Strength is Relative
Strength is relative. Just like anything else, strength corresponds with and is contingent upon your goals. Clearly, there is an underlying genetic framework that is going to ultimately depict your body structure. Your muscular layout is very unique and how it responds to certain exercises, volume of resistance, nutrition, and cardio is going to be inimitable.
With that being said, it is impossible to measure strength by the numbers. Every person's molecular and muscular composition is different from one another and their targets are distinctive. One person's potential is different from another. Each person has a genetic predisposition that dictates how fast one will be, how strong one can be, how big one can get, how much knowledge one can attain, etc. Obviously, hard work will overcome many predispositions, but there is only so much you can change about yourself. Each person has its own genetic envelope. You start out at one end and can move to the other end of it with hard work. However, you are limited to what the genetic envelope has in its cards. Moreover, each genetic envelope depicts one aspect of your being. There's a genetic envelope for leg strength, pulling strength, pushing strength, intelligence, knowledge, language fluency, communication, etc.
Envision your inherited level in the form of numbers on a 100 yard line to better ascertain what I am talking about. Some people's leg strength envelope consists of 20 to 40, meaning you start out at the 20 yard line, but if you work hard enough you can extend to the 40. However, no matter how much effort you put forth, you can't break that barrier. Some people may start at 5, which is much less than the 20, but can end up at 80. Remember that really short and skinny kid in high school? The kid who later worked hard and was able to gain a ton of weight in a short period of time while the big kid in high school never was able to gain much weight after even working hard? Their genetic envelopes were different and allowed for different results. One sprouted early and the other sprouted later but greater. Or we can take a look at the freak athletes in professional sports that may not even work hard but may start at a 70 and end up at 90. You get my point?
Training and practicing is necessary to move you from one side of the envelope to the other. You should always work your absolute hardest in anything. Just know that what you may do in terms of strength is totally different from someone else.
So when you and your buddy are comparing strength, compare not by the numbers, but by how hard you work. You may be better at squat, while he is better at shoulder press and you wonder why? Everything about you is different from your friend. Your entire molecular structure is special. Your muscular layout is different. Your muscle tendons could be thicker, thinner, longer, or shorter. Even the way your muscle tendons connect to the joint is unique. Your muscle fiber distribution is distinctive. Your muscle tie-ins are different. Your muscle belies are characteristic of your unique body structure.
To further my point, we can take the common example of "Who’s stronger?: A guy who is able to bench his own bodyweight of 205 lbs. for 30 times and max is 375 or someone who’s max is 625 but could only do his bodyweight of 235 lbs. for 10 times?” Well, first it depends on the particular people's goals and genetic make-up. The first guy obviously has slower, more endurance fibers that can handle weight for longer periods of time, while the second guy encompasses explosive fast twitch muscle fibers that can handle enormous weights but for short bouts. You can't compare the two.
Consequently, what is correct for one person, does not necessarily mean that it is right for you. What works for one guy will not necessarily work for you . You need to find what is right for you. Listen to your body. See how your body responds to certain exercises. Just because Joe Schmo has 20" arms and only does dips and barbell curls, doesn't mean you'll see the same results by doing just dips and barbell curls. Barbell curls obviously work for Joe Schmo, but they may not work for you. What is correct for one person, does not necessarily mean that it is right for you. His body structure is entirely different from yours and he may experience growth from something that you may never experience growth from. Furthermore, he may be an endomorph, ectomorph or mesomorph while you are something different.
So, many people ask whether they should be doing high volume training or heavy duty training. Well, that really depends on you and how your body responds to certain exercises and level of training. Everything about you is unique and your outcomes will be unique as well. Find out what is right for you.
We still have those naysayers and those who say "I heard you have to train heavy to gain muscle mass". Heavy is all relative. People who tell you that are those watching videos of guys doing tremendous amounts of weight. They see bodybuilders and powerlifters alike who are tremendous guys who are handling exorbitant amounts of weights. You see guys bench pressing 600 lbs. and squatting 700 lbs. and you think to yourself that is the only way to get "huge". False. These guys did not start out lifting those weights. It is a gradual approach.
The great bodybuilder and 8X Mr. Olympia champion, Ronnie Coleman, may be able to perform a 2400 lb. leg press for 10 reps and you call that heavy. However, for him, he uses weights he can handle. You have to realize it isn't heavy for King Ronnie. Obviously, it is heavy for you and I, but he is using a weight he can handle. You don’t need to train "heavy" to build muscle. Get out of the routine of going by numbers that others use and looking at the numbers on its face. Let your body crunch the numbers based upon how you feel and how you respond to the routines you are doing. If you experience growth with an exercise, write it down and continue its use. If you don't experience growth with it, write it down and don't continue its use. Sometimes you'll experience tremendous strides with one particular exercise but then it will fade. Take note of it and move on to something else. Sometimes supersets do wonders with certain bodyparts and don't with others. Find out by intently listening to your body and everything it tells you. You need to find out what is right for you. Strength is relative.
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