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Houston Alexander: Adrenaline Rush

UFC light heavyweight power puncher, Houston Alexander, was featured on the most recent episode of Sports Science on the Fox Sports Network. The focus of the show was to try to determine how natural adrenaline can affect punching power, and if that natural adrenaline could be reproduced using supplements.

In a nut shell, the show wanted to find out how much harder you could punch when you were angry, as opposed to calm, and if using a drug such as steroids would give you more or less velocity in your fist than natural human emotion alone.

Much like the previous episode of Sports Science featuring Fedor Emelianenko when a crash test dummy was hooked up with “force sensors” around the throat area to determine the WAMMA heavyweight champion’s choking power, another crash test dummy was used in this exercise with Alexander. Only this time the force sensors were distributed throughout the face of the dummy to measure the amount of force in the notoriously heavy handed fighters punch.

The first punch thrown by Alexander was to determine the amount of force used when his heart was functioning at a normal rate. Although the UFC veteran remained calm during the exercise, he hit the dummy with all of his force. When the verdict came back it was concluded that Houston had blasted the chin of the dummy with a blow that measured at 600 pounds of force. The strike was judged to be the equivalent being smashed in the face with a hammer at full strength.

In the second test the show wanted to determine how much of a difference in strength could occur from the use of natural human emotion alone. Alexander’s trainer, Mick Doyle, was brought in for the experiment to assist in bringing Houston to an emotional climax. His job, to make Houston as angry as possible.

Doyle pulled the powerful 205 pound octagon veteran aside and asked him to conjure up all of the feelings and emotions that he had experienced in the dressing room after his last defeat. Doyle asked Alexander to let all of the feelings of disappointment he had experienced to boil to the surface. At this point the thirty seven year old Nebraska native is visibly seething with emotion. As the light gave Alexander the go ahead to throw the strike, he unleashed a punch that looked as if it was going to completely tear away the head from the torso of the dummy.

The second, natural adrenaline filled punch, registered at 1000 pounds of force. Some 400 more pounds of force then Alexander had displayed when calm.

It was explained that the extreme burst of power found in an “adrenaline rush” stems from the bodies natural reaction to fear. When in a state of fear, our adrenal glands flood the body with natural adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to speed up and attempt to redistribute the influx of blood to the brain and muscles. When this occurs, muscles can typically receive more than five times the normal amount of oxygenated blood which causes an extreme burst of power and speed.

During the experiment, Alexander quickly got his heart rate up to 150 beats per minute. That type of spike in the blood flow is what causes the body to produce epinephrine, or natural adrenaline.

In the third and final test the goal was to determine how synthetic adrenaline, comparable to many performance enhancing drugs, would affect the amount of force in Houston’s punch. He would be injected with a dose of epinephrine, commonly known as synthetic adrenaline, to mirror the effects of drugs such as steroids. It was explained before this test that it was the most dangerous ever conducted in the shows history, with serious consequences for the single father of six children. Worst case scenario, the test could cause Alexander to go into cardiac arrest or possibly die.

Before the shot of adrenaline, Houston was told by the doctor that all of his vital signs were completely normal, to which he replied,”Well doc, it’s time to get abnormal”, with that he was injected with 0.3 milligrams of epinephrine which caused his heart rate to jump up to 115 beats per minute. From there he was given 0.3 more milligrams of the drug which brought the grand total of epinephrine running through his veins up to 0.6 milligrams, the exact same amount given to a person to bring them out of a cardiac arrest.

Alexander’s heart rate peaked at 156 beats per minute just before his third and final punch. When thrown, the blow measured at a massive 900 pounds of force.

A 900 pound jack hammer on juice is impressive to say the least, but what is far more impressive is the fact that with nothing but natural human emotion, you could produce a blow with 100 more pounds of force than could be produced using the finest illegal drugs that money could buy.

17 COMMENTS
  • jasonah says:

    This very interesting at the least, Houston has real big power! I’ve seen rampage as also did this,And chuck , Does anyone have those numbers? I think I heard one time A heavy weight boxer could generate 1200 lbs of force with a punch! All I know is that you get hit like that U R going to hospital.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Lucky for him the crash test dummy didn’t know jiujitsu!

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    “The strike was judged to be the equivalent being smashed in the face with a hammer at full strength.”

    So dumb my head hurts…how much does my head hurt? as much as being hit by a pack of over excited and angry camels who have just seen me do something that they really didn’t like and it has really, really upset them, which as it happens is 27 and 1/2 times as hard as Houston can punch or 87 times more than a brown bear swinging a dead chicken… What? thats just as scientific as the dodgy hammer crap.

  • GetItOn says:

    Great! Now combine epinephrine with human emotion and test the results. I bet it’s over 1000. I understand that epinephrine mimmicks emotion but you can’t say that this test is complete. I say do the test again but this time, for the first test, do the epinephrine and get Houston’s emotions going at the same time. Then secondly follow that up with no emotion. Then emotion. I bet there are way different results.

  • KTru says:

    Since this is the most recent topic from 5 ounces I will say this here.

    For an all MMA site to have not any recap on the UFC Fight Night is laughable. I have tried to stick it out here because I appreciate Sam and all others that contribute. But when I constantly have to go to other sites for recap and analysis, it bothers me and amuses me that this site cannot bring such content.

    Just thought I would let my words be read and known that 5 ounces moved down to my 4th MMA site on information.

    I could care less on anything Alexander does.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    its unfortunate but i feel the same. I came here hoping the site would have been updated with something about UFN 18 by now. As much as i found Sport Science interesting i dont wanna read a review about it.

  • LongTimeReader says:

    Yeah, I just wanted to echo these guys thoughts in the most honest way possible. I have been with 5 OZ for the longest time, and things have really changed for the worse. It’s ironic, because it seems when all the sponsors and advertisers came in to take the site to the next level is when the content took a nose dive. I’m sure there is some turmoil behind the scenes, but you really give off the air of inconsistency, to put it nicely. I stopped looking for timely in depth analysis months ago, but you do realize you didn’t even bother posting the results to this event, right? That’s bush league anyway you look at it and I’m not sure how you could defend it otherwise. Take care Sam, and thanks for what you provided in the past. I hope you get it sorted out.

  • Ft. Dub says:

    i said the same thing after the last free tv saturday night fight wasn’t reviewed for two days and got blasted for it. basically sam told me that i should kiss his feet instead of complaining. i understand that the writers work for free, but can’t they be assigned stories like any other publication? somebody works each fight and is responsible for the quick review, and then others can take more time for the in-depth opinion pieces.

  • platypus says:

    chill dudes, this is a blog.

    maybe the writers were busy, this isnt their full time job for the most part, they have legit day office jobs and many of their writers are part timers.

    still, id like to encourage more recap articles, as ufc is the big dog in town.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    I remember when Ft. Dub brought it up and at the time, I could see both sides of the argument.

    Granted, a quick post with the results was posted but in this case, nothing.

    I, unfortunately, have seen a dramatic decline in coverage from 5Oz since I started frequenting the site.

    And yes, I understand it IS a free site and a labor of love for Sam and the other writers so I’m not going to bash or insult them because to be quite honest, they don’t owe me anything.

    Nor do I owe them. So I will be taking my readership elsewhere. At least until, hopefully, 5Oz once again becomes the site that made them my #1 MMA news source for so long.

  • CMT says:

    I too have been disappointed with the coverage lately. If these writers are like me they are busting their ass just to keep the day job. Is there any animosity by the writers for the UFC??? What I find news worthy is that Houston Alexander is still employed with the UFC after 3 consecutive 1st round losses. Go Figure!!

    Sam,
    I think there are enough commentors on this site that would be willing to provide recap, play by play, so forth. If you need help, I am game. Email me and let me know how I can help.

  • king mah mah says:

    Maybe you guys should stick to the topic of this article instead of bashing this site. I read this article and was really interested, so I couldn’t wait to see the responses. But when I scrolled down further all I read was a bunch of chicken shit people talking about this site!

    Now, getting back to the topic. Yeah you can’t replace pure adrenaline and bursts of energy with something synthetic. If you’ve ever watched Discovery Channel you probably have seen the stories of people lifting 1500lb boulders to save their own life. Or the oldie but goodie… a mother lifts a car to save her child. All of that is possible when you’re in a fight or flight mode. Alexander could have smashed that 1000 if he felt his life was in danger. But I always like watching stuff like this, very cool. And by the way, GREAT ARTICLE!

  • CMT says:

    king mah mah – blah, blah ,blah, BLAH~!

  • Ft. Dub says:

    Hopefully Sam will see that it’s not just one person complaining. Everyone who posted wished/hoped that 5oz could be their primary MMA site. We all like the site and respect that this is a labor of love. But that doesn’t change the fact that we go to an MMA site for information and when I come here and haven’t seen a mention of the UFC fight night or the Dana White controversy, it’s kind of a bummer. This was the first MMA site I visited daily and I hoped that it would reign supreme.

    For some reason I’ve not only seen a decline in the site quality, but I’ve seen Sam be very combative in several replies to posters. Maybe keeping this going isn’t fun anymore. I don’t know, but it just seems like instead of taking the criticism and becoming better, he’s too busy getting angry with anyone who is not heaping the praise on him for simply having an MMA site.

  • Dr. Sardonicus says:

    Back to the original subject: By themselves, these tests are merely sensational curiosities. The tests would be far more meaningful if they were repeated on other fighters, other athletes and non-athletes. An extensive record of comparative information would reveal much about human capability.

    With nobody to compare Alexander to, the tests show little more than he hits hard, which anyone could have predicted before the tests. In the case of Emelianenko; comparing his capabilities to those of a bear or a python are laughable. A bear has huge claws and does not hug offensively. A python constricts a little more at each exhalation of its victim,causing eventual suffocation. It does not need a lot of power.

  • king mah mah says:

    @CMT- or should I say wannabe journalist, BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

  • jasonah says:

    Yeah the It’s kind of declined Huh?

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