The concept of “Power Building” is super exciting, and has become increasingly popular as athletes attempt to build strength, power and create hypertrophy simultaneously.
Programming Powerbuilding is actually quite nuanced, and must be programmed in a very specific manner to control overlapping fatigue while allowing both strength and hypertrophy to flourish.
The mastery exists in the ability to train lower reps without allowing the body to adapt ONLY to strength; and also provide sufficient volume across the musculature, to promote cell growth.
Getting stronger depends on neural adaptations and getting better at performing movements. It is not just lifting heavy weights for low reps and slamming an extra 5 lbs on the bar each week.
One of the key components of this training cycle is the use of a “top set” for strength lifts, followed by a number of lower-effort backoff sets to refine movement patterns without incurring excessive systematic fatigue.
If the fatigue from the strength work is too high, the body will use its resources to recover from this fatigue as opposed to responding positively to the hypertrophy work and sending resources towards manifesting new growth.
As an example of the structure, week 1 of the program will have athletes achieve a heavy set of 3 reps (with 5-RM weight) on most strength lifts, followed by 3-4 sets of 2 Reps @ 85% of the top set.
The sets of 2 reps might seem absurdly low effort, since you decreased a rep from the top set AND also dropped the loading. This is exactly the point, to hit a heavy set, signal the strength adaptations, and then follow it up with multiple sets that allow for perfect technique and enhance the performance of the exercise.
Once the strength signal has been sent, there’s no need to continue hammering it. At this point, it is most beneficial to move on to the lighter work.
I tend to program Power Building cycles with MUCH lighter work in the latter portion of the session. Instead of hanging out in the 8-12 Rep range with hard hypertrophy sets, I find that the signaling for growth (and recovery) seems to be better when the hypertrophy work is in the higher rep ranges and/or with lighter loading.
We can still use sets of 8-12 Reps, but it would be with super short rest and targeting approx a 15-20 RM type weight for the sets of 8-12 reps. This allows for the accumulation of metabolites, create a pump, shuttle nutrients to muscle cells, and limit total fatigue.
Per usual, the program will be arranged with 4 training days (plus the optional conditioning on Day 5).
The Original Daily program will have some fast paced “Metcon” type circuits included in many of the hypertrophy portions, while the Physique programs will work in the higher rep ranges with more supersets.
This is a very unique cycle, and I am super excited for you guys to experience a different and challenging style of programming. As always, please feel free to ask questions, discuss concepts, and increase education around productive and sustainable training practices!