If you are new to strength training, you need to know that there is more to just going to the gym and lifting weights.
There are different types of strengths, all serving different purposes. Think of it this way. A marathon runner does not need the same training a powerlifter needs.
In this article, we’ll discuss different strength types and share specific workout tips on how to increase strength, especially if you’re just starting to work out.
What is strength training?
Strength is the ability to overcome external resistance. In more technical terms, it is the ability to accelerate a mass from rest, resulting in the production of muscular force.
Strength training is, therefore, a training program or regimen that is designed to improve strength. There are different types of strengths, and in the same vein, different types of strength training.
It is essential to identify the kind of strength type you want to build and train accordingly.
Strength types and how to develop them
Below are five of the top strength types, how they can be measured, developed, and the benefits of developing them. This list will guide beginners when choosing a strength training program.
1. Relative strength
Relative strength is the amount of force that can be generated per unit of body weight. That is, the amount of strength a person can generate compared to the person’s body size.
Here’s an example. Someone who weighs 200 pounds and can squat 400 pounds has greater relative strength than someone who weighs 250 pounds and can squat the same 400 pounds.
As you can see, relative strength reflects strength in comparison with body size.
Relative strength can be measured by calculating your strength-to-weight ratio. You can do this by recording your maximum on a specific exercise and dividing it by your weight.
If this ratio increases over time, then you know your relative strength is also increasing.
Another easy way is by the number of pull-ups you can do or how long you can hold a plank position. If it increases with time, then you know your relative strength is also increasing.
Benefits of developing relative strength
- Improves muscular efficiency
- Improves performance in many activities of daily living (ADLs) and sports
- Reduces the time it takes to get fatigued
How to develop relative strength
- Perform heavy lifts for fewer repetitions
- Watch your diet and weight
- Enter a comprehensive training program
2. Agile strength
This type of strength reflects one’s ability to make rapid changes of velocity, generate and control muscle force through multiple planes of motion.
An example of when this strength is demonstrated is during Strongman events, where contestants have to change direction while carrying weights.
A more relatable example is simply picking up and carrying a load. Athletes, in particular, need this type of strength training.
Benefits of developing agile strength
- Improves the strength needed to move loads from one place to another
- Improves performance is many ADLs and sports
- Reduces risk of injuries to muscles and connective tissues
How to develop agile strength
- Lift weights through multiple planes of motion
- Focus is not on a fixed number of repetitions but on having control through directional changes
3. Strength endurance
Strength endurance measures the ability of a person to maintain a consistent level of muscle force for an extended period.
Many times, it is not just about who is strongest, but about who can hold that strength the longest.
Strength endurance can be further broken down based on the muscular tension displayed – dynamic and static or based on the muscle groups involved – general and local.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should measure your muscular endurance before you start a strength training program.
The pushup test is perhaps the easiest way of measuring muscular endurance, at least for the upper body.
By tracking the number of pushups you can do over time, you can estimate your endurance. You can also compare it with other people of the same age and sex. Below are some workout tips to increase this kind of strength.
Benefits of developing strength endurance
- Improves aerobic efficiency of muscles
- Allows you to maintain strength for extended periods
- Improves performance in many sports like swimming, wrestling, rowing
How to develop strength endurance
- Incorporate squats, sit-ups, pullovers, bench and shoulder press, and curls into your fitness regimen
- Perform high volume workouts
4. Explosive strength
This strength type shows the ability to exert maximal force in a minimal amount of time. It involves lengthening of the muscles, then quick acceleration through shortening of the muscles.
Explosive strength is a function of both strength and velocity. The simple trick to raising explosive strength is by building speed strength and also improving absolute strength.
The methods of building speed and absolute strength are quite different. The former requires minimal resistance, while the latter requires maximum effort exercises in slow velocity.
You need to know which part to focus more on before starting explosive strength training. If you already have a solid strength base, then you should put more effort into building your speed strength.
On the other hand, if you already have a reasonably good level of velocity, then you should focus more on building your absolute strength.
Explosive strength is also very good for athletes in events that require sprinting and jumping as improves maximal strength in the lower limbs.
Benefits of developing explosive strength
- Faster reaction time
- Improves the resilience of the connective tissue
- Improves intramuscular coordination
How to develop explosive strength
- For beginners and intermediates, you should focus more on improving your strength base
- When improving your strength base, you should push yourself to the max with little velocity
5. Maximum strength
Maximum strength has to do with how much force a muscle can exert in one maximal voluntary contraction. It is the highest level of force a muscle can produce.
It is this type of strength that dominates during powerlifting events. Men, on average, have more muscle mass than women, and this is why they can lift more during these events.
The most typical way of measuring maximal strength is through the 1-RM max test (One Repetition Maximum).
It is quite simple. The subject lifts the maximum weight they can lift just once.
Knowing the maximum weight a person can lift is not as straightforward, though. The performer will need a bit of trial and error, so adequate rest must be taken between weight reps.
Benefits of developing maximum strength
- Develops the fast glycolytic fibers, which can generate lots of force
- Improves bone density
- Increases performance in ADLs
How to develop maximum strength
- Rest yourself between weights to prevent muscle damage
- You can also use bench pulls, leg and bicep curls to develop maximum strength
Knowing the strength type you want to develop is critical before starting a strength training exercise.
When you have decided on what strength type to develop, make sure you are consistent with your exercise. Use the workout tips we’ve discussed here to increase strength. But do not push yourself senselessly above your limits.