Two major forms of resistance training are strength training and power training. Both include moving against a certain resistive load, however each training method induces different effects. These effects are important when completing a training program with multiple training days in a week. Taking recovery duration from different kinds of training sessions into consideration when prescribing an exercise program for elite athletes, might be the difference between success and failure.
Strength vs. Power
Normally, a strength training program consists of high resistive loads and low number of repetitions. The resistive load during a strength training session might be higher than 80% of the maximal load a person can tolerate. Strength training is thought to increase muscle cross section (Cross Sectional Area, or CSA) and the neural drive towards the muscles.
On the other hand, a power training program consists of low resistive loads and high number of repetitions. A power training also increases the neural drive. However, this time this neural drive is increased to generate force during high-velocity movements.
Fatigue is the decline in the ability to generate maximal voluntary force due to a reduction in central activation and neural drive towards the muscles.
Due to the different natures of strength and power training, different effects on the fatigue-process might be expected. This kind of information is especially valuable when scheduling training sessions on successive days.
Maximal Voluntary Force
Indeed, strength and power training programs, besides inducing different training adaptations, seem to induce different types of fatigue as well. After a maximum strength training, consisting of whole-body barbell squats, split squats and press exercises, maximal voluntary force during a maximal knee extension declined. This decline was not only visible immediately after the training session, but also 24 hours after the strength training session. However, a maximum power training session, consisting of similar exercises, didn’t result in such decline in maximal voluntary force.
Strength training is performed with a higher intensity. Also, the time under tension and the total amount of work completed is higher during a strength training session, compared to a power training session. In addition, the perceived exertion and lactate levels seem to be higher after a strength training as well. All of these might somehow result in an acute and prolonged reduction of the maximal voluntary force production after a strength training session.
Maximum strength and power training sessions induce different training adaptations, as well as different kinds of fatigue in elite athletes. After a maximum strength training session, maximal voluntary force could be reduced even 24 hours after the training session. This is not the case after a maximum power training session. This information is important when prescribing resistance training sessions to elite athletes on successive days. Nevertheless, these results should be interpreted cautiously, since there seem to be some gender differences. It is suggested that elite female athletes might also have a reduced maximal voluntary force production after a power training session. Therefore, further research is necessary.
Howatson G, Brandon R, Hunter AM. The response to and recovery from maximum-strength and-power training in elite track and field athletes. International journal of sports physiology and performance. 2016;11(3):356-62.