What is Power Training or Rapid Movement Training?
Unlike the traditional way of strength training that we have offered our 60plus clients to increase muscular strength, which we had them perform slowly and controlled, Power Training/Rapid Movement Training is all about increasing movement speed and all while improving strength. I think it’s rather obvious that the risk for injury does increase when accelerating movement which is most likely the reason, we didn’t use speed and plyometric training with the advanced age population for so long, thinking that the benefits didn’t justify the increased risk. Over the past few decades by the way of many studies using these forms of training with the 60plus population we realized that we were doing our aging population a great disservice by withholding Power/Rapid Movement Training.
What is Power?
Power is the Product of Force multiplied by Velocity.
W = N x (m/sec)
As we age we lose strength. The greatest strength losses affect the Type II Muscle Fibers more so than the Type I Muscle Fibers. The Type II Muscle Fibers are characterized as more powerful muscle fibers having a greater ability to contract fast and forceful than the Type I fibers. That means we lose muscle power earlier and at a greater rate than muscle strength.
At age 30 our Strength and Velocity measure likely a 10 out of 10 each, meaning the Power is 10 x 10 = 100. At age 70 we are looking at a drop in speed and strength of about 30%! That means Strength and Velocity are about a 7 out of 10 each. 7 x 7 = 49 which is a 51% drop in Power over the same 40-year time period!
This decline of muscle power is further exacerbated by it’s relationship with physical function and performance. In a study measuring leg strength and leg power and it’s impact on function and performance a greater correlation between power and function than between strength and function was found. That translates to greater decreases of human function and performance late in life with increased losses in muscle power. The ability to climb stairs for example is more dependent on leg power than leg strength. The same can be said, though to a lesser degree, for walking. Therefore, it is imperative that we include Power-/Rapid Movement Training into the Fitness Program for the adult 65plus as much as tolerated. Besides function and performance Power Training also helps improve joint stability and mobility.
How can we train power when 60plus years old?
When adding speed to movement the risk for injury increases making it necessary to ensure that the movement is well understood and performed technically correct at a lower and controlled speed before we introduce a higher velocity. The next step before we accelerate is to reduce loading and resistance. Unload to Explode! I will introduce a couple of exercises that help redevelop speed for running/walking and give you a few examples how you can turn regular strength exercises into power exercises.
A and B Skips
Single Leg Wall Drive
Strength Exercises turned Power Exercises:
TheraBand Power Chest Press
Power Sit to Stand
Power Row with TheraBand
Fake Power Squat
These are only a few examples of exercises we have used successfully to help our clients regain power at an advanced age. Keep in mind that nearly all exercises can be quite easily modified to ensure safety and effectiveness for anyone from frail to fit.
What are contra indications for Power Training
As with any form of fitness training, you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness training. Any pre-existing conditions can limit or prohibit the use of Power Training/Rapid Movement Training. Some of the most common comorbidities like severe active Osteo-Arthritis, uncontrolled cardio-vascular disease, severe heart rhythm problems, recent heart-attack or cerebral stroke, and severe chronic pulmonary diseases might require you to adjust the Power Training or eliminate Power- and Rapid Movement Training from your Fitness Program all together.
As always, if you have questions or comments please feel free to let me know in our Comment Section!