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Establishing point b: Absolute strength

A prerequisite nervous system based capacity of the optimal point B.

Absolute strength is the ability of the nervous system to generate an optimal magnitude of force that is efficiently propagated through the internal environment and discharged sometimes into the external environment.

Notice that absolute strength is defined as a nervous system capacity.  It is the muscle fibers that generate force but only when those fibers have been called upon (ie. recruited) by the nervous system.

Absolute strength is the nervous system's ability to stimulate and recruit the largest motor units and fastest muscle fibers to generate force.

Strength training method to acquire absolute strength

Exercise science collectively agrees on a superior strength training method to train the nervous system to stimulate and recruit the largest and fastest muscle fibers.  That is the maximal effort method.

"The maximal effort method is lifting a maximal load or exercising against maximal resistance."

Dr. Zatsiorsky

The Science and Practice of Strength Training


Exercising/training against non-maximal (submaximal) will NOT elicit training effects where the nervous system learns how to acquire absolute strenth.

Non maximal effort training effects

Henemann's size principle allows us to know that the nervous system recruits motor neurons and muscle fibers that innervate in an orderly fashion-from small and slow to large and fast.

When exercising against sub maximal loads/resistance, the nervous system adheres to this principle and recruits small motor neurons and slow motor units (ie. slow-twitch muscle fibers)

Large motor neurons and fast-twitch muscle fibers are not recruited or are non-stimulated when exercising against non-maximal resistance.  Training with non-maximal resistance does not stimulate the nervous system to acquire more absolute strength.

Optimal motor unit recruitment

Optimal motor unit recruitment that is generated during sport can ONLY occur in the trained athlete.  More specifically, the athlete who is optimally utilizing the maximal effort method to train for absolute strength.

The athletes who possess the ready ability to stimulate and recruit the largest motor units and fastest muscle fibers at the highest speeds possess the optimal levels of the nervous system-based capacity to ensure their success in sport.

The unfortunate reality for today's athlete

The vast majority of athletes possess the false belief that the strength training they are performing is enabling them to acquire an optimal level of absolute strength.

In reality, the overwhelming majority of the time we find their strength (program) is failing to train absolute strength and is actually behaving as a limiting constraint.

This is not by fault of the athlete but due to the illogical training programmed by the majority of today's strength coaches.

"The muscles and central nervous system (CNS) adapt only to the load placed on them"

Dr. Zatsiorsky

Training athletes at non maximal, and thus non stimulating levels, will no doubt DETRAIN the athlete and their nervous system.

A misunderstanding of absolute strength will never enable an athlete to acquire the optimal physical state required to ensure success at a sport, driving them further away from their optimal Point B.

Simply put, sub-maximal loads lead to sub-maximal training effects.  Overtime, this leads to the sub-maximal physical development of athletes.

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