8/11/15 - Getting Strong Isn’t About Adding Mass

Strength is often defined as the maximal contractile force produced by a muscle group. Surely, this can be one particular definition. Since, however, we are living in the real world, we aren’t concerned with the maximum potential of contractile force a muscle or a muscle group could produce in a lab with electrodes charging energy into muscles, we’ll say strength is simply the productive application of force.

It’s a definition coined by Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit. It’s a more functional definition, after all. With this definition of strength technique matters. The amount of work done matters.

It should be noted, as well, that improving strength (especially by this definition) is some part physical and some part neurological. This is key. One can get surely stronger by growing muscles, but this productive application of force is often as a result of neurological changes not bigger muscles. This means we get stronger (or produce force better) when our body sends the right signals, when we know the technique, and we move better.

It’s the reason why bodybuilders often look stronger than they are, and weightlifters often are stronger than they look. When a newer athlete front squats for the first time, for example, and finds a 100lbs one rep max on a Monday and is able to front squat 130lbs the following Wednesday, it isn’t because he or she put on enough muscle mass to move 30% more weight, it’s because the neurological adaptations have allowed the body to fire those muscles more productively to do the work.

If I haven’t completely lost you yet, this is good news. We don’t need to necessarily put on dozens of pounds of muscle to be stronger. We need to train the body to adapt neurologically to move larger loads, faster. Furthermore, this neurological adaptation means getting strong doesn’t mean getting bulky, ladies.


Logan Gelbrich


8/11/15 WOD

3 Squat Clean Thrusters (155/110)
6 Burpees over the Box
9 DB Renegade Rows (40/25)