18 Jan Maximal Strength Vs. Explosive Strength. Which is More Important?

sprinterStrength is a quality that makes us all better, period.

It’s been said that “physical strength is the most important thing in life.”

But, is maximal strength enough?  Is it the “be all, end all?”

Maximal strength and explosive strength are 2 different things.

Maximal strength is the ability to generate maximum force against a given load.

In other words, how much weight can you lift in a given movement or exercise.

Explosive strength, on the other hand, is generating maximum tension in minimal time, as we are taught with the kettlebell ballistics.

This can be viewed as moving a heavy weight fast or explosively.  Do you see the difference?

Is it possible we are too focused on maximal strength a bit too much?  Nah, not really.

Maximal strength will significantly impact explosive strength.  And, for the athlete, explosive strength is what mimics competition most accurately.

But, depending on your goals, training for maximal strength and explosive strength may need some careful consideration.

For example, if your goal is fat loss, do you need maximal strength?  Or do you need explosive strength?

The answer is that we need both to perform at the highest level.

Explosive strength training (i.e. the kettlebell swing) would certainly be more specific to the training goal of fat loss, but there are many reasons why you need to be stronger to get better results.

So, you may not need to focus on your 1RM (1 rep max) in the deadlift, but by being stronger, everything else will improve.

Think of it like this, the stronger you are, the better you perform.  Give me one example where having more maximal strength is not an advantage.

I like to think of strength training as a way of “bullet proofing” my body, provided that I’m training safe with proper technique and not doing “dumb stuff.”

Also, maximal strength is the foundaiton for explosive strength.

The stronger your maximal strength is, the more explosive strength you’ll have, but it’s important to understand the differences and balance the 2 types of training for optimal performance and results.

As I’ve mentioned, more explosive strength will be very beneficial for athletes, such as sprinters, football players, martial artists, fighters, golfers, and the list goes on and on.

It’s that balance of maximal strength and explosive strength that may just be the awesome blend of training you need.

Now, let me share some specific examples of what this looks like.

Maximal Strength examples:

  • Kettlebell Press
  • Barbell Press
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Turkish Get Ups (debatable, but maybe?)

Explosive Strength examples:

  • Kettebell Swing
  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Kettlebell Snatch
  • Barbell Clean
  • Barbell Snatch
  • Plometric training (jumps, explosive push ups, etc)

From the list, you can see there are different types of exercises for each category.

A common mistake is to focus too much on one and ingnore the other.  Both are beneficial, but understand your training goals.

Keep the goal the goal, as Coach Dan John says.  These are powerful words of wisdom.

So, which is more important?  They are both important, but it depends on the training goal.

Knowing exactly what you’re training for is half the battle.

Go forth and get stronger!

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