2021 was an eventful year.
Not only for the significant happenings around the globe, but it was also a bumper year for strength and power testing research.
In fact if this image is anything to go by 2021 was the year that the most research ever has been performed into strength and power testing, and it looks like 2022 will surpass that too.
So as another year draws to a close we've decided to look back on 2021 as to our favorite pieces of research surrounding strength and power assessment.
"Conclusions: In strong high-level rugby players, hand-held dynamometry for isometric knee flexor strength assessment in prone 0/15 degrees and supine 90/90 degrees position is intertester reliable."
Often health and fitness professionals have concerns that using instrumented strength testing may be unreliable. Van der Made's research showed that strength testing of big muscles, even in burly rugby players, can be accurate between practitioners, even finding little difference between handheld (Push-IT) and belt assisted (Pull-IT) testing.
"PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: The findings of this study show that if practitioners wish to use the unilateral isometric squat to assess force production capabilities of each limb, Peak Force may be the only metric to interpret with real confidence given its strong reliability. The reduction of strength asymmetries seems like a logical suggestion for athlete populations."
Isometric strength testing using force plates has been the domain of high-performance sport for a long time, but now with the emergence of accessible technology like the AxIT System, we are seeing more and more applications for everyday health and fitness professionals and the people they work with. One particularly useful testing protocol is the Single Leg Isometric Squat due to its ease of testing the maximal strength and power of each leg and comparing differences between the two. Though Bishop's study favored peak force it should be noted that the rate of force development is a sensitive metric that can have many factors affecting it.
Results: A moderate-strong-very strong correlation was found between both elbow flexion, internal and external rotation of both shoulders, and respiratory functions.
As health professionals, we often assess muscle strength as a measure of an isolated movement. Interestingly we are seeing that isometric strength testing can also be used as a measure of other functions and wellness such as respiratory capacity in lower functioning individuals.
Results: In conclusion, our study reveals the value of fixed dynamometry in reducing examiner-induced ceiling effects and optimizing the standardization of muscle strength testing to maximize test-retest reliability and increased the range of muscle strength measurements across individuals nearly twofold from 42.2kg to 79.8kg.
Though any strength testing is better than none it is important to have a full arsenal of strength testing equipment so you can select the right device for testing the right area in the right way. For example, leg extension strength testing should always use fixed dynamometry to ensure accuracy in measurement as a practitioner will often be overpowered using handheld devices.
HIGHLIGHTS Players with greater drop jump reactive strength index (RSI) demonstrated superior horizontal deceleration ability.Drop jump RSI had a greater association with the early compared to the late horizontal deceleration sub-phase.Of the drop jump kinetic variables examined, concentric mean force had the largest associations with horizontal deceleration ability.
One of the biggest challenges everyday practitioners face when working with athletic clients is how to effectively assess acceleration, deceleration and change of direction due to limitations in space available to perform testing. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more the carryover of tests that only require a small footprint to other athletic tests for speed and agility. One such test is the Drop Jump Test, which up until recently has been used exclusively in high-performance settings, but is becoming more accessible to everyday practitioners thanks to the AxIT System Stomp-IT's. With little more than a 20-40cm box and the AxIT Stomp-IT practitioners can assess a client to understand how fast they might be, how high they can jump, how well they absorb landing forces and look for deficiencies or imbalances that may affect performance, particularly before returning to sport.
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