What is The Strength Continuum?

What is The Strength Continuum?

The Strength Continuum and Why Coaches Need to Understand It

The strength continuum is a fundamental principle of strength and conditioning. This blog will cover each part of the strength continuum and why coaches like you need to understand it.

The Strength Continuum Defined

The strength continuum is a way of classifying types of exercises (contractions) based on where they fall on the power time curve. On the far left side is absolute strength, followed by strength speed, then speed strength, and on the far right side, absolute speed.

You progress the strength continuum from the left to the right, starting with slow and intense contractions and moving to faster and less intense contractions. Developing the strength continuum in this way allows for maximal expression across the continuum over time.

Why Coaches Need to Understand It

You need to understand the strength continuum because it will increase the effectiveness of the training programs you create.

The continuum classifies different exercises based on their complexity and provides you with the prerequisites needed to move along it. Once you understand it, you will be able to give your clients the exact exercises they need for their current level of ability.

The Strength Continuum 

Absolute Strength

Absolute strength sits on the far left side of the strength continuum and is the foundation for the rest of the strength continuum. It is a type of strength training that involves moving heavier loads at a relatively low speed. 

Most clients can train and thrive within absolute strength alone. The benefits of absolute strength training include improvements in bone density, lean muscle mass, and minimizing the negative effects of the aging process. 

Absolute Strength Exercises Include:

Strength Speed

Strength speed is the next step of the continuum. It is characterized by the moving of a load faster, relative to absolute strength. Olympic lifts are a great example of strength speed training. Clients training for health and longevity do not need to train strength speed. However, some clients do enjoy strength speed training, and with the appropriate base of absolute strength and skill, this can be implemented safely.

Strength Speed Exercises Include:

Speed Strength

Speed strength is the third step in the continuum and is performed with lower loads and at a faster speed than strength speed. Speed strength development is necessary for some sport-specific clients. This training can help increase power production in competition scenarios and prevent injuries. Specifically, speed strength and absolute speed training can allow better expression of power. Before you can train speed strength, you need a base of absolute strength and time spent in strength speed.

Speed Strength Exercises Include:

Absolute Speed

Absolute speed is the final part of the continuum. It is training that develops the ability to make contractions more anaerobic. It has the fastest contraction rate on the continuum and is the least intense in terms of load. This is a specialized expression of resistance training. Most clients will never need to train absolute speed or have the base of training required to express it. 

Absolute Speed Exercises Include:

  • Running Sprint
  • Assault Bike Sprint

Learn Exercise Principles That Take the Guesswork Out of Writing Programs

In fitness, there are a lot of variables. 

How well your client slept, what they ate before training, and how they recovered from their last session can all affect how they perform in the gym.

While we can’t help you control all these variables, we can teach you exactly what type of exercises your clients should be doing. That’s why we created our download Strength, Power, and Speed Program Design.

This download goes deep into the specifics of the strength continuum, showing you specific exercise programs for each part of the continuum along with the prerequisites for advancing to the next stage. Download now and start creating more effective exercise programs. 


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