True athletic power is a major advantage in every part of life, whether you are a competitive athlete or not. Power is the pinnacle of athletic qualities.
First let’s define what power actually is…
Power = work/time
The key here is how much work over how much time. If the amount of work is the same, the lower the time (the faster you move) the more power is generated. So power is producing force as quickly as possible.
Jump higher, run faster, hit harder, the fun things.
How to best develop POWER
There are many different schools of thought on this one.
Many suggest that the olympic lifts are the supreme exercise for building powerful athletes.
Yes, they can be great–but there is a pretty tough learning curve and not everyone can perform them safely.
Kettlebell swings are another great power developer. Easier to learn than the olympic lifts, but still trains an explosive hip hinge movement–which will strengthen the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back).
And yet, swings still do not take the cake for the top power movement. Drumroll please…
Yes the greatest power exercise of all-time is the humble hill sprint. I will lay out my rationale for why it is the CLEAR winner in the power department.
- Sprinting is the most important athletic quality in most sports, so there is a tremendous carryover to sport performance.
- Speed is the FIRST quality we begin to lose as we age. One can become stronger well into their 50s but speed tends to drop off much more quickly. So building power is a major key to longevity and feeling youthful.
- Increases the production of growth hormone and testosterone which will make you burn away bodyfat and increase muscle mass (and increase your libido, but that’s a topic for another day).
- No equipment required.
- The hill offers a unique benefit of encouraging proper sprint technique while reducing the chance of injury. It teaches you to stay on the balls of your feet and accelerate. Most injuries in sprinting happen on the DEceleration (you land and your muscles have to adapt to the force so things don’t go snap). By going up a hill, you are significantly reducing the deceleration forces and thereby reducing injury risk significantly.
- Plus some of the greatest athletes of all time like Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson swore by hill sprints–and isn’t that good enough all by itself?
How to implement sprints into your routine
- Find a hill. 20-80m should do fine, depending on your fitness.
- Do a 5 minute flow and make sure to include some glute bridges and unloaded single leg deadlifts as part of it. It is also a good idea to do some jumping jacks or jump rope to get the ankles ready to go.
- Warm up with a 50% effort hill run forwards and backwards, left and right (total of 4 warm ups). Training multiple directions is important for getting the ankles, hips, and knees ready to go.
- Sprint. Increase effort by 10% for each consecutive sprint. Breathe deeply and as controlled as possible while you walk down.
60% x1 , 70% x1, 80% x1
a)If this is your first time, stop at 80% effort and cool down (step 5)
b)If you’re a seasoned pro, you can notch it up to 90% and do a few runs at that level. Focus on moving as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible.
- Do 2 “cool down” runs at 60% and then another 5 minute flow.
If I had to pick ONE exercise for making my lower body strong and powerful, hill sprints would be sufficient. Can’t sprint? Walk or jog up that hill and work on your mobility until you can!
Better Every Day,
P.S. Sprints are a staple in my Ultimate Athleticism Program–if you are looking to take your athleticism to new levels with a savage combination of bodyweight and barbell exercises, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy.