball)||10 – 20|
|No. reps per set (30% 1-RM)||1 – 3|
|No. sets per session||3 – 5|
|Rest interval||2 – 3 minutes|
|Speed of execution||Explosive|
|Frequency||2 – 3 x per week|
Repetitions can be reasonably high as the nature of some exercises means there can be up to 20 seconds between efforts – for example when a medicine ball has to be retrieved. A set should stop however, the moment the speed and quality of movement can no longer be maintained.
For exercises such as jump squats that use 30% 1-RM loads, Fleck and Kraemer recommend up to 5 sets of 3 repetitions with 3 minutes rest between sets.
Ballistics can place considerable eccentric forces on joints, ligaments and tendons when landing from a jump squat for example. Athletes should always progress gradually from unloaded to loaded exercises and must not be fatigued before starting a ballistic power training session.
Plyometric drills involve a quick, powerful movement using a pre-stretch or counter-movement that involves the stretch shortening cycle. Classical plyometric exercises include various types of jump training and upper body drills using medicine balls.
Plyometrics is a suitable form of power training for many team and individual sports. While many might see it simply as jumping up and down, there are important guidelines and program design protocols that need to be followed if plyometrics is to be as safe and effective as possible.
Which is The Best Form of Power Training?
The type of power training employed must be the most specific to the sport or event Ballistic exercises with medicine balls fit well with volleyball. Explosive strength training such as power cleans, plyometric exercises such as depth jumps and ballistics such as jump squats and overhead medicine ball throws would all be also suitable choices.
Interestingly, a study measuring the effects of three types of power training found that all of them increased vertical jump performance. However, while traditional weight training lead to a 5% increase and plyometrics a 10% increase, the most effective was ballistic jump squats, which lead to an 18% improvement in jump height. Does this mean ballistics is superior to other forms of power training? Not necessarily. In this case it may be that jump squats was the most specific to the performance outcome.
Plyometrics will play the lead role in many other parts of our Volleyball Power Guide.