T Nation

Most Human Power Produced?


Anyone have any idea of what is the most human power ever produced? I know there's a problem of recording it, so I guess it's more an estimate.

Time frame: should be for at least 1-5 seconds. Peak readings for a 1/10th of a second aren't all that useful, or are they?

Who comes to mind would be the heavy weight class olympic lifters during a clean. Any kind of data or calculations on this? I suppose it would only be for about a second or so.

Power should be in watts.

From what I know, the biggest/fastest track sprint cyclists can produce 2300-2500watts, for around 1-2 seconds I presume. But they aren't conditioned for the sole purpose of peak output, more so for 10-20 second output, and also at less-than efficient cadences..


With nothing scientific to back this up I'd assume Usain Bolt would be up there.


I've think some of the dartfish and video analysis of tools would give pretty good data on the subject. They can measure acceleration maybe up to the framerate or derivative of the framerate of the camera, and knowing the load on the bar, you can get a force. If the camera is calibrated, you can also use it measure the distance.

I think some of the plots the software produces would probably be force or acceleration as a function of time.

I think CarlDarby posted something about similar software he was working on in the olympic lifting training log thread.

Here is the link he posted, there is a force plot and distance but no time scale. You might need to do some math to get it into W.


The most force produced during an athletic movement is when a pitcher throws a fastball.

The sudden acceleration that occurs when an arm moves from a near stop when the throwing hand is at its highest point before coming forward (the "L" position) at speeds that allow the ball to travel at or near 100mph is the highest amount of acceleration per degree of movement ever recorded in any sort of athletic movement (7000 degrees per second). The sudden decceleration after release is equally intense.

Tim Lincecum, although his velocity is usually around 93-95mph, can throw a 4-seam fastball around 97-98. For a pitcher as small as he is, when compared to other pichers who throw that hard but are much bigger, his pitching delivery may generate power from his arm that tops the force output of virtually any other athlete.

Pedro Martinez and Roy Oswalt used to hit the high 90's with smaller than average sizes as well.



A fastball pitch seems a likely candidate for fastest acceleration, but you are neglecting the mass part of the equation. The mass of one's arm and ball is not enough, even at such accelerations to require a high enough power level.


I believe that during the first 2-3 seconds of his sprint, he is definitely producing some of the highest outputs. Well, any of the fastest guys out of the blocks.

Always think about the fastest big guys in football, the ones who put up the best 40meter times.


Creating power relies on speed created as much as it does on mass moved. Even though the mass is so insignificant, the massive amount of speed and torque that the arm experiences, along with the high speeds of the projection of the ball out of the hand (remember that radar guns measure the speed as it crosses the plate; a pitch will deccelerate by about 1mph for every seven feet traveled; a 100mph fastball has a "muzzle velocity" of 107) are so much higher than any speed created during sprinting or heavy weightlifting or anything like that. The arm moves 7000 degrees/second.

Even though the arm isn't moving a heavy weight, to approach the same type of power, a weightlifter would have to move thousands of pounds at a significant speed. The torque applied to the arm is insane as well.

Take the squat for example. If you use the knee joint as the place to measure degrees of movement, then a 1,000 lb. squat would have to move at less than 1/7 the speed of the pitching arm to equal the same power produced.

Basically, the body (or the bar) would have to travel from the bottom of a squat at just under 1/7 of the speed that the pitching arm moves at to create more power, if we assume that power=mass x speed.


I heard Chad Aichs can put some serious wattage when he lets out a big rip.....


Other candidates for most powerful human-produced movements:

clean and jerk
hitting a baseball


I see what you're saying. Power is defined at work/time.

These two examples below should equal the same about of work, right?
Can we assume that we have about 10lbs moving at 110mph?
Would that then equal 200lbs moving at 5.5mph?

How long does it take for a pitcher to accelerate his arm up to speed? 1/5 of a second?

I wish there was some way to measure it. But it's really hard when you're dealing with such short durations, that's why in my original post I mentioned at least 1 second.

I think you are right though, the power output of a fast pitch is very high. It's just hard to imagine since it doesn't primarily use the large muscle groups.


When I was at the driving range earlier.


I believe that in any "explosive" or "powerful" movement, there is some sort of pivot point or axis upon which degrees of movement can be measured. The movements that have a high amount of degrees per second will have the highest speeds generated. This kind of makes the speed of anything being projected from the body immaterial since the speed of those objects are affected by many other factors besides the power generated to move them (air resistance, gravity, drag, etc, etc.)

The pitching movement actually does use the large muscle groups to generate the power. The midsection and thighs uses momentum and torque to allow the arm to experience what would otherwise be extremely traumatic over and over again. That is why any pitching drill that does not incorporate the legs creates an arm motion that is actually completely alien to the arm motion needed to throw at high speeds with an acceptable amount of stress on the elbow and shoulder.

As for one second, remember that most of the truly explosive, powerful movements take much less than a second to occur. Even sprinting, which seems very powerful, isn't nearly as explosive as a hammer throw. The sprinter is generating a lot of power in trying to move an object close to or more than 200lbs, but he really isn't going fast at all until he hits top speed, which is probably only about 28mph anyways.


Hmm, how about most force produced overall??? For humans of course.


I'd like to hear what CT or Cressey think about this topic.


It was still very interesting to read your posts, and, you correcting kilosprinter of course :slight_smile:


Yeah, over 9000!!!


Yes, the truly powerful movements take less than a second.

What about a world record vertical jump?

I admit I know basically nothing about pitching. Maybe that's why I could only throw 35mph when I was a kid, I never did it right!

Most force(strength) would be interesting too. World record squat? More than likely it would involve a shorter range of motion though.


I see what you're saying about sprinters, but think about how much power it takes to get a human body moving close to 30 mph. The amount of ground contact time for these guys is almost non existent, and to propel oneself over 100 meters in less than 10 seconds is fucking insane and would seemingly require or at least generate more power than throwing a fastball.


What if we extend the duration to 5 or 10 seconds?

I'm pretty sure you're looking at the elite track cyclists then. No other sport I can think of provides such an efficient lever for you to use your entire body to do so much work.

For one minute, an elite track kilometer rider will produce around 1000watts average. Those efforts make you feel like your heart is going to explode. I've done 30 seconds at 1100watts on my bike on a hill, I thought I was going to die.

My current obsession is 5 second power, it's much less painful and a ton of fun.


what if its more than one man? a team of men. the greeks rowed large boats. thats= a lot of power. their boats rammed other boats. thats awesome power. i'm sorry i've been drinking tonight