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The Many Different Types of Strength

Nov 27, 2007
There are many different types of strength... and they all need to be taken into consideration when forming an effective physical training program.

What makes someone strong?

Well, that is not an easy question to answer... because it depends on which of the many different types of strength you are talking about.

Someone can exhibit great competence in one aspect of strength while being completely lacking in another.

To understand this better, let's talk about three of the most important types of strength: Maximal Strength, Explosive Strength and Strength Endurance...

Maximal Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort... regardless of time or bodyweight.

Maximal strength can be displayed through three types of muscle actions...

Concentric Strength occurs when the muscle shortens as it overcomes resistance, like when lifting a weight.

Eccentric Strength occurs when the muscle lengthens as it yields to or attempts to overcome a resistance, like when controlling a weight on the way down.

Static Strength occurs when the muscle contracts against an immovable resistance, or contracts to prevent unwanted movement.

Explosive Strength is strength per unit of time, and is also known as Speed Strength.

There are different types of explosive strength...

Starting Strength is the ability to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible instantaneously at the start of the movement... It is the type of strength necessary to quickly accelerate a load that is at rest.

Acceleration Strength is how long you can keep the maximum number of muscle fibers recruited after Starting Strength. Once the initial movement begins, the rate of force development is the acceleration... It is what will get the load moving very quickly.

Strength Endurance is the ability to be as strong as possible, as long as possible.

Strength endurance is characterized by being able to perform a movement repeatedly for an extended period of time without being overcome by fatigue or sacrificing form.

Now let's add a couple more types of strength...

Relative Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort... relative to bodyweight.

For example... if two people have the ability to lift the same object, but one person is small and lighter in size, they exhibit more relative strength.

Relative strength comes into play when you are measuring your strength abilities against others, competing in a sport that has weight classes or competing in a sport where you have to overcome your own bodyweight to perform a task.

Absolute Limit Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort... with the use of drugs and/or supplements.

I personally am the least interested with this type of strength because I am only interested in strength improvements that come from proper, effective physical training... and not through biological manipulation.

As you can see... there are a lot of types of strength to take into account when planning a strength training program.

My suggestion...

Do not concentrate on the training of one particular type of strength at the expense of all others unless you have a very specific reason to do so.

For most of us, we do not know which type of strength will be called into question as we go through our lives... so train them all.

Therefore, vary physical training methods, stresses and intensities while training maximal strength, explosive strength and strength endurance to bring about the greatest performance improvements for sport, work and life.

In this way, you will not only be strong... but strong for any occasion.
About the Author
Coach Lomax is a strength, conditioning and fitness coach dedicated to building better humans for sport, work and life. Learn more at Optimum Physical Training or take his FREE Tabata Calisthenics Workout Mini Course.
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