Strength and Its Uses

Jun 12th, 2010

Category: Fitness

Strength and Its Uses

20100327-1312 06258.jpg

Freddy making 115 pound thrusters appear like a much lighter weight.

Strength is defined as the ability to apply a force generated through muscular contraction against an external resistance. It is also one of the ten general fitness skills that CrossFit adopted from Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans, makers of the Dynamax medicine balls that provide countless hours of enjoyment to CrossFit trainees everywhere. Of the ten skills presented in the linked article, strength and flexibility, or more generally mobility, form the foundation on which those other skills rely. In order to be a successful athlete you must be both strong and able to move your joints through an appropriate range of motion.

Just how strong someone should become depends upon their chosen sport and their goals. For CrossFitters, increasing the ability to generate force can have profound effects not only when it comes time to lift something heavy, but will also translate well into other areas that are not immediately associated with strength. These include running, jumping rope, and cycling, not to mention those areas that lie between both strength and endurance.

I will explore how strength can impact longer distance endurance activities another day, but for now we’ll consider the classic CrossFit workout "Fran." Fran is an example of the middle ground between strength and endurance, using 21-15-9 reps with 95/65 pound thrusters and pullups done against a running clock. If the prescribed weight on the thruster is very heavy for you, your performance on this workout will suffer. The solution to driving your Fran time down is to make that bar feel a lot lighter. This will only be accomplished by increasing your strength, or taking weight off the bar. While Fran imposes a high burden on the respiratory system, increasing the weight you can squat and press will yield much larger dividends for Fran and some of her sisters than getting faster on a 5K run. By driving your strength upwards, each thruster becomes a less taxing burden on your system.

Left out of this discussion are the effects that increasing your strength can have on other areas of your life that occur outside of the gym. However, four paragraphs is enough for today. As always, the comment section awaits.