What Does A Realistic Strength Level Look Like?

I am going to let you guys in on a little secret, most of the lifting community is lying to you.  That’s right.  You see there is money to be made online.  Unfortunately, one of the ways money is made is by selling people on achieving an unrealistic strength level. 

A strength level is like a target to aim for.  It gives your training a purpose and noble goal.  Your current strength level is like a crystal ball into your current training program.  It tells you what is going well, what is falling behind and what needs serious improvement. 

If you are kind of a solo lifter, or lone wolf, then this information is critical to your success.  Without a good training partner, or a good team, how will you know if your training program is effective or not?

But before we dive in, the lifting community is holding a dirty secret from you.   

The Dirty Truth About Most Of The Lifting Community

Have you seen the videos online of lifters squatting or deadlifting well over 4 digits?  Have you ever seen lifters with totals well over 2000 lbs?  I know I have and I’m sure you have too. 

While this may appear to be aspirational, it is completely unrealistic for most lifters. 

You see, most of these lifters are getting extra help from some artificial sources.  Mainly anabolic steroids and lifting gear. 

Anabolic Steroids

One of the most common and illegal means of achieving superhuman strength levels is through anabolic steroids. 

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone.  There are many different variations of anabolic steroids (Deca, Tren).  Each variation has different properties making them either more anabolic or androgenic.  But that’s a different article. 

When a lifter takes anabolics, their body is in an enhanced state.  This allows them to recover from their workouts much quicker and gives them an instant boost of strength when lifting. 

However, there is a downside.  The amount that your body can be enhanced by steroids is limited by how quickly your body adapts to the drugs. 

This is why so many lifters have to stack different kinds of steroids to keep making ridiculous gains. 

So steroids do have a limit.  Typically they will add anywhere from 40-60 lbs to your bench press and 75-120 lbs to your squat and deadlift.     

Lifting Gear

The other piece of the puzzle is lifting gear.  This isn’t the kind of equipment you would keep in your gym bag.  This is serious lifting gear. 

Lifting gear is made from really thick stiff and reflexive polyester materials that help to add elasticity to maximal lifts. 

This equipment adds serious strength to your lifts.  Were talking around an additional 200-300 lbs to your lifts. 

When lifting gear first made the scene, we saw powerlifting totals breaking new levels never seen before. 

How Does Gear Effect Your Strength Level?

Strength Boost

Gear will effect your strength level by making your an “enhanced athlete” .  By gear I mean both anabolics and lifting gear. 

Most of the lifters with totals over 2000 lbs are usually using some form of gear.  Now I’m not trying to be cynical and tell you that this is impossible.  It’s not.  There have been some lifters who have achieved this incredible feat completely drug free. 

But that’s not the point of this article.  The point is you need to be realistic.  Do you plan on competing in powerlifting and breaking world records?

Probably not. 

So then what are some realistic goals for you to set?  What is a realistic strength level that you can easily achieve? 

Real World Numbers For you To Achieve

Real World Strength Level

Let’s set the bar straight.  Time to go over what some realistic numbers look like. 

Men

Lift

Good

Great

Elite

Squat

1.5x Bodyweight

2x Bodyweight

2.5x Bodyweight

Deadlift

2x Bodyweight

2.5x Bodyweight

3x Bodyweight

Bench Press

1x Bodyweight

1.5x Bodyweight

2x Bodyweight

Press

0.75x Bodyweight

1x Bodyweight

1.25x Bodyweight

Clean

1x Bodyweight

1.5x Bodyweight

2x Bodyweight

Snatch

0.75x Bodyweight

1x Bodyweight

1.25x Bodyweight

Pull Ups

10 Reps

20 Reps

30 Reps

Women

Lift

Good

Great

Elite

Squat

0.75x Bodyweight

1x Bodyweight

1.5x Bodyweight

Deadlift

1x Bodyweight

1.5x Bodyweight

2x Bodyweight

Bench Press

0.5x Bodyweight

0.75x Bodyweight

1x Bodyweight

Press

0.25x Bodyweight

0.5x Bodyweight

0.75x Bodyweight

Clean

0.5x Bodyweight

0.75x Bodyweight

1x Bodyweight

Snatch

0.25x Bodyweight

0.5x Bodyweight

0.75x Bodyweight

Pull Ups

1 Rep

5 Reps

8-10 Reps

This a realistic view of what your strength level will look like.  But just to avoid any confusion, lets go over an example. 

If you are a man with a bodyweight of 195 lbs and you want to know what a good/great/elite squat looks like. 

In this case you would simply take your bodyweight and multiply it by whatever ratio you see in the chart.

 

Example: 

Male with a body weight of 195 lbs 

For a good squat, your number would be 195 lbs x 1.5 = ~295 lbs

A great squat would be 195 lbs x 2 = 390 lbs

Finally an elite squat would be 195 lbs x 2.5 = ~490 lbs

 

The math is really simple so it should be no problem figuring out what your numbers should be. 

Everything on the charts is relative to your bodyweight except the pull ups.  Some of the heavier lifters may have a difficult time with these numbers. 

But remember, these are realistic standards for real world strength.  The old days of bulking with junk food are over.  There is no need to have that much weight to lift heavy weights.  It is just an excuse to ignore a good diet. 

No matter what your lifts look like, your health will always be your main priority.  This is why I set the pull up metrics the way I did.

If you can’t make the numbers, then you probably need to work on your diet.   

Conclusion

With this new clarity you can now set realistic goals for your strength training program. 

Beginners usually have the toughest time with working out simply because they have absolutely no idea what to do. 

It is like shooting a bow and arrow into a dark room and having somebody tell you to hit a bullseye.  Pretty damn difficult. 

Instead, figure out where you want to go with your strength training program and use the charts above and calculate your totals. 

Then test out your current 1 rep max using the equation from my increasing physical strength article.  Once you have your 1 rep max, start training the exercise with your new working weights. 

Also select 3-4 assistance exercises to help add volume and build your lifts. 

With all of that you now have a clear shot to success and the only thing stopping you is YOU.  So stop reading and get out there and make things happen.    


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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