Do You Know The 4 Types Of Strength? (And Do You Have All Of Them?)

Strength Training

Strength isn’t just about how much you can lift

Strength is a component that should be part of every health and fitness program.

We want to get strong so we can function and do things better.

Strength is not only measured by the amount of weight you can lift because there is more to being strong than just having the ability to handle prodigious amounts of weight.

Thus, strength is relative to what you are trying to accomplish.

If you can run faster, climb higher or walk up a flight of stairs easier than before guess what? You have gotten stronger!

There are four types of strength:

Absolute Strength
Maximum force your musculature can exert to perform a particular function whether it is a pulling or pushing action. This is measured in the amount of weight you can lift.

Relative Strength
Measures the amount of strength you can generate given your body weight. Thus a lighter person who can lift the same weight as a heavier person is relatively stronger.

Speed Strength
This is otherwise referred to as “Power” or the rate or speed you can apply your strength.

Suspension Training

Suspension training exercises using TRX is yet another way to build strength

Strength Endurance
The more common term is “Conditioning” or your body’s ability to sustain its maximum level of strength over a period of time.

A strength building program will be productive if it incorporates movements that accentuate each of these types of strength.

But can everyone regardless of age, gender and current level of fitness benefit from these exercises?

The answer is “Yes”. The purpose of a strength building program is to improve performance which carries over to function.

Who does not want to move better and do everyday things easier?

Second, the level of intensity and frequency will correspond to your capability.

The Best Exercises To Get Strong Fast

Absolute Strength

The best exercises to develop absolute strength are compound movements which utilise the largest muscles of the body.

These are the legs, back, chest and shoulders. Compound movements require a great deal of coordination, balance and focus.

These exercises are as follows:

An effective strength building program should be anchored on these lifts because they produce the greatest strength gains.

It would be better to use free-weights for these movements but if you have injury or mobility issues, machines could suffice.

Recommended set and repetition scheme: 5 sets of 5 repetitions

Recommended frequency per week: One day per exercise per week

Relative Strength

Although free-weights could be used to measure relative strength, a better point of reference would be the individual’s ability to carry his or her body weight.

Calisthenics are great for developing functional movement. These form the basis of developing our original strength or the natural physical abilities we were born with.

The best exercises for developing relative strength are as follows:

Unlike lifting free-weights, calisthenics utilise different neural pathways and require different levels of coordination, balance and focus. Calisthenics also develops mobility and flexibility.

Recommended set and rep scheme: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Recommended frequency per week:  2 to 3 days per week

Speed Strength

Speed Strength

Speed strength is an essential part of your overall strength, and has numerous healthy-boosting benefits

To develop power, you should use resistance that will allow you to generate the highest amount of force within a protracted period of time.

You can use free weights, machines or body weights to work on speed strength.

For free weights, exercise selection should still utilise the largest muscles of the body but the weights should be comparatively lighter.

Here are the best exercises to develop speed strength:

Free Weight Exercises:

Bodyweight Exercises:

For both free-weight and bodyweight exercise form and execution are more important than the number of repetitions.

Ideally 3 sets of 5 repetitions should suffice. For wind sprints, 5 intervals for no more than 50 meters would be fine.

These movements can be quite intense and should be performed only once a week or every two weeks.

Strength Endurance

Similar to speed strength, you can use free-weights, machines or bodyweight movements to improve strength endurance.

Volume is the key component for developing strength endurance.

The best exercises are the ones identified for absolute and relative strength. The difference is in the amount of resistance to be applied.

In order to sustain the level of strength you cannot lift the same amount of weight as in absolute strength.

A good starting point would be a weight equivalent to 50% of the weight you used for absolute strength.

In both absolute and relative strength exercises, we have to incorporate the element of time.

For example, we could test the number of repetitions that can be done in one minute.

After a rest period of 30 seconds to one minute, we repeat the process until we can complete a total of five minutes for the exercise.

Putting It All Together

Absolute Strength

Compound exercises like deadlifts are the most known and most popular strength building exercises

Before you undertake a strength building program you must do three things:

  • Get medically cleared by your doctor or health professional
  • Hire a certified Personal Trainer
  • Identify your purpose, goals and objectives

As mentioned earlier, anyone regardless of age, gender or current level of fitness could benefit from a strength building program.

Any resistance that is applied to your muscle will recruit fibres to accommodate the load.

Over time the muscle will adapt to the resistant and greater load will have to be applied to get progressively stronger.

The amount of resistance, frequency and duration will be determined by the medical results and the recommendations of the Personal Trainer.

But an effective program should address these different types of strength.

A basic yet comprehensive “Get Strong Fast” program would look like this:

Monday:  Absolute, Relative, Endurance
•    Box Jumps – 3 x 5
•    Squats –  3 x 5
•    Pull Ups –3 x 5
•    Deadlifts– 3 x 5
•    Walking Lunges –  2 x 10

Wednesday:  Speed, Absolute, Endurance
•    Clap Push Ups – 3 x 5
•    Bench Press – 3 x 5
•    Overhead Press – 3 x 5
•    Dips – 2 x 10

Thursday:  Speed

Plyometric Strength Exercises

Plyometric exercises like clap pushups are a great bodyweight strength building exercise

•    Jump Squats – 3 x 5
•    High Pulls – 3 x 5
•    Power Cleans – 3 x 5
•    Push Press – 3 x 5
•    Wind Sprints (Outdoors or Treadmill) – 5 sprints x 50 meters

Saturday:  Endurance
5 Intervals
•    Burpees x 30 seconds
•    Pull Ups x 30 seconds
•    Push Ups x 30 seconds
•    Spider Crawls x 30 seconds
•    Horizontal Bounding x 10 jumps
•    Jump Rope x 2 minutes

Finally, remember your post-workout protocols:

•    Stretching
•    Post Workout Nutrition
•    Rest and Recovery

Putting all of these components together in one program could put you on the fast track to health and fitness with newfound real world strength.

Remember that the only limits are the ones that you set on yourself!