Respecting your Capacities: Part 2 Strength

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Training within your strength capacity may seem like common sense but there is some nuance to this concept. In the previous blog we talked about strength capacity as the amount of load/weight a specific tissue or joint can manage with a high level of precision and control. The precision and control part of this definition is what I will be elaborating on here.

Simply put strength without control is a liability, not an asset.

Strength capacity is a marker of the strength of the system (entire body) as much as it is a singular muscle group or strength through a specific movement. We must be able to direct all of the force we generate into moving an object without secondary position changes. In the case of a one rep max (1RM) back squat; it’s not uncommon for knees to crash in or for the low back to change shape throughout the rep. The change in position while under load is what can lead to both acute and repetitive stress injuries depending on the magnitude of the change.

If training for longevity is the goal, the days of the one rep max should be behind us, the risk:reward of this effort is just not worth it. However, this is where the heavy single shines. The heavy single quite simply is our strength capacity in a given movement at a given time. We approach this test knowing that as soon as the quality of the movement suffers we have reached our top end in load. Again, if we cannot control the direction and output of our strength its use becomes limited.

We can still build plenty of strength working with heavy singles. To build strength we need to be moving weight at, or above, 75% of our strength capacity. If there is a 25% differential between a max effort and a heavy effort the focus should shift to, range of motion, positional strength, and/or motor control.

Achieving goals related to physical health requires consistency. Let’s shift the metric for success from ‘how heavy we lift’ to ‘how well did we move’. That way we can stay healthy, stay consistent, and crush our goals.

Continue with Part 3

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