Strength and Power

Health & Wellness

Tips for Living Healthy in South Arkansas

Jason Rogers
Manager, JRMC Wellness Centers

Many people believe strength and power to be the same thing. They aren’t. The word “strength” is described as the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert force and overcome maximum resistance in a single effort. The greater the resistance, the stronger the individual. The stronger the individual, the greater the work they can perform. Power is the ability to generate usable strength as quickly as possible. So, one can become more powerful by either doing more work or doing work in a shorter period of time.

Most non-athletes are sorely lacking in the power department. I will admit that I contribute to this deficit. In my defense, I work a lot with people who are new to exercise or who are just getting back into it after a layoff. I try to instill the concept of “controlling” a resistance. Naturally, this control comes at the expense of speed. Any new task we are trying to master begins at a slower, more methodical pace. I try to reassure individuals by telling them that strength training is an extremely safe endeavor as long as all motions are performed under control. Initiating a lot of momentum creates the need to counteract (or catch) that momentum. Catching momentum is more likely to result in injury.

There are times in life when we need to be able to move quickly and forcefully. It’s great to have a ton of strength, but once a basic level of strength is developed it’s best to refine our ability to generate that strength rapidly.

As stated above, we need strength to generate power. We need to be able to perform a movement as efficiently as possible. Any “extra” movement complicates the issue. I can run 100 meters, but comparing myself to Usain Bolt performing the same activity would demonstrate glaring differences in proficiency of movement.

We don’t have to be elite athletes to be powerful. Aside from the previously mentioned base strength level, the two most important qualities necessary to train for power are concentration and desire. Proper form can certainly be learned, but training for power is a high effort, high intensity undertaking. You must have the “want to” and you must be able to block out your surroundings and really concentrate on moving a weight as quickly and precisely as possible. Research even tells us that the intention of moving quickly can increase power. Training for power can be done with machine, free weight, or body weight exercises. Simply make certain your form is picture perfect and intend on generating speed throughout the movement.

Training for power has many benefits. Being able to quickly generate maximum force can translate into easier activities of daily living. The American Geriatrics Society determined that older adults who participated in “high-velocity resistance training” reduced their fall risk. It can add variety to your workouts and can help with fat loss.

We can all be stronger, but let’s make the effort to be strong and powerful!

The JRMC Wellness Centers, located in Pine Bluff and White Hall, offer a variety of fitness options for all ages and interests. Free weights, machines, cardio equipment, personal trainers and a full schedule of Les Mills classes are available at both facilities. For more information call the Pine Bluff (541-7890) or White Hall (850-8000) facility.


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