What is strong?

Ryan T

More than 500 posts
When I was working with a trainer to prepare for level 1 cert, I asked him at what point you can be considered strong. Paraphrasing here, but he said it depends on the tool. Being strong with kettlebells is not the same as being strong with the barbell or calesthenic movements etc... Different tools build different types of strength that have some carryover with one another as well.

I've looked at barbell strength standards to get different ideas on this. The SFL standards for the lifts tested fall between the intermediate and advanced levels of strength.

Weightlifting Strength Standards - Strength Level

At what point can you be considered GPP, well rounded strong (not sport specific or chosen activities/hobbies/goals) across all domains of strength? I think some of this must be relative. Everyone has a different potential based on age, gender, body weight, and genetics. Simple standard pops into my mind but that's actually relative to my own goals and not all the strength attibutes developed will carryover into other domains. I've also heard it said that Simple means you're not weak. Perhaps the strength certification standards across the 3 certifications could be considered as strong?

Rambling here but it's been on my mind for a while and I'm curious to see what a community and organization dedicated to strength would have to say on this subject.
 

Adam R Mundorf

More than 500 posts
Each discipline has their own arbitrary standards for what is strong, if you can hit them, I think you can count yourself as strong.
  • Barbell
    • Double body weight dead lift.
    • 1.5 body weight bench press.
    • Double body weights squat.
  • Kettlebells
    • Simple Standard
    • 1/2 body weight overhead press
  • Calisthenics
    • Pistol Squats
    • One Arm Chin Up
    • One Arm Pushup
    • Full Bridge
    • Of course some advanced gymnastic moves.
As with anything you get good at what you practice. If you pursued barbell work for instance, it's possible your calisthenics would drop off a bit. I feel like to truly test this you would need to do some form of crossfit workout. Have a bunch of implements in a row from each discipline.

If I could pick one to have the largest carry over to other disciplines it would have to be calisthenics.
 

Geoff Chafe

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I like the 3-4-5 theory.

A decent strength level for a 200lb male is a 300lb Bench, 400lb Squat, and a 500lb Deadlift. If you want to include Press 200lb is a good goal.

If you are lighter you are much stronger than most. If you are heavier you are still a lot stronger than the vast majority of people.

I can’t believe I am linking T Nation in 2018, but here it goes. Now I’m that guy.
Is a 300-Pound Bench Rare? | T Nation
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I can’t believe I am linking T Nation in 2018, but here it goes. Now I’m that guy.
Is a 300-Pound Bench Rare? | T Nation
Well I'm glad to see they have women at 135 with men at 300. I am at 135 but not a whole lot farther beyond it. I have never struggled so much with a lift!

Starting Strength has a "sticker" for Press, Bench Press, Squat, and Deadlift. Men 200/300/400/500. Women 100/155/225/315. I am almost there... bench press being my biggest gap, I am probably 15 lbs away. We'll find out at the end of August when I do a local powerlifting competition. I have the press and squat easily, and I've done 300 on the DL and I'm stronger since then for sure, probably have 315. That bench press tho! Argh. Slowly but surely getting there.
 

Geoff Chafe

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Anna C The first time I heard 3-4-5 mentioned was Kelly Starett and Matt Vincent on a podcast. They said if they could maintain those numbers with busy lives they are satisfied. I agree.

For your Bench, do you do direct Tricep work? When I have trouble progressing my pressing some focused Tricep assistance always helps. I say the fastest way to a stronger Press is stronger triceps. I see you are doing CGBP that’s a good start.

I like the Rippetoe Tricep Extensions a lot for arch and Tricep strength. Interestedly in Weightlifting the only bro work we were allowed to do was Tricep Extensions.
 
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Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
For your Bench, do you do direct Tricep work?
I haven't yet, but I strongly suspect it's my pecs that are weak and not my triceps, as evidenced by a strong overhead press. Probably from 4 yrs of kettlebell work vs. just 15 months or so of bench pressing. I'll check it out though, thanks...
 

Ryan T

More than 500 posts
I haven't yet, but I strongly suspect it's my pecs that are weak and not my triceps, as evidenced by a strong overhead press. Probably from 4 yrs of kettlebell work vs. just 15 months or so of bench pressing. I'll check it out though, thanks...
I've never worked the BP, so I may not be one to give advice, but what about doing some variation push up work as well? Normal, incline, decline, explosive, weighted, etc... Targeting the chest seems easy enough based on hand placement, arm rotation, and angle of press.

Of course this article:
Strength in Numbers: A Case for Push-up Endurance Training | StrongFirst

EDIT: I recognize that the article is focused around push ups supplementing pressing work, but he does mention impacts to the bench press as well.
 

Bret S.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
MA is 90% mental/10% physical, I suspect strength falls in line with this as well. Being able to lift heavy weight doesn't automatically mean you're strong. Some of the strongest people I know don't touch weights
 

Adam R Mundorf

More than 500 posts
MA is 90% mental/10% physical, I suspect strength falls in line with this as well. Being able to lift heavy weight doesn't automatically mean you're strong. Some of the strongest people I know don't touch weights
I'm realizing this now that I'm venturing into calisthenics. Properly done calisthenics are HARD! When someone asks what strong is, someone else could ask well what do you practice often? Allot of being strong is having the skill with the modality.
 
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