Sprint Strength? What's the searchable / proper name?
August 10, 2013 9:04 PM   Subscribe

I have always had what I call 'sprint strength'... the ability to lift / perform extremely heavy tasks for a short duration. But that term seems (based on lack of relevant search results) to be my own interpretation and not common... what would you call it? Example: lift and carry 250 lbs a short distance a few times and done... no real stamina, just brute force (without injury)? I.e. Pick up 3 80lb bags of dry concrete with a growl and carry it to a nearby destination... Application: never done a lot of working out or weight training, but looking to play to my strengths in a future workout regimen. As always, thank you all for your input :)
posted by mrflibble to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe something like "explosive power"? That's the term that came to mind.
posted by papayaninja at 9:10 PM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Or anerobic capacity. Another factor is the rate at which one is able to recruit muscle fibers. It takes some nontrivial time for nerve impulses to tell the fibers in a muscle to contract and not all of them will do so all at once. Your ability to tell lots of them to doe something really quickly is largely genetic. A not terrible informal article.
posted by mce at 9:16 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Muscle recruitment is a big part of this. Genetic potential with fast twitch muscles is a huge boon to weightlifting -- particularly Olympic lifting, which is much more explosive.
posted by wrok at 9:18 PM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Fast twitch muscle exercise, aka anaerobic exercise capacity.

"Fast twitch fibers contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue very rapidly, sustaining only short, anaerobic bursts of activity before muscle contraction becomes painful." (wiki)

For example, sprint training by cyclists was shown to increase the proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres.
posted by randomnity at 9:18 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: 'Explosive Power' came up with some interesting search results, thank you... (wishing this was reddit an I could give you some karma papayaninja)
posted by mrflibble at 9:23 PM on August 10, 2013

Some of the genetic sequencing companies like 23andme will tell you if you are more likely to have lots of fast-twitch capability or more endurance-type predisposition.
posted by RobotNinja at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're talking about power generation. If you want a strength-and-conditioning definition Mel Siff calls it strength-speed. It's commonly confused with speed-strength, which is moving light weights for short periods of time.
posted by Anonymous at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2013

Response by poster: God I love ask.mefi... you all rock, thank you all so much, this is something that has been plaguing me for ages and now that I've lost significant weight (70+lbs) and am in a place to start building, I can really utilize what I assumed was a genetic factor and have much better foundation for future action... seriously, I try to save my biggest conundrums for a.mf and once again, this community has helped me tremendously!
posted by mrflibble at 9:44 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

23andMe told me I am "a likely sprinter" aka I have the genetic predisposition for effective fast muscle twitch fiber exercises to do more for me and be easier for me than, say, distance running. And indeed, I am a (44 year-old female) weight lifter.

Google fast twitch muscle exercises.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:22 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yup, fast twitch and slow twitch muscle types.
posted by mrfuga0 at 3:29 AM on August 11, 2013

One point of frequent confusion is that explosive exercises are known as "Olympic" lifts, while anaerobic, non-explosive lifts are known as "powerlifting". That's a misnomer, as powerlifting (say, the squat) can be done very slowly, without much power. Olympic lifting, such as the clean and jerk, can't be done without plenty of power.
posted by wnissen at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2013

Also, you can train traditional strength lifts in an explosive fashion. Look for "Dynamic Effort."
posted by wnissen at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2013

Example: lift and carry 250 lbs a short distance a few times and done... no real stamina, just brute force (without injury)? I.e. Pick up 3 80lb bags of dry concrete with a growl and carry it to a nearby destination

The examples in the OP are anaerobic exercise because they are short duration and represent a high percentage of maximal effort, but are not demonstrative of explosive power.

Work is force times distance, and power is work over time. More work being done in a shorter time means more power. If you pick up a heavy weight and walk it across the room a few times, you're doing a bunch of work, but generating relatively little power. But if you squat down and in one rapid movement launch the weight over your head (as in a snatch), you've done less work than in the previous example since you moved the weight a smaller distance, but generated much more power, since you moved it extremely quickly. Jumping is another example of a movement that generates power (especially if you're heavy), as you're rapidly accelerating your own bodyweight. Throwing a shotput would be another example of explosive power; imparting a large amount of force to a weight in a very short time.

Some people are very strong, and some people are very powerful, and some people are both, but the distinction is an important one in sports.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:39 AM on August 11, 2013

In exercise physiology, those super short efforts (think Olympic weightlifting) are called the phosphagen system or the ATP-CP system. If you are trying to figure out how to train for this, you'll want to google for "strongman" or "strongman training".
posted by kovacs at 11:18 AM on August 11, 2013

I've also seen short, intense activities that require strength described using the terms "work capacity" and "power output".
posted by daveliepmann at 12:03 PM on August 11, 2013

Lot of confusion in this thread. Strongman training is the type of training you'd probably be interested in if you like the idea of picking up heavy weights and moving them for short distances. You would want to start with a basic weight-training base though, as strongman training is a bit advanced for a beginner.

The Olympic lifts do require explosiveness, but those are two (or three) very specific lifts (the snatch and clean & jerk) and all lifts and training practices that involve explosive training are not "Olympic".

"Work capacity" refers to one's ability to do work, not generate power. A marathon runner could potentially be putting out as much total work as a strongman, depending on the weight and length of effort of the strongman, their respective bodyweights, etc etc. ludwig_van provides a very good explanation of work versus power as it relates to exercise.

A lot of problems are introduced when people start attempting to thing of training solely in physics terms, as human bodies and the movements involved are so complex it is very difficult to numerically define one person's effort over another.

"Dynamic effort" work refers to the use of light weights moved very quickly with very few reps in an effort to train one's motor neurons to work in tandem better and thus hopefully become more explosive. It's a training technique, not a training philosophy and cannot form the base of an effective program.
posted by Anonymous at 5:41 PM on August 11, 2013

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