Strength is Relative…Sort of

I’ve been getting questions about strength and specifically how much weight should be lifted for a particular body size. This is a difficult question to answer because there are multiple factors that go into measuring and building strength.

Franco is strong, but don't compare yourself to him

Muscle size is only one of the factors correlated to strength. Here is a list of other factors that play a role in strength:

1. Years of training experience

2. Intensity of training

3. The specific design of the training program followed

4. Pain tolerance

5. Age

6. Muscle pennation

7. Tendon Insertion

8. Limb Length

9. Length of tendon vs muscle belly

10. Neuromuscular efficiency

11. Injuries (acute and chronic)

12. Joint laxity

13. The specific exercise being tested

14. Exercise technique

15. Exercise technique coaching

16. Drug use

17. Supplements

…and I’m sure I’m missing a few others

As you can see there are many factors other than muscle size that determine how strong you are in any one particular exercise. Judging your strength vs mine in a particular exercise doesn’t really tell you much about the size or condition of that muscle if we don’t account for all the factors above as well.

You can use strength as a general guideline as bigger muscle are indeed stronger. But keep in mind this is only a general rule and cannot be drilled down to a more specific relationship.

John