Strength Training: Are You Stronger Than You Think You Are?


Strength Training: Are You Stronger Than You Think You Are?

Who doesn’t want to become stronger and more defined? Being strong can make life easier but you have to earn those muscles. You do that by working with weights or resistance bands. Strength training is important at any age but it’s even more essential as you grow older. The reason? You begin to lose muscle mass beginning at the ripe, old age of 30. By the time you reach late middle-age, the peak of your life, you’ve lost a significant amount of strength and muscle tissue. Unless you correct this, you become sarcopenic and are at higher risk for health problems like type 2 diabetes. Plus, you’re not as functional as you could be. Strength training helps you offset sarcopenia and be your absolute best and most functional self.

How Strong Are You?

If you strength train, you probably have a pretty good idea of how strong you are, or at least how strong you THINK you are. You assume that how much you can lift for a single rep (your one-rep max) is an accurate measure of how much strength you possess. However, you’re stronger than that. It seems that we don’t tap into our full strength capabilities under normal circumstances. You’ve probably heard stories of people who displayed incredible amounts of strength during a crisis situation. How about a 150-pound person lifting a car off a child trapped underneath? Certainly, that strength comes from something more profound than you can measure with a one-rep max test.

So, how do you explain strength feats like this? It seems that we have a strength reserve that we don’t normally galvanize. Two researchers, Aztsiorsky and Kraemer, have explored this phenomenon and described two types of strength – absolute strength and maximum strength. Absolute strength is the maximum force that your muscles, tendons, and ligaments can sustain under controlled lifting conditions. It’s more of a theoretical since most of us never tap into our full capabilities when lifting.

In contrast, maximum strength is the force you’re capable of generating when you’re working your hardest under routine training conditions. According to Kraemer and Aztsiorsky, your maximal strength is around two-thirds of your absolute strength. So, even when you think you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can during a strength workout, you’re not displaying the maximal amount of strength you’re capable of. Even if you think you’ve “maxed out,” you still have strength reserves that you’re not tapping into. Powerlifters come pretty close to expressing their absolute strength while a bodybuilder rarely does.

The Psychological Aspects of Strength Expression

Strength expression has a psychological component as well. Researchers conducted an experiment to illustrate this. First, they measured the arm strength of healthy, young men. Then they assessed their arm strength under varying conditions. These conditions included:

·       While the participant was under the influence of stimulants and alcohol

·       When the participant screamed as their strength was measured

·       After the participant heard

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