Better Power Exercise for Legs


Lower body or leg power is crucial in sport at any age, particularly if you are a masters athlete or older adult. As we age, we start losing muscle. This phenomenon is called sarcopenia. Around 50 years of age, this muscle loss accelerates and we see greater losses in our fast-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles are the muscles we need to move quickly or powerfully. Simple examples include getting out of a couch or going up some stairs. The easiest way to prevent this is to do power exercises-movements that require you to move quickly and explosively.

For younger athletes a common exercise is the vertical jump/leap or a box jump. I’m not a big fan of box jumps due to the risk vs reward of that exercise. I find that not everyone can box jump or even do a vertical jump/leap. That’s ok. What’s not ok is skipping out on working on some power movements to maintain your muscle mass and improve your sport performance and your activities of daily living (ADLs).

I program the power step-up more frequently for my clients because it’s safer. I’ve never had a bloody shin or a client needing stitches from it. I find it’s harder because it’s a single leg exercise-harder in this sense means you’ll get more out of it. The best part about the power step-up is that it can be adapted to any one, any age, any fitness level.

Here’s how to perform the power step-up.

Here’s an example of a great ultra-marathoner masters athlete working on this power exercise. He’s mentioned that taking a big step over a boulder or similar obstacle while trail running is something he’s been struggling with. So we train it until it isn’t a problem.

Here’s an incredibly fit 81 year old. She has some knee problems and we’ve found that this box height allows for this power exercise or movement without pain.

Try out this great power exercise to improve your ADLs, sport performance, or spice up your exercise routine.