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Strength

The common definition is "the ability to exert a force against a resistance". The strength needed for a sprinter to explode from the blocks is different to the strength needed by a weight lifter to lift a 200kg barbell. This therefore implies that there are different types of strength.

What are the classifications of strength?

The classifications of strength are:

  • Maximum strength - the greatest force that is possible in a single maximum contraction
  • Elastic strength - the ability to overcome a resistance with a fast contraction
  • Strength endurance - the ability to express force many times over

Absolute and Relative strength

  • Absolute strength - The maximum force an athlete can exert with his or her whole body, or part of the body, irrespective of body size or muscle size
  • Relative strength - The maximum force exerted in relation to body weight or muscle size.

How do we get strong?

A muscle will only strengthen when it is worked beyond its normal operation - it is overloaded. Overload can be progressed by increasing the:

  • number of repetitions of an exercise
  • number of sets of the exercise
  • intensity by reduced recover time

How do we develop strength?

The effects of strength training

Strength training programs cause biomechanical changes that occur within muscle and serve to increase the oxidative capacity of the muscle. The affects of strength training are:

  • an increase in ATP, CP and glycogen concentration
  • a decrease in oxidative enzyme activity
  • a decrease in mitocarbohydratendrial density

These changes vary slightly according to the training intensity.

Changes that occur within the muscle because of strength training are classified as:

  • Myogenic - changes within the muscle structure
  • Neuogenic - changes to the connection between muscle and nerve

Myogenic changes

Strength training results in muscle hypertrophy, an increase in the cross-sectional size of existing fibres. This is achieved by increasing:

  • number of myofibrils
  • sarcoplasmic volume
  • protein
  • supporting connective tissue (ligaments and tendons)

Strength training programs increase the intramuscular stores such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine phosphate (CP) and glycogen.

In women, the potential for hypertrophy is not as great as men due mainly to the lower levels of testosterone in women.

Neurogenic changes

By repeatedly stimulating muscle, you increase the rate of response of the central nervous system. The recruitment patterns become more refined and as a result and gross movement patterns become more efficient and effective.

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Strength [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/strength.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: