SKILLZ & DRILLZ-UNDERSTANDING POWER PART 1
Power is essential to all fighters regardless of the discipline, boxing, grappling or martial arts. The next two articles
will help you understand what true power is and how it relates to the fighter.
Power is a combination of strength and explosiveness. It is created by releasing maximum muscular force at maximum speed.
To increase power, you must increase both speed and strength. By exerting strength with speed, you take advantage of both
the force generated by the muscles and the momentum created through the speed.
There are three types of power:
Explosive power, which is the ability to exert maximum force in one or many dynamic acts. Example: Knocking your opponent
out with your fist.
Static power is the maximum force a person can exert for a short period. Such as the Bench Press.
Dynamic Power is the ability to exert muscular force repeatedly or continuously over time. Such as a heavy bag workout.
Power is derived from muscular ability. The human body contains over 400 muscles that can be broken in two classes: smooth
and striated. Smooth muscles that perform the involuntary functions of the body including circulation and digestion. Striated
muscles are those that can be voluntarily contracted, such as the muscle groups in the arms and legs. These muscles are the
source of power.
Striated muscles are made up of two types of fibers, slow twitch and fast twitch muscles. Slow twitch fibers are designed
for activity that must be sustained for a long time like distance running. They have a high capacity for aerobic energy production
and can remain active for hours while producing relatively small amounts of lactic acid. This is important because lactic
acid build-up in the muscle tissue causes the muscle tissue to fatigue and eventually renders it unable to continue working.
Low levels of lactic acid mean more capacity for work. People who have a high percentage of slow twitch fibers excel at endurance
People with a greater proportion of fast twitch fibers excel in explosive strength activities. Fast twitch fibers have
a high capacity for anaerobic energy production, which allows them to produce intense power and speed of contraction. Such
as intensive work also causes them to accumulate large amounts of lactic acid and fatigue quickly.
Based on this, the answer to developing power is to increase the percentage of fast twitch muscles muscle fibers in your
body. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The ratio of fast and slow twitch muscles fibers is determined early in life and
cannot be markedly changed. Studies have shown that distance runners take up endurance sports because they naturally excel
in this area. In the same respect sprinters are naturally fast and gravitate toward the sport in which they excel.
Although you cannot change the ratio of muscle fibers, you can improve what you have. In the average person, slow and fast
twitch fibers are generally intermingled, with a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers present. Though training, you can
improve metabolic efficiency of either type of muscle fiber. Explosive training stresses the fast twitch muscle fibers repeatedly,
causing them to become stimulated and teaching them to work more efficiently.
There are two basic ways that force is generated and controlled. The contradiction of a muscle is determined by the types
of fibers recruited and the firing rate of the neurons within the muscle.
First, let’s look at how your body decides which type of muscle fibers to use. The voluntary contradiction of a muscle
begins with the recruitment of the smallest units of slow twitch muscles. These motor units (muscle fiber groups) have the
lowest response threshold, create the least amount of tension and are the most resistant to fatigue. As muscle tension increases,
more motor units are recruited from the larger fast twitch fibers. As tension continues to rise, fewer motor units need to
be activated because the large fast twitch units contain more plentiful and more powerful muscle fibers. But because these
large fibers are the ones that generate peak tension in the muscle, they fatigue quickly and require more recovery time.
As a practical illustration, compare the difference in the muscle fatigue you feel when walking and when sprinting. If
you walk or sprint, you are using the same basic muscle groups over the same distance. But few people can sprint even half
the distance they can walk before their legs tire completely out. Walking requires less tension in the muscles and therefore
relies on the low threshold, low tension motor units. Sprinting, on the other hand, requires maximum tension for every stride.
The muscle fibers’ ability to produce maximum tension repeatedly over long periods of time is poor and the legs tire
Besides the amount and type of muscle fibers recruited, muscle tension and speed of contradiction is determined by the
rate at which the skeletomotor neurons stimulate the muscle fibers. The more frequently the neurons fire, the more tension
that is produced in the muscle. At peak tension, the neurons fires so rapidly that the muscle fiber is unable to relax from
one stimulation to the next. The result is the generation of maximum force.
NEXT WEEK-UNDERSTANDING POWER-IMPROVING POWER