Basic Considerations for Exercise

Skeletal muscles

The performance of sport as for all physical exercise is the result of a coordinated activation of the appropriate skeletal muscles. These muscles, acting through the lever systems of the body skeleton, provide the forces and the power that can be translated into skilled movement. The assessment and quantification of such physical performance is accomplished by use of the International System of Measurement (the SI) for force (newton); energy, work and heat (joules); torque (newton-meters); and power (watts). If the term exercise is defined as any and all activity involving force generation by activated muscles (Knuttgen & Komi 1992; Knuttgen & Kraemer 1987), the resultant physical performance must be described in these terms,


Force is that which changes or tends to change the state of rest or motion in matter. Work is equivalent to a force expressed through a displacement with no limitation on time. Torque is the effectiveness of a force to produce rotation of an object about an axis. Power is the rate at which work is performed or the rate of the transformation of metabolic potential energy to work and/or heat.

Dynamic exercise

The exercise intensity can therefore be quantified in various situations as: the opposing force in dynamic exercise (e.g. provided by a free weight, exercise machine or ergometer); isometric force sustained; power (energy expenditure or work performed per second or force times velocity); or velocity of progression (e.g. running, cycling, rowing).

Endurance is the time limit of a person’s ability to maintain either an isometric force or a power level of dynamic exercise the basic SI unit of time is the second (s). Power can be determined for a single body movement, a series of movements or, as in the case of aerobic exercise, a large number of repetitive movements. Power can be determined instantaneously at any point in a movement or averaged for any portion of a movement or bout of exercise.

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