Next, It's Time to Power Up

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, May 1996

Next, It's Time to Power Up

Once you've laid a solid strength base, says Karch Kiraly, the next step is to work on power. The difference? "Strength is the ability to move really heavy objects," he explains. "Power is the ability to move them faster and faster." In other words, power is explosiveness, what you need to pedal up a steep grade, propel yourself to catch up with a rolling wave, or soar into the air to spike a volleyball. Which is why Kiraly recommends that after a few months of beefing up your strength base, you move on to a regimen that incorporates the following Olympic-style power lifts.

The Snatch, which requires you to heave a barbell above your head in a single motion, catch it with your arms fully extended--often in a squat--and raise yourself to full height.

The clean and jerk, in which you hoist the bar into the air, pull yourself under it in a front squat position, rest it briefly on your shoulders, and then jerk it over your head, catching it with your arms extended.

The action of these exercises--which you should do eight to ten times--taxes both your upper and lower body in just a few seconds of effort, which is why it develops power. You're essentially jumping with the weight, using momentum to get it into the air, and then diving under to catch it before it crashes to the ground. Terrifying? Sure, which is why the first thing novices are taught is how to drop the bar safely. "An athlete would be crazy to do this without proper coaching," says Kiraly. For the name of a certified coach in your area, call the U.S. Weightlifting Federation at 719-578-4508.

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