T Nation

Fitness Goals


How do you define fitness? What is a good goal to shoot for in:

Bench Press

Tell me how many reps I should be able to do, and at what percentage of my body weight (I'm 5'6", 145 pounds).

I realize there are no absolute answers here, but appeciate hearing your opinion.


A good base for me would be
bench 1.5x times BW
dead 2.5x bw
squat 2x bw
Pull up 1.5 x bw

im getting close and then it will ove from there


What phill said is correct for a definition of "strong".

But are strong and fit necessarily one and the same?


I am thinking the same thing too. You know, strength is important and is under-developed for most people, but there are other fitness qualities such as:

cardio endurance
muscular endurance

My 2cents,

Geek boy


I think I just realised I'm a sissy.


I would say this is much more than a 'base' or start point to discuss strong. These numbers would certainly put you in the upper quintiles of any parameters that measure strength. Even in the iron world, but grossly high to the average man.
I'm not necessarily dissing the amounts, but For a 250 lber to have to squat 500 dead625 bech 375--them are some pretty good numbers for a base.

And yes fitness, in my definition as well, would include many of those things offered above.


How many reps are we talking for Phill's guidelines?

I can meet the squat, pullup, and bench goals, but fall quite a bit short on deadlifts. What does that tell you? Should I really be able to deadlift 360+ pounds at 145? Which muscle group am I most needing to develop?


Those that I wrote are the minimum IMO for a basic Strength base on 1rm. But like everything thats MY opinion. I would also add a BW OH press as well to a basic level of strength.


Interesting! First let me start by saying I am a fan of your posting. I wish I could be so magnanimous.

I woulkd like to discuss your base levels of strength though.

It would appear to me that your base levels would be for those that are iron rats. Not what would be considered baseline for average America. Even then (I feel) you are going into the upper ?half? of all lifters with those base numbers.

Is this your intent and objective, or do you feel these numbers are actually average among lifters? The BW OHpress is definately a big number.



I like those numbers for a basic measure of "strong." They would definitely put you in the top quintile for the population. I would guess that most men could probably achieve those lifts with two or three years of dedicated training and smart program design. Others may disagree.

Some things I would add to the list:
50 push-ups
20 chin-ups
Bodyweight snatch (this could be hard without some coaching, but is possible)
10 bodyweight overhead squats
Run 1.5 miles in 10:30 or 2 miles in 15:00
A good, stable handstand

Again, these numbers would put you in the top 20 percent of the population, and would take some dedicated training to achieve.

Another factor to consider is general fitness versus specialization. If you want to really excel in one aspect of fitness, other aspects will be less developed. You can't be an elite marathoner and an elite powerlifter at the same time, but you might be able to be above-average at both.

Take a look at http://www.exrx.net/Testing.html for some other fitness tests. Many of the tests listed on the page include poulation norms. That could help you set goals based on your age, training background, etc.

On a personal note, I have achieved all of these goals (including bodyweight military press and 1.5 bodyweight bench) except (1) a good handstand, (2) 2x bodyweight squat, (3) 2.5x bodyweight deadlift, and (4) 10 BW overhead squats. Trying to bring up that lower body strength...


I had a book once written by the Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Bob Ward. He had some tables I always like to refer to as far as level of strength in certain exercises and what he considered very poor to excellent. Here they are:

Exercise followed by number x body weight

Full Back Squat
VP = 1.3
P = 1.6
A = 1.9
G = 2.2
EX = 2.5

Bench Press
VP = .8
P = 1.1
A = 1.4
G = 1.7
EX = 2.7

Military Press
VP = .4
P = .6
A = .8
G = 1
EX = 1.2

Incline Press
VP = .5
P = .8
A = 1.1
G = 1.4
EX = 1.7

Average for:
Jerk - 1.3
Clean - 1.3
Deadlift - 1.9

20 Second Bar Dips
VP = 4
P = 12
A = 20
G = 28
EX = 36

20 Second Pushup
VP = 11
P = 19
A = 27
G = 35
EX = 43

Take it for what its worth.



Again, I would say these numbers again are based on strength athletes, not base strength for an average man. Not even an average lifter. this would be for someone who is SUPPOSED to be strong, like a football player.

I mean, how would someone who could squat 1.5x BW be considered POOR.

These numbers would definately put you in the upper 10-20% of strength


I would NOT say that these are upper haldf Numbers IMO. I would say a good base for the average lifter o obtain. Once again MY opinion. I am very close or past these numbers and in NO way consider myself any where near Upper Level. More near

I just feel that with a good amount of activity and a little dedication thse goal are VERY attainable. But once again there are simply My goals to build from a base of mine that I feel anyone with somewaht like goals and interest in lifting can use. Now if you are a distance runner or something like that then you goals will change for the base. Or even a powerliftr I feel a STRONG base would be even higher.

I just feel these Numbers allow a nice basic balance.

Thanks for you opinions and thoughts. This has become a nice little discussion and unlike many of the threads has yet to revert to a simple pissing match. LOL



Holy balls, Twoolf, those numbers/stats would definitely be above the top 20 percent. Maybe the top percent or even a fraction of. I don't think you realize how weak, soft and deconditioned most people are. I had an exercise science lab where we had to run for 12 minutes and granted some people could have been sandbagging, but alot of people only got a mile or so.

Anyway, whenever I hear the word "fitness" I think "Fit for what?" I think to have all around physical preparedness, which is what I think people mean when they say "fitness" someone should be able to lift their own bodyweight from the floor (deadlift), run a decent mile without having to walk, say 8:00, and walk for an extended period of time if pressed, say 5-10 miles. I think you'd be surprised how many people would be incapable of meeting those simple and nearly laughable standards. Mind you, I intend those for the sedentary population at large.

I don't think T-peeps need "standards" because the sky should always be the limit to them.


Yes....for Athletes! SPEED_STRENGTH ATHLETES! Not the sissy down the street. You want to measure yourself against Joe Shmoe...Go right ahead.

1.5xBW for Squat BELOW PARALLEL is a minimum strength level before doing Plyometrics (Depth Jumps, Drop Jumps, etc.) That would be considered Poor under this guys criteria...but that is a MIMIMUM strength level.


Those numbers are a nice standard but I would disagree about the 20%.

First, ~50% of the population is made up of women...very few can do 20 chinups. So that would mean 40% all males can do these. But all males includes 5 year olds and 90 year olds. About 35% of the population is under 15 or over 65. So that would mean that approximatly 2/3 of men aged 15-65 can do 20 chinups, 50 pushups etc. By your own estimate you are in the bottom third of men aged 15-65 :stuck_out_tongue:


Great feedback. I'm still wondering why there is such an imbalance in my deadlifts. I can meet the other goals for bench, pullups, and squat, but am far short on deads. Why is that? My training up to this point has been pretty balanced and focused on complex full body movements.


How tall are you?


I'm 5'6" and 145 pounds.


I should clarify/revise my earlier post. These are goals that I myself have used. Some of these goals (50 pushups, 1.5 and 2 mile runs, a few others) would put me in the top 20 percent of males in my age group (28 years old). I base that on data on the aforementioned ExRx fitness testing pages. (And no, I haven't personally examined the studies that they base their norms on.)

For other goals (such as bench press, press, squat and deadlift numbers) I'm not sure where the general population falls, and I haven't seen any references on population norms. I'm assuming the numbers would put me in the top 20 percent of males my age. I'm mostly basing that by comparing the difficulty of these goals versus the difficulty of the goals that I've actually seen a published standard for. That's pretty subjective, though, so I could be way off.

Goals are a personal thing, and they will change over time. I think it's safe to say that these goals are both realistic and challenging for an average male in his 20s or 30s. Depending on what you're aiming for, and where you're starting from, they may or may not be the right goals for you.