PLEASE NOTE: We are undergoing a name change. Unleashed Training is now Sprint Ninja. We still offer high quality strength and conditioning along with personal training, with our specialty being sprint training.
Super human strength is something all athletes and most of the general population would love to achieve. This article is about the development of strength in multiple components and how to make the most of your strength training efforts. To many people strength training is simply lifting weights in a gym environment. However there is much more to the development of strength than gym-based training with the standard exercises.
These are the four components of strength training used by Unleashed Training. Super human strength is an arguable and ambiguous term. However utilising these four methods of strength training you will be stronger than most people, including athletes.
Strength - The Foundation of Everything
Think about any sport and how strength plays a role. Here’s another way to look at it. If you possessed super human strength what kind of an impact would it make to sports and every day life? Everything is easier when you are strong. Strength is the basis and foundation of all other physical components of fitness. This applies to the athlete and the general population. For an athlete strength is required for multiple reasons, such as transference into speed and power, joint stability, ability to withstand impact etc. For the general population strength allows you to produce adequate levels of key hormones, move with greater biomechanical efficiency, prevent injury, reverse aging, increase work capacity for greater fat loss potential etc.
Super Human Strength - The Unleashed Way
Unleashed Training utilises a layered approach to programming. Everyone must develop and revisit foundational conditioning. At the base and foundation of everything you must possess certain key abilities. Strength is the most important of those. But first lets look at the different types of strength from a training point of view.
Body control refers to strength applied in moving your own body weight. Gymnasts display this perfectly. Exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, muscle-ups, pistols and gymnastics rings exercises are all examples of body control.
Absolute strength, for the purpose of explanation, is strength developed using easy to learn movements that have a very small skill component. The reason it is termed absolute strength is that all physical resources are focused on strength, with minimal instability, coordination, balance etc. Powerlifting and other barbell movements are examples of absolute strength development. A max deadlift demonstrates absolute strength in its rawest form.
Dynamic strength is power applied to a significant force. Dynamic strength is the ability to control an external load and move it at speed. Most often this requires a high level of coordination and a greater learning curve. Dynamic strength is perfectly demonstrated by Olympic lifts, throwing a heavy item such as shot put or a keg toss, or simply lifting a heavy object from A to B rapidly.
Awkward strength is strength that is applied to unpredictable objects, movements and recruitment patterns. Lifting a heavy box, fridge or lounge while moving house is a good example. This strength can’t be imitated in a gym environment and requires a more natural approach with a lot of variety. Strongman competitions demonstrate this sort of strength very well. Lifting atlas stones, log press, zercher carry, sled drag, suitcase carry etc, are all examples of awkward strength. Awkward strength is a major advantage in that it develops strength that can’t be gained through other forms of training and is applicable to a broad range of things from sport to every day life.
Training for Super Human Strength
It is fine to train in one specific manner for the development of strength, it works. However there are components of strength going untrained and eventually you will hit a plateau and cease to progress. Then you have to periodise and use your imagination to bust through and keep progressing forward. This is a frustrating process. It’s like maxing out your bench over a period of 3-5 years and then only being able to gain maybe 4 or 5kg per year on the lift. This is slow progress and definitely not a path to super human strength development.
Progress is made in two ways, and they can both produce the opposite of a desired result if they are used in isolation.
1. Grease the groove: Greasing the groove means training a specific movement pattern in a specific pattern of recruitment and repetition range while progressively increasing the load lifted. As an example, you want to increase your max deadlift, so you need to train the deadlift regularly in order for your body to get used to that specific movement and become more efficient. The problem is that progression is not indefinite and eventually the law of diminishing returns takes hold and results stall. Hence the need for…..
2. Variation: A programme needs consistent training of specific movement patterns in order to increase your ability to perform those movement patterns with increasing loads. However this comes with a law of diminishing returns, which means the body must be stimulated to develop in unfamiliar patterns and loads. Exercises, weight, repetitions, intensity, training frequency and many other aspects must somewhat vary to keep producing a necessary stimulus for the continued development of strength.
Unleashed Training utilises both of these components of a strength training programme in order to produce rapid results and continued results. This is done a little differently to many other strength training methods. Many methods will use a set strict programme for a period of time, wait for results to stall and then vary the programme a little to milk out a bit more weight. This is time consuming.
Unleashed Training uses the continuous variation method. Throughout a training programme an athlete has specific skills and components that feature in the programme frequently and progressively. For instance a power lifter will always work on the deadlift, squat and bench press. This provides consistency and progression of the correct motor patterns.
In addition to this consistency there is variation from the core of the programme. All components of strength are developed regardless of the goal. Intensity is varied, repetition ranges vary, training frequency varies etc. A power lifter will engage in Olympic lifts, a weightlifter will engage in strongman training, the Javelin thrower will do gymnastics etc. Any athlete or individual will have a balance of continuous specificity and consistency along with variation. Taking this approach allows an individual to rarely hit a training plateau and periodisation becomes far more simplified. This has also been shown to lead to faster progression.
Ok, you want super human strength? The following are the four training methods used for the development of super human strength in all components.
Powerlifting and Supporting Movements
Powerlifting refers to barbell and dumbell type training. This is the development of foundational strength and aims at developing strength in common movement patterns. This will generally form the core of any strength training programme and aims to support other components of strength development.
A programme will feature standard barbell movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, standing military press, bent over rows, overhead squats etc. In addition to this a programme will generally include dumbell movements for unilateral movements.
Gymnastics and Body Weight Strength Training
The control of your own body is necessary in order to develop useful strength that can be transferred into activities outside of the training environment. Gymnastics movements vary in difficulty from the humble push-up or pull-up all the way to muscle-ups, single arm pull-ups, two point push-ups, iron cross etc.
Gymnastics strength training is usually undertaken in a progressive format, where easier movements are learned first and more difficult movements are progressively learned.
Weightlifting and Other Dynamic Strength Movements
Weightlifting provides a component of speed to the development of strength. In sports and in everyday life you will rarely move slowly. Most things are done rapidly and utilise an aspect of momentum. Weightlifting becomes a part of every strength training programme at the more advanced levels. This includes the snatch, cleans, jerk, fast kettlebell exercises and anything that supports these things.
Strongman training is where all of your strength is culminated into something functional and awkward. Anything goes with strongman training. If it’s awkward and heavy then lift it. There are no set rules for strongman training, anything applies. Lift atlas stones, irregular shaped objects, carry something heavy for a given distance, drag a heavy sled, lift a car, firemans carry a person, use sandbags, fill a Swiss ball with water and lift it. The list goes on.
The development of super human strength, that is, strength that is above average, is achieved through specificity with flexibility and variation. Unleashed Training uses this four-pronged approach to strength training to provide strength that is useful outside of the training environment.
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YOUR COACH – Chris Lyons
Chris Lyons is an experienced strength and conditioning coach, having trained athletes of all ages and levels since 2002. Chris specialises in coaching athletes for speed and power specific to fast-moving sports such as rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Aussie rules football etc. Since 2002 Chris has conducted close to 15,000 hours of training and coaching directly with athletes and members of the general population. From this experience comes Sprint Ninja, based on tried and tested training methods combined with up to date research. Chris continues to challenge himself not only as a coach, but also as an athlete, competing in sprinting events, strongman and Olympic-style weightlifting.