T Nation

Real World Strength


There’s another thread discussing whether a heavy deadlift has applications in the real world over a lighter deadlift.

That had me thinking about what it is we need strength for in the modern world… that isn’t a job in itself.

To me, there’s shopping and moving and I only imclude moving if you want to do it yourself (similar with shopping). But I have a limited imagination and a small world…

So throw up the scenarios where strength helps out in the real world…


Shopping is where I see the greatest benefit of being stronger.

Before I lifted, those 36 container of bottled water at Costco felt difficult to move. Post lifting I can move them without too much trouble.

Now that my upper body strength is inching its way out of complete and utter crap, I find myself capable of carrying those things on one shoulder.


Spreading 50lb bags of mulch like a boss. Shouldering 3 at a time getting them in place. Yard work.


Trade Jobs. It is pretty cool being able to pick up and carry steel and rigid conduit by myself. Of course after my first contractor I stopped that, as I did not want to become the mule.


I remember one time when I worked road construction as a labourer I was sent to help some pipe fitters rearrange one of our sea-cans and a foreman drove up with a piece of pipe and said it had to go into the sea-can. Not thinking anything of it I just went and picked it up and put it inside, He just stared at me for a couple seconds then drove off without saying anything and I was told he went right to the other foremen and told them if they needed anything to be moved to come get me haha


Grip strength… unscrewing jars.


I always get the call to help people move. A friend of mine has a home wood shop that I installed, and a couple of safes. I can clean up downed trees real good. Salting the driveway and sidewalks isn’t really that difficult.

When it comes to the vast majority of work stuff I’m convinced that technique trumps brute strength though.


For True Emergencies.

Been in a few close calls and situations where absolute strength has helped.

For deadlifting movement type specifically -my grandmother had a stroke age 90 and fell awkwardly on the floor sort of half under a table.
She was pretty hefty like 190lbs and nurse could not pick her up and paramedics taking ages to come.
By the grace of God I was a a block away, so when got the call ran over and pulled her up and hauled her outside to nearest cab. At that weird angle with no warm up felt like a gun-to-the-head max effort dead (about 315 at the time :frowning_face:). Back was fubarred for rest of the month.

Anyway got her to hospital in few minutes and they got the IV in her straight away. She lived another 6 years, no real speech slur or dementia.

My family still thinks heavy lifting is a waste time and that my protein drinks are basically strawberry flavoured roidzz


Your buddy getting shot while in combat. Your 200lbs buddy who just so happens to be carrying 50lbs of gear. On top of that, the terrain is just shit and you can’t get a good footing anywhere. I’m pretty certain in this situation, you’d much rather be the guy with a 500/600lbs deadlift than the guy who deadlifts 200lbs.


When I worked at an Academy Sports, all I ever did was build and put up bikes every single day. I would grab a mountain bike, climb up a ladder and put it on the rack.

When I worked in a kitchen, I’d have to pick up kegs and such and put them in the cooler.

i do pool maintainance now and I carry buckets of chems, a marine battery, and bags of salt practically everywhere.

I haven’t encountered one job or task where I wasn’t happy that I started lifting and doing conditioning work.

  • Throwing wiminz around the bedroom (I like em curvy)

  • Buying 2 cartons of beer at a time

  • Picking up drunk mates off the ground after the 2 cartons of beer

Dunno what you blokes buy when you go shopping but I have never had issues with carrying groceries… Even when I was 135lb…


i have been in many dangerous situations as a civilian. being attacked by thugs and professional criminals. i sure wish i had been super strong and skilled at martial arts at that time. but i’m working on it should it happen again.


My family is full of do-it-yourself-never-pay-for-it kind of folk. So, some scenarios where being stronger than the average dude came in handy:

  1. Replacing the air conditioning unit outside my parents’ place.
  2. Moving in and installing a commercial oven in my sister’s place (she’s a pastry chef that works from home).
  3. Moving a big-ass chest-freezer into my other sister’s basement.
  4. Pushing the lady’s Subaru to the gas station after it ran out of gas, while she steered.

Other people wrote some stuff that I want to second. The lady’s little brother had to pick up his grandmother multiple times, hauling bags of mulch all over the property, and unscrewing jars (never thought that actually required strength, but the past decade has proven me wrong apparently…).


Man handling your dogs into better positions for cuddles.


Moving a TV used to be one but now they are so thin and light its the size that is an issue not the weight.

Best real world application, being the strongest guy in the room when a female needs help with something heavy. Even if every guy there is capable of doing it she will ask you which makes you look that much better.


When your friends Suburban runs out of gas on the highway. When you need to move an engine from the bed of a pickup to the curb by hand. Pushing a non-running car onto a trailer. Lifting the rear end of a car and moving it a couple feet to the left. Anything that has to do with vehicles apparently :joy:

Moving furniture and appliances , shoveling snow, using a lawnmower with broken drive system, picking a dirtbike up after crashing - these are more common.


[quote=“strongmangoals, post:1, topic:233428”]
So throw up the scenarios where strength helps out in the real world…

Strong people (physical/mental/emotional/spiritual/character) are always more useful to have on a team, any team. They are also more fun to be around.

Plus, it’s the only hobby you can keep on your person at all times. You have a good golf swing? Nobody can tell unless you’re on the course. You deadlift 495+? Your traps and forearms will be bigger than if you deadlift 225. It’s a very rare hobby since it requires hard work, consistency and goal oriented behavior.

I was working with a bunch of office monkeys and we had a moving day to get to the new office building. I show up in steel toes, work pants and a t-shirt, they look at me like I lost my mind. You’d be surprised just how useless the average office worker is.

We had two healthy grown men in their 20’s unable to lift a 150lb desk together. I got annoyed, picked it up and waddled it over to the elevator (no dolly around). Accounting manager goes: “with the strength of ten analysts! I’d help, but I uh… have a bad back.”


As a 31-year-old man that recently purchased a home and has been doing an assortment of home projects since then, I completely agree with this.

My 600-pound deadlift hasn’t made up for a complete ineptitude with a wrench and screwdrivers (how many PhD’s does it take to put together a squat rack with a couple bolts and washers? one, if you give him the whole fucking night to take it apart after putting it halfway together and realize he was doing it wrong).

(All kidding aside, I do believe in the “strong people are generally more capable” line of thinking, but with many household tasks it’s a lot more useful to know what the fuck you’re doing than to count on being big strong man with large hands)


Man, shoot me an e-mail. You’re like 5 minutes away!

Although I also completely understand “I’m just going to throw this together real quick” and wanting to beat it with a hammer hours later. I just did that with the rear brakes on my car. Now there’s a dent in the drum.


On the bright side, I did put together a table for the back patio yesterday in about 20 minutes!

It only had 8 screws, though, so…