Strength-training exercises may help you feel strong—strong enough to move a heavy box or lift a watermelon. But do you feel powerful—powerful enough to, say, run and grab a child in the path of an oncoming car?
Power training is a specific kind of strength training in which speed of movement is the priority. The goal is to muster the most force (be it lifting, pushing, or pulling) at the fastest speed, to produce an explosive burst of energy over a short period of time.
(Learn which strength training moves don't work in 10 Exercise Machines You Should Avoid.)
Besides fostering your ability to throw the aforementioned watermelon, explosively lift the boxes up to a high shelf, or put forth the odd heroic effort, power training delivers a bevy of benefits that make it worthy of your efforts, including these four perks:
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- Faster feet: A study tracking women in a 12-week power-training program found significant improvements in the women's dynamic strength performance, muscle power output, and muscle functioning, with benefits lasting six weeks after the training had subsided. For runners, this means driving off each step and propelling forward at a faster rate.
- Bat-swinging, ball-hitting power: Power is especially vital for sprinters, yes, but beneficial for athletes, too. Think about it: Sports such as softball and volleyball require players to explosively swing a bat, or jump and hit the volleyball, so power training can rev you up to bring it on the field or court.
- Metabolic boost: Power exercises are intense: They work your entire body from head to toe, and require every ounce of effort you can give, which elevates your heart rate and translates into burning a ton of calories. Because you'll only be able to do a power exercise for a short period of time before recovery, power training delivers a similar metabolic boost as interval training and beats cardio in efficient calorie-torching. (It's not all about the workout—for ultimate fat-burning results, check out the food rules that boost metabolism.)
- Senior swagger: Our capacity to produce power declines as we age, and it's not lack of strength, but lack of power that slows us down as we get older. Power declines more quickly than strength, so developing power now will help keep you in tip-top shape later. (Want to halt the hands of time? Fight aging with these foods.)