Do you consider yourself strong enough? How do you think you compare with the average? Find out how strong you should be in different categories depending on how long you have been going to the gym.
The information on this article was based on a video shared by Jeff Nippard. Jeff Nippard is a natural professional bodybuilder and fitness coach who shares tips and training programs on his YouTube channel. His latest video dives deep into how strong should you be depending on your history of going to the gym.
He divided every possible athlete into 6 categories:
- Noob – 3-6 months of lifting
- Beginner – 6 months to 2 years of lifting
- Intermediate – 2-5 years of lifting
- Advanced – 5 years of lifting
- Elite – 5-10 years of lifting
- Freak – +10 years of lifting
Note: genetics play a crucial part in how much a person’s strength develops over time. To become a “freak,” genetics has to be in your favour, Jeff Nippard explains.
The categories he came up with are based on his 10+ coaching experience and the average strength of his students and data from competitive powerlifting events.
Also important to note that the standards of how strong should you be are based on body weight ratios, so it is less reliable at high bodyweights.
How Strong Should You Be?
In the video, Jeff Nippard explains some basic standards that people should be able to lift.
- Squat: 45-135lb (20-61 kg)
- Bench: 45-95lb (20-43kg)
- Deadlift: 45-135lb (20-61 kg)
- Squat: 45-95lb (20-43 kg)
- Bench: 0-45lb (0-20kg)
- Deadlift: 45-135lb (20-61 kg)
“You should be able to progress your level by just working on your technique while incrementally adding a minimum amount of weight to the bar each and every workout generally in the 3-6 rep zone for strength work.”
- Squat: 1.25x bodyweight
- Bench: bodyweight
- Deadlift: 1.5 bodyweight
- Squat: 0.5-1x bodyweight
- Bench: 0.5x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 0.5-1x bodyweight
“Most people should be setting new PR nearly every workout still adding minimum increments of 5 pounds to the bar or one extra rep in that same 3-6 rep range.”
This is when people usually hit their first plateau in their strength development.
- Squat: 1.25-1.75x bodyweight
- Bench: 1-1.5x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 1.5-2.25x bodyweight
- Squat: 1-1.5x bodyweight
- Bench: 0.5-0.75x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 1.25-1.75x bodyweight
This time, due to plateau, rather than hitting 3-6 reps, vary your training. Jeff Nippard exemplifies one scenario.
3-5 reps with higher exertion where you go to almost failure. A few days later, working the same muscle group, you should ddo a more hypertrophy workout, in which you hit 6-10 rep range with a lower exertion.
- Squat: 1.75-2.5x bodyweight
- Bench: 1.5-2x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 2.25-3x bodyweight
- Squat: 1.5-1.75x bodyweight
- Bench: 0.75-1x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 1.75-2.5x bodyweight
According to Jeff, not necessarily everyone can reach an elite level and it would also involve a lot of sacrifice in the gym, which most people are not willing to do. However, becoming an advanced athlete is reachable to the majority of people.
“Regardless, this is the point where you’ll need to become much more methodical with your programming and likely have to run specialisation phases where you narrow in on one lift while putting the others at maintenance.”
- Squat: 2.5-3x bodyweight
- Bench: 2-2.5x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 3-3.5x bodyweight
- Squat: 1.75-2.25x bodyweight
- Bench: 1-1.25x bodyweight
- Deadlift: 2.25-3x bodyweight
- Squat: >3x bodyweight
- Bench: >2.25x bodyweight
- Deadlift: >3.5x bodyweight
- Squat: >2.25x bodyweight
- Bench: >1.25x bodyweight
- Deadlift: >3x bodyweight
Comparing one’s strength and fitness achievements with others or even against standardised metrics, such as deadlifting 1.5 times one’s bodyweight, can be a misleading approach to gauging personal progress. While these benchmarks are often cited in fitness communities, they do not account for individual differences in body composition, fitness goals, and overall health. This article explores why these one-size-fits-all standards may not be optimal for everyone, even those aiming to enhance their strength and fitness.
Firstly, individual body composition plays a crucial role in determining one’s ability to lift weights proportional to their bodyweight. Two individuals may weigh the same but have vastly different muscle to fat ratios, affecting their strength capabilities. A person with a higher muscle mass is likely to lift more than someone with a higher fat percentage, even if they weigh the same. Therefore, using bodyweight as a yardstick for strength can be inherently flawed and not reflective of an individual’s fitness level.
Moreover, fitness goals vary widely among individuals. Some may focus on building endurance, others on flexibility or speed, and some on strength. A long-distance runner or a yoga enthusiast might not find it beneficial or necessary to deadlift 1.5 times their bodyweight. Their training is tailored to enhance their performance in their chosen discipline, not to meet arbitrary strength standards. Thus, imposing such benchmarks can detract from one’s personal fitness objectives and lead to an unbalanced approach to health and wellbeing.
Injury history and physical limitations are also critical factors to consider. For someone who has recovered from a back injury, for example, heavy deadlifts may not be advisable, regardless of their bodyweight. Fitness is about building a healthier, more capable body, not pushing it to the brink of injury. Ignoring individual health contexts in favour of meeting generalised standards can result in setbacks and harm, undermining the very goals of fitness and strength training.
Additionally, the psychological impact of comparing oneself to such standards or to others can be detrimental. Fitness journeys are highly personal, and what is achievable for one person may not be for another due to a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and time available for training. Feeling inadequate for not meeting certain benchmarks can lead to demotivation, anxiety, and even a complete abandonment of fitness pursuits. The focus should be on personal progress and how one feels, rather than how one measures up to others or to an arbitrary standard.
In conclusion, while having goals in fitness is important, they should be individualised and aligned with one’s personal health, abilities, and ambitions. Fitness is a personal journey, not a competition or a one-size-fits-all formula. Celebrating individual milestones and recognising the unique aspects of one’s own body and fitness journey is far more beneficial than adhering to generalized benchmarks that may not suit everyone. By focusing on personal progress and well-being, individuals can achieve sustainable, fulfilling, and healthy fitness outcomes.
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