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3 Strength Standards For Men

Think you're strong? Find out how you match up.
James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

It’s hard to go a day in the gym without hearing someone ask the inevitable – “What do you bench?” Those four words alone can make some shudder with embarrassment while forcing others to puff out their chest with pride. There’s just something about putting up big numbers on the major strength exercises. Having a huge squat number is an easy way to impress gym-goers. Read below to find out how you stack up strength-wise as well as some tools to improve numbers that fall short.

The Exercise: Barbell Back Squat

Average Joe: 1.5x Bodyweight
Above Average: 1.75x Bodyweight
Superhero: 2.5x Bodyweight

Boost your numbers:

Boasting huge numbers on back squats comes with some bragging rights. Strong legs not only helps boost athletic performance, but bigger leg movements also correlate with better strength and size throughout other areas of the body. If you’re falling short on strength, try adding box squats to your routine. They help build explosiveness in your lower body and allow you to lift more weight when you head back to traditional back squats. Also, focus on putting squats into your program 2-3 times a week, but only go heavy 1-2 times. Keep the other days lighter and focus on form.

The Exercise: Barbell Deadlift

Average Joe: 1.5x Bodyweight
Above Average: 2x Bodyweight
Superhero: 2.75x Bodyweight

Boost your numbers:

The ability to pull heavy objects off the gym floor correlates well with overall strength. Pulling big numbers requires immense core, grip, back, and leg strength. There’s hardly a muscle that the deadlift doesn’t touch. If you can’t quite hit the big numbers, try working on form. Most guys stand too far back from the bar and limit themselves from the get-go. Have your form on point? Try mixing in rack pulls where the bar is set at shin height. Having a shorter distance to go allows the lifter to load on more weight and boost strength. Also, throw in some good mornings with moderately heavy loads to strengthen the lower back and prepare for big lifts.

The Exercise: Barbell Bench Press

Average Joe: 1x Bodyweight
Above Average: 1.5x Bodyweight
Superhero: 2x Bodyweight

Boost your numbers:

Gym bragging rights often times goes to the guy with the biggest bench press. Something about loading up a bar and pushing it off your chest just seems manly. Along with having boasting rights, throwing up a decent number on bench press also helps you fill out a shirt and build an impressive upper body physique. If you’re falling short on target numbers, think about getting away from traditional bench pressing for a few weeks and substituting with floor pressing. Similar to the box squat, floor presses will help you develop explosive power in your upper body and strengthen your triceps and accessory muscle groups. Also, don’t forget that overall shoulder strength and balance is important for increasing your bench. Don’t neglect pulling movements including heavy rows and pull-ups.

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