Muscle strength is a physical ability that has shown to have numerous positive effects on both health and performance. A few years ago, everyone who talked about physical activity had cardiovascular training as their main objective. Indeed, “fads” like jogging, running, or spinning became popular. They were all intended to increase cardiopulmonary capacity. Because it had been established that having a strong cardiopulmonary capacity was associated with increased longevity and a better state of health (1), these sports modalities were being practised more frequently. Muscular strength, on the other hand, has recently taken the top spot among health-related abilities (2). Additionally, in team sports like handball, basketball, volleyball, or soccer that need endurance, muscle strength training has advanced and turned into a crucial component of exercise. It has become so bad that currently, every professional sports team has a trainer who specializes in building muscle.
A recent narrative analysis examined the impact of this form of exercise on mortality in adult populations (3). If we are talking about the association between strength training and mortality or life expectancy. They looked at a number of epidemiological and intervention studies to achieve this. Overall, the findings imply that reduced mortality is positively correlated with greater muscular strength, as measured by numerous markers like grip strength or weight lifting capacity. In other words, persons with stronger muscles have a lesser probability of passing away from numerous diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other pathologies. The authors go on to say that a number of things, including better metabolic health and lessened systemic inflammation, are responsible for this link. Additionally, they go over how crucial it is to incorporate strength training into both prevention and treatment.
However, as we’ve already discussed, muscular power is being used more and more in all kinds of sports. We must not lose sight of the fact that, once technique has been improved, muscular strength plays a significant role in determining sports performance. The impact of strength development on athletic performance in several sports, like soccer, basketball, track and field, or swimming, was examined in a recent article by Suchomel T. et al. (4). Their findings indicate that athletic performance improves with muscular strength. Additionally, it is recommended that muscle strength training be done at all ages and skill levels because it is an excellent way to lower the risk of injury in all types of populations.
It should be mentioned that in order to maximise outcomes, muscle strength training must be carefully planned. In this regard, periodization of strength training has been the subject of extensive research. Tudor Bompa, a well-known figure in the field of sports sciences, was one of the first authors to discuss the periodization of strength training. Periodization, according to Bompa, is a technique for organising training that entails adjusting variables like intensity, volume, and frequency in order to maximise an athlete’s performance and avoid stagnation or overtraining. The book “Periodization of Strength Training for Sports” is a “must” for your library if you want to learn about the periodization of strength, according to the Vitruve blog. In it, The writers discuss each method of preparation that emphasises muscular strength for various sports and disciplines in detail. They discuss training tenets like individualization or specificity in each level of preparation, which are still used in any planning today.’
In today’s essay, we will examine the various types of strength that exist and what they depend on, taking into account the significance of muscle strength in the various factors we have already described. Before we get started, I’d want to emphasise that while increasing strength generally will have great impacts on the body, we need to be more targeted if we want to prepare strength training for a specific sport.
Table of Contents
What types of strength are there?
As we’ve already established, there are various ways that strength might present itself. Who would be stronger if we had a 100-meter sprinter, a weightlifter, and a marathon runner all in front of us? No firm solution can be provided. In other words, one will be stronger than the other depending on the kind of force we are analysing. Furthermore, the strength that we will exercise will present itself differently depending on the athletic modality. We will briefly discuss each one of them in order to help you better grasp how they differ from one another.
The manifestation of strength that pertains to the largest load that a person is able to move is known as maximum strength. If we regularly train in the gym, we are aware that one factor in determining maximal strength is the number of repetitions that can be performed to the fullest capacity. A test is conducted before and a test is conducted after the whole training and the development of maximal strength is considered while creating a training plan to improve RM.
In the past, one approach to conduct an RM test was through a field test in which the weight was gradually raised until it reached the highest level that the subject could lift. Thanks to modern technologies like Vitruve, the 1RM may now be determined through a quick and easy field test without taxing the central nervous system. In reality, technologies created by researchers at the University of Granada enable one to determine the one RM by completing just three or four series (5). This kind of strength heavily relies on the central nervous system and results in changes that make the recruitment of motor units and muscle fibres much more effective.
Endurance/ Strength resistance
The capacity of the body to sustain a steady force over an extended period of time is referred to as endurance. Athletes constantly use power to overcome resistance, such as the resistance of the bike, the water, or simply moving during the race, in sports like triathlons or cycling, for instance. Since it has been demonstrated that this kind of strength can enhance athletic performance, it should be practised in this kind of sport. In a recent paper, Prieto-González et al. (6) came to the conclusion that concurrent activity, or combined strength and endurance work, enhanced performance measures in recreational athletes.
The greatest display of strength in a very short amount of time is explosive strength. Sports like weightlifting and long jump make excellent use of this ability. To lift the weight they have or to jump as far as they can, athletes must use as much force as they can in a very short amount of time. Any sort of throwing or jumping, such as shot put, javelin, hammer, or discus, as well as high jump or triple jump, are also included by this. Speed-induced force is referred to as power. Similar to how we emphasised the significance of strength in health at the beginning of this blog, there is a slight change towards power today. Consequently, it appears that the determinant muscle power, but also the speed at which you can use it, is a sign of good health.
The significance of explosive strength in older adults was established by a 2012 study by Reid K. et al. (7). In their research, they found that muscle power rather than muscle strength was a better predictor of functional ability. Additionally, a systematic review and meta-analysis carried out in 2015 examined the connection between explosive strength and balance in people of all ages and came to the conclusion that the stronger the explosive strength, the more balanced the person is and the less likely they are to fall or sustain an injury (8). Because of this, whether your goal is to increase your athletic performance or enhance your health, explosive strength training should be a need.
Other types of strength
We may say that the aforementioned examples represent the main representations of strength. There are additional categories of strength, such as the maximum isometric force, which quantifies the amount of force required to move an immovable object. Or there’s the maximum eccentric strength, which is the amount of force a person can exert during the eccentric part of a movement. For instance, when performing a squat, breaking the fall of the bar allows us to hold more weight than if we were attempting to lift the bar
If we have an RM of 100 kg, we can lift those kilogrammes by squatting, which is a very straightforward illustration to help us comprehend this concept. However, we will take 120–130 kg, for instance, to calculate how many kg we can break. It is advantageous that you are aware of the several sorts of strength available, even if, as we have already stated, we will concentrate mostly on the three manifestations discussed in this piece.
In conclusion, this week’s post discusses the value of strengthening your muscles for both your health and your athletic performance, showing how physical strength has evolved into a crucial component of training for endurance or team sports. According to the studies discussed, increased metabolic health and decreased systemic inflammation are two factors that make muscle strength favourably associated with lower mortality. It is also addressed how crucial it is to incorporate strength training into programmes for both prevention and treatment of many chronic conditions. The article also covers the many kinds of strength, emphasising the necessity of periodization in order to maximise an athlete’s performance and avoid overtraining or plateauing. We once more draw attention to the primary categories of strength:
Finally, the role of strength is becoming increasingly important for both performance and health. Remember that training all manifestations of strength will help your body function as a perfect machine or at least be on the way to doing so.