What we call “fitness” has many subdivisions. Even what we call “strength” is referencing different skills and abilities. And you have to be fair to yourself while assessing this. Pick one. There’s no way to pick them all.
In one of my coaching calls this week I was reminded that this point is often missed, both by other coaches and certainly by the public. It didn’t help that there was an active subculture afoot within the fitness world whose stated mission was “work out as hard as possible as long as possible.” What? No. Either work out as hard as possible, or as long as possible. These are mutually exclusive propositions:
That is, you may either develop the skill of maximal force production or maximal duration of effort in a submaxinal force production on any given day. In fact, real coaches will have athletes work on one (and only ONE) of these facets of the energy continuum for up to 12 full weeks at a time.
It is true that when your maximal force production goes up your POTENTIAL to increase sustained effort may go up. But that potential can only be reached via training the endurance effort. More simply, a guy who benches 600lbs for 1 has greater potential to bench 225 for 50 reps than a guy who benches 500lbs for 1. But, the 500lb bencher may actually be closer to hitting 225 for 50 if he spends more time on endurance periods (over 45 seconds) of effort.
This is why people are confusing themselves when they see an athletic effort and ask why the athlete didn’t do more weight or reps or less rest time or more range of motion. All of those variables must be trained, oftentimes separately. Usain Bolt never qualified for the 400m and never thought about the 800. And he’s the greatest 100m and 200m sprinter of all time. They’re different energy systems.
So be careful with the self-deprecation. If you achieved a success on an effort which occurs in 15 seconds or less, don’t also criticize yourself for not outdoing an exercise which is executed over the course of 70 seconds, especially if it’s the same day. Cal Dietz won’t even let his athletes train disparate duration efforts in the same day.
And although potential is influenced by training one piece of “strength,” this does not consequently mean you are yet better at another piece of what we might call “strength.” Pick your poison.