In martial arts one of the primary objectives is to increase power. Maximum power in this sport allows for the fighter to have the greatest impact per strike. Power allows for efficient movement.
Power is the combination of strength and speed (explosiveness). It is generated as you release maximum muscle force in conjunction with the momentum that is generated from the element of speed.
Strength and speed can exist exclusively. You can have strength while lacking speed and vice versa. In order to have power both of these elements must exist simultaneously. In martial arts the possession of power provides a decisive advantage to the one that possesses it.
The Origin Of Power
Power is the result of muscular function. The body is comprised of more than 400 muscles that fall into two basic categories: striated and smooth. The smooth muscle group performs involuntary actions such as breathing, digesting food, etc. The striated muscle groups consist of muscles that can be voluntarily contracted. These are the muscles that contribute to the development of power.
Striated muscles can be broken down into two primary categories: slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. Every human has a combination of both. Slow twitch muscle fibers are designed to perform activities that require endurance.
They can perform numerous activities for long periods of time without the excessive build up of lactic acid. This is an important capability because the buildup of lactic acid causes muscles to fatigue and will ultimately cause the muscle reach failure (the inability contract).
People who have a large number of slow twitch muscle fibers can execute activities that require a great deal of endurance, such as distance running.
Fast twitch muscle fibers are designed for explosive activities in short bursts. Things like sprinting, jumping and power lifting. Because of their makeup, fast twitch muscle fibers accumulate lactic acid very quickly, which means they become fatigued quite rapidly.
The body’s make up of slow and fast twitch muscle fibers is primarily determined by genetics, but either group can be targeted and trained for optimal results.
In order to gain power you will be training your fast twitch muscle fibers in two distinct ways. You will train for strength and for speed.
Strength training is best achieved in the gym if you have one available to you. A common mistake in strength training is attempting to isolate muscle groups. Actually the best results are achieved by heavy lifting with multiple muscle groups.
For example, instead of doing single arm curls with 25 pounds each, do standing or seated rows using 120 pounds. This will enhance strength and stimulate growth. It will also allow you to work more muscles in a shorter period of time.
When performing strength exercises, be sure to use enough weight so that each set is limited to a maximum of 8-10 repetitions before muscle fatigue.
If you are concerned with gaining muscle which may take you out of your weight class, this can be managed by increasing your recovery time between sets. Maximum muscle growth is achieved by using recovery periods of 30-60 seconds, whereas maximum strength without growth can be achieved by using recovery periods of at least 2 or more. Be sure to work all muscle groups.
Speed can be enhanced through explosive motion with light to no resistance. Exercises such as pushups, with claps incorporated, can work wonders on hand speed. Sprinting and bounding (leaping) can increase overall foot speed.
When training for speed you do not want your resistance load to be more than 10 percent of your maximum weight. The more the resistance slows the movement, the less impact it has on improving speed.
Keep each exercise to 10 repetitions or less. This will insure that you are isolating and recruiting your fast twitch muscle fibers.
Try to alternate your workouts with at least one rest day in-between. Recovery is just as important as the exercise itself.