“All you have inside your arms, is water. And water doesn’t make you strong” This is what a girl once told me, after touching my biceps.
At that time I was training nearly every day per week. This sentence from a girl is the last thing that you want to hear when you spend most of your free-time training in a fitness center. It turned out that the girl was extremely body conscious and unhappy in her own skin. She was speaking out of envy.
Increased muscle size is not due to water, but mainly due to an increased amount of muscle cells. The amount of muscle cells in your body is a crucial factor in determining physical strength, but surprisingly not the only one.
Physical Strength Comes In Multiple Forms
Before I explain what physical strength is, we first have to define the term properly. For one person, strong is defined as doing 100 push ups; for another person, it is bench pressing 225 pounds.
While all these different definitions may be part of being strong, According to the dictionary, strength is the organisms capability of exerting force on physical objects.
The Factors Of Strength
One of the factors to physical strength, are how many muscle cells you possess in your body.
The muscle cells contain elements that shorten on command. The shortening of the elements creates a shortening of the entire muscle, which creates a movement in the joint. If you have bigger muscles due to your training, you’re increasing the amount of your muscle cells. You’re having more elements that are able to shorten on command. Due to having more elements, there will be more force that can be applied to the joints. Therefore technically, more physical strength.
But muscle cells are not the only things that are important for physical strength. I previously stated that muscle cells contain elements, that shorten on command. The command comes from nerve cells. Generally neurons, this is a fancy word for nerve cells, adapt fast to your workout schedule. The adaptation of your nervous system is responsible for most of your strength gains within the first few months of training, where your brain is simply learning to activate your muscle cells more efficiently. Strength is limited by your neural activation.
Another part that can limit your physical strength is your nutrition. If your muscles don’t have the right energy to create the force, they won’t be able to shorten on command properly.
The House Building Analogy
An easy way to understand the muscle cells relation with strength, is the house building analogy. Imagine that you were trying to build a house. For that endeavor, you’re hiring a company with construction workers, which will be working at your construction site full time. The construction workers are your muscle cells.
Naturally you want to finish the house building process as soon as possible. The house building process is your strength. The faster you build a house, according to this analogy, the more strength you have in your body. Increasing the number of the construction workers might speed up the process, but it’s not the only factor.
If the construction workers don’t have the right manager, the manager is your brain, they will slack off during work and play angry birds. If the construction workers don’t have the right tools, the tools being your nutrients, you will never finish the house.
Physical strength is a combination of these factors. Muscle cells are not solely responsible for creating physical strength, yet they play a crucial part.
Strength Are What Muscles Are For
If you have a lot of muscles, you can also expect to be strong. As we’ve seen the amount of your muscle cells are not the only factor in determining your strength, yet they’re a crucial one.
Generally your body will adapt all factors due to weightlifting. It will increase the amount of muscle cells, the neural connections and the nutrient uptake. One of the best ways to even get muscular, is building extreme strength.
When you’re training in the gym: try to increase the weight of your work-set. Keep the repetitions between 6-12 most of the time. This way your body will adapt all it’s structures to increase your physical strength.