Need an excuse to hang out at the squat rack? This new study suggests that increasing muscle power can mean living longer.
A study presented at EuroPrevent 2019, a congress of the European Society of Cardiology has shown that you can prolong your life by increasing muscle power. This is different to strength which just involves lifting or pushing heavy objects and is more about the ability to generate force and to coordinate your movements.
It also involves time — doing the same exercise in a shorter period of time requires more power. For example, climbing the stairs faster than you usually would take more power. So, if you want to train for power, you need to find a balance between the weight being lifted and how quickly you perform the repetitions. Instead of focusing on weight lifted and repetitions, focus on adding speed to your lifts to increase power.
How to increase your muscle power through training:
- Make sure you’re training your full body for power.
- Choose a weight that you can do 6-8 reps with.
- Do one to three sets of six to eight reps, while moving the weight as fast as you can while contracting, then slowly as you return to the initial position.
- Rest for 20 seconds between each set to replenish energy stores in the muscles.
The study author, Professor Claudio Gil Araújo, director of research and education, Exercise Medicine Clinic — CLINIMEX, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil says, “We now show that power is strongly related to all-cause mortality. But the good news is that you only need to be above the median for your sex to have the best survival, with no further benefit in becoming even more powerful.”
There were 3,878 participants in the study, ranging from 41-85 years old, with the average age of participants being 59. Each participant underwent a maximal muscle power test using the upright row exercise.
They recorded the highest output achieved after two or three attempts with increasing weight. The maximal power output was worked out as power per kilogram of body weight. The final values were split into groups for survival analysis, as well as being split into males and females.
After six and a half years, the participants were checked on. Around 447 men (10%) and 75 women (6%) had died, with those who are above the median muscle power for their age range being most likely to survive.
Those who fell below the median muscle power for their age group could have up to a 10-13 times higher risk of dying early in comparison to those above the median.
It’s been noted that this was the first time that muscle power has been measured in relation to life length, so researchers will now be expanding their study to look specifically at the link between muscle power and causes of death such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
In the meantime, what harm could a few more squats do?