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Strength Question

CT, just wondering if you could shed some light on strength questions for me, just some stuff I was thinking of during the day.

What exactly is “strength”? Assuming equal muscle mass and equal technique, what is it happening that makes one stronger? Is it simply neural efficiency at recruiting more fibers faster?

In your experience with clients, do you see any pattern in regards to how much strength one can gain from their initial level ( Maybe not their very first session, but after solid technique has been established). I was just curious if you noticed people tend to double or triple, or more, their baseline strength or if it’s even a worthwhile question since people are too different.

Thanks CT

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
CT, just wondering if you could shed some light on strength questions for me, just some stuff I was thinking of during the day.

What exactly is “strength”? Assuming equal muscle mass and equal technique, what is it happening that makes one stronger? Is it simply neural efficiency at recruiting more fibers faster?

In your experience with clients, do you see any pattern in regards to how much strength one can gain from their initial level ( Maybe not their very first session, but after solid technique has been established). I was just curious if you noticed people tend to double or triple, or more, their baseline strength or if it’s even a worthwhile question since people are too different.

Thanks CT[/quote]

There are many many factors involved in being strong. Of course your capacity to fire more motor units is one of them, and so is you capacity to coordination motor units within a muscle as well as several muscle groups together.

Receptor sensitivity to acetylcholine (neurotransmitter responsible for muscle contraction) is another neural element that plays a role.

Structurally, the ratio of fast-twitch to slow twitch plays a role as does tendon and limb length. Tendon thickness/rigidity.

You have the Golgi Tendon Organs which are a safety mechanism that regulate how much of your muscle’s force production potential your body will let you use.

Scar tissue from years of training can play a role too.

Regarding strength. Your potential to gain strength can vary depending on the lift as not all muscles have the same trainability.

It also depends on starting age. Someone who starts training at 17 will have a lot more potential for improvement than someone who starts lifting at 50.

I have trained several people who doubled their strength on big movements (most people should do at least this) and some who tripled it (but these normally started at a fairly low level) on big movements… on smaller exercises it can be much more than that… going from a 100lbs to a 300lbs bench press is much harder than going from a 10lbs to a 30lbs DB curl!

Also, some people with great strength potential (or at least a decent one) start out VERY weak because they were doing all the wrong things. For example a kid who never played sport, never did any physical activity harder than playing Playstation, always ate like crap, was super lazy physically and mentally… That kid might start lifting at 18 and barely be able to bench the bar when he starts but as soon as he start doing the right things he realizes his potential and gains immensely.

The best example of this is Will, the model I used in the “Superhero” training vids. He was that kid who could barely bench press the bar when he started at 16 years of age. By the time he hit 21 he had bench pressed in the 400s, deadlifted in the 600s (if not 700), squatted in the 500s and power cleaned in the 300s. So in “theory” we could say that on some lifts he increased his strength ten fold!!! But that was really because he started so low despite great potential.

I have another client who was a drug head. Started out rail thin once he cleaned out. Also had trouble bench pressing the bar. After 7 months of training with me he is up to a 375lbs full squat, 410lbs deadlift, 225lbs push press, 225lbs power clean… not huge numbers but compared to where he started it’s something like a 5-6 folds increase. But again he started out “artificially low” because of what he did as a teenager.

On the other hand if you take someone who played a lot of sports or did manual labor all his life, he will probably be strong right from the time he set foot in the gym and for that guy doubling his strength might be harder.

Awesome post. It’s great to see these little snippets of golden wisdom that CT likes to bless us with from time to time. :smiley:

Interesting. Glad I asked as I almost didnt post this

In the age of the internet trainer out to sell the latest training and diet fad eBook, CT stands as an amazing example of quality