The REAL Definition of “Strength”


Many people have heard the quote from
Mark Rippetoe that “strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more
useful in general.” But if that’s true, if stronger people really are harder to
kill and if they are really more useful then, we need to define what strength is.
So we already said in the last video that strength is the greatest of
physical abilities but we didn’t really say what strength was. Strength is
just the ability to produce force against an external resistance. Now
that’s kind of a scientific sounding definition – the easy way to think about
it is that strength is force production. That’s it. The person that can produce
the most force is the most strong. What strength is not is an ethereal thing. We
often use the term strength incorrectly. We’ll say things like “he was strong
because he got a muscle up” but that isn’t really strength. That’s a skill –
it’s just a skill tied to strength since strength makes everything better. Or
we’ll say, “he was really strong because he survived as a prisoner of war” or “she
was really strong because she survived cancer” but that’s not really strength
either, that’s mental toughness. So what is strength? Well the person who can
squat 400 pounds is stronger than the person who can squat 200 pounds. The
person who squats 400 pounds has to produce more force against the floor and
into the barbell than the person who squats 200 pounds. The same goes for
people who deadlift or bench press or press or do any of the big strength
exercises that are really going to help us produce the most force. So the person
who produces the most force is the strongest and thus more useful and thus
harder to kill.

5 Replies to “The REAL Definition of “Strength””

  1. So the 300lb person who squats 400lb is stronger [etc] than the 120lb person who squats 200lb? I can tell you which of the two is most likely the healthier, more professionally productive, and going to live longer. Hint: it's not the person who meets your definition of stronger. Numbers are meaningless without context, and these days, people mostly kill themselves through their lifestyle choices. Your resting heart rate, your blood pressure, and more matter greatly — not just how much you can squat. Big dudes will always have the potential to squat or press more. Good luck if you think that's all that matters.

  2. What do you think would be a better focus, absolute or relative strength? and where would you say isometric strength fits in?

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