Strength is a term thrown around all the time, and it can be hard to decipher what it really means. The word "strength" is used broadly and can mean a lot of things. Is a power-lifter strong? Well, yes. Is a single mother of three strong? You better believe it! Is a 75-year old golfer playing and walking the course strong? Very much so. So how do you define and measure "strength"? It's in the eye of the beholder. But "strength training" can have just as many definitions. In this post, I'm going to give you a breakdown of the two primary types for building physical strength.
First: Absolute Strength
This is what most people think of when they hear the word "strength." It's defined as the maximum force that a muscle can produce in a single voluntary effort, regardless of the rate of production. You hear it all the time in the gym..."How much can you bench?" But it also covers moving day, as in, "Whoa, that box was heavy. I can't believe I just picked that thing up!" This type of strength will favor a larger-sized individual.
Think of this kind of strength in quantities..as in how many pushups/pullups/dips one can do. When it comes to relative strength, size can sometimes set you back. If you're a fan of the NFL, think of "little" guys like Darren Sproles blasting through holes in the defense. Think of Bruce Lee dropping men twice his size. Think of that undefined "mom-strength" we hear about every day. This is relative strength...your absolute strength proportionate to your body-weight.
So, in considering these two types of strength we realize that the higher the absolute strength, the higher the ceiling is for relative strength.
So, why should I strength train?
Training for strength benefits EVERYONE. No matter what your fitness goal.
A base of strength improves your body's ability to train for abything, from being able to carry groceries to higher power output in athletics to simply getting "jacked."
Being "stronger" means, obviously, that you will be able to use more weight for more reps. With greater strength comes more muscle, more speed, more stability, more work capacity for fat loss.
Want to get ripped up for the summer? Strength Train. "I want to start next year on the Varsity soccer team!" Strength Train. "I just want to build up my endurance to be able to walk around town or the store without hurting." Enter strength training.
Pretty cool, right? Seems simple. But it doesn't mean you need to train like a power lifter every time you go to the gym. But it does mean you should plan to prioritize some strength training throughout the year. You'll pay yourself back in huge dividends.
Although absolute strength is what you hear the most about, it's relative strength that will have the highest payout for overall movement and athleticism. But in order to maximize your body and tackle your goals, it's important to work on both absolute and relative aspects of strength. Start including larger compound movements such as squats and deadlifts, and incorporate bodyweight movements, heavy carries, and timed sets as well.
Here is an example of a quality strength training session for the average person looking to accomplish what I've mentioned above.
After a full body warmup...
A1- Flexed Arm Hangs (use just your body-weight. If you can't get the flexed arm just yet, do a straight arm hang.) 2x20-30 sec
B1- Trap Bar Deadlift 3x3 absolute strength
C1- Trap Bar Farmers Walks (use half the weight used on the last set of deadlifts) 20 yards and back
C2- Pushups 6-8 reps
(repeat for 5 min non-stop) relative strength/strength endurance
Rest for 2-3 min, Increase weight on Trap Bar, and repeat for a second 5 minutes, shooting to beat the previous set total.
D1- Cable Row 3x10
D2- Swiss Ball Ab rollouts 3x10
The Picture is Painted
If you put the STRENGTH work in conjunction with the type of training you do, the results will speak for themselves. If you train with the rubber dumbbells and steer away from doing the larger movements(because " I want to get lean, light weight, high reps right?"), then you will get what you'd expect...a very sub-par package. Pay attention to where your weaknesses are and use simple strength training protocols to bring them up to speed with the rest of your body. You are only as strong as your weakest link(TV reference anyone??). Time to get to work. Need help getting started? That's what I'm here for. Shoot me an email.