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The terms power and strength are often used interchangeably, but wrongfully so. By applying the correct term to the following
entities, however, you'll go a long way toward understanding each: 1) A Roy Jones Jr. left hook to an opponent's noodle:
Power. 2) A 400-pound bench press by two-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman: Strength. 3) A 400-yard drive by golfer Tiger Woods:
Power. 4) Arm wrestling your training partner: Strength. As these examples illustrate, power is the display of force, or
strength, at high velocities. The more force you can move at fast speeds, the more powerful you are. For most athletes and the
strength coaches who train them, such displays of maximal power hold the key to performance.
Whereas most bodybuilding exercises work intermediary muscle fibers that can take on characteristics of either Type 1 (slow-twitch) or Type II (fast-twitch) fibers, power training works almost entirely the Type II variety, which are far more capable of muscle growth than their Type I counterparts. Such movements also do a better job of enhancing neuromuscular learning and control. To wit: More bodyparts and muscle fibers are recruited in one explosive lift, which requires very fast signaling to those muscles from the nerves that enervate them. Unlike traditional bodybuilding-style training, which isolates muscles and involves moving in a controlled manner, power training tends to be sports-specific, since most sports activities occur at high velocities and involve multiple body segments and muscle groups.
The push press is a great exercise for developing maximal power. Like a standing barbell press, the exercise works your deltoids, triceps, upper and lower trapezius, serratus anterior and spinal stabilizers. Yet the power element of the push press comes from the fact that you begin the movement using your quads, glutes and calves - and to a lesser degree your hamstrings - as you explode out of the bottom position. Explosion doesn't imply sloppy form; on the contrary, the key is to maintain perfect structural integrity while using your body like a whip. In other words, the movement is initiated by the larger, more powerful segments of your body and then transferred continuously to the smaller segments.