Strength Standards

Have you considered how strong you should be? This is a question that is often asked in a gym environment but first, I want to start with a disclaimer.

There is no level of strength that you have to be, however this can be a great guide. If you are satisfied with your body and your strength levels, then you already are as strong enough for your desired outcome. As another reminder never compare yourself to someone else in the hopes of being as strong as they are. You have your own strengths and your own weaknesses.

The purpose of this information is for you to measure how strong you currently are, relative to how strong you can become. With that said, if you want to optimize your body’s abilities, then there is a minimal level of strength that you should set for yourself.

What Are Strength Standards?
Strength standards are an arbitrary level of strength that an average person can reasonably expect to achieve. Everyone is built differently, and will have different natural abilities to achieve a certain strength level. As such, strength will be impacted by your genetics, age, and your individual anatomy.
For example:
  • An average sized man will likely be stronger than an average sized woman.
  • A 25 year old woman will likely be stronger than a 70 year old woman.
  • A 190cm, 100kg man will likely be stronger than a 178, 70kg man.

What Are “Good” Strength Standards For Resistance Training?
Regardless of your sex, age, or anatomy, here are some good strength standards you can aim for. First, there are 5 levels of strength. There are 5 levels of strength include:
  1. Decent
  2. Good
  3. Optimal
  4. Advanced
  5. Athletic

I believe that everyone should strive to get as close to an Optimal level of strength as possible. Having this level of muscle strength is beneficial for numerous reasons:
  • So that you can pull yourself up from a cliff if you happen to be hanging off a ledge somewhere while on vacation.
  • So that you can pick up your kids and play with them without straining a muscle
  • So that you can move your furniture without breaking your back
  • So that you can pick up and carry someone who is in danger, to safety
  • So that you carry lean muscle mass on your frame and decrease your risk of preventable illnesses.

You can aim to go above the Optimal level and reach the Athletic or elite levels, however, these levels of strength will begin to have diminishing returns. If your goal is health and fitness, you only need to cross a certain threshold of strength to maintain a healthy body. Achieving an Athletic Strength level is simply a matter of pride and hobby. If you are a strength athlete, then have at it!

​​How Strong Am I? How Should I Measure My Strength?
It is important to note that this article is referring to strength standards for the major compound lifts. Compound exercises are the best method to measure total body strength and force production.

For the major barbell exercises, the strength standard will be expressed as a one rep maximum - aka your maximal strength. A 1 rep max is the most amount of weight that you can safely lift (with good form) one time.
*This point cannot be stressed enough. You must ensure that your technique is above average before testing your one rep max strength. Failure to do so can result in serious injury.*

The four major barbell exercises are:
  1. The Back Squat
  2. The Bench Press
  3. The Deadlift
  4. The Overhead Press

If you're into powerlifting, the standards presented below are not going to qualify you for any Powerlifting strength standards competitions. These numbers are realistic benchmarks that the average busy lifter can expect.

Note: A lighter individual will always have an easier time developing their relative strength over a heavier individual.

​​So without further ado, let’s get to the numbers.

Squat: Male / Female
Decent - 1 x BW / 0.8 x BW
Good - 1.2 x BW / 1 x BW
Optimal - 1.5 x BW / 1.3 x BW
Advanced - 1.75 x BW / 1.5 x BW
Athlete -​ 2 x BW / 1.75 x BW

Bench Press: Male / Female
Decent - 0.75 x BW / 0.65 x BW
Good - 1 x BW / 0.7x BW
Optimal - 1.3 x BW / 0.85 x BW
Advanced - 1.5 x BW / 1 x BW
Athlete -​ 1.75 x BW / 1.25 x BW​

Deadlift: Male / Female
Decent - 1 x BW / 1 x BW
Good - 1.3 x BW / 1.3 x BW
Optimal - 1.65 x BW / 1.65 x BW
Advanced - 2 x BW / 2 x BW
Athlete -​ 2.25 x BW / 2.25 x BW​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Overhead Press: Male / Female
Decent - 0.5 x BW / 0.35 x BW
Good - 0.65 x BW / 0.5 x BW
Optimal - 0.85 x BW / 0.75 x BW
Advanced - 1 x BW / 0.8 x BW
Athlete -​ 1.25 x BW / 0.9 x BW​

Once you test these you can compare and create a program around increasing the lifts which include the major muscle groups as well as ​accessory exercises if you want to get stronger. e.g. triceps exercises to help your bench press and overhead press.​

Happy Training!


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