Muscular and Neurological Factors for Strength

If we want to know what strength depends on, we must analyze the muscular and neurological factors that intervene in its creation. Knowing them will imply greater benefits when it comes to increasing our capacities.
Muscular and Neurological Factors for Strength

Last update: 07 May, 2019

Our strength depends on muscular and neurological factors that combine to give us the impulse to help us move forward. Strength is a very important factor for a training plan.

Strength: muscular factors

When we generate force, the muscles intervene fundamentally, individually, or in groups. The size of the muscle is one of the factors that intervene when we want to know what our strength depends on. That volume, linked to the size of the muscle fibers, will help generate more strength.

The fibers

The quantity and development of the fibers is another muscular factor that helps increase strength. They affect the speed with which we execute a movement.

The fast fibers contribute to generating more strength when we perform a fast movement, and the slow ones will do it in case we do slower movements. However, when a movement is fast and the fibers that drive it are few or not activated correctly, the force decreases.

Strength also influences the joints alongside muscular and neurological factors

While we’re generating strength, the position of the joints also influences. Depending on the angle, the muscle may have a degree of stretching that favors the activation of the myosin and actin bridges.

There may also be traction on the bone that, at a certain point, will allow you to generate the greatest amount of force. For example, if we’re lifting a 10-pound weight, the force that we must generate will depend on the position in which we place it.

Fiber development can influence our strength.

The length of the muscles

The length of the muscles also influences strength and involves muscular and neurological factors. When the muscles stretch 20 percent more than their diameter at rest, it produces maximum tension. This is possible thanks to the effect on actin that the myosin has.

However, the more we stretch, proteins have less effect and our capacity to produce force decreases.

Strength and neurological factors

In addition to the muscular factors, the recruitment of motor units is essential to achieve the necessary strength, in accordance with the effort we’ll make. The smallest and the slowest motoneurons are the first to activate when we lift a light load. These slow fibers, known as type 1, require less stimulation.

On the other hand, if we increase the weight load, we’ll require more force, which activates the fast fibers. The stimulation frequency they need is higher.

How to avoid fiber fatigue

To avoid fatigue in strength training, the fibers don’t activate at the same time. They activate until we require the muscle’s maximum effort. In fact, some can stay completely at rest while others generate force, and then they switch.

Likewise, it’s possible to ensure that each activated motor unit generates greater tension and increases the amount of force. To do it, it’s enough to increase the frequency of discharge that the motor nerve produces.

The movement or intermuscular coordination is linked to the interaction of agonist and antagonist muscles. The first are those that contract to start the movement, while the second ones stretch and lengthen to allow it.

Muscle spindles

These are sensory receptors inside the muscle that detect changes in muscle length and transmit information to the nervous system. Their function is to relax the antagonist muscle to achieve greater efficiency in the movement of contraction.

Reflex and elasticity

When a muscle stretches before contracting, the force increases. It’s what we call: the sum of the myotatic reflex and the muscular elasticity.

In the first, the immediate contraction that follows a sudden extension causes the fibers of the muscular spindle to stretch and stimulate the contraction. This increases strength.

When a muscle stretches before contracting, the force increases.

If we talk about muscle elasticity, we’re referring to the ability of the muscle to recover the original initial extension after stretching. This stretch provides energy to the muscle that generates more strength when it contracts, as long as the movement is brief.

Things to consider

Beyond all that was mentioned, it’s necessary to take into account certain variables related to these muscle factors; such as muscle temperature. Warming-up before a contraction improves the results. Likewise, a fatigued muscle hinders an effective contraction and generates less force.

Last but not least, nutrition is vital to obtain better results. A muscle that doesn’t receive the proteins, vitamins, minerals, and hydrates that it requires, will hardly perform. In regard to the optimal hours to exercise, these are between 10 am and 12 pm (in the morning) and 7 pm and 10 pm (at night).

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