Muscular Strength

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Strength Defined
Muscular strength is the maximal force exerted by a single voluntary muscular contraction. Strength is important for performing many daily tasks and avoiding injuries in exercise, sports, or occupational demands.

Strength depends on such factors as muscle mass, the number of contracting fibers in the muscle, whether the muscle is contracted or lengthened at the time of exertion, and whether the muscle is fatigued or rested.

Strength Declines
As We Age

Muscle strength declines as we age and this decline accelerates after the age of sixty. Strength training with weight machines or free weights, calisthenics, or by other means, slows down this decline in strength, even after sixty, when maintaining strength is important for remaining independent and active in life.

Types of Strength
There are three main ways to measure and develop strength:

  1. Static Strength: Measured and developed with isometric training (iso means “same”, metric means “length”). The joint does not move during this type of muscular strength training, an example of which might be certain yoga poses, like plank, and using the static resistance of your own body, like in the core exercises shown here.

  2. Isokinetic (same speed): Measured with an instrument that controls the speed of the contraction, so that it is consistent. It is more difficult to train for this type of strength, as the instrument or machine needed to appropriately control the speed of the muscle contraction is usually relatively expensive.

  3. Dynamic strength, or isometric (“same tone”): Exertion during movement. This is the most common focus for strength development, since weight-lifting and calisthenics, such as pull-ups, are in this category. Dynamic strength is measured at the most difficult part of the movement, usually as the person starts to lift the weight or begins the movement, because the movement becomes easier after the initial resistance is overcome.

Improving Strength
One of the best ways to increase functional muscular strength is through calisthenics, free weights and weight machines, and through resistance and core training. If you want to build a lot of muscle for a highly cut physique, high-powered weight-lifting may be favored for training. Core training is important for everyone because a strong core supports the back and all basic body movements, and this will help lower your chances for back-related injury.

Calisthenics, such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc. , are a great way to maintain basic levels of strength. For women, calisthenics are perfect for shaping a very feminine and toned physique without needing to use weight machines or getting too bulky. Such exercises can be incorporated into at-home workouts.

Muscular Strength in Daily Life
Whatever body style or level of strength you want to train for, weight-lifting, calisthenics, core exercises, and yoga workouts are all excellent ways to get in shape and look great!

Your strength will pay off in other ways as well, like being able to stand on that jet ski for two hours, or snowboard level-blues and blacks ALL day, or rock climb that ridge you've been eyeing, or holding that yoga pose so long you really do lose yourself and your mind in it!

Muscle strength is important for your full enjoyment of life! After the age of sixty, strength training becomes even more critical. So, you might as well start sooner than later. Take a look at a few exercises that help develop and improve muscular strength.

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