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Power and Speed
Power and speed are physical skills that are instrumental in achieving results during CrossFit WODs. In past weeks, we’ve covered endurance, stamina, strength and flexibility. These four build upon and enhance our power and speed. Today, we will learn about why training power and speed are essential to fitness.
CrossFit defines power as “the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.” (journal.crossfit.com) Power is much like strength but incorporates the application of force but with an added time element. Simply, the faster a load is moved the more powerful. For example, if two people squat 200 pounds, athlete A squats in four seconds and athlete B squats in three seconds, who is more powerful? The latter, but why? He/she was able to apply the force in a shorter amount of time, therefore, producing more power. Power is determined by the amount of force applied, the distance the force is moved, and the amount of time to complete the movement. Now take the same example of two athletes squatting 200lbs. Athlete A is 6’0” and athlete B is, let’s say, 6’9”. They both squat 200lbs. in 3 seconds, who is more powerful? Athlete B. The formula for calculating power output is Force X Distance / Time. In CrossFit, we train power in many ways. Some examples include: Olympic weightlifting, throwing medicine balls and box jumps. Anything that requires explosiveness will improve power output. Being powerful, requires strength but it also requires the second physical skill for today, speed.
CrossFit defines speed as “the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.” (journal.crossfit.com) If power is the ability to apply force in a minimal time frame, then training our speed is just as important as strength training. To be more powerful, we must move quicker, but we also must have a solid strength foundation. However, you can’t move 200 pounds quickly, if you can’t move 200 pounds at all. In standard gyms, most people train for strength by performing slow isolated lifts and don’t necessarily train for power. They often train for speed separately. In CrossFit, we combine the two and the result is an increase in power.
Why is it important to continue to train for power and speed as we age? Trainings these skills can improve your reaction time, increase bone density, improve your coordination and balance. Wouldn’t you want to react quicker if life throws a dangerous scenario at you?