Maximizing your power

When it comes to muscle growth, nothing is more important than power. But have you ever wondered just how strong your muscles are – in other words, how much you can lift to hit your maximum power threshold, driving your muscle growth even further? Now you can find out.

Scientists investigating the relationship between load and muscle power output had 55 males and 48 females do power movements such as squats and bench press at various percentages of their one-repetition maximum lift (1RM). They found that the optimal muscle output range is between 50 and 70 percent of 1RM. Further, they found that the optimal load during the “acceleration phase” – when you’re pushing up the weight – appears to be more important for muscle growth than any other phase of the exercise movement. Applying the optimal load during this phase is the key to muscle and strength. In other words, power counts! At the conclusion of the study, the researchers made it clear: “Based on these results, we suggest that the load to be lifted should not be based on 1RM but should be based on the relationship between the 1RM, the maximum power output, and the speed of movement.”


Powerful muscles are big muscles that just keep getting bigger. If you want to get stronger, it’s simple: Calculate your 1RM, and then focus on perfecting your speed and power output during the acceleration phase.


Jandacka D, Vaverka F. A regression model to determine load for maximum power output. Sports Biomech. 2008 Sep;7(3):361-71.

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