The idea of power is to exert maximum muscle contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movement. Further to that idea, in a sporting sense, muscular power is the ability to exert maximal force in as short as time as possible. These definitions adhere to the idea that movements in sports such as weightlifting and weight throwing (discuss and shotput) are dominated by this fitness component. This is because the muscular contractions important to be successful in these sports are short sharp bursts at maximal intensity. In other sports such as football, Muscular power is also extremely important but goes along with a lot of other fitness components to make up the players overall fitness profile.
The main factors affecting Muscular power center around genetics. More specifically the fibers in the muscle. The muscle is made up of two fibers: Type 1 and type II fibers. Type 1 fibers, also called slow twitch fibers, are associated with less powerful enduring functions. These fibers are associated with aerobic fitness and take longer to develop force through the muscle. Type II fibers and more specific to this fitness component are known as fast twitch fibers. These fibers are associated with anaerobic fitness components such as muscular power. Fast twitch fibers develop force much quicker than slow twitch fibers but fatigue a lot quicker. The makeup of our muscle fibers have great effect on our ability to develop and exert muscular power. The average adult human is generally made up of 50/50 fast and slow twitch fibers, power athletes will have a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers making them much more successful in muscular power tests and sports like weightlifting.
Another factor that affects muscle power is the ability of the nervous system to properly activate muscles for contraction. For optimal muscle power the agonist (working muscle) must be fully activated. The nervous system and the control of movement from a cognitive level is an important factor because of its ability to control. More specifically, even if the muscles are trained and genetically ready for successful powerful physical activity, the nervous system needs to be able to control changes in the muscles whilst contracting in order for the contraction to do what the person is wanting it to do. This is important to muscular power because there is no time to build into these movements, no preparation, it is maximal intensity as quickly as possible.
TESTING MUSCULAR POWER
Vertical jump test
The vertical jump test is the most common and widely used to measure muscular power. Specifically in the legs. This test is done against a wall or as they do in the AFL draft camp testing have long pole with a set of markers the athlete will jump up and try to touch determining the length of the jump. The important aspects of this test in terms of muscular power is that the athlete will be standing still with both feet on the ground. They can not have any run up for the jump. They then from the standing start explosively exert as much power through the legs in order to jump up and reach as high as they can. This test is easy, accessible and statistically accurate.