Relative Strength

Prioritize Relative Strength

Relative strength for the vast majority of humans is much more important and much more applicable than absolute strength.  

Relative vs Absolute

Relative strength focuses on your strength related to your own body, more specifically, being able to perform numerous movements at your bodyweight.  Absolute strength does not care about how much you weigh, it is all about the maximum amount of weight you can lift for an exercise, think of powerlifters and offensive linemen.  While it would seem logical that these two would be linked, that if you improve your absolute strength on a lift that would immediately translate to your relative strength it simply does not work this way.

Relative Movements

The most simple relative strength test is the pull up.  Can you perform X number of strict pull ups?  This can also move into dips and pushups.  Those three movements are the starting point.  A guy who can bench press 415 pounds may not be able to do a single pull up.  Another guy can only bench 225 pounds, but can do 20 strict pull ups.  In this scenario it is also likely there would be at least 100 lbs separating these two individuals in bodyweight.

THere are very few times in your life where actually doing a max effort movement applies in real life.  Especially when you consider the positioning and setup most high max lifters utilize when performing a lift.  But I would bet every single person out there needs to move their body around using pulliing and pushing movements similar to pull ups and dips.  Getting out of a pull is essentially a muscle up where you pull yourself out of the water, then dip all the way up.

Relative Progressions

I am a lifelong meathead who has always loved pushing the iron around, and often going as heavy as possible, sometimes beyond.  Over time, this beats the living shit out of your body.  I always did dips and pull ups so my relative strength was quite solid from a baseline perspective.  What I did NOT know was the level of progressions that were possible.  If you do not believe me, and you can do pull ups and dips from bars, than try doing them on rings.  You are welcome.  This is a whole new world on rings and it will absolutely humble most of the strongest people on the planet.  I certainly was.  

Perfect Athlete

A perfect athlete would have a unique combination of Speed, Strength and Flexibility.  Along with a whole lot of skill in their specific sport.  But if you were to take someone with extremely high levels and scores on strength, speed and flexibility it would be HIGHLY likely that that athlete could be dropped into any sport and perform above average.  These are the types of physiques we should be chasing as well.  Think NFL running backs, receivers and defensive backs.  Think gymnasts and MMA fighters.  These are the bodies most of us should be chasing.  Guys with incredible relative strength along with flexibility and speed.  Not offensive lineman who can move the most MAX weight, but at the expense of carrying around an extra 100 or more pounds.  Not bodybuilders who cannot perform ANY sport at a reasonable level.  No thanks.

Getting Too Big

One major problem with bodybuilders, especially professional level bodybuilders, is their complete lack of flexibility and even relative strength.  Some guys in the gym can work themselves into a fury, setup on the bench with an incredible bridge and bench a house.  Yet they cannot do a pull up, their dips are shit, and in the case of many of the massive bodybuilders they cannot wipe their own ass.  Is this an enjoyable state of every day living?  ALmost always sore and probably too big for their own good.  And as a bonus when it comes to many day to day activities they are actually weak as shit.  No thanks.


Priority is an extremely simple thing that most people butcher.  When asked for a list of top five priorities from your boss, you now know your boss is a moron.  There can only be 1 priority.  There can be only one winner at the end of the day if you have to choose 1 person to eat over every other choice.  The same is true in training.  You can do a lot of different things that mix in max lift days and bodyweight relative strength days.  But if you have to make a choice of continuing to push your max XYZ lift up, versus no longer being able to do Pull ups or Dips or really anything with your bodyweight because you got too big or heavy, then skip the max shit because you may get absolutely stronger but at the expense of becoming a worse athlete.