are there 2 types of "strength"?

  1. are there 2 types of "strength"?

    When I was in college and didn't have access to a gym, all I did was all types/variations of pullups, pushups, and situps. I got very strong doing these bodyweight exercises, but I remember once going to the gym back home when I was on spring break and feeling weak when it came to bench press, curls, etc.....even though I could out-do any of my friends with the bodyweight exercises.

    Now, all I do is weights - my bench, squat, shoulder press are all very respectable...strongest I've ever been.....but just today I tried to see how many pushups I could do and I could only do 24 in good form!! That's like one fourth of my college days max, when I couldn't even bench half as much as now!!!

    What's going on here?

    Are there really 2 different kinds of "strong"???

    Which is better to have for both functional strength, and overall health???

  2. Sure. The body-weight exercises are more than likely a lighter load than your weighted movements. So, doing body-weight movements you'd be primarily increasing your muscular endurance, not your maximum strength.

    Weights on the other, you typically use more intense loads for less reps - increasing your strength rather than endurance.

    Then, don't forget about power - such as typified by power cleans, snatches, jerks and other similar movements that focus on explosivity. That too is another factor. Here, maximal strength plays a part, but so does your capacity to contract and accelerate a given load very rapidly.

    So, yeah, there's endurance (most body-weight stuff), maximal strength (most weight stuff), and power (explosive lifts/plyometrics).
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  3. Your body adapts to whatever stress you place on it. If you are doing 20+ reps per set, then you are primarily recruiting type I motor units.

    To answer your question: Strength can come from addition of contractile proteins within a muscle fiber (typically actin & myosin, however there are more). And/or strength can come from motor learning (neural control) which allows the nervous system to recruit more type II motor units. With powerlifting, some can achieve recruitment of type IIx motor units.

  4. Also, don't forget about CNS recruitment. When you concentrate on particular exercises your body learns to recruit more motor neurons from your CNS for those exercises. If you've already done these exercises before then you experience what most people refer to as muscle memory. Meaning if you start doing pushups again you'll get back to where you were or close to it pretty quickly.

    I've never been able to balance bench press vs. pushups, I've always had to choose one and run with it.

  5. eh, i warm up on bench with 3-5 reps and only push out singles. went in to do MMA cuz i had a week free and got 100 pushups in a tad over a minute(nips to ground, all the way up). havnt done pushups since highschool (3 yrs ago) i just felt like a feather from being so much stronger. so i think theres is carryover.

  6. Relative Strength = Strength compared with body weight

    Maximal Strength = Overall Maximal Strength regardless of how much you weigh.

    Different sports or events require different types of strength.

    For functionality and healthy living eg. being able to still get around when you are 80-90 years old, i think relative strength is more important.


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