Strength Standards – How strong are you?

Strength Standards

Strength Standards - Weak Link

How can you gauge your progress?

Strength Standards are a notoriously difficult beast to wrangle.
There are a wide range of opinions, and more than one of them is correct.
Obvious strength benchmarks for a powerlifter (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) aren’t necessarily relevant to an Olympic Weightlifter (Snatch, Clean&Jerk).My goal is to provide as comprehensive a guide as possible for non-specialists to gauge their strength progress.
To put it another way, this isn’t definitive for powerlifters, strongmen or olympic lifters.
This is for regular folks who want to know how they’re doing, strength-wise, and what they may need to work on.
So whether your strength training includes barbells or kettlebells – there’s something here for you.

This isn’t meant as an “I must get to 10/10 in everything” challenge. (If you’re getting all 10s here then everyday strength probably isn’t your issue.) Use this tool to see if there’s a chink in your strength armour. Do you get a 5/10 in squat and hip hinge, a 4/10 in push and a 2/10 in pull?
Maybe you need to work on your pull!

Recognition of those who have gone before (influences on this project and any modifications I’ve made, and why):

  • Using the framework of a very elegant Dan John principle of Squat / Hip Hinge / Push / Pull to classify movements. I’ve added a fifth movement class (strength-endurance / stability) which covers Turkish Getup and Farmer’s Walk. I feel these movements are part of strength and too useful to ignore but don’t really fit anywhere else;
  • strstd.com (currently broken) 🙁 for a very neat strength graph for back squat, bench, deadlift and press. It clearly shows both further absolute benchmark levels and the lifts relative to each other. It has helped inform my understanding of relative strength. It also provides a great Wendler 5/3/1 calculator;

  • ExRx.net for general strength benchmarks and great calculators and tools;
  • Bob Takano for a great explanation of the relationship between Back Squat and Clean & Jerk and Clean and Jerk to Snatch Ratios which makes the Olympic lifts easier to compare with powerlifting movements;
  • Starting Strength – because no strength standards synthesis would be complete without Starting Strength’s Standards. 🙂

For strength standards for Olympic lifting specifically, please check out the Catalyst Athletics Guide.

*Please note: ‘Hip hinge’ and ‘pull’ both have intentional gaps. I wanted to include only commonly held standards, rather than filler*

That being said, here is my synthesis of strength standards. This is a work in progress. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. 🙂

Strength Standards for Men

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet squat: 0.25 BW x 10
3. Goblet squat: 0.33 BW x 10
4. 2xKB Front Squat: 0.25 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.25 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 1.00 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.75 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.40 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.25 BW x 1 / 1.25 BW x 15 / Front Squat: 1.80 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.33 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.33 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.95 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.75 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.33 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.05 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift: 2.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.70 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.35 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushups with proper form x 10
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
3. Press: 0.60 BW x 1
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 1.00 BW x 1 / Press: 0.60 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.50 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.25 BW / Press: 0.85 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.50 BW x 1 / 1.00 BW x 15 / Press: 1.10 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinups x 5
6.
7. Pullups x 8-10
8.
9. Pullups x 15
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.50 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18 BW
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.25 BW
6. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 60kg

Strength Standards for Women

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet Squat: 0.18 BW x 10
3. Goblet Squat: 0.25 BW x 10
4. 2xKettlebell Front Squat: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.20 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 0.95 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 0.75 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.65 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.30 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.00 BW x 1 / 1.20 BW x 5 / Front Squat: 1.60 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.18 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.20 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.90 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.72 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 1.60 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.25 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.00 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.52 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.20 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushup x 1 (Excellent Form)
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW x 5
3. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 0.75 BW x 1 / Press: 0.50 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.33 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.00 BW / Press: 0.75 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.25 BW x 1 / 0.75 BW x 15 / Press: 1.00 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinup x 1
6.
7. Chinups x 3
8.
9. Pullups x 3
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.33 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 16kg
6. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 40kg

Would you like to track your strength standard progress?

Get a FREE spreadsheet I created for you to do just that.

Sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll email it to you. 🙂

If you’re already signed up to the newsletter, then just email me and I’ll send the spreadsheet to you!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required



Send me information about…

Email Format

The Best Strength Training Program

What is the most successful strength gain program?

Starting Strength? Wendler 5-3-1? Stronglifts? Madcow? Texas Method? Smolov? OPT? Catalyst? A hybrid system? [Insert other serious sounding name here]?

The most successful strength building program is:

is…

The one that you stick with!

I know, I know – you really want to know which program will give you the best “bang for your buck” to get you lean/jacked/cut/shredded/toned/pumped/(flayed?) the fastest, ideally with the least effort.

Sorry to burst the bubble. Real, lasting progress takes time and effort. If it was easy – everyone would be doing it. It takes determination to show up week-in week-out, when you don’t feel like it, when it’s cold, when it’s hot, when you’re tired, when you’re [insert excuse here]…

Just show up.

The world’s best strength coaches do have differences in their philosophy, approach and programing. They may differ on small stuff like “a huge impact on the programming – exercise selection, timing, rest, sets, reps and loads”, but I challenge you to find a decent (reputable and respectable) strength coach, be it Mark Rippetoe, Jim Wendler, Jason Ferruggia, Greg Everett*, Charles Poliquin or anyone else who would say that for consistent gains you can or should do anything other than “show up consistently”. Anyone who would say that you should do anything other than low reps and high load on Back Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Press and Power Cleans. The auxiliary exercises may differ, but the main lifts are the main lifts for a reason.

*Greg Everett has an Olympic Lifting focus, so would put more emphasis on development of the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch – two AWESOME strength and power development movements, but I’m sure if you asked him about the utility of ‘the Big 3’ and presses and power cleans for strength development he would agree they do get the job done well.

Yes, your exact sets and reps are open to debate. Do I do 3 sets of 5, or 5 sets of 5 for maximal strength gains with some size development? Answer: it depends. Are you a beginner who needs volume? Are you an intermediate lifter who is closer to your genetic potential where doing 5 heavy sets would be too much volume and stress on your central nervous system? How old are you? How did you sleep? Are you eating properly? How much recovery do you get?

What ever program you do – to get progress you need to train consistently and train hard. Almost all strength programs call for at least 80% of your 1 rep max for the work set(s). The idea of progressive overload is shared universally. The way to get stronger is to lift more than you did last time. Expand your comfort zone by working outside your comfort zone. You only know what you can do when you try to do more than you can.

That’s not to say you should always train all out. If you’ve had 3 hours sleep, are stressed to the eyeballs or are sick. If you’re contagious stay home – but otherwise, show up “oil the groove”, de-load if you need to but show up and lift.

You might even do what Mike did last night. Really not feel like it, show up anyway, eventually get into it and hit a clean and jerk PR!

So show up – even when you don’t feel like it.