Strength vs. Power (The distinction and why it's important)

In athletic training, it’s vitally important to define, exactly, what you are attempting to achieve out of an exercise program.  Just “lifting weight” and running will not produce the same results as a structured exercise regimine designed to attain a specific goal.

With that said, one of the main misconceptions in athletic training is the distinction between strength training and power training.

Without going into deep detail, the force-velocity curve is a graph that illustrates that as force production goes up, speed will go down.  For example, an athlete maxing out with a 1 rep 315 pound bench press is creating a lot of force, but very little speed.  If that same athlete dropped the weight to 185 and pressed with max effort, the total force would be less (dictated by the smaller weight) but the speed of the movement would rise dramatically.

Power production is a key component to almost all sports, especially basketball, volleyball, football, baseball, golf, tennis and many more.  To train your body to move powerfully on the field or diamond or court, you have to train that muscle with high velocity in the weight room. 

To be clear, strength is an important element in these sports as well, but a year-round strength training program with low regard to power with leave an athlete performing below their potential during the season.

A perfect example is the ever-popular “big four” lifts seen so often in high school weight rooms.  The big four consists of the barbell deadlift, barbell squat, barbell power clean, and the barbell bench press.  These exercises are typically performed with 1-5 reps. Besides for being a non-functional way of training for athletics, these slow grinding movements with max weight DO NOT train an athlete to move powerfully.  The athlete may be able to move a mountain from a to b, slowly, but they won’t be trained to move quickly (which is generally the more important aspect of most sports).

Make sure you understand what your training regimine is attempting to achieve, and time-out the program so that you are moving optimally with speed just before the season so you can realize the benefits of those changes when it most matters.

Matt Pirtle, MA, CSCS

Emerge Fitness Training

Dirty Dozen Statistics

Thank you to all clients and trainers who braved the Dirty Dozen III.  This set of exercises was grueling, and it takes guts to put yourself on the line to see what you can do (both mentally and physically).


Total Participants: 45


     Men: 15

Best time Men: 10:52 (Chuck D.)

Best time Women: 13:35  (Kerry S.)

Avg. time Men: 23:30

Avg. time Women: 19:30

Most participants by Trainer: Nicole (14)

Matt P. (10)  Nick (8) Angie (7)  Beth (5)

Thank you again for a fun and challenging Dirty Dozen III.

Look for the Combine Challenge and Dirty Dozen IV in the very near future!

Matt P.

Hello Monday, Good-bye Vegetarian.

It was 7pm last night, me and Matt were at Pizza Hut, and as we were ordering toppings, then he asked me what I wanted.  I had lasted exactly one week to the hour of no meat.  I went for it, ham and pineapple.

In my seven days away from my comfort food, I learned several things about eating meat, or not eating meat. 

1. It can be done.  I realized that I do not have to have meat every meal, that there are some other options I can choose and enjoy.  I never would have tried the veggie chili used in the taco salad at McAllisters if I hadn’t done this experiment.  I will probably order it rather than with meat from now on.

2. I consumed more calories when I went vegetarian.  I’m a VERY picky eater.  Also, I’m not a big carb eater (other than a few favorite foods I do eat).  So, if you take out meat, it doesn’t leave me with many options, so I found myself eating anything and everything in sight, aka, carbs carbs carbs.  If you do like tuna, and fish, and you can eat shellfish without your throat swelling up, going vegetarian may go better for you.  If you like whole grains like quinoa and rice, or most types of beans, again, this diet may work.

3. The energy thing didn’t work for me.  One reason why I tried this diet was the allegation from some saying that they felt like they had more energy and just felt overall better.  I didn’t.  I actually felt tired (however, I must say I’ve come down with a cold which could be the cause of that).  But eating all of the carbs just made me feel sluggish and fluffy (my nice way of saying I felt bloated and pudgy).

4. I don’t think it’s meat that’s a bad thing, it’s the type of meat that could be.  I won’t lie, after eating a burger and fries, I will feel a little sluggish. However, there are a lot of lean meats that I get that do not have that effect on me.  I get primarily grass fed, farm raised red meat, which has no chemicals or preservatives in it.  It’s leaner than any beef you can get at the grocery store.  I also get bison, elk, and deer meat which are leaner than red meat.  These meats can leave me full, yet never sluggish. As for chicken, I try to avoid it because I cannot find free range without costing me out the wazoo. Grocery store chickens are generally fed “non food” (which can range from ground up cement to animal feces) and injected with hormones.  No thanks. My question is for the vegetarians who said that they feel better without meat, is what kind of meat were you eating prior?

5.  Choosing how you eat needs to be more about lifestyle than “choice.”  If I went vegetarian for the rest of my life, I would gain 10-15 lbs a year, guaranteed.  That’s including working out.  I eat cleaner when I eat meat.  Others may eat cleaner without meat in their diet.  I would suggest for one to do research in the foods they eat or would like to eat and base your diet on what is healthiest for you,  yet something you can live with.  Everyone can agree that having an unbearable diet will not last long. 

I’m really glad I took this challenge because it has helped me reflect my own diet.  I know areas I need to improve, as well as new foods I can implement into my diet so I don’t get bored. 

I got a tip of the Paleo diet (Caveman diet) that I may try next.  If anyone has any diets they are interested in or have heard of, let me know, I will do my best at giving it a whirl. 

Until the next one, I’ll be grabbing me a sandwich… with meat.

Kimberly, Emerge Fitness

The Dirty Dozen-More than a fun competition.

This week I had several clients who chose to be part of a competition, the “Dirty Dozen” at Emerge. The dirty dozen being 12 of the more grueling exercises done at Emerge with the clock ticking, each exercise submitted by a different trainer. Although the idea behind the DD was to offer clients something different, fun and a butt kicking workout, it also revealed to me one more piece of magic that physically pushing yourself can do – it can help you to rise above your fears and motivate one to go to the next level in their fitness program. Despite my personal trainer concerns with “form issues” with clients participating in a one-time, 20 – 30 minute DD event, it turns out that it was truly a personal accomplishment for my clients and an exercise in courage. Each client was successful in completing the DD to the best of their ability and they were all equally successful in their decision to try. As we all know, if you don’t try, you don’t know what you can do or what you need to do to reach your potential. Knowing our true potential can be the scariest part because it calls us to action.
I’ve been training very hard for my next half marathon, Go St. Louis in April and I know that sense of anxiety created when we put ourselves out there, regardless of how pretty the results are. Several of my clients certainly put themselves out there when deciding to do the Dirty Dozen event. Regardless of their time or skill in completing the 12 exercises, they completed it and for all, that was an accomplishment. I was reminded during the DD event of the level of dedication and perseverance that clients at Emerge have in reaching their physical fitness goals. Whether or not clients took part in the DD, they all take part in making their workouts a lifestyle and, we all know, that is no easy thing. Showing Up is probably the hardest part of working out. I motivate and encourage my clients to persevere towards their fitness goals when they personal train with me, but a strong personal drive on their part is critical to success.

3 Days Down… I didn't think this whole thing through

I really need to learn to not make impulse decisions when it comes to food.  I didn’t think this thing out all too well.  Tuesday night, I found myself walking down the food aisles at Target trying to find something, anything, I could eat (that wasn’t fish).  I came out with spaghetti sauce and mushrooms (I had noodles at home).  I didn’t eat it though.  I also found some organic instant mac n cheese which seemed right up my alley on simplicity.  After two bites (that is literally a portion size, 2 bites), I was starving and was browsing every corner of my pantry for food.  Hello Fritos. Half of that bag is gone.  Ok, 3/4 of it is gone.  I am struggling with finding that common medium of going vegetarian AND eating clean.  So far, it’s not good. 

Wednesday was a pretty decent day.  Normal breakfast, and I went to McAlisters for lunch.  I had the taco salad with  the veggie chili. It has beans, but it wasn’t bad, couldn’t taste them.  In fact, it was quite tasty.  I never would have tried it if I wasn’t doing this whole vegetarian thing.  And it was less calories.  Dinner I went back to fish.  I was tired and I could have eaten cardboard and I wouldn’t have noticed a difference.

It’s already Thursday.  I think I will be ok on this whole diet. My only challenge is balancing no meat with healthy options.  I’m working on it.

One day down… And I woke up with guilt.

Have you ever had one of those dreams that seemed so vivid and real? I had a dream last night that I was eating a roast beef deli sandwich.. A LARGE roast beef deli sandwich.  And while I was eating it, I remembered this whole vegetarian thing… Yet I kept eating it.  I woke up thinking “I couldn’t even make it one day!”… Then I realized I had been dreaming the whole thing… How pathetic is it that I’m cheating on food in my sleep!

All in all, so far, so good. I had a salad and fish for lunch.  After my last boot camp class, I generally pick up a Lion’s Choice Roast Beef or a deli sandwich from somewhere, but last night, I came home to some thawed out cod sitting in my fridge.  Yahoo.  I read on the instructions that I could nuke it in the microwave. For those of you who don’t know me, I hate cooking.  Can I, yes… Do I like to, not often and when I do, it’s one of the 5 foods I know HOW to cook (All consisting of meat, mind you).

Here’s my question: How do you know when fish is cooked? Red meat, it’s easy, it’s no longer red.  Chicken isn’t slimy when cooked.  But what about fish? This went thru my mind after the first 2 minutes in the microwave.  3 Minutes, I wasn’t sure so I wanted to be safe so I ended up putting it in for 4 minutes.  Too long.. That stuff was chewy.  I seasoned it a bit, which didn’t take out all of the “fishy” taste, so thankfully, some brilliant person created fat free tarter sauce. I finished dinner feeling defeated. 

Today has been pretty simple. Normal breakfast, normal post workout shake, then lunch had me headed to Dierbergs. Another salad and catfish… Breaded fried (I think?) catfish. BIG DEAL, I just gave up meat, work with me.

Anyways, I’m trying to think about dinner. I honestly can’t do fish again. I’m not a big fan of beans, but I’m learning to try to eat them.  I think I better search some recipes online before I find myself ordering a large cheese pizza.  I would like to make healthier options, but when I get desperate, I go for the extreme.

Until tomorrow-
Kimberly, Emerge Fitness