Olympic lifters and power lifters have been at this debate for decades, arguing who generates more power. Every now and then sprinters, high jumpers and throwing athletes (hammer, shot, discus and javelin) poke their heads in on the debate.

Data has repeatedly shown power lifters generating more total force while Olympic lifters generating more power. The question becomes, how does that translate on the field of play? McBride et al 1999 published a study comparing power lifters, Olympic lifters, sprinters and the general public. Subjects underwent squat testing, vertical jump testing, jump squat (at 30, 60 and 90% of max squat), peak force, peak velocity and peak power were all calculated.

During a smith machine squat, the Olympic lifters tested significantly higher than the controls and the sprinters. The power lifters tested higher than both but only significantly higher than the controls. So o-lifters and p-lifters can move more weight than anybody else. For the counter-movement jump, the sprinters and Olympic lifters tested significantly higher than the controls when weighted or unweighted while the power lifters tested significantly higher only when weighted. The jump squat provided interesting data. Peak force was higher in the Olympic lifting group compared to the power lifting group at 30 and 60% load and higher than the sprinters at 60 and 90% load. Velocity was comparable among the 3 groups indicating that while force generation differed, the speed the weight moved at did not. The O-lifting group produced greater power under the 30% conditions while the sprint group jumped higher. In fact, the sprint group out jumped the other two on all jumps.

This data tends to indicate that o-lifting with sprints would be an idea strength and conditioning routine for power and force generation.

What I would like to see one day would be power lifters who are adapted to doing heavy band and chain work complete a study similar to this one and see if the differences are as great. I think the accommodating resistance of the bands and chains should diminish the gap but I may be wrong.