How strong is strong? How much do you have to lift to be considered strong? In this section I will outline how I see strong defined and the categories in which I develop strength in.
I define strength as an overall composition of movement strength. I encompass all facets because I am sure you know people that all they do is bench and bicep work. They practice and practice at it, no wonder they are benching 2x their bodyweight. I am not saying that is not strong, but when you ask the same person to squat their own bodyweight and they can’t even muster 1 rep out then I think there is a problem. The other classic example is seeing someone on a lat pull machine with 200 and some odd pounds, and then you ask the same person to do a pull up and again not 1.
Mike Boyle has set out a list of criteria that he defines as strong. I use his list because he has years and years of data to back up his findings. Even though the percentages may fluctuate the core range is there. He defines the movements as such:
-Bench 1.25 to 1.5 x’s BW (250-300 for a 200 lb athlete)
-Clean 1.25 to 1.5 x’s BW (same as above) *(I like to see athletes with the same or similar bench and clean numbers. If you don’t have this relationship your athletes are spending too much time benching and not enough time on power movements.)
-Front Squat (we don’t back squat) 1.5-1.75 (300-350 for 200 lb.)
-1 Leg Squat .5 x BW for 5 reps (half of your bodyweight)
-Chin-up .5 x BW for 1 rep (half of your bodyweight) * I also like to see the total weight for a chin-up (external load plus bodyweight) be greater to or equal with the bench press 1 RM. In other words, a 280-bench presser who weighs 180 lbs should be able to do 1 chin-up with 100 lbs.
-We also use the following formula for any dumbbell variations. DB weight = 80% of bar weight / 2
Now that you understand the criteria, we have categories that will encompass a complete balanced individual. This list of eight is in no particular order and will have examples of movements that would be associated with each.
Power- medicine ball work, all Olympic lifts and plyometrics
Horizontal Press- bench and push-ups
Horizontal Pull- rows and recline pulls
Vertical Press- push press/jerk
Vertical Pull- pull/chin up
Knee Dominant- front squat or 1 leg squat
Hip Dominant- dead lift variations (2 leg and 1 leg)
Rotational or anti-rotational- this encompasses any and all movements that require your ability to integrate the right and left sides of your body, stabilize as to not collapse or break form and/or transfer weight from one side of your body to the other without breaking the form or technique.
Now that strength as been defined and categorized, we can now put everything together in a succinct program that has a balance of all the criteria. The key is to have it make sense and be progressive. You just can’t jump into the advanced movements without mastering the basics. They wouldn’t just send you in a fire, in a war or to arrest a drug dealer without mastering the basic principles and protocols. The same thing holds true for training.