Confusing Effort, Strength and Power

Jun 17, 2024

You might wonder what you can do to make yourself stronger.


If you lay on your back and lift one of your own limbs very very slowly, you’ll discover that you are aware of feeling the weight of your limb. You might be surprised at how heavy that weight feels.


On average, a human leg weighs around 17% of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, your leg weighs approximately 26 pounds. Your arm weighs 5%. Your pelvis weighs around 15%, your head 8+%. The whole torso is about 55%. Every time you get up from a chair, you’re managing that.


We’re lifting up our own body weight constantly, all day, picking ourselves up and putting ourselves back down.

Moving is an act of weight lifting, weight moving and weight bearing.


When I work with people, one of the principles we are improving is how to support and move one’s own body weight in an organized fashion. You can imagine that if you were to grab a 26 pound weight and heave it from down to up, without any regard for your self organization, there’s a high probability that you would hurt yourself. 


And that’s exactly what happens when you move your own body in such a way. So many injuries, aches and pains are the result of unfriendly weightlifting mechanics. When we move ourselves around with effort, it eventually shows up as issues in shoulders, hips, lower back and neck. It's no mystery that these are the joints that are closest to your heaviest body parts. When we use effort that doesn't do the job well, we think we aren't strong enough.

The paradox is when you are well organized, your body weight feels light and effortless to lift. Many also call this feeling “strength” but it’s really power, and it's the result of a beautiful interaction between using your feeling self in harmony with the law of gravity. We feel "strong" because it feels easy to do something powerful. 


Power doesn't rely on muscles, but on coordination and mobility within the natural laws of physics. Just as young children grow more powerful as they learn how to move better, your power grows as an outcome of moving yourself well.

Power reflects a functional quality in what you're doing right now, and holds the potential to take it further. Power is an interaction that's suited to the moment, and includes self, ground, space, gravity, and can extend to other people and other objects.

A powerful action is one that matters. Even if you’re simply moving to stand up. 

How does strength feel to you? What about power? Effort? Do you sense a difference between these three qualities?  

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