Skeletal muscle Strength and power testing
Skeletal muscle strength and power testing is of interest for a wide range of individuals. It can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a training plan, or the potential next season performance of an athlete. For example, several of the tests in the NFL combine are evaluations of skeletal muscle strength and power.
The vertical leap is a test of skeletal muscle power. The gold standard method of measuring skeletal muscle power from a vertical leap is to use a motion analyses system and measure the distance the participant’s center of gravity travels from standing to the highest point of the jump. However, motion analyses systems are costly and require specialized training to use and analyze the results. Simple analog systems (like the Vertec) that can measure distance jumped have decent reliability when compared to motion capture systems and are frequently used instead. An electronic system called “Just Jump” can also be used. Just Jump will measure the time off the ground to calculate the jump height. The Just Jump system has a higher correlation coefficient than the Vertec system, and although it costs more than a Vertex system it is still much less than a motion analyses system. Unlike a Vertec system, there are no bars to reset and therefore Just Jump is a very quick measurement and set-up.
There are several methods to evaluate skeletal muscle strength and power. The tests are specific to the muscle groups being tested and the specific protocol. For example, a test of upper body skeletal muscle strength at a low velocity will not indicate the same performance of the lower body or power at a high velocity.
In this lab, we will use a variety of methods to measure or estimate skeletal muscle strength and power. Some of these measurements, like 1RM, are useful for evaluating resistance training program effectiveness and for setting training loads. Other tests, such as the vertical jump, are used to measure skeletal muscle power.
Activity 1: One repetition maximum (1RM) and 8RM testing
Equipment: bench, barbell, weight plates
Participant: Anyone cleared for weight training can participate (ideally someone who knows approximately how much weight they can bench press).
- Warm up. When conducting a 1RM test, a proper warm up is important for reducing injury and for obtaining a good effort on the test.
- Begin with a weight of approximately 50% of 1RM, and have the participant perform 8 repetitions.
- Move to a heavier weight and have the participant perform 5 repetitions.
- As we are also doing an 8RM test, at this point ask the participant how many more repetitions they think they could have performed at that weight.
- Adjust the weight as needed.
- Have the participant attempt their 8RM.
a. If the participant cannot perform eight repetitions, lower the weight and try again,
b. If they do eight repetitions and state they are able to do more, increase the weight and try again.
7. After the 8RM test, use the 1RM estimation equation (below) to estimate 1RM. Calculate a weight ~10% lower as a starting weight for the 1RM test.
8. Adjust the weight as needed until the participant can only lift the weight one time. The participant should have 2-3 minutes rest between each attempt.
To estimate 1RM from 8RM:
There are several different equations that can be used to estimate 1RM, and each one will result in a slight variation of 1RM prediction. For the purpose of this lab, we are using the Epley 1985 equation. This equation assumes the participant could lift 3% more weight for every repetition that was completed.
((Weight lifted for 8RM) * 0.03 * 8) + weight lifted for 8RM = estimated 1RM
1. A participant lifted 125 lbs for their 8RM test. Using the Epley 1985 equation, calculate their estimated 1RM.
Activity 2: Barbell velocity
Equipment: bench, barbell, plate weights, stopwatch, Open Barbell barbell velocity measuring device
Participant: Anyone cleared for weight training can participate.
- Perform 3 single repetitions with 40% of 1RM. Use the Open Barbell device to measure barbell velocity. Record barbell velocity and time for each concentric portion of the bench press.
- Perform 3 single repetitions with 60% of 1RM. Use the Open Barbell device to measure barbell velocity. Record barbell velocity and time for each concentric portion of the bench press.
- Use the average of the average velocities and times for each intensity (40% and 60%) and calculate power. (below)
P= Fv (Power= Force * velocity)
A=v/t (Acceleration = velocity / time)
F=MA (Force = Mass * Acceleration)
The Mass of the barbell is given (convert pounds to kilograms).
Velocity is measured by the Open Barbell device.
Time is the measured time of the concentric portion of the bench press.
Video #1: Short video of the Open Barbell device.
1. A participant performs 3 repetitions of a bench press at 40% of their 1RM. Their average velocity= 0.34m/s, average time= 0.6s, and mass of the barbell= 80 lbs. What was their power?
2. A participant performs 3 repetitions of a bench press at 60% of their 1RM. Their average velocity= 0.38m/s, average time= 0.8s, and mass of the barbell= 120 lbs. What was their power?
Activity 3: vertical leap
Equipment: Just Jump system, table in Blackboard folder.
Participant: Everyone (without exercise limitations) can participate.
- Select mode of operation by pressing push-button switch while the appropriate mode is flashed on the display.
- From a standing feet together position, leap into the air as high as possible. Do not move off the mat until the numbers are read.
- The unit will display two numbers: the air time and the vertical jump (in inches).
- Three attempts, with one minute rest between attempts. Use the participant’s best attempt to determine their power fitness category (see table in Blackboard folder) and peak power (in Watts) using the Sayers 1999 equation (below).
Peak power (W) = (60.7 * jump height) + (45.3 * body mass) – 2055
Units: jump height (cm) and body mass (kg)
Note: there are several equations to calculate peak power from the vertical jump
Video #1: How to use the Just Jump system and positioning for an effective countermovement jump.
Practice Calculations/Interpreting table:
1. A male participant who weighs 185 lbs performed the vertical jump test 3 times. They jumped 21 in. on their first attempt, 23 in. on their second attempt, and 24 in. on their third attempt.
1a. What was their fitness category?
1b. Calculate their peak power using the Sayers 1999 equation.
Activity 4: Standing long jump
Equipment: Long jump mat
Participant: Everyone (without exercise limitations) can participate.
Table to interpret fitness category: https://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/longjump.htm
- Start with the toes just behind the starting line (not in the feet!)
- Perform a countermovement and jump as far forward as possible
- Measure from the back of the heel. If the person falls down, the trial is repeated
- Record three trials to the closest 0.5 inch
- Compare the participant’s best jump to the table linked above.
Video #1: Example of a standing long jump test
Use the table from this website to interpret fitness classification: https://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/longjump.htm
Practice determining fitness classification:
1. A male participant performed a standing long jump 3 times and jumped distances of 101.5 in. 103 in. and 104 in. What fitness category is the participant?
Think about these questions, and be sure you understand these answers before you attempt the lab report.
- Consider the speed of the barbell when the person is performing a 1RM test and the velocity testing. What is the order of average velocity (from slowest to fastest) of a 1RM test, 60% 1RM test, and 40% 1RM test?
- If the velocity is the same for both the 40% 1RM and 60% 1RM tests, how does that affect force and power?