Strength gains are partially exercise specific

After having discussed the 10 000 hour rule myth, it is worth bringing focus to that the more you repeat something, the better you get at it. The same principle applies for strength gains. If you want to maximize your efficiency at 1 rep-max lifting, you need to train similarly to that type of lifting (1, 2, 3). This “skill acquisition” aspect is an important factor to keep in mind when judging strength. If you aren’t skilled at a certain lift, you will generally not perform as well as someone who has trained that specific lift.

This is one reason why powerlifters train more bench, squat and deadlift than compared to bodybuilders who tend to implement more isolation exercises. They are exposing their nervous system to repeated coordination of these moves, resulting in less errors over time, and better performance (4).

So if there is an exercise you want to become strong at, train similar exercises to maximize skill learning!

1. Vikne H. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Oct;38(10):1770-81.
2. Schoenfeld BJ. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Oct;29(10):2954-63.
3. Coyle EF. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1981 Dec;51(6):1437-42.
4. Tananka et al. J Neurophysiol. 2009 Nov;102(5):2921-32.

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