Sport Science: How Many Horsepower Can You Generate? | PE - Physical Education Lesson Plans, Activities, Games, Tips

Sport Science: How Many Horsepower Can You Generate?

Dick Moss, Editor

Calculating the horsepower your students can generate is a fun activity for health, PE or even physics classes.


  • Measure 10 feet (vertically) and mark the spot on a set of stairs that corresponds to this height (less than 10 feet also works).
  • Measure the time it takes for students to run up the stairs to the 10-foot mark.
  • Calculate the horsepower they generated using the following formula:

Horsepower =     Height x Weight
                         Seconds X 550           
Height =     The height climbed in feet.
Weight =    The weight of the student in pounds.
Seconds =  The number of seconds it took to climb the height.
550  =        A constant.

Here's how the formula works in the case of a 100-pound girl who runs the 10 feet in 2.5 seconds:

Horsepower   =     10 x 100 
                           2.5 x  550
                      =   1000       
                     =    .73

So this student generates just under 3/4 of a horsepower. A 200-pound man running the same time and height would generate 1.45 horsepower.

Marvin N. Tolman, Hands-On Physical Science Activities for Grades K-8, Parker Publishing Company, 1995
2. Dean Sewell, Philip Watkins, Murray Griffin, Sport and Exercise Science: An Introduction, 2nd Edition,  Routledge, 2012.

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© 2012, Physical Education,

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