Can you prolong your life with muscle power?

Hiking along a ridge.

Strength vs Power – What will prolong your life?

The short answer is yes, that’s the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

“Rising from a chair in old age and kicking a ball depend more on muscle power than muscle strength, yet most weight bearing exercise focuses on the latter,” said study author Professor Claudio Gil Araújo, director of research and education, Exercise Medicine Clinic, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Our study shows for the first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”

Most programmes for older people focus on strength and can neglect the power aspect.  You need power to get up the stairs and out of a chair, you need strength to push the sofa across the carpet to vacuum under it.  To build some power training into your day you need to combine the weight you are lifting, the reps you usually do with some extra speed.

Previous research has focused on muscle strength, primarily using the handgrip exercise. The upright row exercise was chosen for the study because it is a common action in daily life for picking up groceries, grandchildren, and so on. The researchers are currently examining the link between muscle power and specific causes of death including cardiovascular disease and cancer. He added: “Doctors should consider measuring muscle power in their patients and advise more power training.”

Reviva Training Tips:

How to increase your muscle power:

  • Choose multiple exercises for the upper and lower body
  • Choose a weight that is not just easy to lift and not so heavy that you can barely lift it – a happy moderately heavy medium.
  • Do up to 3 sets of your normal repetitions (try 6-8) moving the weight as fast as possible while you contract your muscles (push , lift or pull the weight quickly then slowly return)
  • Rest for 20 seconds between each set to replenish the energy stores in your muscles.
  • Repeat the above for the other exercises in your routine: squats, wall push ups, bicep curls, triceps etc

How to progress:

  • Start with six repetitions in each set and when the exercise becomes easy, try to increase to eight.
  • If it becomes easy again, increase the weight and go back to six repetitions.
  • DON’T CHEAT and use bad technique – you’ll injure yourself. If you can’t do the exercise properly with the increased weight, go back to less repetitions or less weight. This is important to prevent injuries.

If you are looking for a comprehensive exercise programme that combines strength and power training – check out our Functional Movement Training programmes or contact us for more info.

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