Built to Perform: Strength Standards For Lifters

As a strength coach, I take the “strength” in strength and conditioning seriously, regardless of what your involvement in the iron game is.

Before you say “No Tank, I don’t need to actually be strong to reach my goals”, try to name a me circumstance where “stronger is not better”.

Even if you’re not a traditional strength athlete but rather a bodybuilder or bikini competitor, the stronger you are, the better your body will perform in the weight room and eventually look on stage. There is no way around that argument…

Regardless of whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, football player, or a gym rat, you should be backing up your looks with your performance. In other words, looking jacked but lifting like a pussy ain’t cool. It’s false advertising and nobody likes a fraud.

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But what numbers should you be aiming for?

Strong can be a very subjective word depending on perspective and your audience. To Uncle Rico you might look like the next coming of Dan John but to Dan John you may look like, well, Uncle Rico…

So let me break it down for you. Here is a list of my strength standards for both men and women.  These strength standards begin with above average performance. (Being average sucks so no need to know what it means to be “okay”).

These strength standards would be accepted in most serious strength circles as a fair and accurate measuring stick.

Men’s
  • Deadlift
    • Good: 2 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2.75 x bodyweight
  • Squat
    • Good: 2 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2.5 x bodyweight
  • Bench Press
    • Good: 1.5 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Overhead Press
    • Good: 165lbs
    • Elite: 225lbs
Women’s
  • Deadlift
    • Good: 1.5 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Squat
    • Good: 1.25 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 2 x bodyweight
  • Bench Press
    • Good: .75 x bodyweight
    • Elite: 1 x bodyweight
  • Overhead Press
    • Good: 65lbs
    • Elite: 95lbs

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So what does “good” and “elite” really mean?

Good

Being in the “good” category means that most average people would consider your lifts strong and that it would take a decent amount of training to get to those numbers. I would call someone in the “good” category an intermediate lifter.

Kudos to being here but if you have been lifting for a number of years, you should be building off of this level and aiming to progress above these benchmarks.

Elite

“Elite” means you are stronger than 95% of the population. If you consider yourself as someone who takes strength and conditioning seriously, this is the category you should be aiming to get into. Not everyone will get there but it never hurts to have a goal.

(One caveat: While being in this category makes you stronger than 95% of the average Joes out there, this does not mean you are elite by any standard when comparing yourself to other athletes and/or powerlifters/strongmen.)

Wrapping Up

It’s not “strength training” unless you’re getting strong.

Knowing how you measure up is key to monitoring your progress and setting goals for yourself, so use these strength standards as a measuring stick for your training.

Not everyone will sniff the “elite” category, but everyone should be able to enter and exceed the “good” category. If getting stronger is your passion, build off of being “good” and work towards being “elite”.

Strength is a journey…enjoy the ride…

All the best,

— Tank

4 thoughts on “Built to Perform: Strength Standards For Lifters”

  1. Thanks again Tank
    Does age matter?
    My wife an I are training at 42 years old. We have been lifting steady for 4 years.
    We train for strength with a goals to lose fat%.
    So while we are not in are 20’s and earlier 30’s we are way stronger than any other couple we know.

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