Understanding Strength: My Journey So Far And The Types Of Strength

Strong is as strong does

For a long time, I always really thought of strength as being strength. You either had it or you didn’t. Some people were strong and others weren’t.

Sure, that’s a simplistic breakdown of it–I understood that some were stronger than other strong people, for example–but I really figured that if you were strong, you were strong.

However, I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to recognize that there are different types of strength.

See, what I thought of as strength is really more absolute strength. While the ability to move a heavy weight is important, other things matter as well.

Yet people display strength in a variety of ways.

If, as I believed, absolute strength was all that mattered, then every 1,000 lbs squatter would be able to dunk like LeBron. They can’t. Some can, but others can’t.

If there was only absolute strength, then LeBron would be a world class squatter. He’s not.

There’s more to strength than just moving weight.

Absolute Strength Can Hold You Back

It seems that being stupid strong, while awesome in its own way, can hold you back in others. Former NFL safety LaRon Landry is a prime example. He was drafted for being big and strong, but also fast.

Unfortunately, Landry got so preoccupied with getting big that he lost that speed.

The problem is, I see how Landry went down that road. I was ready to go down it myself.

If, as I believed, strength is strength, then what does it matter?

All Strength Is NOT Created Equal


Strong is as strong doesI’ve come to understand that not all strength is the same. A lot of people figure this out much earlier in life than I did, of course. They’re smarter than I am on this kind of thing.

I learned, though.

See, absolute strength has its place, but we must remember where that place is.

Absolute strength provides a foundation for other types of strength, which I’ll get to in a moment, but it’s not everything. In fact, focusing too much on the foundation means your walls don’t get built.

Expanding My Understanding of The Types of Strength

I know a few things, but since it took me this long to really grok the idea that there are different kinds of strength, I figured I should look to experts.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has a list of different kinds of strength:

  • Agile strength
  • Strength Endurance
  • Explosive Strength
  • Maximum Strength
  • Relative Strength
  • Speed Strength
  • Starting Strength (Not to be confused with this)

Now, that’s a lot, and some of those don’t really matter to the HEMA practitioner or even necessarily the guy looking to get stronger to protect himself in the real world.

However, a lot of that does matter, though, and that’s the interesting thing. It also makes training interesting for someone now in their late 40s. In particular, I have concerns about trying to train all these things and still get recovered.

That’s another topic, though.

The same can be said how to progress forward addressing all these kinds of strength. While “maximum strength” is what I call absolute strength and I see it as the foundation, it’s also important to understand where you’re going first.

Failure to know where you want to go means you usually don’t know how to get there. So, at least I know where and what to look for moving forward. I need to balance the various types of strength to be the best I can be.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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