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Strength Indicators


I have decided to set up days throughout the year to determine my overall level of strength, conditioning, and the like. I plan on doing these test days every 12 weeks, or at the end of every calendar quarter. Along with testing my 1RM on the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift, I wanted to add other movements that would also test my strength. Things that every strong and conditioned man should be able to do. I am having trouble coming up with some.

What do you believe a strong and conditiioned man should be able to do?


pull-ups, either for reps or 3RM


Front Squats



step 2


For what though? 2x bodyweight. 100 reps? 1RM 2/3 of your back squat? help a brother out here?


I Like the explosive lifts to judge my strength. Cleans, Snatches, Push Press, and Back Press.


Don't worry bout that...worry about what YOU can do now and compare in 1 week, month 6 months whatever-. If your stronger you've done your job. If not you need to rethink the shit your doing..
12 weeks seems to be a long time between "tests". What if the stuff you chose doesn't work- now you've blown 3 months. If you are "strength training" you should be doing a lot of 5 rep sets, triples and occasional singles. Your maxes will be apparant. Your 3 rm should be roughly 93% of a 1rm. Your 5rm should be 85% of 1rm. I'm a big fan of a 3 week wave. Kind of like the 5-3-1 stuff but find out and do what works for you. For me when my overhead press goes up, so does my bench. When my Goodmornings go up so does my squat and dead. I use a YOKE bar. When those numbers goes up my squat jumps pretty good.

The best advice is come up with a plan. DO IT TO THE LETTER AND GAGE YOUR PROGRESS. Don't change your shit every week or every time a new issue of Muscle and Fiction comes out and you have to try so and so's routine...good luck.


What are you training for? If you are a Pl'er then I cant really see the need for anything other than Bench, squat, deadlift. If your some type of other athlete, maybe throw in a power clean, or hang power clean. Maybe front squat and pullups.

We could spout off all kinds of great strength tests, but if they arent relevant you are just going to be taking away from the big ones that matter.


I'm just a regular guy who just wants to get stronger. I'm not an athlete so there really isn't any specificity to my training. I can tell you that I train a Wendler 5.3.1/WSFSB hybrid and it is working well.

I do believe the powerlifts should be the cornerstone of any strength building program. However I do believe they are not the end all be all of strength. This is why I posed this questions to the masses. What, other than the big three, are ALSO important.

And to respond to the previous poster, I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was some guy changing my program. I didn't say that at all. I understand that day by day progression is important, however some things need to be tested every once in a while to determine where you stand strength wise. Since the 5.3.1 doesn't call for an all out max effort day, I decided to test these lifts maximally every 12 weeks. 12 weeks, by the way, is not that long of a time, and is comparable to the time an offseason athlete has to get stronger ( I asked Joe Defranco this), or the amount of time between meets a powerlifter typically gives him/herself.


That was me.. I gave my opinion that I beleive 12 weeks was too long a period of time for a test in that I don't want to wait 12 weeks to see if what I'm doing is working out or not. Yeah a meet may be 12 weeks away but do you want to find out a week before your meet that the d.b kickbacks you chose arent helping your bench. ( No I didn't say YOU do kick backs, but do you feeel me on what I'm saying?) If your cool with that then ok. I may be wrong but the 5-3-1- has a + at the end of each weeks prescribed reps so in a way you are to go "all out". If you break your rep pr you've gotten stronger an excellent indicator.

I didn't say YOU change your routine every week. I was saying don't be that guy..


Ya, I think 12 weeks is too long as well. Im doing westside, and basically every ME day im testing my strength in some sort of indicator lift. And then i retest my bench, squat, deadlift every 4-6 weeks.

OP, there are a ton of different indicators of progress. Sticking with the powerlifts seems logical, since they are what you are mainly training. Maybe just add some RE pr's for upper body. Something like max set os pullups in 3 sets, and max set of DB bench press with a given weight (80's, 100's or 125's) depending on strength

I'd recommend you do it the above way, or how most people train, with indicators being an indication on progress for the big lifts. It allows a lot more flexibility and almost guarantees progress.

For ex:

Every time you train ME, you are trying to set a PR. These can be 1-5rm's on any lift that resembles the main ones, but isn't one of the main ones. (zercher, squats, low box squats, front squats, floor press, board press, incline bench, etc. etc.) Rotate the lifts every 1-3 weeks, and push these up. Then after 4-6 weeks, check your main lifts, and re-evaluate what youve been doing.

This works. If you are benching 300 and can floor press 250 and raise your floor press to 275, you can count on your bench being 315-335. The best part of this type of thing is that you are testing yourself EVERY week, without overtraining. You'll know on week 2 if you are making progress, or if you need to make a change. There is no need to go 12 weeks before you realize you didn't get any stronger.

Im not too familiar with 5/3/1, but I believe you are going to do 1,3,and 5rm's on different weeks, and keep the exercise the same. Also, im not sure if he uses many supplemental lifts (like board press and floor press) or if he just has you do the main lifts. So what I said above might be a littl confusing. Mayb someone more familiar with 5/3/1 can give a better recommendation.


^ wtf, dankid, he's not doing westside, he's doing 5/3/1. Jim Wendler, in the ebook, says not to max out for at least two cycles. if OP is setting rep prs on his final sets each week, he is clearly getting stronger.

OP, i'm not saying that testing every twelve weeks (which i'm guessing is 3 cycles), is a bad idea, but there's no reason to do it more often than that. 5/3/1 works, trust it.


Thanks for your post. I am familiar with the westside methods and have trained that way in the past. I do understand the idea of utilizing other, similar lifts, in lieu of the squat, bench and deadlift. I think I can utilize something similar in my approach. Since I utilize secondary movements, I think I may use those as indicators.

Although the westside protocol you use utilizes movements similar to the big three, you eventually will do the big three(ie, at a meet). Since I do not do meets, I wanted to use those quarterly tests to determine and test my 1RM maximums. I also, wanted to find other movements that I can test every 12 weeks.

I guess what I am trying to do is find other movements to test. I would gear my training to get my totals in those movements up every test day. Similar to how westside works for meet prep.


Not a lift, but I think you should also test your vertical jump. Few people realize that having a strong upper body (specifically your entire back) greatly increase your vertical jump potential. It is also a good measure of explosiveness and potential.


This a link for strength comparisons: http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_much_can_you_lift_wimp

Ive converted to excel if anyone wants it


I dont think you need worry about any other lifts. If you are training hard and hittig Pr's during your cycles on stuff like bench, good morning, squat, deadlift, floor press, etc. You know you are getting stronger, and if you test your main lifts every twelve weeks and all your training lifts are up, you'll know that the main lifts should be up.

You could always test more, but its probably not necessary. For example, if you hit a PR in squat, bench, and deadlift, sure you can do front squat as well, but it would make sense that if you were going to test your front squat, that you would have been training it during the cycle. And doesn't 5/3/1 have you doing 5rm, 3rm, and 1rms during the cycle. I could be wrong, and maybe they aren't ture RM's but you'll still know. I just dont see any need to test it if you know what it is already.

I hope you see the direction im heading with this. Like I said this may not make sense if im wrong about 5/3/1, but in the program do you just use bench, squat, deadlift, and standing press, or do you use variations of these, like floor press and board press?

And dont you basically build up to a 5rm in week 1, a 3rm in week 2, and a 1rm in week 3? (These may not be true maxes as he says to avoid failure, but they are pretty close)

And if you do use variations of the main lifts, are you using them for all 3 weeks, or changing it each week? (Ex, incline press x 5rm, floor press x 3rm and board press x 1rm)

If those above questions are all true, you got a ton of indicators going on during each cycle, and even if those aren't true, you have a ton of options. IMO if you are going to add an additional indicator of strength, it should be something likethe RE Pr's i mentioned above, since bench, squat and deadlift pretty much covers full body max strength.

Hope this helps, let us know what you decide

***IMO vertical jump is pretty pointless for someone that doesn't need to jump.


Could you chuck it my way? Thanks


A strict Military press is always a good strength indicator imo.



x2 - this is very old school. I'd add them.

I do like to do chins/pull-ups for reps, too.


More than he did last time he tested.