Power, also known as skeletal muscle power, is defined in fitness and sports as the ability to exert maximum force in minimum time. With improved power, a person can exhibit skills and perform the movement with maximum force in a short period of time. Power is often confused with strength. They are actually quite different. Strength is your capacity to do a particular exercise, which is basically the maximum force you can apply against a load. Power takes into account both strength and speed.
Muscle power is an important aspect of fitness and sports training, and athletics. In weight lifting, boxing, and similar sports, muscle power is the major physical attribute that plays a role in the person’s performance. Even in everyday life, power increases your ability to do activities like lifting boxes, opening doors, or other intensive activities without too much strain.
Why is Power Important?
Strengthens bone and muscle:
As you grow older, your muscle power tends to decrease faster than your strength. Power training is a great way to keep your muscles and bones in check as you age.
More blood pumping and healthier heart:
Power training is known to enhance your heart function by increasing the amount of blood pumped from the heart as your heart is made to work harder. This makes the heart healthier and gives your body a rosy complexion, according to an article published in Prevention Health magazine.
Increase in energy:
Workouts, in general, make people feel more energetic on a daily basis. Compared to regular training, power workouts increase the rate at which calories are burnt by the body.
With power training, your body tends to break down the calories and sugar faster than normal training, and this aids in weight loss.
Strength and power training together helps tone your muscles and make you lose that extra weight.
Decrease in stress:
Power training helps release more endorphins, which are hormones that help relieve stress and pain.
May prolong life:
A study done in Brazil with non-athlete participants showed that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.
Reduces fall risk:
As your body power increases, your reaction time improves, and this helps you to react quickly when you lose your balance. This is beneficial in older people who are more prone to falling.
How Does Genetics Influence Power?
ACE Gene and Power
ACE is a gene that codes for angiotensin I-converting enzyme. It regulates blood pressure, cardiovascular function, and metabolic processes in muscles.
rs4343 is an SNP in the ACE gene with two alleles, I and D. I allele, which is the inserted form, is associated with improved endurance, and D allele, which is the deleted form, is found to be associated with higher enhanced performance at sports that require bursts of power.
ACTN3 and Power
ACTN3 is primarily expressed in skeletal muscle. This gene codes for a protein called Alpha-Actinin-3, which is necessary for producing explosive power contractions. These two genes have been extensively studied in link with human physical performance, fitness, and athletic ability.
rs1815739 is an SNP in the ACTN3 gene with two alleles, R and non-functional X. According to a study, the R allele is found in sprint athletes, whereas the X allele results in higher endurance. The R allele is suggested to contribute to power performance.
Other than these two, there is a list of genes that influence power that include ADRB2, AGT, CRP, DMD, WAPAL, among others.
Non-genetic Factors that Influence Power
Muscle and skeletal power tend to decrease faster with age. People of all ages can increase their power through training, but the rate at which it is done becomes slower with age.
In general, men are known to have more quantity of muscle tissue than women because of testosterone, the male sex hormone.
Limb and muscle length
People with shorter limbs can lift more because of their advantageous leverage factors (arms and legs). People with longer muscles can develop greater strength and size compared to people with shorter muscles.
Improving Your Power
Power training is strength training done at a faster pace in an explosive amount of time. This will help build muscle and increase energy. Some power exercises are basically strength exercises done at a faster speed.
To have an overall balanced training, power training should be combined with strength training and other types of workouts. Power is an important component of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts.
A few normal exercises that can be done at home without any special equipment to help improve your power are:
- Chair stand
- Tricep dips
- Jump squats
- Squat thrusters
- Long jumps
These exercises should be done with proper form. The stabilization of your core is of prime importance. The power variations in your workout routine should be gradually increased
- Power is the ability to exert maximum force in minimum time. Power training is an important part of fitness and sports.
- Including power training in your fitness regime has a number of benefits. It strengthens your bones, muscles, increases energy, helps in weight loss, and gets more blood pumping for a healthier heart.
- Variations in certain genes are found to contribute to your power performance. The D allele of SNP rs4343 found in the ACE gene and the R allele of SNP rs1815739 found in the ACTN3 gene are found to be associated with increased power performance.
- Age, gender, muscle, and limb strength can also influence power.
- Power training can be improved by including various types of workouts. Power is an important component of HIIT workouts.