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Strength Standards

By Marcus | In Lifting | on December 11, 2013

“How strong should I be?”

This is a common question we trainers get from both newbies and veterans alike. While you can certainly pick another athlete within Intrepid to use as a rabbit to chase, what happens when you’re the big fish in our small pond? Occasionally, people will marvel at the numbers lifted by a particular CrossFit Games athlete and when those seem too hard to reach, they just tread water. Hopefully today’s post can help inspire both those few big fish we have as well as assist everyone else with being able to choose realistic strength goals.

I really love the idea of the goal board that Sean and Ruth put up. Some people put up strength related goals, but I saw some that could have used a little refining. Wanting to get strong is great, but your goal should both challenge you and be attainable within the time allotted. With that in mind, I wanted to share a resource that is linked on the CrossFit main site FAQ. This chart was put together by Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength, along with Lon Kilgore. In the chart, you will see that they have 1RM numbers for five lifts — press, bench press, power clean, (back) squat and deadlift — broken down by sex and weight class. An easier to read version of this chart, which also includes power snatch, is available at ExRx.net.

Looking at the chart, you can see various categorizations which are defined below:

  • Untrained – a person who can perform the lifts correctly, but has not trained them on a regular basis
  • Novice – a person who has trained the lifts regularly for approximately 3 to 9 months
  • Intermediate – a person who has engaged in regular training of the lifts for up to 2 years
  • Advanced – a person who has trained multiple years with definite goals in the higher levels of competition
  • Elite – athletes competing in strength sports. This definition does not represent the highest level of strength performance possible, but rather an entry position to the top of the pyramid

Once you have an idea of where you stand, you can also consider that you should roughly be scoring in the Intermediate range to be able to perform CrossFit benchmark WODs as Rx. Accordingly, this may also motivate you to set a goal (or three!) to get to that next level.

For my powerlifters, there’s an additional set of standards to consider. Each powerlifting federation will usually have their own classification standards, broken down by the total and occasionally including the individual 3 lifts. These are also separated by weight class and sex. The classifications for powerlifting from lowest to highest are: Class IV, Class III, Class II, Class I, Master and Elite as the highest tier. (Note: some have an International Elite as the highest tier.) The Elite in powerlifting should not be confused with the Elite in the first table I linked. As an example, compare the first chart for a 198 lb man where a 505 lb squat is considered Elite. If you look at this list from the USPA. you’ll see that the same 198 lb man would need to squat 584 lbs to be considered Elite in that federation. Out of all the powerlifting federations, I believe that USAPL/IPF has the strictest standards. Their classification totals look to be the highest, and that is why the big names such as Dan Green and Brandon Lilly prefer to attend their meets for that higher level of competition.

Hopefully these standards will light a fire for some of you and get you to shoot for a new PR, as well as give you an idea of what to aim for next!

WOD 12.11.13

Deadlift 1×5

Then, for time:

  • 25-20-15-10-5 Burpees
  • 240m Run


2 Comments to "Strength Standards"

  • Jeff M. says:

    December 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM -

    Man, look at that belly! Need to work on my core A LOT MORE! 😉

  • Lynn M says:

    December 11, 2013 at 2:34 PM -

    Great post and here is and adjustment for the Masters group like myself

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