Blog, Chiropractic, Proprioception

How to measure muscle strength

In July 2008, the British Medical Journal published a landmark study which established an association between muscle strength and mortality unrelated to fitness or exercise levels. You can see the study here:

As I was setting up a new practice a year later, I decided to replicate their protocols to measure muscle strength.

What they did to measure muscle strength was to measure muscle mass and then get people to do a one rep maximum lift with bench press and leg press. By adding the two lifts together and dividing my muscle mass, they could compare the maximum lift capacity of men of different sizes and weights.

So that is exactly what I did, using a Bioscan 916 from Maltron, I can measure muscle mass accurately, and then I measure a one rep maximum bench press.  I found, however that the leg press was difficult because so much depended on the angle of the knee at the start of the test, so I used a deadlift instead. I figure with those two tests, I am using most of the body’s muscle mass.

Here is how it works:

Measuring muscle strength

The results have been fascinating

For men I get a range of between 1 and 6. To be competitive, athletes need to be above 5. Anyone below 3.3 is in the lowest quarter of my population and is usually well below par healthwise.

For women the lowest quarter is below 2.

I am pleased that every patient in the lowest quarter I have been able to lift out of the danger zone. The average increase in strength for those in the lowest quarter is 64%.

The average increase for those in the middle range is 17% and the average for the top range is 10%.  These increases are an average for everyone who I have re-tested, which is not a majority but neither are they selected.

Your comments and questions are welcome.


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