Progression in Strength Training


Progression in Strength Training

Strength training can and should be a key component of EVERYONE’S training program. It is in all of my programs and you see it reflected in our gym.

Strength training is at the forefront of everything we do and for good reason.

When talking about strength training or “Lifting weights” it is important to realize what is going on during that.

When we Strength train what we are doing is completing Muscle Contractions.

Muscle contractions are the activation of tension-generating sites within muscle fibers. This happens in 3 different ways: Concentric (muscle shortening), Eccentric (muscle lengthening) and Isometric (muscle remaining in position).

Now I won’t specifically jump into each one of those but I do want to talk about how you should progress with muscle contractions.

Muscle Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.

This is the first place every person should begin in their journey through strength training.

You could also say that muscle endurance work is also “Motor Learning” or “Motor Coordination”. This is great to remember because gaining strength is highly neurological. Your brains ability to communicate with your muscle and tell them to contract hard comes through repetition.

This is best done is muscle endurance work and will be any persons first stop in our gym with any Coach or on any of our programs.

Strength Endurance

Strength endurance is defined as increasing the ability to use a high amount of our maximal Strength over a long period of Time. The main goal of this training stage is the ability to maintain force production during fatigue.

This comes after you have done a lot of muscle endurance work and have taken your time to learn great movement and can do it on each repetition you complete.

A great example of the two types I have explained so far would be to think of muscle endurance as a body weight or lightly loaded lunge that you complete reps for 60 seconds straight.

Whereas Strength Endurance would be a Heavy loaded Lunge or split squat that you only would be able to complete 8-10 reps before reaching maximum fatigue.

You can see how first learning great movement and doing tons of reps will prepare you to safely complete strength endurance activities.

Maximum Contractions

Maximum Contractions are when you reach the highest level of contractions that your body is able to perform. Think of this as like a 1RM Back Squat.

The first two places a person should visit before performing a max lift of any sort should be Muscle Endurance and then Spend time with doing Strength Endurance.

No clients we train will do Maxes before spending time with the first two. This is to prevent injury and allow Time for movement quality to be performed at a high level.

Even though “Maxing out” is fun and is great to discuss with family and friends It can be a recipe for injury if performed too soon.

Take your time to get to this point and know that getting muscle endurance and strength endurance first will provide the best progression in your journey through strength training.


This is the king of all types of strength training and takes years to be able to perform this safely and effectively to receive the full benefit.

Battery is your ability to perform Max Contractions repeatedly.

A great example of this would be to 1-rep of Bench Press at about 90% of your 1RM (9-RPE), re-rack the bar, rest for 20-30 sec, and then perform another rep.

You keep going in that manner for a period of a couple minutes or until failure.

The best way to think of that is you simply drain your battery with a rep, your body recharges, and then you keep draining and recharging again.

Battery should only be performed once a person has done Muscle Endurance, Strength Endurance, and max contractions.


The best thing to remember is that you should strength train.

EVERYONE should.

However your progression through how you perform strength training should be a slow one in which you focus a lot on how you move.

Most people spend their entire time in Muscle Endurance and Strength Endurance and that is perfectly ok. It is a great place to be and will deliver great results and longevity to that person.

Like most Coaches I have learned that Max contractions and Battery should be reserved for the person who has spent time progressing through the levels and is performance and competition minded.

Knowing what you want from your training like I always say is so important to help you decided how to approach training.

Remember the progression is:

Muscle Endurance > Strength Endurance > Max Contractions > Battery

Take your time, move well, move well more, and enjoy strength training as it delivers you great health and a strong body!

Written by:

Coach Cody Smith