Explaining the different types of Strength

March 09, 2023 4 min read

Explaining the different types of Strength

Gaining muscle strength is often a motivator when beginning an exercise regime; nevertheless, various forms of strength-building must be employed to meet a unique goal. For instance, maximum strength necessitates heavy weight with few reps, while training for explosive strength necessitates lifting light-to-moderate weight at a quick rate.

Strength is produced by applying Newton's second law, with force being the product of mass and acceleration (Force = MA). Physiologically, it is the activation of motor neurons and muscle fibers (a motor unit) to generate the necessary force for an intended purpose. To reach strength objectives, it is critical to define the required strength type and design an exercise program accordingly.

The efficiency of muscular recruitment determines the magnitude and rate of force production. Both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination are requisite for optimal levels of strength.

The musculoskeletal system must be in good condition for any strength-training program to be effective; this ensures appropriate stability of joints and allows unrestricted, multi-planar motion of the more mobile ones. According to the principle of specificity, strength will vary depending on the resistance and type of movements used in the program. Heavy weights moved slowly will create one type of strength, while light weights moved quickly build another.

Likewise, sustaining a constant velocity of mass over a large number of repetitions can yield an additional form of strength. By recognizing each kind of strength and how to obtain it through physical activity, you can  accomplish your peak performance.

Below are different types of strength with a brief overview of the training program required to achieve this style of strength training.

Agile Strength

The capacity to reduce speed, regulate, and produce muscular power in multiple directions.

Traditional forms of strength training involve creating a muscle contraction to move an object in a single plane; in contrast, many activities need the power to move an object through gravity in different planes.


Generate the force required to move objects from one location to the next. 

Improve resiliency of muscle and connective tissue to reduce the risk of injuries such as sprains or muscle pulls. 

Enhance performance of  specific sports or activities of daily living (ADLs).

Training Strategy

Exercise selection includes multiplanar movements utilizing free weights, such as dumbbells, medicine balls, and sandbags, or cable machines.

Intensity: Low-to-moderate, approximately 50-75% of the estimate 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for a particular exercise 

Reps: 12-15+ 

Tempo: Variable speeds: slow to fast 

Sets: 2-5+ 

Rest interval: 30-90 seconds

Strength Endurance

Muscles can be kept in a contracted state or actively resisting a force for a prolonged duration.

Relies upon aerobic efficiency to supply oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles while removing metabolic waste. 

Examples: An endurance event like a 10K, marathon or triathlon.


Maintain good postural stabilization for an extended period of time. 

Improve the aerobic capacity of working muscles. 

Enhance ability to perform many functional tasks and ADLs.

Training Strategy

Exercise selection: Compound and single-joint movements using a variety of equipment; body-weight exercises 

Intensity: Low-to-moderate, approximately 40-80% of 1RM

Reps: 10+

Tempo: Consistent: slow to moderate

Sets: 2-5+

Rest interval: 30-60 seconds

Explosive Strength

Produce a maximal amount of force in a minimal amount of time; muscle lengthening followed by rapid acceleration through the shortening phase. Focus is on the speed of movement through a range of motion (ROM). 

Explosive strength is dependent upon the contractile element's capacity to generate tension quickly, while power augments the elastic tissue's capabilities of diminishing the transition period from stretching to contracting in the stretch-shorten cycle.


Boost muscular responses and strengthen inter-muscular coordination.

Reduce reaction time. 

Improve the resiliency of muscle and connective tissue. 

Activate type II muscle fibers.

Training Strategy

Exercise selection: Compound and single-joint movements using a variety of free weights

Intensity: 40-75% 1RM

Reps: 1-6

Tempo: Fast as possible

Sets: 2-5+

Rest interval: 30-90 seconds

Maximum Strength

Maximum strength is the ability of muscle(s) to execute a maximal contraction in response to an external resistance, necessitating high neuromuscular efficiency for optimal intra- and intermuscular coordination.

Examples: Powerlifting, squat, deadlift and bench press and strongman competitions


Activate type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers capable of generating high levels of force. 

Increase levels of muscle-building hormones. 

Increase bone density and strength. 

Improve performance in many sports and ADLs.

Training Strategy

Exercise Selection: Compound and single-joint movements using free weights or selectorised machines 

Intensity: 90-100% 1RM

Reps: 1-4

Tempo: Slow-to-fast (even though the lifter is attempting to use maximum speed the weight is moving slowly) 

Sets: 3-4+ 

Rest interval: 2-4 minutes

Relative Strength

Force per unit of bodyweight can be optimized through strength training, increasing the magnitude of force production while preserving or decreasing body mass.

If neuromuscular efficiency and muscle force production increase while maintaining a consistent body mass, relative strength will increase.  



Improve performance in many sports or ADLs. 

Maximize motor unit recruitment. 

Improve neuromuscular efficiency.

Training Strategy

Relative strength results from using all different types of strength training methods to be capable of generating greater levels of force at a consistent body weight.

Speed Strength

Maximal force generated during rapid motion can be increased through bodyweight or light resistance training, enabling motion to be performed expeditiously.

Examples: Throwing a baseball, swinging a golf club, running a sprint


Minimize reaction times. 

Enhance athletic performance.

Reduce time of the stretch-shorten cycle.

Training Strategy

Exercise selection: Compound movements using a variety of free weights; unloaded body-weight movements 

Intensity: 30-50% 1RM

Reps: 1-6

Tempo: Fast, explosive

Sets: 2-6+

Rest interval: 30 seconds - 2 minutes

Starting Strength

Generate a movement without the utilization of momentum or prior stretching to increase mechanical energy; commence motion from a static posture.

An isometric contraction creates tension, which allows the surrounding elastic fascia and connective tissue to lengthen and store mechanical energy for a rapid rate of force production. 

Examples: A track start, such as getting up from a seated position


Improve the ability of muscle and connective tissue to increase the rate of force production. 

Reduce starting time for sports that require an athlete to move from a stationary position. 

Enhance the ability to transition from seated to standing.

Training Strategy

Exercise selection: Compound and single-joint movements using a variety of types of resistance to focus on force production in the initial ROM from a stationary position.

Intensity: 50-90% 1RM

Reps: 1-6

Tempo: Fast, explosive

Sets: 2-6+

Rest interval: 45 seconds - 3 minutes

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