What’s ‘muscle power’ and why is it important?

By Rich

Most of the time when people think of power in the terms of the human musculoskeletal system, they think of huge muscular men. But, power from our muscles and bodies is generated from more than big muscles, it is generated by the ability to move an object through space quickly. 

Power is the ability to move an object over a period of time for a certain distance, with the shorter amount of time to complete the task, equaling more power exerted.

For example, if someone can move 50 lbs. over the same distance as another person, only faster, that means they are exerting more power. In the simplest terms, the person that can move the weight faster over the same distance has a more powerful muscular system. 

Methods to build power can include many different types of exercise, from body weight exercises, to weight lifting, sprinting, and functional type exercises that include tire flips and hammer swings. You will find that the more you incorporate all of these types of exercises into a routine that makes sense, the better you will be able to perform physically. 

Body weight exercises are the simplest to perform as you usually use them to move your body everyday. Simply standing up from a chair, lying down on the floor and getting back to your feet again are movements that are the staple of everyday life. Incorporate exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, burpees, and jumping jacks to your daily exercises. Start out slowly and build repetitions and the speed of repetitions as you go. 

Weight lifting can build power if done correctly. Try this method: Pick a weight with which you can perform 10 repetitionseasily at a normal 1:1 cadence. As you perform the negative portion of the exercise, resist the movement for a 2 or 3-count and then explode through the positive portion of the exercise as quickly as possible. Do this for 8-12 reps and increase weight as you get better at the exercise. Concentrate on the big lifting movements such as the squat, the bench press, the standing shoulder press and the deadlift. 

Like it or not, sprinting is something most of us will have to do at some point in our life. The good news is, sprinting is also the most simplistic form of power, as it is the ability to move your body, over a distance, with only your legs. The performance of the sprint requires your entire musculoskeletal system to work together efficiently in order to move with the most power you are capable of at any given time. 

Finally, we get into functional exercises, the bread and butter for anyone who performs a job that requires moving awkward objects in awkward ways. This is as simple an exercise as body weight and sprinting; grab a tire and throw it, for instance, or grab a larger tire and flip it. You can use a weight vest or weighted ruck sack and perform some sledge hammer swings to round out your rotations.

The point is, do what we do: Mix it up daily to make your body better able to handle anything life can throw at it. 

And as always, be mindful: You will need to work hard to build power, but you must also get rest, eat as clean as possible and stretch.

Rich is a former U.S. Army infantryman and member of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The “Old Guard”) who responded to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, as our nation was attacked by international terrorists. He is co-founder of Survival Legion, a vet-owned company that stresses functional fitness and draws it’s uniqueness from the Roman Legions.

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