Relative strength is how strong you are for your size. But it’s also your ability to move your body through space. The most simple way to think about? It’s how well you can lift your own body weight.
Want to improve your relative strength? Start with mastering these basic bodyweight movements. No flopping around allowed!
1. The Strict Pull-Up
It strengthens the entire upper body and offers the most carryover into everyday life. (Just master the basic ring row first.) If you can competently rep out at least 5 unbroken, perfect pull-ups, you’ve developed a good baseline of relative strength. Pull-ups are easily one of the most “value for time” exercises.
2. The Strict Dip
The strict dip is to pushing what the strict pull-up is to pulling. Having the ability to perform at least 5 unbroken bodyweight dips should be a baseline of strength for all lifters.
The strict dip builds foundational pushing strength and does a tremendous job of developing the pecs, triceps, and anterior delts. However, you must master strict push-ups first. Once you can competently perform 5 sets of 15 perfect push-ups, you’re ready to start training the strict dip.
3. Strict Toes-to-Bar or L-Sit
Having the ability to touch your toes to the bar while hanging means you have a solid baseline of abdominal strength. Having the ability to compress your body to lift and hold your legs up means you have tremendously strong abs and hip flexors.
While it may seem counterintuitive, if you want to improve your strict toes-to-bar, improve your strict pull-ups. There’s a lot of lat strength required as well.
4. Single-Leg Pistol Squat
It’s the most advanced single-leg exercise, requiring balance, skill, mobility, flexibility, and strength. If you have the ability to competently rep out quality pistol squats, then you possess exceptional single-leg strength.
Make sure to master step-ups, lunges, rear-foot elevated split squats, and pistol squats from an elevated surface before you focus on pistol squats from the ground.
5. Strict Muscle-Up
The strict muscle-up is the single greatest upper-body exercise… ever. By combining the pull-up and dip, you train virtually every muscle in the upper body.
The major issue? It requires a high level of requisite strength. You have to earn it. The only way to earn it is to first master the strict pull-up, strict dip, and strict toes-to-bar.