What does it mean to be strong
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
Whenever I sit down and have a consultation with potential clients, especially males, the majority have one major goal, and that is to be strong and lift heavy.
Once out on the floor whether it's lifting weights or swinging a kettlebell it's surprising to see that so many don’t have any understanding of what strength training really mean. It is therefore that I have decided to write and give a brief insight on strength training.
Strength training is foundational. There is not a day that goes by that we as humans are not required to pick something up and carry it. We pick up clothes from the floor, we carry our shopping bags from the car to the kitchen bench and sometimes even have to carry a heavy load up a flight of stairs.
Strength training is not complicated or sexy. It is just hard work. But it is fun and rewarding when done right, and provides a great team-training opportunity if you want to train in a group environment.
"Generally Strength training is defined as picking things up that have significant weight and moving it or putting it overhead."
Body-weight exercises have their value, but are limited in their ability to develop significant strength gains.
(My 4 weeks to SHRED program trains strength 2 days a week. (I’m allowed to give it a plug) The training incorporates total body, upper body and lower body exercises.)
So lets define strength
Quite simply, getting strong allows you to carry more heavy stuff, which makes you more useful If you're working as part of a team. Example construction worker.
So when we look at strength, there's functional, relative and absolute.
1. Functional Strength means that we get strong in a functional manner - we squat, lift, push and pull using movements that are natural, safe, holistic and engage the core before using the extremities. Functional strength development requires simultaneous core strength development. We combine our strength work and durability to ensure core stability grows alongside strength.
2. Relative Strength means the strength exhibited is relative to the size of the delivery vehicle. A 75 kg man with a 140 kg dead lift (0.8 grams lifted per 500 grams of body weight) is relatively stronger than a 95 kg man with a 158 kg dead lift (0.7 gram lifted per 500 grams of body weight) even though the larger man is lifting more weight.
3. Absolute Strength is defined as the amount of musculoskeletal force you can generate for one all-out effort, irrespective of time or bodyweight.
This form of strength can be demonstrated or tested in the weight room of the gym during the performance of a maximal, single repetition lift. While only power lifters need to maximize and demonstrate this type of strength in competition, all athletes need to develop absolute strength as a foundation for other bio-motor abilities such as strength speed, strength endurance, agility, etc.
Absolute strength is displayed through two muscular actions:
Concentric Strength: the ability to overcome a resistance through muscular contraction, i.e., the muscle shortens as it develops tension.
Eccentric Strength: displayed when a muscle lengthens as it yields to a resistance. Eccentric strength is normally 30-50% greater than concentric strength, meaning that you can lower significantly more weight in good control than you can actually lift.
Now lets take a look at the type of strength exercises. There's primary and supplemental strength exercises
Primary Strength Exercises:
1. Lower Body:
• Dead Lift
• Front Squat
• Back Squat
2. Total Body:
• Squat Clean
• Clean to Overhead (Squat Clean & Push Press and Power Clean & Jerk)
• O/H Squat
3. Upper Body:
• Push Press
• Push Jerk
• Weighted Pull-up
• Bench Press
Supplemental Strength Exercises:
Supplemental strength exercises are used to support primary for variety, functional skill development, and high intensity work capacity sessions where moving heavy loads contradicts our objectives. These exercises include our named “complex” drills, body weight gymnastics, and are conducted at low weight, high rep formats.
Exercises include, but are not limited to:
• Bar Bell Complex
• Curtis P
• Snatch Complex
• Snatch Punisher
• Man Maker
• The Exercise
• KB and DB drills
• Pushup variations
• Pull-up variations
• Dips, Ring work
• Buddy carry & other team drills
• Lunge variations
• Step ups
• Air Squats
For any of you have been training with me for some time, will have learnt that I don't view training as “exercising:” We don't randomly exercise. Training requires Discipline, Knowledge and Practice. Learn to make your training a "discipline" - meaning it is a part of your daily routine and self mastery plan. Gym-based workouts are designed to support our real-world work and should never replace specific training in that real-world work. Having said that, gym-based functional training is extremely valuable and the skills and competencies developed are very transferable to real-world work.
Happy training ... Together we are STRONG