Do you want to optimize your workouts? Are you serious about strength training? Forget the guesswork and let the muscle tell you what it needs. A Finnish company called Fibrux has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund their upcoming product Mpower.
Mpower measures your muscle activation levels, but that’s not all. It actually separates the activation between fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers produce explosive strength and speed but they tire quickly. Slow-twitch fibers are responsible for the slow, endurance based activities. It is also important to remember, that fast-twitch muscle fibers are the biggest muscle fibers in the body. This means, that no matter if you train for strength or size, you want to maximize the activation of fast-twitch muscles.
Up to this point it has been very difficult to analyze muscle activation without professional-grade laboratory equipment. Maximizing gains also involves a lot of mysticism and so-called broscience. Everybody gives you contradicting advice. There’s one thing that everybody agrees though: For the best results, you need to work hard AND smart.
This is where the Mpower shines. It consists of an app and up to four wearable sensors. The electrodes work dry so there’s no need for skin preparation and everything is wireless over bluetooth. The sensors measure sEMG from individual muscles and detect muscle cell type (slow and fast). sEMG stands for surface electromyography and is used to evaluate and record electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.
If you’re looking for something to give you an edge over your competition or get over a plateau, Mpower might be it. Here’s a rundown of the features:
- Activation distribution: Distribution of activation power between slow and fast muscle cells.
- Fast activation trend: When fast muscle cell activation level starts decreasing i.e. fast muscle cells starts getting tired.
- Muscle fatigue index: Development of fatigue, ie when fast muscle cell activation level decreases further, indicator for successful endurance strength training.
- Fast activation power: Momentary fast muscle cell activation power of a single exercise repetition.
- Max fast activation power: Maximum momentary fast muscle cell activation of the specific muscle of a single exercise repetition.
- Fast activation volume: Cumulative fast activation power per muscle during your workout.
- Activation power balance: Activation power between same muscle on left and right side. (compare the activation power b/w)
- Activation power ratio: Activation power between two arbitrary muscles. (compare the activation power b/w)
- Activation power: Momentary (slow + fast muscle cell) activation power of a single exercise repetition.
- Max activation power: Maximum momentary total muscle cell activation of the specific muscle of a single exercise repetition.
- Activation volume: Cumulative activation power per muscle.
The app has an instant workout feature, which you can use to start measuring right away. You can also build your own workout and configure movements, sets, reps and weights. The app has a library of 100 workouts and more to come. Of course library like this can never be complete because of the countless variations of every exercise. We suggested that they implement a custom exercise feature, so we can program our own quirky biohacker exercises in there.
The product is not void of problems. It was challenging to find the exact spot from the individual muscle where to attach the sensor pod. We were informed however, that Fibrux will deliver information sheets with the final product, from where it’s easier to pinpoint the optimal location for the pods. The app is also only available for Android. Other platforms are on the roadmap.
Speaking of pods – if you decide to buy the product, consider purchasing more than one pod. Each of our test group members had only one pod each. it became apparent very quickly that switching the pod around was a bit of a hassle. Besides, if you are doing big compound lifts, it’s not just one muscle you’re interested in. With multiple pods you also get valuable information of the imbalances in your body and movements. The app supports up to four pods and it is recommended to get at least two. With one pod you get limited benefits.
Fibrux has nailed the hardware pretty solid. The app however still needs a lot of work to deliver all the expected benefits. The Indiegogo campaign exist mainly to develop the app further. Features like calendar and a way to chart your workout progress are still absent and the user interface definitely needs some work. The technology in Mpower is really great, and we hope that they get the funding they need, to finish the app.
The important question at this point is this: do you need this product? If you like to go to the gym every now and then and do some bicep curls, you’ll get some bragging rights with Mpower at most. On the other hand, if you are result oriented in your strength training or bodybuilding, you’ll get great value out of Mpower to optimize your workouts. Especially when combined with professional coaching. Mpower has the potential to become the gold standard in the strength training circuit. Let’s fund their campaign and make it happen.