What is Strength?

Mark Rippetoe, founder of Starting Strength, once said:


“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”


If that’s true, if stronger people really are harder to kill and more useful in general, then we need to define what “strength” is. In our previous video, we said that strength is the greatest of physical abilities. Now it’s time to flesh out the definition of what strength really means.


Strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance.


Simply, strength is force production. The person that can produce the most force is the most strong. Someone who can squat 400lb is stronger than someone who can squat 200lb. Strength is not ethereal, as it is so often used to describe the challenges in our daily lives. We’ll say things like, “he was strong, because he survived as a prisoner of war.”


What we mean to say is, “he was really mentally tough, because he survived as a prisoner of war.” By no means are we diminishing his sacrifice and ability to overcome the stress of being held captive. We must use the word “strength” accurately, in order to understand how to develop strength in the most effective way.


Physical strength can only be defined by our ability to produce force. Period.


The person who squats 400lb has to produce more force against the floor and into the barbell, than the person who squats 200lb. This applies to all of the main compound strength movements, which is a topic we’ll be covering in our next video!


The person who produces the most force is more useful, and thus, harder to kill.


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