“Maximal strength can be defined as the maximal voluntary contractile force the neuromuscular system is capable of producing in a single effort, irrespective of time.” – Charles Poliquin Simplified further – max strength is the maximal amount of force you can produce. It’s highly neural – meaning it relies on the brain to activate the most amount of muscle tissue possible. That’s why a smaller person with less muscle mass may lift more weight than a big person with more muscle mass. If the smaller person has a more efficient nervous system to stimulate more of their muscle, then they will be able to produce more force. It’s important to talk about maximal strength as it underpins most other athletic qualities… “The importance of maximal strength can be seen in the strong correlations to sprinting speed, agility, and jumping and the role it plays in return-to-performance following injury.” – Nick Winkelman When training for maximal strength our aim is to improve our brain’s ability to activate the most muscle possible. Here’s how you can improve you max strength: Test it: To find your one rep max we recommend performing a 3-5RM and multiplying it by the number from the chart in the video (ie. 100kg 3RM x 1.09 = 109kg 1RM). This is safer and a more realistic ‘training max’ than a 1RM would be. Keep the weights heavy: to elicit a response from the nervous system we want to perform our maximal strength work above 80% of our 1RM. Keep the reps low: we need to be very efficient in our movement and minimise muscular fatigue. Keep the reps below 5. 3-5 is generally the sweet spot. Anything above 5 and we start tipping into more muscular adaptations – remember we are chasing neural (brain) adaptations. Avoid failed reps and lifting to failure: similar to the point above – doing sets of 8+ to failure, may add more muscle mass but most of the adaptation is occurring at the muscle level – not the brain (there is a time and place for hypertrophy training but that’s for another day).