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CT's Definitions of Strength Levels?


Hello CT, thank you for your dedication of time and knowledge to helping others.

It would be interesting and an accurate source for me if you could tell me what you consider to be "moderate and advanced" strength levels in some lifts (considering a 1-rep-max with good form).

Knowing this would serve to set more specific objectives.

The answer greatly depends on body-weight, but let's say 90K (about 190 pounds). Since long-term goals (careers) are also important in determining ultimate strength levels, let's say it's for a power-bodybuilder who works at something else but also wants to be the strongest guy in the city.

These are the lifts:

  1. Clean
  2. Squat
  3. Deadlift
  4. Military Press
  5. Barbell Row
  6. Snatch

I hope I can get an answer.

Carlos Mendez Leo


This is a very subjective question. But these charts may help:


Just click on the lift and it will give you an idea of what each lift ranks you.


CT wrote this in the past:


Yes, "moderate & advanced" strength levels are infinitely subjective terms, but I'm talking about a mixture of what Dave Tate, Dan John, and CT would say, for example: "O.K., you can lift 120K's in the Clean, you are halfway between moderate and advanced for this exercise, you're doing good but with 30 more K's your back could become a public enemy."

Thanks for the replies so far guys.


Hey my friend,

What do you mean by "power snatch, power clean", etc.?

By simply Clean I mean getting the barbell from the floor to front squat position.

I watched CT's Neural Drive reflections video the other day and I noticed that when doing snatches (jaja), he eliminates a good portion of the eccentrics in the exercise after the first rep (the portion for those who cannot simply throw the barbell because of damage caused to the floor).

This makes me wonder if he does it because it is fun to throw heavy shit you just lifted, or maybe because that saves more energy for the next concentrics which he believes will cause more muscle growth and/or neural stimulation without fatigue, or maybe to keep momentum.


It's called a "power snatch from the hang"... there are MANY variations of the olympic lifts. TECHNICALLY an olympic lift variations is composed of three words:

First word = position you are in when you catch the barbell:
Muscle: catch the bar with minimal, if any squatting under (almost no knee bend)
Power: catch the bar without squatting more than into a half squat
Squat: catch the bar in a full squat position
Split: catch the bar in a "lunge" position

Second word = type of lift:
Snatch: lift the bar from the starting position to overhead in one movement
Clean: lift the bar from the starting position to the shoulders
Jerk: lift the bar from the shoulders to overhead

Third word = starting position:
Floor: the barbell is on the floor in the starting position
Blocks: the barbell starts on boxes, elevating it from the floor
Hang: the barbell starts "hanging" anywhere between mid-thighs and mid-shin

For example in the video you are referring to...

The first rep is a power snatch from the floor and the subsequent ones are power snatches from the hang

What you see in an olympic lifting competition are normally squat snatch from the floor and squat clean from the floor followed by a split jerk... but these are simply referred to "snatch" and "clean & jerk"


why do my friends say I'm strong haha, I have a lot of work to do to reach those numbers...


It's definately because it's more fun that way than anything to do with energy, fatigue, neural drain, etc.
There's a list called the Hoffman standards of what consitutes basic minimum strength levels for a lot of exercises at various different bodyweights. Prepare to feel very weak!

On here somewhere there's an article by dave Tate, or quoting dave tate, about how strong you have to be to be shit, suck or adequate, or something like that. So you have to work pretty hard to get strong enough just to suck!


Yes, and you can imagine even higher standards.

What about making "specific" correlations of strength levels in good movements to muscle hypertrophy in certain muscle groups?


Thanks, very informative.

Do you think "power" will cause more hypertrophy than "muscle" because of the more power it generates to not require to squat a little bit to catch the weight?

Why do you prefer to do more reps from the hang position in your Neural Drive video instead of doing less reps from the ground which seems to be a movement that involves more muscles?

Thanks for the information.



Also, another question:

Why do you throw the weight when you're done with the set instead of doing an "olympic eccentric"? It seems that it takes a lot of muscle to handle this eccentric so it must be productive.

Thanks for your time.


  1. The higher you have the pull the bar (less squatting) the more power you have to produce (Power = Force x Distance/Time)... so technically the "muscle" lifts require more power of them all BUT it is almost never practiced because it teaches bad motor habits in non-expert lifters and you can generally use much less weight.

According to power calculations, the power variations generally produce the highest power output.

Does it mean that it will cause more hypertrophy? Maybe... but it will certainly create more activation which will make the subsequent exercises more effective. So indirectly at least it can have a positive effect on growth.

  1. The theory that starting the bar from the floor involves more muscle is a fallacy. The theory is that you start in a "deadlifting-like" position so the involvement of the quads is greater... even IF it were true... at the most you might be able to snatch 30-40% and clean 50-60% of your deadlift (unless you are a somewhat advanced olympic lifter)... do you think that performing the first part of the movement with these loads will significantly add to the development of the muscles?

I'm not saying that olympic lifts from the floor are not good. But I rarely use the with athletes... here's why:

a) they are more technical and it can take longer to master the proper coordination pattern. While the athlete is learning that, he is not reaping the full benefits from the lifts. If an athlete has a limited time to train (e.g. short off-season) then spending a lot of time learning the full lifts is not a good investment.

b) some athletes (especially bigger and stiffer ones) have problems getting into the proper lifting position from the floor.

c) Lifts from the hang, or from blocks are more specific to sports because the starting position is similar to the position used in many sports (e.g. linebacker stance)

d) Lifts from the hang or from blocks have a shorter acceleration path. You must thus go from zero to maximum velocity over a shorter zone which requires more power production.


Read my most recent stuff... I try to minimize eccentric loading to be able to do more overall lifting volume. Eccentrics cut into your recovery capacities and thus you can't do as much work.

My goal when training is to do as much volume as I can without exceeding my capacity to recover. Furthermore buy any olympic lifting training hall tapes from www.ironmind.com or go see elite olympic lifters train and you will see ALL of them drop the bar on every single rep... even the light warm-up stuff.


What about skipping the eccentric on a deadlift? That could produce some interesting results.

I'm catching up on your texts,

thanks for your time/information.


Hey CT,

Thanks up till now for the great info/time.

Question: What muscles are you favoring in your Olympic movements in your Neural Drive video where you start power and then do the next to reps from hang position? In other words, what muscles or what are you favoring when switching to the hang start position for the last reps?

Thanks a lot,


The reason I ask is because a couple of years ago I added the hang snatch to my repertoire but then thought "I could focus more on the power snatch since it obviously is more power generating". Something similar happened with the overhead squats vs. back and front squats although now I know the overhead squat has tremendous benefits.


Yes, already mentioned that in the past. It would allow you to deadlift more often and with more volume.


  1. I DON'T use the power snatch/hang snatch to activate a specific muscle. The power snatch variations are the best OVERALL activators, they are not for a specific muscle group.

  2. Regardless of what some coaches believe, I don't like the overhead squat when it comes to building strength and size. But to each his own.


Christian, I see your point when you say
"I don't like the overhead squat when it comes to building strength and size."

Do you find it to be beneficial for fighters when they do the OHS for high reps, say 30+ ? Thanks.


From my experience, overhead squats' best property is thermogenesis which = fat loss.


CT: For a mixture of bodybuilder-powerlifter-Olympic lifter kind of person, what movements would you consider staples from the Olympic combinations you have mentioned for hypertrophy at various muscles groups?

Like 3 or 5 if you could pick.

Thanks again.