Wednesday, September 10, 2008

how much strength do you need

Great post from Vern Gambetta today:

Frans Bosch in several of his presentations has defined Strength Training – as coordination training with resistance. I think that is a good starting point. My adaptation of that definition is as follows: Coordination training with the resistance and mode that is appropriate for the sport or activity trained for. I think this definition gets us away from chasing numbers in terms of maximums and put the focus on the application of strength rather than strength you can measure.
That is interesting stuff. How much strength do you need?


David Leitner said...

I like the proportions set out by Mark Rippetoe (I think). A strong man (women's proportions might be different) should be able to:
Push press = Bodyweight
Bench press = BW x 1.5
Squat = BW x 2
Deadlift = BW x 2.5

Besides the geometrical symmetry, these proportions are nice because they identify the point of diminishing returns in strength development. Once I get this strong, I'll start working on other things!

Methuselah said...

I tend to lose heart when I see these numbers. I have been working out for 12 years but my numbers are:

Push press = 0.6 x bodyweight
Bench press = BW x 1
Squat = BW x 1.3
Deadlift = BW x 1.8

However, I do have long arms, long legs and am very much a lean, muscular ectomorph. My lazy, endomorphic training partner, benches bodyweight x 1 but if he was actually lean he'd comfortably be on 1.5.

So I think (hope) that these numbers should be considered in the context of individual biomechanics....

Chris said...

The Hardgainer magazine used to promote 300,400,500 for Bench Squat and Deadlift as an ultimate target but I think that and Rip's formulae are missing the point of what Gambetta is saying.

What you need is dependent on what the activity is that you are training for. Targets like that are easy metrics that do not necessarily reflect how you can apply your strength.

You might be able to bench twice bodyweight but so what? Does it make you a better and more functional athlete?

Anonymous said...

Good post. I do believe that, for many sports, there's no need to focus on max strength. Ever wonder how much Roger Federer can deadlift? Badminton players have no need for these either. I think that many promote developing max strength as a way to develop speed. But for most sports, speed is less important than quickness and agility. How to develop quickness and agility? The answer is to develop coordination.

Chris said...

Good points anon

Anonymous said...

David: I doubt Mark Rippetoe ever said that. If you look at the charts at the end of his book Practical Programming for strenght training it tells a different story.

What is the main difference between men and woman in sports? Is it skill, is it technique, is it endurance? No it is strenght.
When world champion female boxer Lucia Rijker beat all the woman in her weight class she decided to fight againts a man at the same bodyweight; she was knocked out.

My point is strenght is relatively easy to gain but in a lot of sports there is no emphasis on gaining strenght.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed., CSCS. said...

When it comes to sports performance and injury prevention, I think relative strength is more important than absolute strength. Many in the field are looking at single-stance and single limb strength, power, or strength endurance as a more important training goals (i.e. How many pistols can you perform on one leg vs the other leg). These exercses, I feel, better measure not only strength, but inter-muscular coordination, multi-joint mobility and multi-joint stabity (all are very important in most sports). Compare your deadlift numbers to your single leg deadlift(times two).

It is convenient and more impressive to achieve higher weights with barball exercises, but that is because you minimize torsional stability moment arms (barbell press vs. single arm kettlebell press). But, barbell maxes may not carry over to improve sports performance when you are off the bench or your center of gravity shifts outside your base of support.