A new method for measuring power output in a single leg extension: feasibility, reliability and validity

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A method is described for measuring the explosive power of the leg in extension which has been found safe and acceptable for all age groups and levels of physical capability. The extension movement takes 0.25–0.40 s in a push through 0.165 m against a flat pedal. At the end of the push the leg is fully extended. The movement is made seated so that the forces are contained between the buttocks and the foot. The seat position is adjusted for leg length and the push is transmitted by a lever and chain to spin a flywheel. The gearing is such that resistance to the movement remains nearly constant throughout the extension. The final angular velocity of the flywheel is measured by an optoswitch and used to calculated the average leg extensor power (LEP) in the push. The reliability of the power measurement was evaluated in 46 subjects ranging in age from 20 to 86 years; they included medical students and geriatric day patients. They were tested on two occasions separated by a week. The maximal values on the first occasion (best of at least five trials) ranged from 30 to 300 W (mean ± 1 SD = 154 ± 88 W). There was no significant difference on re-test and the coefficient of variation was 9.4%. In a subgroup of 9 non-naive subjects who were measured by an experienced observer it was 6.3%. As expected, power was lower in women than in men and declined sharply with age. The sex difference was less when the values were expressed as power per body mass; a sharp age-related decline remained. The results from the LEP rig were compared with results obtained in the same subjects on the same occasion from similar pushes against an isokinetic dynamometer and two-legged jumps on a force plate. There was a highly significant correlation in both cases, Spearman's rank correlation (rho) = 0.73,P < 0.001,n = 16 subjects (age 27 ± 7.5 years) and rho = 0.86,P < 0.001,n = 13 subjects (age 39 ± 10.4 years) respectively.