Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Google it and you’ll find all kinds of definitions ranging from “the ability to exert force” to “the quality of being strong.” Some of these definitions are great but some fall short.
A good quality definition should hold up under any circumstances. For example, “the ability to exert force” seems to work fine when referring to people, animals or machines performing a physical action but doesn’t really make sense when speaking of a structure or human emotions.
If I’m going to work towards a goal I believe it’s important to define that goal. If my goal is to become strong, I need to define strength.
The best definition I’ve come up with is the ability to maintain integrity of form while under load. The degree of strength is the maximum amount of resistance or force that allows integrity of form to be maintained. This definition can apply to everything from strength training to a 60 story building to emotional fortitude.
Why should you care about defining strength? You just move the weight...right?
Well...I think if one of your goals in working out is to acquire strength, understanding what that means is key and having a clear definition of what strength is will help you to determine if what you are doing is moving you in that direction--SAFELY. It will help you establish guidelines to follow.
For example, when performing a deadlift there is a point at which your form begins to break down but you’re still able to lift the weight. If you define strength as the “ability to exert force” or “the ability to overcome resistance,” you may completely overlook the fact that you back was all jacked up while you were pulling the weight, putting your body at risk and reinforcing bad habits. You may be able to keep this up for a while but eventually you will become injured (been there, done that and have the injuries to prove it :). It doesn’t take a PhD in physiology to realize that strength greatly diminishes when you’re in pain.
If our objective is to become strong and our definition of strength is the ability to maintain integrity of form while under load and we’re adhering to our definition then we’re more likely moving safely in the direction of our goal.
How do you define strength?
How do you define strength training?
Do you exercise and lift with good form?