All Show And No Go? The 5 Types Of Strength You Need

Don’t Be A Paper Tiger. If You Look Like An Animal, You Better Preform Like One.

3. Explosive Strength

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Think jumping, sprinting, and punching. Explosive strength is your ability to demonstrate your strength explosively. This type of strength depends on how many muscle fibers you can contract, and the speed at which you can contract them. If someone is faster than you at sprinting, for example, it is because they are able contract more muscle fibers at a faster rate.


In order to increase the number of muscle fibers you can contract, you must train your central nervous system to recruit more fibers. This is done through explosive movements such as box jumps, broad jumps, and medicine ball throws and slams. Training in an explosive manner forces your body to recruit more fibers, allowing you to call them into action in the future.

4. Maximum Strength

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Maximum strength is very similar to explosive strength as it relies on your ability to recruit muscle fibers. Your maximum strength is essentially the same thing, as the only difference being that you are lifting weight along with your body. The difference between a jump squat and a squat is that one is done with a loaded barbell.


To improve maximum strength, train your central nervous system to use more muscle fibers. The best way to do this is with a combination of heavy weight lifting and explosive strength training. Strength training and explosive training tend to feed off each other as they both rely on muscle fiber recruitment. Becoming stronger will tend to boost all aspects of your athletic ability because almost every movement and exercise will become easier if you are able to recruit more muscle fibers.

5. Relative Strength

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How many pull-ups can you do? Not many? This means your strength, relative to your body weight, is weak. If you can do, say 25 pull-ups, then the reverse is true. You have a high relative strength. Relative strength is enormously important for sports performance. For example, if you increase your relative strength, your ability to sprint, jump and push off from the ground will be vastly improved.

April 14, 2013: Petera Wilson at the Nike Football Training Camp in Memphis, TN. Photo by Tom Hauck.

In general, the leaner you are, the higher your relative strength will be. Fat is dead weight on your body, and the reason your pull-up number is dismal is because you have too much of it. The best way to increase your relative strength is to lean out while increasing your maximal strength. Make sure to lean out slowly, however, as a drastic reduction in calories will reduce maximal strength, sabotaging your efforts.

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