The dynamic motions of sport require peak power—that is, the most strength a muscular contraction can muster in a quick burst. Sporting athletes depend on peak power for jumping, running, throwing, striking, swinging and kicking. Scientists prefer the term “neuromuscular power” (to just “power” itself) because neural factors—including motor unit recruitment, muscle fiber firing frequency and synchronization of a muscle’s contractile forces—are involved.

Fitness pros can add power-training exercises into a client’s program in a couple of meaningful ways to improve neuromuscular power. If the client seeks an adaptation for a selected sport, the approach might include a multiweek power-training phase through periodization. But for more variety, pros can also try adding these effective power-training circuits.

Sample Programming Circuits

These two neuromuscular power circuits use the same six exercises. Key performance tips are included for each movement. Use a variety of loads (or bench heights on the box jump) and progress clients based on their current fitness level.

Do 10 repetitions of each exercise. Start a client on two circuits, with 2–3 minutes of active recovery (brisk walking, elliptical training or cycling) between circuits. Progress up to five circuits.


  1. kettlebell swings
  2. box jumps with step down
  3. burpees with medicine ball toss
  4. ring rows: supine ring rows or other rowing option
  5. dynamic pushups
  6. jump squats


  1. jump squats
  2. dynamic pushups
  3. ring rows: supine ring rows or other rowing option
  4. box jumps with step down
  5. kettlebell swings
  6. burpees with medicine ball toss

Kettlebell Swings for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerKETTLEBELL SWINGS
Drive and explode from the legs and hips.

Box Jumps with Step Down for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerBOX JUMPS WITH STEP DOWN
Once you’ve jumped onto the box, stand up with your hips over your feet and then step down.

Burpees with Medicine Ball Toss for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerBURPEES WITH MEDICINE BALL TOSS
Jump the feet back; stand up and toss the medicine ball overhead or to the trainer.

Ring Rows for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerRING ROWS
Brace the abdominal and gluteal muscles and keep the body straight.

Dynamic Push Ups for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerDYNAMIC PUSHUPS
Try to momentarily leave the ground with
arms extended.

Jump Squats for Strength and Neuromuscular PowerJUMP SQUATS
From the bottom of the squat, powerfully
explode straight up, bringing your knees toward your chest while in midair.

For more on this topic, see “Peak Neuromuscular Power for Your Athlete Clients” the online IDEA Library or in the March 2019 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

Len Kravitz, PhD

Len Kravitz, PhD is a professor and program coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico where he recently received the Presidential Award of Distinction and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. In addition to being a 2016 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, Dr. Kravitz was awarded the Fitness Educator of the Year by the American Council on Exercise. Just recently, ACSM honored him with writing the 'Paper of the Year' for the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal.

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