The T.S. Eliot quote in the picture above is one of my all time favorites! Because, we as humans have a responsibility to constantly push our own limits. This inner urge to achieve greatness, that we all have (but unfortunately some people choose to ignore) is how we (the human race) have gone from tree dwelling apes to landing on the moon or better yet, landing a probe on a moving comet after a 6.4 billion mile journey through space!!! Yes, we all have amazing potential but the only way to achieve this potential is to constantly test our own limits, and we need to do this daily…
This got me thinking about how we can test our limits on a daily basis in a “safe” environment. Obviously there are numerous ways but one often overlooked area is good old fashion strength training. That’s right, picking up heavy stuff and putting it back down is a very “simple” way to get into the habit of testing your own limits. Why? Because it gives you instant feedback. Can you pick that up, yes or no? Are you lifting more weight than you did last week, or even last month? Remember number don’t lie, and strength training is full of numbers. How much weight did you move? How many sets? How many reps? Longer or shorter rest period? These are real time numbers you can easily gather during each an every strength training session.
Having access to these numbers allows you to create very specific personal goals. For example we just had a client who wanted to deadlift 200-lbs, she made that goal, we developed a training plan and 3-months later on December 1, 2014 (her birthday) we put 200-lbs on the bar and she walked up and picked it up! BAM goal achieve, welcome to level 2!
Level 2? I am glad you asked;) . So in order to better help you with your own personal goal setting we have created levels or general strength bench marks for both men and women. The best part about these strength benchmarks is they are individualized as they are based on you own strength to weight ratio. Strength to weight ratio is the ultimate measurement of functional strength, and we are not the only one that think like this, in fact the best measurement for power in a car is not just horsepower it is horsepower to weight ratio. Plus using strength to weight ratio allows me to yell my favorite joke at my clients:
If you want to get to that next level you either need to lose weight or get stronger 😉
We have developed strength bench marks for the most common lifts such as; bench press, squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. For standardization purposes all exercises discussed are done using free weights, with no added accessories such as weight belts, straps, knee wraps or any other crazy contraption people use to compensate for weakness. I am kidding, but not really, provided you don’t need anything for extreme safety reasons, your true measure of strength comes from doing unassisted lifts. “If you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it”
Let’s look at the strength bench marks in terms of level 1, level 2, and level 3:
- Level 1 – Is considered the minimum level of strength for a healthy “capable” individual. Level 1 is necessary to be able to do basic human functions. Once you start a strength training program you should be able to reach this level after about 3 months to 1 year of training. However, if you have been working out (lifting) for many years and you are still in the average category you need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and decide if you want to be average or you want to start chasing greatness.
- Level 2 – Congratulation you have made health and fitness a priority in your life! At this level you are a strong fully functioning human! Once you reach this level in all four categories, congratulations you are strong and your training program is working. You will definitely survive the Zombie Apocalypse!
- Level 3 – Once you reach this level you are a real life superhero! Not only will you survive the Zombie Apocalypse but you will be leading the resistance!
OK, lets look at the the levels for each lift:
Bench press – The bar must touch your chest and keep your butt on the bench.
- 0.8 – .99 x your body weight = Level 1
- 1 – 1.49 x your body weight = Level 2
- 1.5 + = Level 3
- 0.5 – .075 x your body weight = Level 1
- .076 – 1 x your body weight = Level 2
- 1 + = Level 3
Squats – This is the back squat with the bar across your upper back. At a minimum the top of your thigh should be parallel to the ground.
For men and women:
- 0.6 – 0.99 x your body weight = Level 1
- 1 – 2 x your body weight = Level 2
- 2 + = Level 3
Deadlifts – No straps allowed! However an alternating grip (on hand has the palm facing you and the other palm faces away) is OK
- 1 – 1.49 x your body weight = Level 1
- 1.5 – 2.25 x your body weight = Level 2
- 2.25 + = Level 3
- 0.8 – 1 x your body weight = Level 1
- 1 – 2 x your body weight = Level 2
- 2 + = Level 3
Pull-ups* – Strict dead hang pull-ups (NO Kipping). 1 set without stopping.
- 5 pull-ups = Level 1
- 10 pull-ups = Level 2
- 20 + = Level 3
- 1 pull-up = Level 1
- 5 pull-ups = Level 2
- 10 + = Level 3
*Can you do one pull-up? Well you should be able to, it is a basic function of human survival. If you can’t do one, that is your first goal!
I am on a mission to bring strength back! It is your birth right to be strong, to be powerful, and to achieve greatness! I challenge you to find your own personal limits because it has been said that on your last day on Earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become…