Measuring strength

Strength—the ability to exert force is the basis of power. Power is the ability to exert force rapidly and is the most critical fitness component in most sports.

Peak strength predicts ability to throw objects (discus, shot-put), sprint, and jump. Surprisingly, basic strength tests such as the bench press and deadlift are better predictors of power performance than so—called power tests such as 40-yard dash and vertical jump. Also, the relationship between strength and performance is stronger in elite athletes than in novices.

A change in strength (i.e., improvement in bench press or squat) poorly predicts changes in performance. Nonetheless, changes in explosive strength (i.e., sprint speed and vertical jump) are fairly good in the short term at predicting changes in sports performance.

The above is confusing but critical information. Athletes must develop basic strength throughout their athletic careers but concentrate on explosive power to make short—term gains in performance.

The personal trainer should, therefore, test basic strength as a benchmark of overall potential and current status of power to determine the athletes preparation for the competitive season.