The expression of strength (also known as the “absolute” or “static”) is a measure of how much force one can exert with their body without any assistance from another object. There are many different ways to calculate it, but the most common method is simply to multiply your weight times 10. For instance if you weigh 100 pounds, then you would have a force of 10 pounds when using just your own weight alone. If you were to use other objects such as a barbell, dumbbells, or even a rope, then the total force could be higher than 10 pounds. However, these other methods will not account for all of the forces involved in your body’s movements. For instance if you used weights while performing a pull up, then those weights would add onto your total force.
Absolute strength is a useful measurement because it allows us to compare different exercises and training programs. For instance, someone who does not train at all may only be able to lift very light loads, whereas someone who trains regularly may be able to lift heavier weights.
Also, the absolute strength of an exercise can give insight into whether or not certain forms of resistance training are effective for specific goals. For instance, deadlifts are a great exercise for building up strength in the lower back, but they are a poor way of increasing lower back strength when compared to an exercise like the superman.
Other forms of strength also include relative strength and explosive strength.
Relative strength refers to the amount of force that can be produced by a muscle or group of muscles relative to the force that can be produced by the same person’s body (i.e.
their absolute strength). This can be measured a number of different ways, but is most commonly measured by the ratio of force that can be produced by a muscle divided by the person’s body weight (i.e. force/weight).
Explosive strength is a measure of how quickly a muscle can produce force. Unlike absolute and relative strength, explosive strength is not typically related to the weight that someone can lift.
This is because the only way to improve explosive strength is to practice exercises that are specifically designed to improve it.
There are thousands of exercise and training programs that claim to improve one’s strength, but only a few have been shown through research studies to be effective. Some of these exercises and training programs are described below along with articles that discuss their effectiveness.
If you enjoyed the article on The Expression of Strength, then you may also enjoy the following articles.
How Do Muscles Contract?
Contraction of muscles can be a complex process, but here we will explore the basics of it. A muscle contraction can be divided into two parts, the concentric and eccentric portion. In the concentric part the muscle shortens while in the eccentric part the muscle lengthens. For instance, when you do a bicep curl your bicep muscle contracts and shortens bringing the handle towards your shoulder. When you lower the weight back down, the muscle lengthens (eccentric portion) while bringing the handle back down.
There are different types of muscle fibers within our body that are all controlled by a series of nerves. The three different types of muscle fibers include: slow twitch, fast twitch A and fast twitch B.
Slow twitch, also known as Type I muscle fibers are more resistant to fatigue and can keep constant movement going for long periods of time (i.e. they have endurance). They also do not contract or generate as much force as the other two fiber types, but still have some of that ability. Slow twitch muscle fibers contain a greater amount of mitochondria to help provide energy for the muscle cell. They also contain more myoglobin than the other two fiber types which help transport oxygen to the mitochondria. This combination of characteristics would seem to indicate that slow twitch fibers are better suited for longer term aerobic activities.
Fast twitch A muscle fibers, also known as Type IIa, have some endurance but not quite as much as slow twitch fibers. They are good for moderate intensity activities that last a reasonably long period of time (i.e.
they have some endurance). Fast twitch A fibers also contract rapidly and generate a moderate amount of force.
Fast twitch B muscle fibers, also known as Type IIb, have little endurance and can only produce a limited amount of force, but they can generate that force rapidly. These are the sprinter muscles.
They have some endurance, but would not be ideal for long distance running.
How Do Muscles Grow After Training?
You may have heard the saying “Use it or Lose it”. This is in fact true with muscles. If you do not use your muscles, then your body will eventually “turn off” those genes that are no longer in use (i.e. via less important or “turned off” in the genes). This is known as gene regulation. It has been shown that regular training causes an increase in the number of myonuclei within a muscle fiber. It is thought that this may be one mechanism by which heavy resistance training can cause muscles to grow even when they are no longer in use (i.e. after training).
There has been some debate on the internet about whether or not muscles can grow while you are resting. It is now known that muscles do in fact continue to grow even while at rest!
Some have suggested that perhaps a muscle will only keep growing as long as the stimulus (in this case training) is maintained. So if you rested for too long, your muscles may begin to atrophy. However, studies have shown that muscles continue to grow for at least 5 days after training and maybe up to 14 days! Wow!! Certainly strengthens the case for periodization!
The time course of activation of genes for muscle growth has been studied in mice (don’t worry I’ll try and keep this as simple as possible). Using different types of mutants they found that certain genes had to turn on before other genes could be activated.
They also found that the signaling pathways involved in this process take time to occur and that this process seems to last at least 5 days and up to 14 days! This may explain why it is beneficial to give your muscles time to rest after you’ve been training them. The next question then becomes how long should you rest them before training them again…well that’s where periodization comes in!
Periodization is the concept of cycling your training so that you are always emphasizing different attributes. This allows you to rest some aspects while developing others and is a very effective and efficient way to train.
There are many ways to periodize, but I would recommend periodizing your conditioning (aerobic and anaerobic) from your strength training.
Sources & references used in this article:
Atomic oxygen oscillator strengths in the autoionization region. I. The absolute strength of the 5s′ lines by RA Van Tassel, RE Huffman… – The Journal of Chemical …, 1973 – aip.scitation.org
Absolute strength determinations of dipole transitions and unique spin-parity assignments in 52Cr and 56Fe by PB Smith, W Segeth – Nuclear Physics A, 1983 – Elsevier
Test reliability and errors of measurement at several levels of absolute isometric strength by W Kroll – Research Quarterly. American Association …, 1970 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com
Sentiment strength detection in short informal text by M Thelwall, K Buckley, G Paltoglou… – Journal of the …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Theory of communication. Part 1: The analysis of information by D Gabor – … the Institution of Electrical Engineers-Part III: Radio and …, 1946 – IET