Different Types of Strength | 7 Types and Their Benefits

2. HIIT training

Also known as «high-intensity interval training,» this killer method is a popular way of burning fat and increasing physical endurance. The idea is to maintain a high work-to-rest ratio — between 1:1 and 2:1.

Trainers usually put their clients through dozens of rounds of HIIT training before calling it a day.

3. Surfing the rack

Despite the name, this has nothing to do with going to the beach — although you’ll probably want to be seen with your shirt off after a few weeks of this training. Surfing the rack simply means walking up to the free weights and repping with the heaviest load you can manage. Then, after you’ve exhausted yourself, step down in weight and continue to get reps in.

Most trainers recommend you reduce the load by about 20 percent per step.

4. Training until failure

Most people never want to fail — which is a good thing. However, «going to failure» in the gym is an epic way to tear your muscles in a controlled environment. Be careful, though — going until failure is tough on your body and can make you nauseous from time to time.

5. Drop sets

When working out, many people select a manageable weight, complete 8-to-12 reps, re-rack the weight, and take a break. This is a solid way to build muscle, sure, but it’ll also set you on your way to that progress plateau we talked about earlier.

In a drop set, a person selects a manageable weight, and does reps until failure. Next, they opt for a lower weight and continue on. It’s very similar to surfing the rack, minus the rack itself.

Agile Strength

The ability to decelerate, control and generate muscle force in a multiplanar environment. 

Traditional strength training focuses on producing a shortening muscle action to move a load through a single plane of motion; however, many tasks require the ability to move a mass through gravity in multiple planes of motion.

Examples: Picking up and carrying a young child, laundry basket or duffle bag


Generate the force required to move objects from one location to the next. 

Improve resiliency of muscle and connective tissue to reduce the risk of injuries such as sprains or muscle pulls. 

Enhance performance of  specific sports or activities of daily living (ADLs).

Maintain good postural stabilization for an extended period of time. 

Improve the aerobic capacity of working muscles. 

Enhance ability to perform many functional tasks and ADLs.

Improve the speed of motor unit recruitment and enhance intramuscular coordination. 

Reduce reaction time. 

Improve the resiliency of muscle and connective tissue. 

Activate type II muscle fibers.

Activate type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers capable of generating high levels of force. 

Increase levels of muscle-building hormones. 

Increase bone density and strength. 

Improve performance in many sports and ADLs.

Improve performance in many sports or ADLs. 

Maximize motor unit recruitment. 

Improve neuromuscular efficiency.

Minimize reaction times. 

Enhance athletic performance.

Reduce time of the stretch-shorten cycle.

Improve the ability of muscle and connective tissue to increase the rate of force production. 

Reduce starting time for sports that require an athlete to move from a stationary position. 

Enhance the ability to transition from seated to standing.


Generally, attention to strict biomechanical form is highly recommended when performing exercises. This is particularly true when a trainee, not familiar with a new movement, is learning proper technique (see Skill Acquisition and Proficiency).

Cheating involves compromised form, implementing unintended momentum, altered alignment, or angle of pull in effort at specific points of the exercise in effort to complete repetitions.

Cheating may increase the risk of injury, since it exposes the bodily structures to forces to which they are not accustomed. Interestingly, someone who consistently performs an exercise in a manner that would be considered cheating (yet abiding by the 4 Adaptation Criteria), theoretically, would have less risk of injury compared to someone who cheated in the same manner, but inconsistently.

So it is the inconsistent nature of cheating, or lack of adaptation, that presents a much greater risk than the actual movement and resulting bodily forces. Also see Specific Adaptation and Dangerous Exercises.

Trainees may choose to employ slight cheating techniques for the last repetition or two of a set. It has been suggested that very advanced trainees use cheating to increase training intensity, whereas most other trainees use cheating as a means to decrease training intensity.

Conjugate System

The Conjugate System involves frequent cycling of a large variety of exercises and/or exercise variations. It is suited for advanced athletes whose sport require general preparedness (eg: Martial Arts, Wrestling, Strong Man Competitions, etc).

The Westside Barbell Program is probably the most popular conjugate strength training system. The program calls for changing exercises or variations every 3 weeks. In contrast, elite powerlifters are urged to change exercises or variations every week.

Variation can be as simple as varying an exercise’s range of motion, grip, or stance. However, switching to a different exercise is generally more effective than switching to a variation of the same exercise.

The Conjugate System allows the advanced athlete to avoid accommodation and boredom. Altering exercises circumvents exercise staleness at any level (See Restimulating Progress by Changing Exercises). However, altering them frequently can elicit other benefits for the advanced trainee.

Choosing from a large number of exercises and switching them frequently allows the body to be taxed in a variety of ways within a shorter period of time. This includes varying muscles emphasized, fluctuating loads, and altering resistance curves.

Cycling exercises allow movement patterns to be varied that may otherwise be over or undertrained on program involving a limited pool of exercises. It also allows adaptation to occur more uniformly and synergistically.

The progress brought about from a newly added movement can carry over to related exercises performed in subsequent workouts, each cascading benefit to the following set of exercises. Dropping an exercise for another can assist in restoration and make training more interesting.

Keep in mind that changing exercises too often may not allow for adequate adaptation to transpire, particularly for someone with less than several years of training experience. Also, keeping track exercise progress and looking up the resistance and number of reps performed for every exercise and variation can be quite daunting with so many exercises to monitor.

Performing exercises so infrequently also make it difficult to make instill systematic increases or variations in resistance (eg: increase weight 2.5-5% if upper rep range has been achieved). The last known load for a particular exercise is more likely to be inaccurate, the more time that has passed since it was last performed.

Different types of strength training

To most individuals, the intimidation of gym and strength training are  used as an excuse to stear clear from it. Strength training helps burn more calories efficiently, increase lean muscle mass, and shed that pesky fat that lingers around too long! Strength training also helps increase energy, sharpen focus, control weight and manage chronic conditions. By training a couple times a week you will not only see an improvement in your fitness, but in other aspects of your life.

There are many different types of strength training to best fit your needs including, training for muscle power, muscle strength, muscle hypertrophy, or muscular endurance. Muscle power helps with speed, muscular strength increases overall strength, hypertrophy increases muscle size and weight loss, and lastly muscle endurance sustainability to carry you through long periods of exercise.Although all of these training types can produce dramatic results, it is important to find the one that will best accommodate your needs to reach your goals. It is also important to switch up your normal workout routine. You can do this by using more than one of the techniques described above! I would strongly suggest starting with muscular endurance and hypertrophy. This will give you a great start. As you become more comfortable with strength training, it is wise to start incorporating muscle strength and muscle power…

Muscle Power

This is a general technique used to help athletes do two things. 1) Build explosive power and 2) perform powerful movements in a minimal amount of time. It involves doing one to six repetitions of each exercise at maximum speed and consists of one to three or three to six sets. If a high-intensity exercise is taking place the rest period should be at least two to three minutes. If you like to golf, play tennis, run, etc., muscle power strength training, would be a great technique to incorporate into workouts. These activities require speed. By doing squat jumps, burpees, lunges, clap pushups, medicine ball rotational throws, etc., you can start to perfect that swing or drop some time off your next race. 

Muscle Strength

There are many types of strength training that can  help improve your strength. Muscle strength, however, has the specific goal to improve total strength. This involves one to six repetitions of each lift at a controlled slow pace. This can be completed for three to six sets with rest intervals of one to two minutes, or two to three minutes, depending the amount of weight lifted.

If you enjoy swimming, running, throwing a  football, or have to lift heavy groceries, start to work on strengthening your muscles. Exercises appropriate for muscle strengthening include, and are not limited to, tricep dips, air squats, ball leg curl, reverse lunge, bosu ball crunch and so much more. All exercises can be preformed in a gym or at home, so be creative and get those muscles working!

Muscle Hypertrophy

This type of training works on increasing lean muscle mass and is useful for weight loss. When beginning this type of training it involves 8 to 12 repetitions slowly controlled for usually one to three sets per exercise. The rest periods are recommended at one to two minutes or two to three minutes, depending on the amount of weight lifted. Hypertrophy is where most people tap out because they believe they will end up looking like Lou Ferrigno, but in reality their bodies will start to lean out and loose that unwanted weight. Bicep curls, squats, leg extensions, leg curls, dips, bench press, and decline sit up are only a few examples to help increase muscles. The important goal here is to push yourself until you  feel like you can’t do any more. Once you’re at this point, try to get four more in! By having a positive mindset while strength training, you will excel past your greatest desires and conquer your goals.

Muscular Endurance

This technique helps during prolonged muscle movements like running. Training for muscular endurance consists of 20 repetitions or more at a controlled speed for one to three sets. The rest periods are recommended at one to two minutes between sets of 20 reps. The rest period decreases if you are doing moderate reps, such as 10-15. If you have to climb stairs and are winded at the top, muscular endurance training could be just what you are looking for! If you swim, bike, run, or are chasing a toddler around the house I would highly suggest adding muscular endurance in your workouts! Some examples for increasing muscular endurance include sit-ups, push-ups, planking, seated row, calf raises, mountain climbers, and more. After adding this into your workout regiment,  you will be able to climb eight flights of stairs more easily and/have more energy to catch your energetic toddler.

Dynamic Effort Method

A training technique that uses near maximal resistance with very few repetitions, typically 1-3 reps. This technique is used by athletes such as powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, and strength and other athletes to develop maximal strength and force by improving intramuscular and intramuscular coordination at heavy loads.

Maximum Effort Training is typically reserved for the most basic exercises, including Clean {amp}amp; Jerk, Snatch, Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press.

It can be part of a periodized program for peaking for maximal strength or it may be paired with complementary training stimulus such as Dynamic Effort Method on alternating training days (See Westside Barbell System).

Its primary limitation is its high risk of injury compared to the repetition method. Acquiring proper exercise technique and adequate muscular conditioning is paramount before this method is employed.

Contrary to what its name implies, maximum effort training is usually not performed to failure. In fact, the efforts exerted at competition (eg: Powerlifiting, Olympic-style Weightlifting) are typically greater than Maximum Effort training.

A technique used to increase the rate of force development, by moving light to moderate loads as quickly as possible. Forms of training traditionally include plyometrics, however, Dynamic Effort training has also been applied to weight training ideally implemented with the use of elastic bands and/or heavy chains attached barbells or other weight training equipment. See Westside Barbell Program and Louie Simmons Video Seminars.

Plyometrics is used to develop explosiveness in sports conditioning programs. It should only used after a solid strength base has been developed, particularly in squat strength. High intensity plyometrics should not be performed year round (NSCA, 2000). Also see Power Training Tidbits.

Explosive Strength

Produce a maximal amount of force in a minimal amount of time; muscle lengthening followed by rapid acceleration through the shortening phase. Focus is on the speed of movement through a range of motion (ROM).

Explosive strength is based on the ability of the contractile element to rapidly generate tension, while power enhances the ability of elastic tissue to minimize the transition time from lengthening to shortening during the stretch-shorten cycle.

Examples: Throwing a shot-put, Olympic lifts such as the snatch and clean-and-jerk;  quickly moving out of the way of danger

Forced Repetitions

Forced repetitions are assisted movement by a training partner, or spotter. They are typically performed with heavy weight or near the end of a set at the onset of failure.

Like other similar advanced-training methods, forced repetitions may lead to overtraining if overused or implemented for an extended period of time. Forced repetitions may bring about short-term progress, but more sustained progress can be achieved with small, systematic increases of repetitions and resistance (see Systematic Progress Methods and periodic exercise changes.

Our bodies generally adapt well to small progressive increases of intensity and duration. The intensity put forth on forced reps is difficult to regulate in a progressive fashion and, consequently, may hamper long-term progress.

Long-term progress comes from coaxing progress with subtle intervals of varied incremental overload rather than attempting to force progress. More experienced trainees often utilize more advanced techniques such as periodization with varying workouts to avoid stagnation. See adaptation criteria and Variations.

Drinkwater (2007) found no benefits in performing forced reps for strength or power development. You will not see top level powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters performing forced reps. In fact, high level strength and power athletes attempt to avoid training to failure.

Instead, they systematically vary their workloads and typically know exactly how many reps they will be performing on each set. However, many people in the gyms still continue to use this technique despite more effective protocols for long term progress.

Even for bodybuilding-style training, more sustainable and productive techniques exist that allow more manageable long-term progressions. In the 80’s, Dr. Franco Columbo wrote an article condemning the use of forced reps.

Franco Columbo, former Mr. Olympia, was once considered the world’s strongest bodybuilder. In the article, he suggested overuse of forced repetitions with very heavy weight may essentially teach the muscles to prematurely fail.

Strength training involves a neurological adaptation (motor development, contraction efficiency), as well as a morphological adaptation (muscle growth). Repeated use of forced repetitions with very heavy weight had been thought to prematurely activate the Golgi tendon organ.

Prolonged abstinence from forced repetitions appears to increase the potential for the exerciser to complete the very difficult last repetition, possibly in effect, reteaching the body to succeed rather than fail during the final challenging rep.

If forced reps are to be performed, it is suggested to reserve their use to only once a month, immediately before tapering, changing exercises, or at the end of a meso-cycle. Also see Asking for a Spot and Cheating.

Drinkwater EJ, Lawton TW, McKenna MJ, Lindsell RP, Hunt PH, Pyne DB (2007). Increased Number of Forced Repetitions Does Not Enhance Strength Development With Resistance Training, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21(3), 841–847.

Grab Bag — Your Action Plan

Doing the same old, same old in the gym is all well and good — until it’s results in a power plateau. Mix in these techniques next time you’re in the weight room to help blast through plateaus and add just the spice needed to keep you coming back to the gym day after day (except on rest days, of course!).

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