T Nation

Strength and Size Benchmark Basics

Wanted to post a few thoughts on the importance of strength benchmarks to physique goals and create a discussion.

Benchmarks for strength on major lifts is what yields results in appearance for the majority of trainees. Without this base dieting and bodypart specialization is usually the wrong goal.

300 Bench 400 Squat 500 Deadlift:

This is the level of the intermediate. At this level dieting and specialization for weak bodyparts will yield a light/middle weight strength athlete physique for most men. This is the zone of fitness models sprinters etc… Most of the guys in the gym never pass this level.

400 Bench 500 Squat 600 Deadlift:

Advanced level. Diet down and blast your weaknesses and most men will be a middle/heavy weight. This is the range where most will resemble a running back or heavyweight boxer type physique and also where most will start to look like the popular idea of what a bodybuilder looks like.

500 Bench 600 Squat 700 deadlift:

Elite or Bad Ass level. Get to this level or greater and diet down to shredded and you enter the physiques of Arnold and beyond. Safe to say you are now a freak that strikes awe in the hearts of lifters as well as regular people.

We all know those that blast these guidelines out of the water and of course there are many different variations of exercises to choose from but for most of us these guidelines are good starting points for setting physique goals by using strength.

If your serious about improving your physique and you haven’t reached or surpassed the intermediate level a strength/size bulking routine should be your primary goal in my opinion.

There it is discuss or flame away!

wow … looks like I have my work cut out for me.

I like it and think that is a pretty accurate breakdown of levels.

D

almost 20 and I’m not quite as strong as a fitness model, im gonna log off now so i can go eat a steak and then go workout.

I could go along with that. I’ve set and broken a few benchmarks this year, and those are pretty close, except the squat. One was a 3wheeler on the bench, next was the 4 plates on the dead lift, and my next phase for this year will focus on the squat. I’d like to get it past 405 by the end of the year. That will require a 30-40 lb. increase. At that point I will consider myself prety strong for a lightweight(165).

As it stands though, I realy don’t look like much.

I like it!

I would adjust the ratios a bit, but I like it a lot. For instance 300B:400S:500DL, I’d have the dead at 450. And going higher, at 400:500:600, the bench is great, but the squat, relative to the bench could improve. I’d go 400:550:625. As for the next level, I’d go 500:675:750

In actuality, I guess I like the squat and deadlift being about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 of the bench.

Roland.

I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.[/quote]

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.[/quote]

And boxers and 80% of professional running backs are not putting up 400/500/600

[quote]Roland Fisher wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland[/quote]

Uh yeah, I agree with Roland I think the OP means the dudes not chicks.

D

[quote]Roland Fisher wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland[/quote]

What?

Who the hell decides how strong someone has to be before they can see some specific physique improvements?

There is this bizarre idea that you have to be ‘x’ strong to have a ‘y’ physique, where ‘z=42’ and ‘n’ is a number between 1 and 10.

As Zap said, how do we know how tall the subject is, or any number of other genetic factors; such as their initial untrained strength.

[quote]Dedicated wrote:
Roland Fisher wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland

Uh yeah, I agree with Roland I think the OP means the dudes not chicks.

D [/quote]

Is that a joke? I have to agree with ZB. When you say “male fitness model” I think of the guys on the front of Men’s Health or something. I’m guessing the majority of them aren’t putting up more than 2 plates on each side.

[quote]Heliotrope wrote:
Wanted to post a few thoughts on the importance of strength benchmarks to physique goals and create a discussion.

Benchmarks for strength on major lifts is what yields results in appearance for the majority of trainees. Without this base dieting and bodypart specialization is usually the wrong goal.

300 Bench 400 Squat 500 Deadlift:

This is the level of the intermediate. At this level dieting and specialization for weak bodyparts will yield a light/middle weight strength athlete physique for most men. This is the zone of fitness models sprinters etc… Most of the guys in the gym never pass this level.

400 Bench 500 Squat 600 Deadlift:

Advanced level. Diet down and blast your weaknesses and most men will be a middle/heavy weight. This is the range where most will resemble a running back or heavyweight boxer type physique and also where most will start to look like the popular idea of what a bodybuilder looks like.

500 Bench 600 Squat 700 deadlift:

Elite or Bad Ass level. Get to this level or greater and diet down to shredded and you enter the physiques of Arnold and beyond. Safe to say you are now a freak that strikes awe in the hearts of lifters as well as regular people.

We all know those that blast these guidelines out of the water and of course there are many different variations of exercises to choose from but for most of us these guidelines are good starting points for setting physique goals by using strength.

If your serious about improving your physique and you haven’t reached or surpassed the intermediate level a strength/size bulking routine should be your primary goal in my opinion.

There it is discuss or flame away![/quote]

Those numbers are pretty close to being spot-on. I’m not surprised people who can’t make those numbers want to argue there is something wrong with the numbers. Perhaps there is something wrong with the critics!

[quote]The Beast wrote:
Roland Fisher wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland

What?

Who the hell decides how strong someone has to be before they can see some specific physique improvements?

There is this bizarre idea that you have to be ‘x’ strong to have a ‘y’ physique, where ‘z=42’ and ‘n’ is a number between 1 and 10.

As Zap said, how do we know how tall the subject is, or any number of other genetic factors; such as their initial untrained strength.[/quote]

There are always exceptions to any rule, but for the most part when someone has reached a certain level of strength you will be able to look at them and tell.

D

[quote]The Beast wrote:
Roland Fisher wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

So fitness models all weigh 165? Are they all 5’5" too?

Roland

What?

Who the hell decides how strong someone has to be before they can see some specific physique improvements?

There is this bizarre idea that you have to be ‘x’ strong to have a ‘y’ physique, where ‘z=42’ and ‘n’ is a number between 1 and 10.

As Zap said, how do we know how tall the subject is, or any number of other genetic factors; such as their initial untrained strength.[/quote]

Hey Beast,

I’m in agreement that the lifts don’t strongly correlate to the physique, but I think you misread the post you quoted, it was I, not Zap that mentioned the height and weight question. He stated fitness models weigh 165, which is ridiculous for the reason you alluded to, as well because most are taller and with their level of development they would weigh in much more.

And just to clarify, my position is that I like the numbers as a standard, I don’t think they are necessary however. I simply think that a strength goal will help the physique athlete and I like his numbers as goals.

Roland.

[quote]Roland Fisher wrote:
I like it!

I would adjust the ratios a bit, but I like it a lot. For instance 300B:400S:500DL, I’d have the dead at 450. And going higher, at 400:500:600, the bench is great, but the squat, relative to the bench could improve. I’d go 400:550:625. As for the next level, I’d go 500:675:750

In actuality, I guess I like the squat and deadlift being about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 of the bench.

Roland.[/quote]

The numbers I chose were simplistice and convenient to get the discussion rolling. I definitely think the principle can be improved by adjusting the numbers and exercises and think your numbers are better.

[quote]slimjim wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think you are a little bit high with some of your numbers. I doubt 165 pound fitness models are not putting up those kinds of numbers.

And boxers and 80% of professional running backs are not putting up 400/500/600[/quote]

These numbers are not guidelines for fitness models and strength athletes.Boxers, sprinters, and running backs etc. look the way they do from superior genetics and hypertrophy from sport specific training. This discussion of guidelines is aimed at trainees that are relying almost completly on average genetics and weights/bodybuilding for hypertrophy and physique improvement.

Everyone has a differnet idea about what a male fitness model or a top running back should look like. My examples are subjective opinions only. Just tools to explain the point that strength benchmarks have real and basic correlation to physique goals. If you have better examples by all means lets add them to the discussion.

Anyone claiming they can get anything more than the first set of “Benchmarks” have any videos?

I always like watching some good performance videos.

[quote]kevbo wrote:
Is that a joke? I have to agree with ZB. When you say “male fitness model” I think of the guys on the front of Men’s Health or something. I’m guessing the majority of them aren’t putting up more than 2 plates on each side.[/quote]

kevbo, I think the OP’s numbers may be a bit high for a fitness model, not much mind you, but I also think that most people have a negative bias towards fitness models. The strongest I’ve been is really close to the OP’s 300:400:500 numbers and I (almost don’t want to admit) had a build much like many of the fitness models. For me at least, I’d need to get really fucking strong to look anything like Thibs or Da Freak. Mind you I took the approach of measuring strength improvements as my way of progressing.

Roland.

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:
I could go along with that. I’ve set and broken a few benchmarks this year, and those are pretty close, except the squat. One was a 3wheeler on the bench, next was the 4 plates on the dead lift, and my next phase for this year will focus on the squat. I’d like to get it past 405 by the end of the year. That will require a 30-40 lb. increase. At that point I will consider myself prety strong for a lightweight(165).

As it stands though, I realy don’t look like much.

[/quote]

Your numbers suggest that you are on the high end of average or above average in relative strength genetics. Your strength goals will have to be fairly ambitious if you want to reach a high level of muscular development.

Good news is if you are interested in strength sports like powerlifting you might actually have the genetic potential to do well.

[quote]Heliotrope wrote:
These numbers are not guidelines for fitness models and strength athletes.Boxers, sprinters, and running backs etc. look the way they do from superior genetics and hypertrophy from sport specific training. This discussion of guidelines is aimed at trainees that are relying almost completely on average genetics and weights/bodybuilding for hypertrophy and physique improvement.
[/quote]
Good point, it is different for genetically average folks, but my own experience parallels what you have mentioned. I have average genetics at best, and at my best looked a lot like a fitness model type with about the same lifts as you mentioned for that level.[quote]

Everyone has a different idea about what a male fitness model or a top running back should look like. My examples are subjective opinions only. Just tools to explain the point that strength benchmarks have real and basic correlation to physique goals. If you have better examples by all means lets add them to the discussion.
[/quote]
I’ve always used strength to gauge performance, is it a good guess that you have as well? I think that others who have trained differently may not have the same experience.

Roland.