Standards

Bro Mo

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm always curious why people think they're particularly meaningful, or chose those particular metrics as targets.

There are many ways to measure fitness, or, for that matter, strength.

Who is fitter and stronger, the guy who can deadlift 2x bodyweight, or the guy who can do 10 pullups?
This got me thinking about an article of Dan Johns about Strength Standards

What are other areas and levels of those areas that depict fitness more holistically? I think CrossFit did a decent job when they first defined the attributes of fitness.
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However, I don't know if levels of achievement were ever defined along with it. For example, FMS has three levels and I may not want a level 3 on a FMS if it meant I was not able to deadlift 2x bodyweight for example. Also, health measures weren't included in those attributes like bodyfat percentage, etc.

If approached from a radar chart perspective, one would would see imbalances based on their levels of different things.
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Obviously, some sports or goals would desire imbalances but for many, holistic and balanced progress is the goal. I think StrongFirst has a decent start with the TSC and could make a lot of progress on a holistic definition and the levels of achievement.

What attributes would you include and what levels of those attributes would you set?
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
This got me thinking about an article of Dan Johns about Strength Standards
I'd even quibble with some of Dan's numbers and implications.

Bodyweight bench press, for example. Granted, the number isn't that high, but I know many, many guys who have good bench numbers, but jacked up shoulders, shoulder pain, and terrible shoulder mobility.

Is 15 reps at BW bench a game changer? Yeah, in a bad way if it comes at the price of shoulder health, and garbage mobility.

I'm *far* more impressed with the upper body strength and athleticism of a guy who can do a planche push up.

*That's* a game changer.

I meet the game changer standards for squat and deadlift -- I guess I'm still waiting for my big game changing 'ah ha' moment from these numbers. ;)

And I still fall on my butt if I try a pistol squat because all that barbell strength I have in a squat and deadlift doesn't translate to amazing balance.
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
What attributes would you include and what levels of those attributes would you set?
I think the Crossfit attributes is a good start.

I don't know what they mean by "Accuracy", though.

I think I'd lump Power/Speed together and Balance/Coordination together.

I'd separate Strength Into:

  • Relative Strength
  • Absolute Strength

Things I'd want to add:

  • Symmetry
  • Posture & Shapes
  • Dexterity
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
Also, health measures weren't included in those attributes like bodyfat percentage, etc.
These are important.

5 years ago, when I was heavier, but stronger:

  • In absolute strength, I was stronger than now
  • In power, I was the same as now
  • In relative strength, I was weaker than now
  • In body fat, I was less healthy
  • In blood pressure, I was less healthy
Not to mention other issues I had with mobility, cortisol markers, etc.
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
In my particular case, I've found out that maintaining a few key lifts (*) around 150% of bodyweight is just about right for my needs. When I was much younger and achieved the 500/400/300/200 standard it didn't do much for me and it began to have a severe cost on my recovery (I'm a martial artists first, trail runner a distant second and a recreational lifter last).

(*) Key lifts:

- Front squat / Romanian deadlift (150%).
- Incline bench / Bent over row (45°) / Dips / Pull Ups (130%).
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
@Bro Mo nice topic. Agree with you that the attributes defined by crossfit are not very useful without standards to go with.

To me, achieving and maintaining a few key lift grants compliance with most other standards. The tests would be:

- one arm push up
- pistol
- snatch test
- being able to run slowly for an hour, 3 times a week.

If those are met, I bet all or most other standards are covered, like BW bench, 2x BW deadlift, etc.

Maybe some sort of pull up test would be useful as well, but that is probably covered by the snatch test and the low bodyfat required for the running and the bodyweight tests.
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
When I was much younger and achieved the 500/400/300/200 standard it didn't do much for me and it began to have a severe cost on my recovery
Ditto.

The last time I was at those numbers was in my late 40s, commuting into San Francisco, taking the BART train.

I got really sick of having my quads and hammies so sore every week due to recovery debt that it was an effort to climb the stairs in the train station just to go to the office.

What good was all that leg strength if my legs were too smoked to climb stairs?

That's when I started to think that some of the "standards" were rather arbitrary and a bit silly.
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
If those are met, I bet all or most other standards are covered, like BW bench, 2x BW deadlift, etc.
Oh, I highly doubt that is some kind of automatic guarantee.

Strength is partially a skill, bodyweight activities arguably even more so.

@Anna C had an experience with OAP that didn't seem to translate to bench.

Deadlifting is also a skill. The snatch test is a great potential aptitude indicator, but I don't think you can take a good snatcher who has never deadlifted and expect them to pull 2x bodyweight just by walking up to a bar. You still have to train for it, and I think the stress of snatches on the erector spinae is more of a strength-endurance training than limit strength.
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
Oh, I highly doubt that is some kind of automatic guarantee.

Strength is partially a skill, bodyweight activities arguably even more so.

@Anna C had an experience with OAP that didn't seem to translate to bench.

Deadlifting is also a skill. The snatch test is a great potential aptitude indicator, but I don't think you can take a good snatcher who has never deadlifted and expect them to pull 2x bodyweight just by walking up to a bar. You still have to train for it, and I think the stress of snatches on the erector spinae is more of a strength-endurance training than limit strength.
Yes, you are probably right. I should rephrase. What I mean is that most benefits covered by the 1xBW bench are probably covered as well by the OAPU, plus additional ones. And in any case, with that strength, working towards BW bench should be rather straightforward. Same for the 2x BW deadlift.

My thinking is that working towards 4 standards like the ones I outlined is more simple and most bases are covered. Something similar happens with TSC, but I think it lacks cardio and mobility tests.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Absolute strength, power, strength endurance. Conditioning, as in different energy sources and cardiovascular functions. Skills, especially base motor skills. Speed. Elasticity. Mobility.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 6 Valued Member
I think the CrossFit "Accuracy" could be translated as skill - in the end, you have to actually do something with all that strength/fitness. I could imagine a few metrics:
  • Throw something heavy for distance
  • Throw something light for accuracy
  • Climbing a rope or wall - maybe weighted
  • Brachiating
  • Wrestling- maybe even just escaping
@watchnerd and @Alan Mackey touched on something important but hard to quantify - baseline level of pain. Hard to call yourself fit if you are in constant pain, regardless of how strong or fast or fleet you are.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I think the CrossFit "Accuracy" could be translated as skill - in the end, you have to actually do something with all that strength/fitness. I could imagine a few metrics:
  • Throw something heavy for distance
  • Throw something light for accuracy
  • Climbing a rope or wall - maybe weighted
  • Brachiating
  • Wrestling- maybe even just escaping
@watchnerd and @Alan Mackey touched on something important but hard to quantify - baseline level of pain. Hard to call yourself fit if you are in constant pain, regardless of how strong or fast or fleet you are.
I like this approach. The "standards" should not be the same as the training modality, that way however you achieve your fitness you aren't handicapped by performing an exercise movement.

Throwing something 1/3 bw for distance. Moving a pile of items 1/2 your be for time. Carrying something for distance. Holding something heavy for time.

Broad jump. 10 meter sprint time.
 

Coyotl

Level 6 Valued Member
@Bro Mo I think standards have to be defined in a context of what we're talking about. A standard is a baseline for performance. But should the standard for a recreational fitness enthusiast be the same as a standard for a professional ballerina, or an ODA guy, or a mountain climber, or a 22 y/o or 62 y/o? I would say probably not. I think CrossFit popularized the idea of striving for "extreme generalism" - be good (or competent) at a whole bunch of things, while still striving to be healthy and balanced. That got morphed over time into something else, but it provided a framework to talk about. But, I don't think my standards are going to be the same as everyone else's standards.

I think StrongFirst has a decent start with the Simple Standard. If you can achieve Simple, you've met at least a minimum strength, aerobic, and anaerobic capability.

Personally, my standards are very different from Dan's, and they've changed a lot over the past decade. They involve aerobic components (e.g. 6 miles in 1 hr under my Maffetone HR), glycolytic components and strength components (e.g. Sinister), specific skill components, and health components (e.g. RHR, BP, %BF). I also think standards evolve - as I meet a standard, I raise the standard. This applies in health and fitness as well as outside of that.

I'd even quibble with some of Dan's numbers and implications.

Bodyweight bench press, for example. Granted, the number isn't that high, but I know many, many guys who have good bench numbers, but jacked up shoulders, shoulder pain, and terrible shoulder mobility.

Is 15 reps at BW bench a game changer? Yeah, in a bad way if it comes at the price of shoulder health, and garbage mobility.
You're mischaracterizing Dan's standards. The focus is on balance and being able to do all of them. The standards aren't meant to be impressive. I would argue they aren't even a measure of athleticism. If you can do all of them, you're in a good spot to pursue whatever skill or goal you're pursuing - unless what you're pursuing doesn't benefit from pursuing those standards (to become elite or competitive), although part of those standards is to restore balance to the system even if its at expense of performance (to be generalist).
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm not interested in "peak" standards anymore. Those are hard to achieve and even harder to maintain.

Instead, I'd rather focus on developing what someone way smarter than me defined as "shame levels".

What load could I lift if I didn't sleep more than a couple of hours last night and I was running a mild fever? That would be my baseline. And the goal would be improving on that. Slowly. Over time.

The concept itself is quite similar to the one used by Phil Maffetone and Pavel/Dan on Easy Strength: broaden the base of the pyramid and the peak will increase as well.
 
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watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
You're mischaracterizing Dan's standards. The focus is on balance and being able to do all of them. The standards aren't meant to be impressive. I would argue they aren't even a measure of athleticism. If you can do all of them, you're in a good spot to pursue whatever skill or goal you're pursuing
I don't think I'm mischaracterizing at all.

Dan's a strength and conditioning coach, and a very smart one.

He talks about strength as a vessel upon which you build other qualities.

Even though, as a weightlifter, I'm a strength athlete, I don't score at competition by having 15 rep bodyweight back squat. I do well by having a good clean and jerk, which are qualities built on top of having a good squat.

unless what you're pursuing doesn't benefit from pursuing those standards (to become elite or competitive), although part of those standards is to restore balance to the system even if its at expense of performance (to be generalist).
Right

If doing 15 reps of BW bench presses made you a better offensive lineman, that's cool, you built other qualities on top of it.

If you have the ability to do 15 reps of BW bench presses but didn't build any other qualities with that.....well, why did you bother?

And if you're not going to build any other quality on top of your strength, is it a good use of your time?

although part of those standards is to restore balance to the system even if its at expense of performance (to be generalist).
My recurring disappointment with the S&C in popular culture (nothing to do with Dan) is the willingness of people to quickly snap to lists of strength feats to accomplish....Do 100 Burpees Per Day....Get to 500 lb Deadlift....without asking:

1. What am I hoping to achieve by doing this?
2. What qualities do I want to build on top of this strength?
3. What other qualities am I going to under-develop in order to build to and accomplish this strength feat?
4. Does hyper-specializing in this attribute detract from my ability to be a good generalist?


Strength standards come from the point of view of strength and conditioning coaches.

If you were to ask Ido Portal or Steven Low what they think are important attributes, you'd get a very different list of standards.
 
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offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I don't think I'm mischaracterizing at all.

Dan's a strength and conditioning coach, and a very smart one.

He talks about strength as a vessel upon which you build other qualities.

Even though, as a weightlifter, I'm a strength athlete, I don't score at competition by having 15 rep bodyweight back squat. I do well by having a good clean and jerk, which are qualities built on top of having a good squat.



Right

If doing 15 reps of BW bench presses made you a better offensive lineman, that's cool, you built other qualities on top of it.

If you have the ability to do 15 reps of BW bench presses but didn't build any other qualities with that.....well, why did you bother?

And if you're not going to build any other quality on top of your strength, is it a good use of your time?



My recurring disappointment with the S&C in popular culture (nothing to do with Dan) is the willingness of people to quickly snap to lists of strength feats to accomplish....Do 100 Burpees Per Day....Get to 500 lb Deadlift....without asking:

1. What am I hoping to achieve by doing this?
2. What qualities do I want to build on top of this strength?
3. What other qualities am I going to under-develop in order to build to accomplish this strength feat?
4. Does hyper-specializing in this attribute detract from my ability to be a good generalist?


Strength standards come from the point of view of strength and conditioning coaches.

If you were to ask Ido Portal or Steven Low what they think are important attributes, you'd get a very different list of standards.
4. Assumes one wants to be a good generalist. Some people could care less about it.
(But I like 1 through 3)
 

watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
4. Assumes one wants to be a good generalist. Some people could care less about it.
(But I like 1 through 3)
Yes, very true.

Being an excellent specialist requires giving up being a good generalist, and often general health. Some people are fine with that.

But I still like #4 because I think many who are new to all of this don't understand that trade-off very well.
 

Bro Mo

Level 6 Valued Member
I don't know how many levels of different attributes there should be either. I've seen between 3 and 10 for different things. It seems like some things are more appropriate to have less and others to have more. For strength, it seems like there are more and for health there seems to be fewer. I don't know if it's better to use one event with different levels or different achievements per attribute. I see the utility both ways.

For myself, I would think something along the lines of the table would be a decent place to start. I would want to achieve everything at one level before I pursued the things at the higher levels if I was concerned with everything. Otherwise, simply choosing the specific items that matter to the individual and then only using that subset to do the same thing. So instead of using nine markers, only using the top three that were applicable to me.

Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Relative StrengthPull-UpBW Front SquatPistol Squat2.5x BW DeadliftBeast Tamer
Absolute StrengthSimple>Class IV USPF TotalSinister>Class II USPF Total>Master USPF Total
Speed (40yd)<0::06<0::05.5<0::05.25<0::05<0::04.75
Power>1000W Airdyne>1250W Airdyne>1500W Airdyne>1750W Airdyne>2000W Airdyne
Power Endurance<3::30 800m Run<4::00 1k SkiErg<6::00 mile Run<7::00 2000m Row<2::00 800m
Endurance (10k Run)<80min<70min<60min<50min<40min
Body Fat %<30%<25%<20%<15%<10%
Resting Heart Rate<80<70<60<50<40
Blood Pressure<150/110<140/100<130/90<120/80<110/70
 
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