School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


5 Feb 2020

What is strength? asks the latest 'Experts in Sport' podcast, featuring Professor Jonathan Folland and Dr Richard Blagrove in conversation with Martin Foster

The latest episode of the ‘Experts in Sport’ podcast is all about strength. What is it? How do you build it? What methods are best for your fitness goals?

Host Martin Foster (Applied Sport Management Lead), is joined by Professor Jonathan Folland and Dr Richard Blagrove to delve a little deeper into a subject that is perhaps more complicated than first thought.

Jonathan - a Professor of Neuromuscular Performance, Deputy Associate Dean (Research) and Director of Doctoral Programmes here at Loughborough, explains the difference between maximal strength and explosive strength:

“Strength, in very simple terms, is the ability to produce force or torque by the muscles…it can be broken down into different types of strength, according to the situation or task. Maximum strength is the maximum force or torque the muscles can produce, with no particular time limit, and explosive strength is the ability to produce force quickly.”

It is also discussed how elite level athletes, including 100m sprinters, use each technique as the time their foot spends in contact with the ground is only circa 100 milliseconds.

“In a lot of sports and explosive activities, there's not much time to generate what would be considered a classic, maximum contraction or a maximum voluntary contraction. So, it's about producing force quickly, which is why explosive strength is probably very important,” Jonathan said.

The benefits of explosive versus maximal techniques can also be adopted by the everyday gym member as Dr Blagrove explains:

“The optimal number of repetitions to develop explosive strength isn’t certain, however some evidence from the weightlifting literature indicates that after about five or six repetitions, you have a significant drop off in power output.

“So typically, when I'm working with athletes, I'm trying to develop explosiveness. They won't get much over about six repetitions, because then you can start to see sort of some visual signs, some deterioration and some fatigue building into their technique.”

The full episode can be found by visiting Buzzsprout. Listeners can also subscribe to the channel and will receive an alert once new episodes are published.

Loughborough University's 'Experts in Sport' podcast is a regular series, that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia.