Power Generation

I was having a conversation with a coach last week regarding common humps and hurdles that people in the gym can’t seem to get over.

One that we both agreed on was the lack of power generation, and it’s one that if you fix will explode your results as quick as the click of your fingers.

Lack of power generation (or force creation) can be summed up using a common example:

Scenario: Bench Press. You can burst out 15 repetitions using a pair of 20lbs dumbbells, but the moment you try to use a pair of 25lb-ers you’re lucky if you can do 2-3 reps.

Has this ever happened to you?

There can be other forces causing you to fail at this progression, for example, poor mobility or you are simply at the edge of the maximum weight you can lift, but more commonly it is the lack of power creation.

So how do you fix this sticking point and create force? Simply by making sure you are firing on all cylinders.

Imagine a 4-cylinder car that can only turn on 2 or 3 of them. It would not be as powerful as a machine as it could be.

It will not elicit the results as expected.

Exercise patterns usually have way more than four and if you can turn on all cylinders, you will develop into a serious bad-ass.

Ladies and gents, parked cars will implode as you walk by them.

Flowers will shrivel in the yards that you pass.

People will bow at your feet and offer to wash them.

Well, we can all dream anyway.

Using the bench press example from above, most people just use their arms to move the weight and maybe even squeeze the chest, but here’s how you turn on all the cylinders to get the most out of the exercise and lift more than you think you can:

  • Lock your shoulders back and squeeze your upper back muscles together

  • Before you lift, squeeze your glutes and abs, squeeze the dumbbells tight

  • Through your nose, inhale to the pit of your stomach, this will also set your spine in place

  • Plant your feet, spread your toes, and push into the ground as you lift the weight

  • In fact, think of pushing your whole body away from the dumbbells and into the bench

  • Exhale strongly

But most importantly, make sure you explode with the weights or movement.

You should pretty much never, ever perform the concentric movement slowly. And you just thought you had to lift with your arms and do an Arnold Schwarzenegger “clunk” with the weights.

Another quick example you can do right now is a push-up. Rather than only using your arms to push your body up:

  • Spread your fingers into the ground

  • Peel your shoulders back and down

  • Tuck your elbows. Imagine you’re holding a piece of paper in-between your armpits

  • Squeeze your abs, clench your butt

  • As you lower down, inhale to the pit of your stomach, this will also set your spine in place

  • Keep your shoulders peeled back as you lower, don’t “neck pinch”

  • Breath out strongly, extend your arms as you push up using your whole body

You’ll notice that both exercises have common traits. In fact, most exercises do. It also gives you the power to complete one more repetition than you think whether you are a beginner or advanced, whether you can currently do 5 or 15 reps.

Once you master firing on all these identical cylinders you’ll see immediate progressions whether it’s a squat, bicep curl, lunge, burpee or a Muay Thai punch or kick.

And of course, people will offer to wash your feet.


PS – The next time you do a push-up using the above cues you might find you actually do FEWER repetitions than normal. Now before you demand your money back (for this free blog), all I can say is congratulations, you’ve finally done a push-up… CORRECTLY!