The Strength Continuum is the philosophy upon which different kinds of strength activities are classified. The Strength Continuum was developed as strength training was compared to the force-velocity curve and it was found that different forms of strength training needed their own categorizations as they fell into different areas of the force-velocity curve. The development of the Strength Continuum led to specific training for maximum expression of the different Strength Continuum categories. At first, it was believed that that only specific sports could manifest these expressions because of the individual nature of each category.
Competitive functional fitness involves testing an athletes proficiency across a variety of movement patterns, activities, and energy systems. Competitive functional fitness is unique because it requires athletes to be well rounded in all aspects of the Strength Continuum, and does not require traditional specialization (I.e. Olympic Weightlifter, Powerlifter, Baseball Pitcher, Sprinter).
Competitive functional fitness is disrupting the Strength Continuum by combining movements from different categories in the Strength Continuum without conventional sets, reps or ordering. This is especially prevalent in mixed modal training, the nature of competitive functional fitness does not allow one specific area of the Strength Continuum to be maximized because of the need to not specialize. Competitive functional fitness disrupts the Strength Continuum because of how different areas of the Strength Continuum are accessed in one program.
Absolute speed and speed strength are unique areas of the Strength Continuum because of their sport-specific nature. The front-end of the Continuum (absolute strength and strength speed) are what most coaches and athletes consider first with the Strength Continuum. Training all areas of the Strength Continuum is important for building a well-rounded base in competitive functional fitness. Speed strength is performed with lower loads and at faster speeds. Examples of speed strength are low percentage barbell cycling (I.e. relative, usually <70% of one’s one rep maximum), box jumps, and other forms of plyometrics. The primary reason to perform speed strength activities is to teach the body to absorb and transmit forces rapidly. Absolute speed is low mass combined with high acceleration (with lower force production overall). Coaches should think of absolute speed activity as a running sprint. Energy system training also accesses absolute speed when training in an anaerobic alactic setting such as an AirBike. A true absolute speed activity should be done with only one’s own bodyweight at an unsustainable pace, and the participant needs to possess the prerequisite strength to perform absolute speed training, if not, this would be classified as “practice”.
If you are interested in learning more about speed strength and absolute speed and how to program download the free Programming for Speed Strength and Absolute Speed guide.