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3 Types of Strength Training - Train the Type You Really Need 10/18/16, 4:23 PM

The 3 Types of Strength: Get Past


Your Limitations by Training the
Type You Really Need
By Jarlo

Heres a common, frustrating scenario:

Youre trying to get stronger for something you enjoy. Maybe youre

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working on getting stronger legs so you can get your next stripe in
BJJ. Or maybe youre a surfer working on core strength for more
power in your turns. Whatever your thing is, youve been strength
training regularly for weeks.

And sure, youre getting


stronger in some ways. But
thats not translating into better
performance in the thing youre
training for in the first place.

At this point, a lot of people tell


themselves, I guess my body
just isnt made for this. And
they move on to something that
comes easier for them. But the
truth is, the vast majority of No matter what activities you love, you
want to make sure your strength training
peoples bodies are completely
is helping you get better at those things.
capable of doing the things they
want to do with the right
training.

So whats really holding them back?

One of the biggest roadblocks for many people is actually pretty

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simple they dont yet know the right ways to train their bodies for
their specific goals. Think about it. Most strength training advice is
focused on one of two goals: bigger muscles or lifting heavier things.
A high-jumper who follows that advice wont get very high.

If youve been working on your strength but not getting much better
at the things you actually care about, there are a couple possibilities.

First, its possible that strength isnt your primary challenge. It


could be that your primary limiting factor is actually flexibility or
body control (in which case, click on the appropriate link and
work on that first).
Or theres the second possibility and if youre still reading this
theres a good chance this applies to you that strength is the
thing you need, but your current training isnt building the right
kind of strength.

You see, thinking of strength as one singular thing can actually be


counterproductive. A rock climber and a power lifter are both strong.
But that doesnt mean their bodies are suited for the same things. The
kind of strength you need depends on what you want to do with it.

In this article, Ill describe three different types of strength, and Ill
show you how to apply three simple principles to build each type.

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Plus Ill share a sample routine for each one so you can really see
what Im talking about. By the end of the article, youll be able to see
which kind(s) of strength you actually need to work on, and youll
know how to start building it.

Essential Ingredients for Strength Building to


Happen
Before we get into the different
types of strength, I want to talk
briefly about some things that
must be in place in order for you
to improve your strength.

If youre trying to get stronger


for a particular activity and
youre not seeing the results you
want, it may not only be an issue
of the type of strength youre
building. You may also be To get stronger you need to have these
three elements in your program.
missing these essential
ingredients. Heres what youve
got to have in place:

The Intensity Level Must Be Sufficient You have to hit a


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certain threshold of exertion that goes beyond what you do in


your daily life.
Your Practice Must Be Regular You need to be consistent so
that your body adapts and increases strength in response to the
stimulation.
There Must Be Progressive Overload As you keep training
regularly, you will adapt and get stronger, so your workouts have
to get progressively more difficult. That ample amount of
resistance when you first started will soon become too easy and
will no longer be enough to induce any improvements in strength.

In each of they sections below describing the different types of


strength, Ive included a sample program that reflects each of these
rules. There are hundreds of ways to make different programs, with
as many different philosophies of training, but they all have to obey
the above three rules if you want to build strength.

Want to see these rules in action right away? Our bodyweight


circuit is a great place to start.

Get Strong Without Weights

Or keep scrolling to see which type of strength you should be

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focusing on for the activities you love.

1. Absolute Strength
Absolute Strength is the
maximum force your
musculature can exert for a
particular action, whether its a
press, a squat, a pull, or any
other action.

If you do recreational
powerlifting, absolute strength is
the name of the game. Youre
always looking to improve your
1-Rep Max (1RM) in three lifts the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

But what if you dont do powerlifting? When does training for absolute
strength come in handy?

It actually can be quite applicable to your regular life probably not


every day, but when situations arise, youll be happy to have trained
your absolute strength:

When youre doing spring cleaning and need to lift your heavy

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couch to clean behind it, absolute strength will come in handy.


If theres a storm coming and your storm shutters have some rust
at the joints, being able to pull them shut requires a good level of
absolute strength.
Your car breaks down and you need to move it out of traffic.
Absolute strength will help you push your car a short distance.
If a jar is sealed really tight, absolute strength is what helps you
muster the strength to open it (without banging it on the counter a
dozen times first).

Absolute strength in regular life helps you pick up (or push, or pull)
something very heavy one time. It is not the kind of strength that will
help you carry something heavy for a mile (well get to that type of
strength shortly).

Application: Sample Program for Absolute Strength

In general, training for this involves lifting weights at 80%+ of the


maximal weight you can lift for several sets of a few repetitions.
Training with that load makes the intensity level sufficient. As you
improve and that load starts to feel less intense, youll increase the
load so that you always stay at that 80% mark this is the
progressive overload aspect.

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Heres a sample program so you can see this in action. Make sure to
get a minimum of 2-3 sessions of this workout in per week so that
your practice is regular enough for the results you want.

Some important things to note about this sample program:

In general, a program using weights will work best for building


absolute strength, but a bodyweight program can work as well, so
long as the intensity stays at the right level of 80-90%. The
bodyweight program below accounts for that.
Make sure your rest periods are on the higher end, at least 2
minutes between exercises.
The following program can be done as a circuit if you prefer, but
still make sure to rest at least 2 minutes between exercises.
Start at the lower end of the set/rep range recommended, adding
one rep per week until you are up to 8 sets of 5.

Do
Exercise
This

4-8 sets Squat - Use a variation that keeps the difficulty at about a 7. This may be a
of 3-5 pistol squat, shrimp squat, or other single leg variation.
reps

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4-8 sets Push-Up - Use a variation that keeps the difficulty at about a 7. This may be
of 3-5 a hollow body push-up, an inverted press, or a one arm push-up.
reps

4-8 sets Pull-Up - Use a variation that keeps the difficulty at about a 7. This may be a
of 3-5 one arm pull-up progression or a slow motion pull-up.
reps

For help with the exercises in this sample program, see this article on
bodyweight leg strength exercises, this article on push-ups, and this
article on pull-ups.

2. Power (AKA Speed Strength)


Power considers how quickly you
can use your strength.

If you enjoy playing basketball,


power is an important part of
playing well. Obstacle course
racing also requires power in
certain parts of the challenge.
And if you do a sport like Muay
Thai (or other fighting sports),
power is what will allow you to

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land your punches and kicks with the right amount of force and
speed.

You may have a high level of strength, but if you lack speed, you wont
be able to do these activities with the necessary amount of power.

In your daily life, power comes into play when you have to use
strength very quickly:

If youve ever had to sprint to catch a bus, you know how


important power is.
When you quickly jump into action to catch your daughter before
her head hits the ground, youre relying on your power to see you
through.
Bounding up the stairs, taking them two at a time, is all about
power.

Power is important for many types of sports, but as you can see, you
probably rely on power (or could benefit from it) often in your daily
life.

Application: Sample Program for Power

Training for power usually involves lighter forces in high-speed


movements for several repetitions with long rest periods. This

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encourages explosive performance with low fatigue.

The high speeds and repetitions allow for sufficient intensity


intensity. And
just as with absolute strength, the progressive overload will come
from increasing the intensity by adding either weight or repetitions,
when the intensity starts to level off.

With this sample program, youll make your practice regular by


training 2 days per week.

Some important things to note about this sample program:

As with absolute strength, in general, weights do work better for


building power. The bodyweight program below will work well,
however, as it includes explosive movements.
Keep your rest periods long, at least 3 minutes between
exercises, to allow for nearly complete recovery between
exercises.
The following program can be done as a circuit if you prefer, but
alternate upper body and lower body movements, and maintain
long rest periods.
Start at the lower end of the set/rep range recommended, adding
one rep per week until you are up to 5 sets of 3.

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Do
Exercise
This

3-5 sets Jump - Use a variation that you could do 20-25 reps with. This could be a
of 1-3 standing broad jump, jump for height, or bounding (jumping forward with one
reps leg).

3-5 sets Explosive Push-Up - Use a variation that you could do 20-25 reps with, but
of 1-3 make your movement explosive.
reps

3-5 sets Explosive Pull-Up - Use a variation that you could do 20-25 reps with, but
of 1-3 make your movement explosive.
reps

For help with your jump, see our detailed tutorial.

3. Strength Endurance

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Strength Endurance is defined by


Mel Siff in the classic text
Supertraining as the specific
form of strength displayed in
activities which require a
relatively long duration of muscle
tension with minimal decrease in
efficiency.

If you do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,


running, or climbing, this is the
most important type of strength for you to train. You need to be able
to sustain your strength for a long period of time without burning
yourself out.

Weve all experienced the need for strength endurance at some point
in our daily lives:

Your friend asks you to help him move. Carrying heavy boxes and
furniture for several hours requires a good level of strength
endurance.
When the elevator at work is broken and you have to walk up 16
flights of stairs to get to your desk, thats a good example of
strength endurance in action.
Get strong without weights: Try Our Free Bodyweight Circuit "

! MENU
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MENU
If your son trips and twists his ankle while youre on a family hike,
youll need strength endurance to carry him back to your car.

This is definitely one that comes up fairly often in daily life.

Application: Sample Program for Strength Endurance

Training for strength endurance is pretty darn uncomfortable and has


you working at high levels of force with as little rest as possible. Too
little rest and youll burn out, too much rest and you wont get the
effects desired.

Remember, its all about reaching sufficient intensity


intensity. You can work
on increasing the force or decreasing rest over time to ensure
progressive overload
overload.

For this sample program, be sure to train 2-3 days per week so your
practice is regular
regular.

Some important things to note about this sample program:

Unlike absolute strength and power, bodyweight exercise is best


for building strength endurance.
Your rest periods will be much shorter, 1 minute or less between
sets.
Circuit training is optimal for building endurance, so thats how
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the following program should be done. Youll have little to no rest


between exercises, and rest up to 1 minute between rounds.
Start with 1 set of 20 for each exercise, adding 1 set per week
until youve reached 3 sets of 20. Then add 5 reps per week until
you max out at 3 sets of 50 reps per exercise.

Do This Exercises

Circuit: 1-3 rounds of 20- Squat - Use a variation with which you can start at 20
50 reps per exercise. reps.
Push-Up - Use a variation with which you can start at 20
reps (may need to do them on your knees).
Pull-Up - Use a variation with which you can start at 20
reps (horizontal/Australian pull-up).

If your basic bodyweight squat can use some help, our detailed
tutorial will help you out.

What About Relative Strength?

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Relative strength isnt really a


type of strength, but rather a
reflection of your current state of
being. It is the ratio of your level
of strength relative to your
bodyweight.

While there isnt any particular


style of training that will impact
your relative strength, it can be
modified.

If you currently have some weight to lose, you can impact your
relative strength by maintaining your current strength level while
lowering your bodyweight. Conversely, you can maintain your current
bodyweight while increasing your strength (using any of the three
strength types described above).

For the most part, you dont have to worry about modifying your
relative strength. If youre working on getting stronger, thats all that
matters.

Build the Right Strength for the Activities You Love

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As you can probably guess, one


type of strength does not negate
another. And many activities call
upon more than one type of
strength.

Whats important is that your


efforts match your goals.

If youre not seeing your


performance in the activities you
love improving, in spite of
spending time on strength training, then its likely you need a
different approach.

We designed our Integral Strength program with the best parts of


different types of strength training. It helps you assess your
weaknesses and address what you need to work on the most, so that
you can do better at the activities you love.

One client, Laura, is a rower and marathon runner, and used Integral
Strength to help her prepare for a race:

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Thank you to GMB Fitness for providing me
with your Integral Strength program. My
exercises are coming along well, my rowing
has improved due to a stronger motor Laura Try

movement in my legs and my running posture


feels great.

I used to be the hare, now I can see why the


tortoise gets all the credit. Since writing this
post, I have since run the Great Wall of China
marathon. Despite not having trained for it, I
completed it. It took 10 hours and 5 minutes,
included over 10,000 steps with 3,300m of
elevation.

I think my shrimp squat practise most days is


what has made my legs strong enough to
complete a challenge like this with little
running training. Thank you, GMB!

Get Strong To Do Better at What


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You Want

Over eight weeks, Integral


Strength will help you build the
kind of strength that carries over
into the demanding physical skills
and dynamic sports you love.
INTEGRAL STRENGTH
Build Practical Strength with
Integral Strength Details Bodyweight Exercises

Related Tutorials and Articles

Strength Training vs. Leg Strength: The Hows Integral Strength - Body- The GMB Fitness Skills
Movement Practice - Why and Whys of Building a weight Exercise Program Show [Episode #73] - The
and When to Move On Strong Lower Body with from GMB "Perfect" Bodyweight
Bodyweight Exercise Strength Training Program

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Written by: Jarlo Strength


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