Training Principles, Part One - Types Of Strength

By James Walker CCS, STM, Biosig, Master Trainer

There is more than one type of strength, therefore there is more than one way to strength train. Below I’ve listed some of the basic types. If you’re not familiar review and think about how each one can be applied. Of course some seems similar and could potentially overlap in application. This article is also the part of my 'Training Principles' article series, part one of nine.

  1. Absolute Strength-is the maximal amount of force an individual can produce, regardless of their bodyweight and time involved, as in the shot put and contact between football linemen.
  2. Endurance Strength or Muscular Endurance-is the amount of force an individual can produce over a longer period of time while resisting fatigue as in rowing, swimming, distance running, and cross-country skiing.
  3. Maximal Strength-is the maximal amount of force an individual can produce in a single maximal contraction or effort, regardless of the time involved as in weightlifting, shot putting, hammer throwing, caber tossing, etc.
  4. Optimal Strength-is the maximal amount of strength that an individual needs to perform their sport optimally and will vary from sport to sport, as in power lifting or weightlifting vs. table tennis or squash.
  5. Relative Strength-is the maximum amount of force an individual can produce at a given bodyweight or weight class (per lb or kg), regardless of the time involved as in skiing, gymnastics, bobsledding, figure sating, cycling and wrestling, boxing, weight lifting or weight class sports. Thus it is the relationship between maximal strength and body mass and is beneficial when increasing an athlete’s strength while maintaining their bodyweight.
  6. Speed Strength or Power-is the ability to produce the most force in the shortest amount of time or to overcome the resistance in the shortest amount of time as in sprinting, kicking, sprint cycling, sprint rowing, ice-skating, kayaking, etc There are three components of speed strength-explosive, reactive, and starting strength.
  • Explosive Strength-is the ability to increase force after a movement has been initiated or the rate at which an individual can achieve maximal force as in the shot put, hammer throw, judo throw, or wrestle take down.
  • Reactive Strength-is the ability to quickly change from an eccentric contraction to a concentric contraction as in the high jump, long jump, triple jump, volleyball, and basketball.
  • Starting Strength-is the ability to produce maximal force at the start of a muscular contraction or to overcome resistance when initiating movement as in sprint start, bat swing, paddle swing. It is especially a key determinant of performance in sports where the resistance to overcome is relatively light as in table tennis.

 ‘Train Safe, Smart, & Results Driven’