The optimal training load for developing maximal power output in elite male athletes
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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There has been a long history of theoretical support for the belief that the power capabilities of athletes can be improved by using Olympic-style lifting as part of their training. There has been much debate as to which range of loads (percentage of 1 repetition maximum [RM]) brings about the largest improvement in power development during resistance training. With numerous authors having conflicting views on the relationship between maximum strength and power the optimal load for developing power in training is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify the load at which power output was maximised over a number of repetitions in the power clean, an Olympic-style lift frequently used in athletic power training. With institutional ethics approval, 5 elite male athletes age 22 ± 2 years, body mass 76.5 kg ± 5.1 kg and stature 1.81 m ± 0.08 m (mean ± SD) performed 5 power cleans with loads at 70%, 80% and 90% of their respective 1RM (total of 15 lifts). The lifts were performed on a Kistler force plate where vertical ground reaction force (VGRF) data were collected. 2D kinematic data were obtained using a Sony digital video camera recording at 50 Hz. Data were digitised using Target motion analysis software and synchronised with the force plate data. The 2D DLT method was employed for reconstruction of the joint centre coordinate locations. Key kinetic and kinematic variables were analysed statistically using version 12.0 of the Statistical Program for Social Sciences (SPSS). The highest peak power output (mean ± SD) occurred at a load of 90% (1889 ± 278), which was higher than at 80% (1842 ± 226) and 70% (1659 ± 160) however no significant statistical difference was apparent between loads of 80% and 90%. Statistical analysis revealed a significant interaction, F (8,32) = 8.961, p < 0.05. Tukey’s post hoc analysis revealed the significant differences lie between loads of 70% and 80% for repetitions 1, 2 and 4. In addition, there was no significant main effect for repetitions, F(2,8) = 4.141, p > 0.05, and no significant main effect for load, F(4,16) = 0.771, p = 0.06, although the main effect for load approached significance. The implications of this study are that it may be beneficial to train at loads of at 80% rather than 70% but it is inconclusive as to whether training at loads of 90% is more beneficial than training at loads of 80%. The results also show there to be no significant difference between repetitions therefore athletes may also improve power output from performing greater numbers of repetitions, this however will need further investigation.
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