Hey, folks, Coach Alex here. And today I’m going to be answering one of my reader emails specifically related to how to train power endurance (also called anaerobic endurance)

If it’s your first time here, I’ve spent the last 10+ years as a professional strength and conditioning coach, I make my living by providing an online coaching service where I guarantee athletes and lifters measurable improvements in their performance (or they don’t pay) so I literally put my money where my mouth is when it comes to topics like this.

Let’s jump into it.

The Athlete’s Message: Powerful, but not for very long

Alrighty, so this particular athlete sent in quite a long message and they’ve gone into their training background and lots of stuff that I’ve tried to keep these fairly anonymous. Right. But if I cut to a key extract…

“Coach, I feel I have a significant amount of power. I feel really, like I can, I can generate a lot of power. I feel that I can move really, really quickly. Okay, here’s the catch. The problem that I have is that I get really exhausted really, really quickly. So I do two or three big efforts, but then I’m kind of on my arse for the next 30 minutes.”

Okay, so as an ex weightlifter who spent years doing heavy snatches and cleans, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Like when I was just doing nothing but weightlifting, I would do like three heavy attempts or three powerful movements and I’d be like, absolutely done.

So this is an issue I’m familiar with, and something I know how to solve…

My Thoughts As a Coach – Identifying the Issue (Power Endurance)

This is something that I come across with quite a lot of athletes. I tend to coach a lot of fighters, MMA guys, I’ve coached quite a lot of rugby athletes, plus a lot of power and strength athletes. So this is right up my street. The first thing to note is that there is a key difference for you to be aware of…

  • Power is your ability to produce sub maximal forces quickly
  • Power endurance is your ability to repeatedly produce sub maximal forces quickly.

Here’s an example…

If I grab a five kilogramme medicine ball and I just throw it as hard as I can, chest pass style over in that direction, that is a really good example of power, right? It’s a power exercise.

But let’s say if I grab that ball, boom, throw it once, it bounces back to me, I throw it again, I throw it again, I throw it again. And I do that five, six, seven times. Now we’re getting more into the realm of power endurance because I’m having to repeatedly produce that sub maximal force very, very quickly. Now, it’s a very specific type of training, and whilst strength and power will have some carryover, its often not as much as you might think.

Why Classic Power Training Doesn’t Carry Over Very Well

The issue you have here is that a lot of the training that you do for strength and power is very low rep and very low number of sets, and actually involves a lot of rest. So what you’ll find is that if you do a lot of training that’s purely like top end, you know, like explosive power work, sets of two reps, sets of three reps with three minute rests or whatever, you’ll find that your power endurance is actually not improving all that much because you’re getting very, very used to those LONG rests.

Solution Time: How I Help My Athletes Build Power Endurance

So my solution, the simplest way you can do this is you actually have to train with more reps and with less rest, but still with close to maximal intent

power endurance workout

So how would I structure a session for power endurance?

In a really simple example, a really easy way to introduce this. Let’s stick with the medicine ball example, right? Five kilogrammes, medicine ball. I would get my athlete doing sets of seven reps. So it’s seven throws. Each throw is as aggressive as possible. Really explosive, really aggressive, straight into the next throw. So it’s boom, boom, boom. Seven throws. The entire thing probably takes like 7 seconds tops, right? Maybe 10 seconds if they drop the ball or something.

Then all they’re gonna do after that is they’re gonna rest 30 seconds. They’re not gonna rest a minute, not two minutes, not three minutes, 30 seconds SHORT rest, and then they’re gonna repeat exactly the same thing, seven really aggressive throws and then they’re going to rest 30 seconds.

I will get them doing that five to seven times in a row. So five to seven sets of that with those really short rests and that will constitute one round. (i.e. 1 round is 5-7 sets of 5-7 reps (throws))

After that I then might let them rest a little bit longer, maybe take a three to five minute rest. They could even then move on to a different exercise to train something slightly differently or do a second round of that same exercise.

Power Endurance Workout Template

Lower body power endurance

For a lower body example, you could use exactly the same workout structure and just substitute in lower body exercises. Some of my favourites to use with my athletes include:

  • Squat jumps
  • Acute alternating zigzag bounds where you’re on a 45 degree angle
  • Single leg bounds

Progressing Power Endurance Over Time

Over time you can add additional sets, additional reps, you can keep doing that more and more and more to ensure progressive overload. You can also make the power exercise slightly more challenging by picking things that add more load to the specific joints.

For example, a squat jump could progress to a depth jump or a hurdle jump.

So you’ve got a lot of different ways you can progress that, but fundamentally, that’s how you’re gonna train for power or anaerobic endurance. I think implementing something like that can have a really quick positive impact on your performance. Even after a few short weeks, you’ll notice a real big difference with that.

Next Steps

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To Your Performance!

Alex Parry