On relative vs absolute strength

More or less every time people post something about strength on FB, you’ll see these two responses:

  1. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 135 at 60, I’m stronger than you compared to bodyweight.
  2. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 201kg at 125kg so I’m stronger than you.
  3. (this is actually 2A): If your house is burning and you have to lift a crashed car – do you think it matters how much you weigh?!

As always, the internet is retarded. đŸ™‚

How about this question: “is it more weight than you’ve lifted before at a comparable bodyweight?”

Obviously bodyweight plays a huge role in strength sports – that’s why there are weight classes. Looking at weightlifting and powerlifting respectively, you’ll find that they use Sinclair points and wilks coefficient to compare across weightclasses. This is because a straight weight lifted/bodyweight equation favors lighter people. For that reason it’s always the weak skinny guys that want to compare lifts using that equation.

Absolute strength IS important. VERY important. A friend of mine recently said “there are no weightclasses in my sport”, which is very true. HOWEVER and this is really important:

Relative strength is by far the most important strength-related quality in sports.

Let me explain.

When I talk about relative strength, I’m not talking about a 45kg guy being able to do endless chinups. Obviously, that guy isn’t going to do a tackle worth mentioning. The other end of the spectrum though is the 200kg guy, who’s probably going to be too slow to get in position to tackle.


Relative strength is this: getting stronger while keeping your waistline in check.

For me personally, I’m closer than ever to hitting a 2x bodyweight squat. Did I get stronger? Actually no, I got weaker. I lost more weight than strength though. Because I was fat(ish) dropping a bit of weight has made me faster, even if I got weaker. Without a doubt.

Getting stronger relatively for me, is building strength, while staying lean. Unless you’re eating 6000+kcal a day, you’re not training for absolute strength, you’re still training to get stronger relatively. Even though you’re not a skinny twig.

Relative strength is NOT about being the skinny guy who can do a ton of bodyweight exercises. Relative strength, is about getting stronger without getting fat. For all except the absolute elite level lifters, this should be number one priority as it’s a great way to get to the Fame Boy Fitness Commandment number one “Thou shalt train to feel good”.

Train to feel good. Be strong and lean.

3 thoughts on “On relative vs absolute strength

  1. Pingback: The challenge of the month | Blog of Fame

Leave a Reply