Developing Athleticism: Part 2 what does the science say?

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Public Access | 0 comments

Building on our previous post that focused on taking the holistic approach to athleticism, in this article we delve into the literature. While the research may be limited to specific populations, we will explore the latest findings and expert opinions on how to maximize power and athletic performance through targeted training and exercises.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a fitness enthusiast looking to improve your overall performance, this article will provide valuable insights and practical tips to take your training to the next level.

Power And PAP

Power training and post-activation potentiation (PAP) are two commonly used methods to enhance athletic performance in well-trained athletes. Research has shown that power training can lead to significant improvements in athletic performance, particularly in activities that require explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing (Young, 2006). Neural adaptations such as intermuscular coordination play a critical role in the transfer of strength and power training to sports skills. Plyometric training with unilateral exercises and horizontal movement has been found to improve acceleration performance (Young, 2006).

Importance Of Specificity

The effectiveness of power training varies among individuals, with some responding better to maximum strength training and others to power training (Peltonen et al., 2018). Different training loads may also induce different physiological responses in rate of force development (RFD). Therefore, coaches and practitioners need practical information for individualized training to maximize the benefits of power training (Cronin & Sleivert, 2005).

PAP has also been shown to enhance athletic performance, with the level of potentiation depending on factors such as an individual’s strength, training experience, and type of conditioning activity (Seitz & Haff, 2016). Performing a conditioning activity can produce a small to moderate PAP effect for jump, throw, and upper-body ballistic performance activities, and a moderate effect for sprint performance activity (Seitz & Haff, 2016).

Strength Or Power?

Incorporating overload, variation, and specificity into a periodised system of training is crucial for planning a successful strength/power training program (DeWeese et al., 2015). Strength training is more effective for improving sprint measures and consistently large improvements in lower body strength measures, while power training is more effective for improving jump height (Behm et al., 2017). The base of simple heavy strength and power training exercises with a controlled eccentric phase is recommended for young power athletes (Helland et al., 2017).


In conclusion, power training and post-activation potentiation are effective methods to enhance athletic performance in well-trained athletes. However, the effectiveness of these methods varies among individuals, and individualized training is necessary to maximize their benefits. Some athletes improve more so with strength and others with power focused programs. Incorporating overload, variation, and specificity into a periodised system of training is crucial for planning a successful strength/power training program (DeWeese et al., 2015).


  • Young, W. B. (2006). Transfer of Strength and Power Training to Sports Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 1(2), 74-83.
  • Cronin, J., & Sleivert, G. (2005). Challenges in Understanding the Influence of Maximal Power Training on Improving Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine, 35, 213-234.
  • Kyröläinen, H., Avela, J., McBride, J. M., Koskinen, S., Andersen, J. L., Sipilä, S., Takala, T. E. S., & Komi, P. V. (2005). Effects of power training on muscle structure and neuromuscular performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 15(1), 58-64.
  • Peltonen, H., Walker, S., Hackney, A. C., Avela, J., & Häkkinen, K. (2018). Increased rate of force development during periodized maximum strength and power training is highly individual. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 118(5), 1033-1042.
  • Speranza, M. J. A., Gabbett, T. J., Johnston, R. D., & Sheppard, J. M. (2016). Effect of strength and power training on tackling ability in semiprofessional rugby league players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(2), 336-343.
  • DeWeese, B. H., Hornsby, G., Stone, M., & Stone, M. H. (2015). The training process: Planning for strength–power training in track and field. Part 2: Practical and applied aspects. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(4), 318-324.
  • Behm, D.G., Young, J.D., Whitten, J.H.D., Reid, J.C., Quigley, P.J., Low, J., Li, Y., Lima, C.D., Hodgson, D.D., Chaouachi, A., Prieske, O., & Granacher, U. (2017). Effectiveness of Traditional Strength vs. Power Training on Muscle Strength, Power and Speed with Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Physiology, 8, 423. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00423
  • Silva, J. R., Nassis, G. P., & Rebelo, A. (2015). Strength training in soccer with a specific focus on highly trained players. Sports Medicine – Open, 1(1), 17. doi: 10.1186/s40798-015-0021-9
  • Helland, C., Hole, E., Iversen, E., Olsson, M. C., Seynnes, O., Solberg, P. A., & Paulsen, G. (2017). Training strategies to improve muscle power: Is Olympic-style weightlifting relevant? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 49, 736-745.
  • Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C. R., & Stone, M. H. (2018). The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 765–785.


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