We have been wanting to add more Strength Training content for our male followers, and came across this excellent article from livestrong.com. Go to the link to check out the full article, but we share the highlights below. As we have mentioned in past posts, having goals is crucial to the success of every workout routine. Without a goal, you don’t have a measurable mark to measure success and accomplishments against. This article details some strength benchmarks so you can see how you measure up and where you need to strive for some improvement. The article notes that you should also keep in mind if you are over 45, or have less than two years of consistent training, aim for 80 percent of all the goals listed.
Benchmark Goal No. 1: 2 Minute Plank – Planks are a simple exercise in regards to complexity, but are challenging to the core. A strong core will enhance your ability withstand heavy weight while squatting, pressing and deadlifting. HOW TO DO IT: Simply set up in a push-up position, but instead of having your weight on your hands, place it on your elbows. Maintain a neutral spine from head to toe. You should be in a perfectly straight line. While performing, do not allow the back to sag. Flexing your rear end and quadriceps will create more stability while performing this exercise.
Benchmark Goal No. 2: The Barbell Bench Press for 1 Rep at 1.5 Times Your Body Weight – This is a good goal for bench pressing, or you can substitute this for 5 repitions at 85% of your body weight. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back, grasp a barbell at shoulder width or slightly wider, lower the bar to the mid-chest and drive the bar back up to full extension. Pull your shoulder blades together to ensure you have a good base of support and that you protect your shoulders. The elbows should tuck in slightly toward your torso at about a 45-degree angle. Grip the bar hard and try to “rip it apart” throughout the movement.
Benchmark Goal No. 3: The Standing Barbell Press for 1 Rep at Your Body Weight – A good goal is to press your body weight for 1 rep, or 85 percent of that number for 5 reps. This move focuses on the front shoulders, triceps and core muscles. HOW TO DO IT: Grasp a bar about shoulder width, starting with the bar on the upper chest. Tense your whole body, and, without using your lower back, drive the bar over your head and slightly back. Make sure to squeeze your glutes and brace your abs while pressing.
Benchmark Goal No. 4: The Push-Up for 50 Full-Range Repititions – The tried and true push-up is a fantastic indicator of your upper-body strength and endurance. It is also a good guage of your relative strength and body composition. A good goal for most men to shoot for is 50 full range repetitions. 50 can be a lot, so be realistic in what you think you can do, and then create a plan to build from there. HOW TO DO IT: Assume a standard push-up position, with your hands outside your chest. Lower yourself down to the floor, keeping the elbows tucked to about 45 degrees, the core tight, and the neck in a neutral position (don’t look up). Drive back through the floor without letting your back sag. To ensure adequate depth, place a toilet paper roll on the floor beneath your belly and touch your forehead to the floor on each rep.
Benchmark Goal No. 5: The Chin-Up for 15 Full-Range Repititions – A fantastic goal to shoot for is 15 full-range repetitions. Trainer Matt Kasee emphasizes a high-training volume and improving your grip strength when trying to achieve this goal. “Back muscles can handle a lot of work. In order to knock out 15 body weight chin-ups, practice your chin-ups using various rep ranges at least 3 times a week with a heavy day, moderate- and high-rep day.” HOW TO DO IT: To perform, start from a dead hang from an overhead bar. Aggressively drive your elbows down — focusing on pulling your shoulder blades into your back pockets — and pull yourself up over the bar until it hits your upper chest. Lower back down under control and repeat. Be sure to minimize any body squirming or flailing, and keep the repetitions strict and smooth.
Benchmark Goal No. 6: The Deadlift for 1 Rep at 2.5 Times Your Body Weight – Perhaps no other exercise indicates your full-body strength better than the deadlift. Period. Shoot for pulling 2.5 times your body weight for a single rep, or 85 percent of that number for 5 reps. HOW TO DO IT: Walk up to a loaded barbell and align the bar with the middle of your feet (feet inside shoulder width). Bend over and grasp the bar. Pull your hips down, flex your lats, brace your core and grip the bar hard. Break the bar from the floor and pull — making sure not to round the back! — up until standing. Take caution not to hyperextend your spine in the top position.
Benchmark Goal No. 7: The Barbell Squat for 1 Rep at 2 Times Your Body Weight – The barbell squat has long been heralded by gym rats as the “king of all exercises.” If you have a big squat, you’ll have slabs of muscle not only on your legs, but all over your body as well. A strong goal is 2 times body weight for a single rep or 85 percent of that number for 5 reps. HOW TO DO IT: Place a barbell across your upper back, keeping the shoulder blades pulled together to create a strong base. Un-rack the bar, step back, set your feet slightly wider than shoulder and then push the hips back and descend to point just below parallel. Make sure to keep the weight on your heels and your spine in a neutral alignment. To finish the rep, stand up aggressively to full extension.
Benchmark Goal No. 8: The Barbell Hip Thrust for 10 Reps at 1.5 Times Your Body Weight – The hip thrust, which has quickly become a staple in the programs of serious strength trainees and athletes around the globe, is a fantastic indicator of your strength in the important “posterior chain” muscles: the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. A good goal to shoot for is 10 reps with 1.5 times your body weight. HOW TO DO IT: Roll a loaded barbell over your legs so it’s sitting across the front of your hips. With the knees bent and your back elevated on a standard bench, hold the bar just outside the hips and then thrust up until you are parallel to the floor, making sure to squeeze the glutes and not hyperextend the lower back.
Benchmark Goal No. 9: The Hang Clean for 1 Rep at 1.25 Times Your Body Weight – hile strength — the ability to produce force — is very important, power (or how quickly and explosively you can express your strength) is equally important. A good goal is to hang clean 1.25 times your body weight for 1 rep or 85 percent of that number for 5 reps. HOW TO DO IT: Grasp a barbell at arm’s length and shoulder width apart. Keeping the chest up, push the hips back until the bar barely clears the knees. Explode and extend at the hip, knee and ankle, shrugging and pulling the weight up towards the chin. Allow your elbows to rotate underneath of the bar and catch it in a racked position.
Sooo… How do you measure up? Be sure to record your results, and continue to test yourself periodically to monitor your progress. As was mentioned at the beginning of this post, be sure to check out the full article at livestrong.com for further details and tips on how to best execute each exercise as well as video demonstrations.