Strength Standards – Do you meet them?

Strength standards

I think for the first time since I started this blog, I had no idea what to write about. Not a single idea. Call it writer’s block. Call it whatever. I had no idea what to write.

So, I started typing, literally anything. Just to get words out and onto the screen.

As the words started flowing I started to realize something. The internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It connects people. It educates people and it inspires people. Without it, you wouldn’t be reading these words right now. But, like most things, there’s a down side. As much great advice as there is out there, there’s an equal, if not, abundant amount of crap.

Luckily, if I am ever in need of a quality read, some inspiration or some motivation I can turn to Dan John.

Dan’s so well respected in the fitness world and established as an athlete and as a coach that his words, at least to me, are the gold standard.

I headed straight over to Dan’s site and read an article I have read 100’s of times before called “Strength standards…Sleepless in Seattle”. In the article, Dan gives out his strength standards for men and women from his book “Intervention”. An incredible book by the way, something everyone who trains needs to read at some point.

The strength standards are as follows:

For Men:


Expected = Bodyweight bench press

Game-changer = Bodyweight bench press for 15 reps


Expected = 5 pullups

Game-changer = 15 pullups


Expected = Bodyweight to 150% bodyweight deadlift

Game-changer = Double-bodyweight deadlift


Expected = Bodyweight squat

Game-changer = Bodyweight squat for 15 reps

Loaded Carry

Expected = Farmer walk with total bodyweight (half per hand)

Game-changer =Bodyweight per hand


One left and right, done with a half-filled cup of water

For Women:


Game-changer = Bodyweight bench press


Game-changer = Three pullups


Game-changer = 275-pound deadlift


Game-changer = 135 for five in the back squat

Loaded Carries

Game-changer = 85 pounds per hand


One left and right, done with a half-filled cup of water

Strength Standards Outlined then…

I’m sure there’s plenty of debate on these strength standards, but, at the end of the day, debate is one of the most fascinating aspects of living. I sat there and started musing about the above standards.

It got me thinking about all the crap out there on workouts, exercises, fat loss and the whole fitness industry really. There’s tons of work that just doesn’t need to be done.

There’s a ton of work that, unfortunately, really is pretty useless and, in all honesty, just in there to make the workout more appealing and generally look better on paper.

So, with these standards right there in nice black type, I can say to you “without meeting these standards, you really don’t need assistance work or any workout fluff”.

Take the squat for example. If you can’t front squat your own bodyweight, you do not need to be on the leg press machine, you do not need ­­­101 squat variations and you certainly don’t need leg extensions.

What you do need is more time under a bar, sandbag, or whatever weight you are using and more time actually squatting. It’s not exciting, it’s not that fun, but it’s effective. And, at the end of the day, that’s what we are striving for.

So, if you don’t meet the above standards, I’d suggest to you that you take the next six months actively chasing these numbers. If you stick with it, push yourself and train with the right intensity, something fascinating will happen.

You’ll be leaner, be stronger. You’ll look better and perhaps, best of all, you’ll perform better in your sport.

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