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What is Power?


One fairly complex notion that arises in fitness conversations is that of power.  What is it, and how does it relate to our everyday fitness goals? 

To understand power, we should actually begin with the concept of force. We apply force to objects in order to change their motion.  In other words, the force we generate can move objects, or stop them from moving. Likewise, we can apply force to the ground in order to make ourselves move, or, again, to stop our own motion.

When we apply force over a certain distance, then we’re doing work.

[Work = Force x Distance]

The greater the distance over which we apply the force, or the more force we apply over a fixed distance, the more work we do.

So where does power come in?

Well, power is the rate of doing work.  It’s a measure of how quickly we apply force over a given distance.  The shorter the time interval, the greater the power application.

Jump 2 resized 600One can, for instance, apply force to a leg press in order to move one’s body over a fixed distance… Or, generate a lot of power on the leg press, and accelerate over that distance. Maybe even cover a greater distance in a shorter period of time.

Power enables us to do things like jumping… And when we do explosive strength exercises, we can transfer that power to activities like throwing, shooting, or swinging a bat or golf club.

But power isn’t only useful in athletic activities; even basic movements, such as walking and running, require some degree of power. In these, power is needed to push off the ground to move the body forward.  In fact, improving the power of the calf muscles can be really helpful in maintaining even normal movement capacity.

It may seem unusual, but even getting out of a chair is facilitated by the application of power.

A great device on which to develop power is the CYBEX Arc Trainer. The Arc Trainer displays power in watts, which is a combination of resistance and stride rate, as the foot plates move over a fixed distance.750AT Arc Trainer

By increasing your resistance at a fixed speed, or increasing your speed at a fixed resistance, you increase your power output, at anywhere between 50 and an astounding 900 watts.

Pushing yourself on the Arc Trainer is a lot easier than you think, and it can help you to become much more powerful.

Why not test drive the Arc Trainer, and see what (watt) your power level is?

Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.
Executive Director, CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science

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Dr. Juris earned his Doctorate in Motor Learning from Columbia University in 1993, followed by a variety of positions in higher education, rehabilitative medicine, professional sports, and fitness. Paul Juris, Ed.D. was named Executive Director of the CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science in January of 2007

Power Training resized 600


While the Arc Trainer is a wonderful piece of equipment, would you not agree that olympic lifts such as the Power Clean or Power Snatch, where the ankle, knee, hip and back are extended quickly would be better in developing power? I also would think that plyometric exercises and compound lifts such as the squat or deadlift would be better in developing power than the Arc Trainer. 
If that is the case, and I certainly believe it is, then would not spending time on the Cybex Bravo Functional Trainer or with a Power Rack performing the above lifts I mentioned (as well as other compound lifts) be better in developing power, especially functional power?  
By the way The Big Iron Half Rack looks nice. Cybex needs to update the site to show the Power Rack and Multi-Rack. 
Thank you, 
Posted @ Tuesday, February 08, 2011 7:33 PM by Jeff
Hi Jeff - Dr. Juris is traveling but here is his reply.  
Thanks for your comments. We certainly agree that the techniques which you’ve described are excellent means of developing power. The Bravo is certainly included in the list of alternatives for doing so. 
The purpose of the blog was not to list all of the means by which people might generate power, but to bring to attention the fact that power is achievable on the Arc Trainer, a device typically associated only with cardiovascular outcomes. In fact, if you visit the CYBEX Institute web page, and explore our research section, you’ll see a study depicting power improvements – as measured by hopping and leaping distances – after only three weeks of high intensity training on the Arc Trainer. 
So, we certainly don’t mean to ignore all of those other methods, but to simply raise some eyebrows. 
We do really appreciate your comments and interests. 
Yours in health, 
Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.  
Executive Director, CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science 
Posted @ Wednesday, February 09, 2011 10:49 AM by Marybeth Fottler
Dr. Juris and Scott, 
Thank you for your responses and I do agree with your points now that I understand the context of the post. I originally took the blog as a means to develop power is just by using the Arc Trainer.  
My response was if someone's goal was to develop power using essentially one method, then olympic lifts such as power cleans and snatches or plyometrics such as box jumps or split squat jumps would be more effective in developing power than an Arc Trainer. 
As you stated most think of the Arc Trainer as primarily an instrument to improve cardiovascular levels (same as other cardio exercises such as running or bike riding). But, it can be incorporated into a program to develop power, just like a program, for example that includes hill runs would be an effective way to round out a program designed to develop power. 
Posted @ Thursday, February 10, 2011 7:16 PM by Jeff
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