Fitness: Strength Standards Pt. II

A while ago I posted a set of strength standards for women with my bodyweight, and commented on where I stood and where I’d like to be. I came across this alternative table of strength standards for women which uses percentage of bodyweight to determine your “level” instead of set numbers. Obviously I was very curious as to where I fell – and determined that I really really really need to work on my squats and deadlifts!

I’m actually kind of surprised that while my upper body just looks average – petite because I’m not that big, but also not very much muscle mass going on. My legs and butt on the other hand, I feel like they are strong, muscular, and you can absolutely see definition. However, measuring on any strength standards chart, my lower body lifts barely even hit the novice/good level.

I don’t know what’s wrong here.

Table of strength standards for women

Good Very Good Excellent
Deadlift (1 rep max) 150 % 175-200 % 225 %+
Squat (1 rep max) 125 % 150 % 175 %+
Bench (1 rep max) 50 % 75 % 100 %+
Press (1 rep max) 33% 50% 75 %+
Pushups (full) 15 30 50+
Dips (full) 5 10 15+
Pullups (dead hang) 1 5 10+

So apparently my deadlift and squat are so poor that they are not even in the good category! My squat is a little more than 90% of my bodyweight, and my deadlift is only 108% (these are for 5 reps, never tested 1 rep max). However, I can bench 70%, press 52%, do 20 full pushups (at least!), and 4 dead hang pullups.

My squat has taken forever to even get up to where it is now and I had to deload so many times, often back to just the bar, trying to get my form down. Deadlifts I couldn’t even figure out until like 3-4 months ago. This sounds like I’m making excuses, but they are my ‘weakest’ lifts even though obviously I can use the most weight while doing them.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do a dedicated program like 5/3/1 to increase those lifts yet – I think I just need to push myself more on my current full body program and increase the weight more frequently.

It’s hard sometimes to squat as I’ve started running again out of necessity for my 10 miler in a month. I can’t NOT finish the race, and as I’ve taken a long hiatus from running, this is much needed training. I’ve been eating a TON to make up for the extra cardio so my leg work hasn’t been as shaky but there’s really no way of avoiding back to back running lifting workouts with only 7 days in the week!

Also, I realize that my cardiovascular endurance can handle 10 miles, but I’m not sure my ankles can D: My last two 6 mile runs have been great considering I’m jumping into running after nearly zero cardio for two months, but my ankles are a bit achy in the last bits of the run. I’m scared of increasing the distance but do need to get at least an 8/9 miler in before the race to be more confident.

Finally, trying to be better about mobility and yoga, though I find it tediously boring to do on my own, I am enjoying the classes I’ve been going to about once a week. Do yogis just walk around with super loose hips all the time? Mine are extremely tight. I’m flexible everywhere else but pigeon pose makes me want to cry.


LASTLY!! I just read this on tumblr and kind of love it.

Why Women Need Iron

Women need iron. Not the vitamin. The barbell.

We are trained by the world around us to have fucked up ideas about our bodies; iron unfucks them.

We are supposed to be as thin as possible, as small as possible, perhaps until we disappear; iron teaches us to take up space.

We are taught that the only good direction for the scale to go is down, and to agonize ritualistically when it goes up. Iron teaches us the power of gaining weight for strength and gives us another weight to care about – the weight we are lifting.

We are taught to eat small amounts daintily and treat food as sin and pleasure. Iron teaches us to eat heartily, to see food as fuel for life, and to seek out nutritious food rather than avoiding sinful food.

We are taught to think of our bodies as decorative, an object to be looked at; iron teaches us to think of our bodies as functional, our own active selves, not passive objects for another’s regard.

Whole industries exist to profit by removing from us our confidence and selling it back as external objects. Iron gives us confidence from within through progressive training and measurable achievements.

We are taught to be gentle and hide our strength or even to cultivate charming physical weakness until we start to believe our bodies are weak. Iron teaches us how strong we can be.


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