August 20, 2010 posted by

Defining Strength vs Power

As I move into block III of the Workout From Hell the program is starting to divert from the original format. My goal at the beginning was to modernize an 80s program and the final round, 5 reps of old school weight lifting, doesn’t make a ton of sense with what we now know about training. So I’m combining the 5 rep strength phase with some dynamic power work. Before I go into what I’m doing I’d better begin with an explanation of the difference between power and strength.

Many text book s would define these as synonymous and to the average person they are. Power equals absolute strength, which is the maximum amount of force that your body can create. But in a training sense they are different. Strength is the force that you can create statically. Power is the force you can create dynamically. When it comes to sports performance these are different animals.

The traditional 5 rep to failure sets in the WFH would help with static strength. For some sports applications it might make sense to focus on this alone for a block but for climbing purposes it feels like wasting time. Using the principles of PAP training, I can use the strength training to begin my power phase, by finishing each of the sets with a power movement.

Power training, especially for climbing where you are stressing smaller upper body muscles dynamically, is very intense and dangerous (meaning easy to get injured). Using PAP principles I can use this next block of training to ease into my dynamic (integration) block by following my weight training sets with large muscle dynamic movements.

The only climbing specific dynamic movement commonly used is campus boarding, which is dangerous, so I’ve added a few twists to this. These are moves that I’ve either seen in other applications or made up myself. Therefore I’m experimenting with my exact workouts and I’m not going to post them now because I think I’ll tweak them so they’ll be more efficient over the coming weeks.

In general, however, here is what I’m doing:

I’ve changed the days so that I do pushing motions one day and pulling the next, followed by stabilizer and mobility work. I’m doing far fewer exercises and doing my compound movements. My push days include chest, shoulder, tris and pull days include back and bis. I do three ab/core sessions a week, an A, B, and a C.

Hangboard work is now 4 sets of three different grips. Each set is 5 second one-arm hang (the other arm holds a scale so that I can tell how much weight I’m taking off and how much I improve—or decline—each workout). I rest for 2 minutes between sets. I’m following some of my sets with a low-impact dynamic set on the campus board, but more this later as I experiment.

I’m continuing my rice bucket forearm sessions after any day that I train my fingers and I’m climbing, but not maximally, 2 days per week.

What started as an old school program has reverted to modern trial and error. I guess this is a homage to the 80s and early 90s as well, as that’s exactly what I was doing back then. We’re getting into the sink or swim of the program. Will I end up stronger or injured? Is this a lesson in what to do or what not to do?

pic: above: more wolfie and kurt; what’s power to most is strength to them. we really don’t know how long the held their one-arms, it could have been endurance. below we see gullich clearly in power mode on action direct, which for ages was the hardest route in the world. he’s also defining the unwritten rule that singlets may only be worn by those who can do one finger campus moves.


  • I might not decrease my sets for the workout. My body has reacted fantastically to high volume training, Even with 15 reps my strength levels increased and I was pressing 25s for chest movements. I still can't do the 1 rep max for strength thing (that you are planning at the start of a routine), what do you suggest I do?I skipped hangboarding for about a week so that my body could recuperate a bit, probably will start next week which is the start of Phase 3 for me.

  • If you want, as you said, to create some more hypertrophy first you could try what I did and do a couple of weeks (I did 10 workouts) of 5 reps following the same schedule and doing each rep for 10 seconds, five in each direction. This was great for hypertrophy. For power training I'm sure you can handle more volume than me as you're so much younger. I'm still tinkering with what will work the best for me, volume-wise, which is particularly difficult to assess using the PAP principles (adding explosive sets to heavy resistance sets). If I had more time I might have waited a week to implement this but I want to peak for October (best month for climbing) so I started right away.

  • Good plan, I might just do that. 2 weeks hypertrophy (5-8 reps for me, 10 seconds slowly per rep) and then try Power stuff like you implemented in your routine for the last week. I'm still curious to see how Phase 4 will turn out since it's a combination of all phases. Phase 3 is going to be pretty hard for me due to school starting and having to wake up at 3:30 am to train.

  • Sometimes I get a great workout just reading yours 🙂

  • Just to make sure, I should start the push days (C.S.T) and pull days (B.B) on week 3 right? Or should I start those on from week 1 of Phase 3?

  • Hey Steve, you're my hero 😀 haha I have a few questions just to clarify because I just recently started following your blog and with my schedule it will take me ages to catch up…do you think you can give me the run down of what you've done the whole time during your WFH? A summary of the different phases….I'm also confused with "strength" training…I was under the impression that you can add load (resistance), add reps (volume), or add speed to the movement….for some of your explanations for hypertrophy, I think I've confused myself….Also, would it be too much to apply some of these principles to the p90x workouts? For example…I do 30 reps of each exercise with light weight during shoulders and arms….holy christmas was that good :D…only took about an hour and twenty minutes with the bonus round and stretching…Next question…is there anywhere where we can get a sample of your diet or Tony Horton's?LAST question…I'm looking to be certified as a personal trainer…any suggestions on who to get certified with?I really appreciate it steve…haha I wish I could sit and pick your brain all day

  • Insane, I'm starting them week one but it depends on your personal plan. If you are going to play with PAP stuff then I think push and pull make more sense than isolated body parts.Also, an observation over the weekend is that you'll want this program to end far ahead of your challenge since volume part of it. You'll body will respond to volume work quickly but you'll still need some time to build your ability to endurance (as in volume, not muscular). Mine, for example, is awful right now. But that is how periodization is supposed to work.

  • Ryan,This is the link you want: will give you the WFH posts only. Might take you 20 minutes to read through them all but you'll then have an understanding about how to customize it for your own goals. I occasionally post my diet for articles. There are some in the archives (check steveedwardsonline) but I experiment with a lot of diets so it's always changing. Not sure about Tony's being posted anywhere. He is a very fastideous eater and is, currently, trying an all vegan diet and loving it. He has a chef, which helps. Though it must be tricky for him since he's on the road a ton.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *