Fit and fine: Give yourself a power boost
As we grow older, we lose muscle mass also known as sarcopenia. Even in the muscle mass that is lost, the white fibers or the fast twitch fibers are lost first. Thus the ability to move quickly, to react with speed is the first to go. To put it very simply, the ability to apply force quickly is called Power and this is different from strength. Most people use strength and power interchangeably i.e. she/he has strong and powerful muscles. But strength is the ability to apply maximal force on an external object – a heavy deadlift being picked up from the floor, a car being pushed etc. In contrast, power is moving the object as fast as possible – an Olympic weightlifter snatching a barbell overhead, a shot put being thrown etc. Not surprisingly the more fast twitch fibers you have, the more explosive you are!
Most fitness is either focused on the slow endurance type training or improving slow strength. Very few fitness enthusiasts work the power or the strength-speed part of the equation, unless they are athletes or use Olympic weightlifting style lifts in their program. But everyone needs to train power so as to retain this aspect of the training continuum. You do not need access to fancy pieces of equipment or even need to be very strong or very fit to include these exercises in your program. In fact, training for Power can be a good change of pace for most people who might be bored with their lock down exercise programs. Also if you want to be as buff as possible, then it’s the fast fibers which have the most potential for size or hypertrophy. So doing a program based on power type movements would improve muscle size and tone.
A power program for the pandemic
We will use two simple exercises – power push ups and jump squats
•Start with the jump squat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, dip down to a partial squat position and then explosively jump up so that the feet leave terra firma. The aim is to go as high as possible.
•Do about 15 reps per set for 3 sets.
•Try and minimize time spent on the ground between repetitions.
•If you find jump squats too tough or hard on your knees, then these can be replaced by Pogo Jumps.
•For Pogo Jumps, stand with your feet close together, jump up and down without bending your knees. Go as high as you can.
The second exercise is the power push up
•Get in to the push up position – body straight, core tight, arms fully extended, drop to the floor and push up with lots of force so that your hands leave the floor.
•Try to do 10 repetitions for 3 sets.
•Initially this exercise can be hard to do from the floor.
•We can regress it to do it from an elevated surface like a table or a window sill.
•Again the aim is to be explosive and minimize the time spent in the bottom position.
Power goes a long way in keeping us active and functional into our old age. It’s an important element of a fitness program but unfortunately gets ignored in the pursuit of the body beautiful – six pack abs seems to be the over arching goal. Try changing that to being athletic, mobile and powerful. Now go and do it.
Author bio: Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years
From HT Brunch, May 17, 2020
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