The 4 types of physical strength

What does physical strength (human’s exertion of force on physical objects) mean? In school we learned that force is the product of mass and acceleration. But how do we define physical strength in training if we want to build muscles? Here, our muscles develop the strength themselves in order to perform work and movement. This requires the energy we get from our food. The great thing about our body is that through regular training we can always increase our strength, because our muscles adapt to the higher load. If any athlete keeps training their body or muscles for their sport, they will increase their strength so that a steady increase in resistance is not a problem in their sport. But if the person were to do a different sport, it could cause problems. This is because there are different types of strength that can be trained.

In sports science, strength is divided into four complex abilities: maximum strength, speed strength, strength endurance and reactive strength. Depending on the sport, different strengths are needed, either just one or several. For example, for a weightlifter, maximum strength and rapid strength are good, for a cyclist, strength endurance, for a martial artist or track and field athlete, reactive strength. A footballer would need reactive strength, strength endurance and speed strength to last in the game and have strong kicks.

In muscle building training, strength endurance is needed to do resistance training with multiple repetitions. However, it is also useful to train the other strengths to provide variety. The types of strength are explained in more detail below.

Maximum strength

Maximum strength is the greatest possible force that the body can exert in the face of resistance. Sports scientists also call it basic strength because it is the foundation for the other three types of strength. Here a distinction is made between two forms, static and dynamic maximum strength. In addition to regular training, this strength can also be influenced by genetic predisposition, gender and age. Training is often done with one to five repetitions per set and with high explosiveness and long pauses. You should take a break of three to five minutes after each set. The goal of maximum training is to lift as much weight as possible.

Speed strength

Speed strength is the ability of the muscles to generate large force impulses in a short time. The aim of speed training is to generate the greatest possible impulse so that a movement can be performed as quickly as possible. Here too, a distinction is made between single (acyclic) and multiple (cyclic) movement impulses. In acyclic movements, the movement goal is achieved by a single action and the movements are not reversible, e.g. throwing a ball quickly. In cyclic movements, the similar movements are repeated, e.g. in rowing, and these movement impulses are important for muscle building training. To train speed strength, one should perform 8 to 15 repetitions at medium weight. 

Reactive strength

Reactive strength is the strength to perform reactive movements. It is the ability of muscles to store energy during stretching and release it during subsequent shortening. During this stretch-shortening cycle, an impulse is generated. It plays an important role in competitive sports. For example, in the standing long jump, you go into a squat position (stretching phase) and energy has already been stored in the downward movement. When you now perform the jump (shortening phase), you release the stored energy. In this way you could jump further or even higher. In muscle-building training, this can be done well when training with your own body weight.

Strength endurance

Strength endurance refers to a performance involving a high level of force exertion over a long period of time. Thus, it would be very important for endurance sports. Strength endurance is based on maximum strength, which can only be used a few times until the muscles tire. In order to be able to use this strength for a longer period of time, the fatigue limit should be pushed back with strength endurance training. You should perform 15 to 20 repetitions per set and have rests of no more than one minute. Use half your maximum weight and maintain a steady execution speed. 

Conclusion of the four types of strength in muscle building

It's good to have a routine, but a little variety in your training schedule doesn't hurt either. Muscles grow best with three to five sets of six to eight repetitions. However, you can only build up a lot of muscle mass with big weights. You could switch your training to maximal strength one week a month to increase your strength levels. To create growth stimuli for your muscles, a training session with your own body weight once a week would be good.