Absolute Strength and Strength Endurance Similarity/Difference

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Bryant W

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm really curious to know of sub 10 sprinters who can barely handle a bodyweight squat.
That's pretty interesting, and hard for me to believe.
I should be careful how I phrase things. When I say bodyweight in this case I mean bodyweight on the bar, not a bodyweight squat just squatting without load. Most prominent examples that come to mind whose coaches have discussed this are Andre de Grasse and Christophe Lemaitre. There are some interesting discussions/lectures on Altis 360 that talk about this (but this requires a membership which you have to pay for). It often comes up in various episodes on the JustFlySports podcast, as well.

I don't mean to use this as a reason to recommend not squatting or something extreme like that. I just think the crossover is less significant than some suggest when it comes to explosive abilities, and that a significant degree of full depth squat strength is not a prerequisite for running fast (Chris Korfist and Tony Holler are two high school coaches who have been pretty vocal about this and written a number of articles illustrating there success in getting kids faster and their track/football teams more successful without traditional stronger/bigger/faster weightlifting strategies). I also recognize that for a mere mortal like myself, not getting stronger to preserve my slow guy/old man speed would be pretty silly. I'm not a sprint specialist, I just enjoy it still and am grateful to have been able to overcome some nagging issues in the past decade and get back at it.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Bill could you please expand on this a bit. Thanks...
Two identical twins. Both are untrained. Trainer X gets one, I get one and we wager on which will throw a shot put furthest 2 months hence. Trainer X trains his guy using principles of “functional training”, opting for exercises that look like the motion of putting a shot - landmine presses, jumping squats, plyometrics for explosiveness, lots of unilateral hoohaws with light weight. I run mine through a Novice Linear Progression of 3x5 squats; 3x5 Presses alternating with Bench Presses; and 1x5 Deadlifts for a month to 6 weeks then alternating 5 sets of 3 Power Cleans, with a few chin-ups. Train MWF. Two weeks from the test, I’d have him throw a shot to familiarize himself with a rudimentary version of the exercise. In short, I will make my guy much, much stronger than he can be made with lightweight, unilateral, position mimicking exercises. He’ll end up in the high 200s for 3x5 in the squat, close to 300x5 in the dead, around 135ish for 5 sets of 3 in the Power Clean, pressing in the 135x5x3 area and benching 50 or so more than that. Note that these are all for sets of 5 except the Cleans which are done for triples. Not “maximal strength”. If the kid had a 1RM, these would be in the low 80%-ish range. He will take that strength and apply it to the unrelated movement of putting a shot and he will emerge victorious because 275lb squatters/300lb deadlifters/185lb benchers/135lb power cleaners do not lose shot put competitions to their twin brothers who have been land mine pressing 35lb from a tall kneeling position and doing 88lb single-leg kettlebell deadlifts because they have far more of the general, non-specific, force production capability we tidily refer to as “strength”.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Two identical twins. Both are untrained. Trainer X gets one, I get one and we wager on which will throw a shot put furthest 2 months hence. Trainer X trains his guy using principles of “functional training”, opting for exercises that look like the motion of putting a shot - landmine presses, jumping squats, plyometrics for explosiveness, lots of unilateral hoohaws with light weight. I run mine through a Novice Linear Progression of 3x5 squats; 3x5 Presses alternating with Bench Presses; and 1x5 Deadlifts for a month to 6 weeks then alternating 5 sets of 3 Power Cleans, with a few chin-ups. Train MWF. Two weeks from the test, I’d have him throw a shot to familiarize himself with a rudimentary version of the exercise. In short, I will make my guy much, much stronger than he can be made with lightweight, unilateral, position mimicking exercises. He’ll end up in the high 200s for 3x5 in the squat, close to 300x5 in the dead, around 135ish for 5 sets of 3 in the Power Clean, pressing in the 135x5x3 area and benching 50 or so more than that. Note that these are all for sets of 5 except the Cleans which are done for triples. Not “maximal strength”. If the kid had a 1RM, these would be in the low 80%-ish range. He will take that strength and apply it to the unrelated movement of putting a shot and he will emerge victorious because 275lb squatters/300lb deadlifters/185lb benchers/135lb power cleaners do not lose shot put competitions to their twin brothers who have been land mine pressing 35lb from a tall kneeling position and doing 88lb single-leg kettlebell deadlifts because they have far more of the general, non-specific, force production capability we tidily refer to as “strength”.
Thank you.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
In short, I will make my guy much, much stronger than he can be made with lightweight, unilateral, position mimicking exercises... 275lb squatters/300lb deadlifters/185lb benchers/135lb power cleaners...
Good point in this scenario,
these aren't the kind of numbers for an average weight person that scream "limit strength", but are a good point to begin more specialized work.
What if these were the numbers both twins started at? Also, shot put isn't what anyone would call an endurance activity. If we change the activity to a triathalon how much more generalized strength would we work on above that and would it help at all?
 

Deleted member 5559

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I think of strength endurance more in the rock climbing arena than sprinting, triathlon, or shotput.
 

Bret S.

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
The discussion seems to be coming down to specificity per task. Looking at it from a boxing perspective limit strength has a breaking point where more is no longer better. If two boxers square off and one can punch with 1000 psi of force 10 times and his opponent can punch with 500 psi of force 500 times my money is on the latter. Putting a shot it's reversed and so on..
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
About | StrongFirst "“Strength is the foundation for developing the rest of physical qualities,” stated Prof. Leonid Matveev. To reach high levels of power, endurance, sport skill, and fat loss you must become strong first. Period."
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
The discussion seems to be coming down to specificity per task
About | StrongFirst "“Strength is the foundation for developing the rest of physical qualities,” stated Prof. Leonid Matveev. To reach high levels of power, endurance, sport skill, and fat loss you must become strong first. Period."
Yes, can specific qualities be approached from the same concepts used to build strength. Does it make sense to have a 400m sprinter run ladders of 100-200-300 at 80% max pace or just a bunch of 300's or 600's (75% of race distance) to start running the 800m? Could a marathon runner run a bunch of shorter distances at 80% max pace to move up to an ultra marathon? Could an NFL combine trainee to do sets of 80% max reps with 225# to increase the number of reps with 225#? Can the same style of strength math work when applied to specific qualities?
 

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
Thought experiment, if it may help things along. In a similar vein as the previous analogy.

Three brothers (let's say twins: identical builds, starting strength/endurance levels, etc.): Adam, Brian, Charlie. Their summer job is hauling heavy rocks up a more-or-less spiral staircase with three landings plus the top. They work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 12 weeks.

Adam carries two 25-pound rocks (50 pounds total) in his arms all the way up without stopping, walks down, and does it again (no rest). He can do 20 repeats in an hour, so he does 1,000 pounds of work an hour.

Brian's chosen strategy is to explosively throw 100 pounds to each landing. He throws, walks up the stairs, throws again, etc. He can do 10 of these an hour, so he also does 1,000 pounds of work an hour.

Charlie loads himself up with 250 pounds of rocks. He climbs the stairs carefully but not taking more time than needed, and rests (dropping the load) at each landing enough to be able to make it up the next landing, and is able to make the trip 4 times in an hour - so he is also doing 1,000 pounds of work an hour.

If you measured strength at the end by a max deadlift or back squat, Charlie would almost certainly win that. But if you measured strength in other ways, like a TSC-style event, I'm not sure who would win:
  • Max deadlift: almost certainly Charlie, followed by Brian then Adam
  • Max pull-ups: Probably Brian, then probably (?) Adam (who might weigh less than Charlie; Adam probably lost weight while Charlie gained muscle)
  • 5-minute snatch test (relative % of bodyweight bell size): Probably Brian, second would be Charlie but Adam may be a close third
Which quality would one rather have? Depends on the goal I guess. I suppose if Charlie blows the others out of the water on the deadlift and puts up a respectable 2nd place in the snatch test and maybe even 2nd in pull-ups...then it's best to be Strong First.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
If they all weigh 200 lbs, then each hour:

Adam is carrying 20 x 200 = 4,000 of bodyweight. 4,000 + 1,000 = 5,000 lb total.
Brian is carrying 10 x 200 = 2,000 of bodyweight. 2,000 + 1,000 = 3,000 lb total.
Charlie is carrying 4 x 200 = 800 lb of bodyweight. 800 + 1,000 = 1,800 lb total.

Looks like Adam is getting the most exercise, but Charlie is the smart one... ;)

These scenarios only matter if we are assuming that each can recover and adapt to the stress they are imposing upon themselves to actually become more fit. And, given that, they would be smart to do it (or dumb not to do it) in such a way that they increased their fitness and could do much more by the end of the 12 weeks than they could at the beginning.
 

Bret S.

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Brian's a strong S.O.B. if he can chuck 100 lbs 10' in the air 40 times per hr (3 landings plus the top). for 8 hrs 5 days/wk.
I think I want to be him.. Explosive, strong endurance is what I seek, and the crossover to task is tremendous
 
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jca17

Level 3 Valued Member
@Bryant W
I'm fascinated by this. Can you send a written link/source (if videos require fee) showing that De Grasse struggled with bodyweight squat by the time he was running sub-10? I find it difficult to imagine an UNTRAINED but active version of a 150 lb 5'9" man struggling with bodyweight squat.
I know one can be fast without limit strength training, there are freaky genetics. Sprinting is power, and there are people who will almost always be fast at any lean bodyweight, and those who will never be fast at any level of strength.

But 150 pound squat, it's more mind boggling than a sprinter with a 4x bw squat.
 

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
If they all weigh 200 lbs, then each hour:

Adam is carrying 20 x 200 = 4,000 of bodyweight. 4,000 + 1,000 = 5,000 lb total.
Brian is carrying 10 x 200 = 2,000 of bodyweight. 2,000 + 1,000 = 3,000 lb total.
Charlie is carrying 4 x 200 = 800 lb of bodyweight. 800 + 1,000 = 1,800 lb total.

Looks like Adam is getting the most exercise, but Charlie is the smart one... ;)

These scenarios only matter if we are assuming that each can recover and adapt to the stress they are imposing upon themselves to actually become more fit. And, given that, they would be smart to do it (or dumb not to do it) in such a way that they increased their fitness and could do much more by the end of the 12 weeks than they could at the beginning.
Ah, I forgot about hauling bodyweight! So yeah, Adam is "doing the most work" but if Charlie beats the others in the TSC at the end (even if he doesn't get first place in each event), he got significantly stronger from about one-third the work.

I assume the last part - they settled on the 50lbs x 20, 100lbs x 10, 250lbs x 4 "tempo" in their first shift or two, and were able to keep it up (and probably improve over time) over the 12 weeks. So they all have the "blue-collar mentality" of a repeatable effort...but all that being equal, Charlie is the most efficient (especially if they are paid by the tonnage moved...Charlie moves it for the least total effort).

So Charlie has the most strength...does he also have the most strength endurance? If we define it as "the ability to do work for a given time", and measure it by the most done (tonnage, wattage, etc.) in a given time, wouldn't it be Adam?

I'm reminded of the "Android Work Capacity" chapter in S&S, which uses a similar story of a marathon runner (150 pounds) and powerlifter (210 pounds) carrying heavy kegs up to the second floor of a pub for time. The powerlifter would definitely win that; it may be a tie if each had to carry the same proportion of their bodyweight for time ("Depends on who wants the prize more"); but the marathoner would likely not even finish if he had to carry the keg plus a 60-pound vest to bring his bodyweight up to equal the powerlifter. The chapter is about sport-specific endurance; the marathoner is undoubtedly an endurance athlete...for his task (and indeed, you don't want any extra mass for a marathon). But in some other feat of endurance, this time using absolute loads, the bigger, stronger guy wins (who doesn't otherwise train endurance). The point being that endurance, work capacity, conditioning, strength endurance, whatever we call it - is task-specific. The powerlifter is well-adapted to endure his 15-second very heavy deadlift (something the marathoner couldn't do with the same absolute weight and perhaps not even at a relative proportion of bodyweight), while the marathoner is well-adapted to endure his 2-3 hour run (something the powerlifter might not be able to complete...unless you could magically surgically remove (and later put back) his extra muscle tissue?).
 
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Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I think there are still some issues with the scenario, though it's an interesting thought experiment.

Primarily missing is the concept of training (progressively increasing physical capability) as the 12 weeks go by. You've got them doing the same thing over and over throughout the timeframe, which will make them more adapted to the work, but not necessarily better or stronger than when they started. Might make more sense to start them all with half the workload and doing it Brian's way, then progress them towards what you describe at the end.

Also missing is their beginning capability. Are we to assume that at the beginning, all 3 are capable of doing the work each of the 3 ways? They just choose to do it differently? Again, in that case they just become more adapted to doing something they are already capable of doing. So we can't say that Charlie is stronger, or Adam has more strength endurance, because they could have done it at the beginning so there's no reason to think they would lose that capability by the end.
 

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
I think there are still some issues with the scenario, though it's an interesting thought experiment.

Primarily missing is the concept of training (progressively increasing physical capability) as the 12 weeks go by. You've got them doing the same thing over and over throughout the timeframe, which will make them more adapted to the work, but not necessarily better or stronger than when they started. Might make more sense to start them all with half the workload and doing it Brian's way, then progress them towards what you describe at the end.

Also missing is their beginning capability. Are we to assume that at the beginning, all 3 are capable of doing the work each of the 3 ways? They just choose to do it differently? Again, in that case they just become more adapted to doing something they are already capable of doing. So we can't say that Charlie is stronger, or Adam has more strength endurance, because they could have done it at the beginning so there's no reason to think they would lose that capability by the end.
That was the idea: identical starting points/capabilities (they each could’ve done it the other ways), they each naturally progress over time, and their work method is the 12-week training program. For the sake of the experiment, they all end up doing the same tonnage at the end. Adam might be able to carry heavier rocks and a faster pace. Brian might be able to throw a heavier rock and need less recovery (so like 120 pounds for 12 rounds an hour). Brian would be able to carry more weight and perhaps go 2 flights before needing a break, or resting less on each landing. But in week 12 they are all doing say 1,200 pounds an hour.

What is the training effect/outcome for each? Adam trains aerobically with some strength (loaded carries: grip, trunk, and legs). He will probably look “skinny strong”, like a manual laborer. Brian trains explosively with aerobic recovery; he would probably look like a sprinter and the most athletic-looking overall. Charlie probably looks like a beast with pounds more of lean mass, huge legs and back.

They each got stronger with better endurance, but each are now uniquely prepared for a specific test of the quality they are best adapted for (Adam for a strength:mass ratio test like pull-ups and likely a 10k, Brian for something explosive like a sprint, throw, or snatch test, and Charlie for absolute strength).
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
they each naturally progress over time
I disagree with this premise, in our friendly discussion here. I thnk this is the classic mistake most exercisers make. They come in and do the elliptical day after day, or their same calisthenics routine, or their weightlifting routine, changing nothing about it and just repeating it, and think they will make progress. They don't. Because they're already capable of, and adapted to, the work that they're doing.

What is the training effect/outcome for each? Adam trains aerobically with some strength (loaded carries: grip, trunk, and legs). He will probably look “skinny strong”, like a manual laborer. Brian trains explosively with aerobic recovery; he would probably look like a sprinter and the most athletic-looking overall. Charlie probably looks like a beast with pounds more of lean mass, huge legs and back.
I disagree with this too. They have not stimulated thier bodies to change at all, because there were already capable at the beginning of doing what they continued to do.

They each got stronger with better endurance, but each are now uniquely prepared for a specific test of the quality they are best adapted for (Adam for a strength:mass ratio test like pull-ups and likely a 10k, Brian for something explosive like a sprint, throw, or snatch test, and Charlie for absolute strength).
Now this part I somewhat agree with -- they would become somewhat "hardened" to do what they repeatedly do, so it would be much less stressful for them to do a similar task or to up the ante and do a similar task to a higher degree. But I still don't think it would make that much difference, because none of them followed a training program (or, naturally progressed their workload) to increase their capability in their repective areas.
 

Sean M

Level 6 Valued Member
I disagree with this premise, in our friendly discussion here. I thnk this is the classic mistake most exercisers make. They come in and do the elliptical day after day, or their same calisthenics routine, or their weightlifting routine, changing nothing about it and just repeating it, and think they will make progress. They don't. Because they're already capable of, and adapted to, the work that they're doing.
Interesting. So they would need each push themselves to do more work in a given work day, not just allow a “passive” adaptation (e.g. for Charlie, 250 pounds per trip starts to feel 20% then 50% lighter by week 4-6...when he should instead load up to where it always feels like an 80% effort given the task of doing it all day and needing to recover overnight to do it again tomorrow)?
I disagree with this too. They have not stimulated thier bodies to change at all, because there were already capable at the beginning of doing what they continued to do.
So if they each ended the 12 weeks being able to 20% more weight per hour, that isn’t necessarily an outcome of a training stimulation, just their bodies “taking the foot off the brake” and allowing them to tap the capacity they actually had even at the beginning? And it would take actual training (pushing daily or in a wave cycle) to increase (then perform to) that capacity?

(My questions are inquisitive, not argumentative. I learn by analogies and anything I propose is welcome to be disputed - it’s what I intuit but I am not an expert on any of this. Just my layman’s impression)
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
So they would need each push themselves to do more work in a given work day, not just allow a “passive” adaptation
Yes, exactly. At least in an easy progression, since they're working 5 days per week. Wavy volume and/or intensity might work better. Depends on the constraints of what they have to get done on the job vs. the optimal training stimulation.

So if they each ended the 12 weeks being able to 20% more weight per hour, that isn’t necessarily an outcome of a training stimulation, just their bodies “taking the foot off the brake” and allowing them to tap the capacity they actually had even at the beginning? And it would take actual training (pushing daily or in a wave cycle) to increase (then perform to) that capacity?
Well it's all theoretical what their increase in work capacity would be after 12 weeks as described. But I would say yes it would be some training stimulation -- the task would get easier for them, so if they pushed hard on a "test" day they could probably do more than they could at the beginning, so yes that would be some progress. But for significant change in capability and physical appearance, they have to train and progress: stress/recover/adapt.
 
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