What is Strength?

Notes from Mel Siff’s book Supertraining by Dan Gilliland

Strength is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to generate force under specific conditions.

There are several types of strength.

Maximal Strength = production of maximal voluntary strength. = Fmax

Competitive Strength = maximum strength during competition = CFmax

Absolute Strength = greatest force produced under involuntary stimulation = Fmm eg. A mother pulling her baby out from under fallen furniture.

Training maximum = heaviest max without major excitement = TFmax

The difference between Absolute Strength [Fmm] and Competitive Max [Fmax or CFmax] is your strength deficit.  The key is to train to get your Competitive Max as  close to your Absolute Strength as possible.

Untrained people can increase their strength as much as 35% under hypnosis while trained people on average can increase their strength by only 10% in the same circumstances.  Experienced weightlifters can increase their Competitive Max as much as 12.5 % +- 2.5% over their Training max.  A key indicator of overtraining is getting better results in practice than on game day.

Their are many different types of strength.  This article hasn’t even gotten into the differences in muscle fibres and the different types of strength each fibre type is optimized for.

Understanding the different types of strength can help you better understand how to train toward competition and how to keep from peaking too soon.


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