Strength Standards or "Yardsticks"

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Velcropop
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Post by Velcropop » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:34 pm

robt-aus wrote:It seems the best answer to your question might require a longer message detailing age/weight/height, training and ex history.
I think your absolutely right. I've been reviewing my training logs (the days i've actually made entries) and I might post something more substantial when I get some time to get some feedback.
robt-aus wrote:I use bodyweight percentages as a goal for my strength training (if it can be called that) for several reasons: my basis of comparison and progress is personal and immediately apparent; if i change so does my goal, and they are clear objectives. I'm happy i've got work to do to achieve them.
As do I. As my goals aren't so much focused on a crazy increase in numbers, mass or size and more on improving my power, strength and technique (and, albeit hopefully, a reduction in weight) I like to use bodyweight percentages. If I can shed 5kgs and only see a moderate increase in my DL that equates to roughly 140-50% b/w then I would be over the moon.

For example, one of my current goals is to BP my b/w for 5 (and, as an extension, accomplish 3x5 under my program [ss]). That will either come at a point in my training when I have lost some weight and maintained the strength or where I have incresased my strength and maintained weight. Either way I would be over the moon with such achievement and I can re-evaluate my goals from there.

I have similar goals for my Squat (150% b/w) etc.


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Post by robt-aus » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:28 am

i had a quick look at a previous post of yours from may - with hope the knee situation is better, and hopefully your routine is still fresh and allowing improvement. if the shoes fit... but if they don't, time for a new pair.

it appears we're probably in similar situations regarding deadlift bodyweight to lift ratios and making progress. my dl, despite several attempts at improvement in my recorded training cyclesm, has stayed at around 130-140% of bw.

i'd understand my situation as a plateau and the short textbook answer is variation of ex and program. i've only cleared a dip plateau; many more people in here have cleared them for just about everything. guess it's time for me to try and break another. i suspect you might be at the same point.

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Post by pdellorto » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:11 am

There are really only two strength standards worth considering:

- are you stronger now than you were last week? Last month? Last year? Are you making progress?

- are you stronger than Jungledoc? Does he weep with envy when he reads your log? Does it drive him nuts to know you squat more than him, out-deadlift him, and overhead press what you bench?

If the answers to both are yes, you're doing fine. :wink:

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Post by Jason Nunn » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:09 am

Jungledoc wrote: I also recognize that a lot of competitiveness in just in good-natured fun. As long as you don't take it too seriously, it's probably no big deal.
I think this is important for most people to realize. To me, competing is just a hobby. Nothing more. My family and career will always come first. I do agree with you that you should just worry about yourself and being the best that YOU can be, but it's also nice to have a frame of reference.

As far as the video taping and posting goes, I'm not sure if you were talking about me or not, but the main reason I do it is for proof. On another forum I frequent, the rule is that you must have video evidence if you make a claim, otherwise you get banned. This keeps guys from posting bogus numbers to there training logs. I actually had some guy try to call me out on one of my EFS articles. He said something to the effect of "I'm tired of reading articles like this from guys who probably can't deadlift 400lbs." It was nice to be able to prove otherwise.

And, I like to tell people about how awesome I am (joking) :lol:

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Post by Jason Nunn » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:13 am

pdellorto wrote:There are really only two strength standards worth considering:

- are you stronger now than you were last week? Last month? Last year? Are you making progress?

- are you stronger than Jungledoc? Does he weep with envy when he reads your log? Does it drive him nuts to know you squat more than him, out-deadlift him, and overhead press what you bench?

If the answers to both are yes, you're doing fine. :wink:
I guess I'm doing ok then :lol:

It's being able to bench like hoose and row like Matt Z that I'm concerned with!


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Post by robertscott » Sat Dec 11, 2010 11:23 am

Dammit! Me and the Doc's numbers are about the same! I feel so weak...

Personally I think the strength standards are a good idea. It helps you set goals. I'm two 5/3/1 cycles from deadlifting 2x bodyweight for reps, and that's been a goal of mine for a very long time.

I fully agree though that comparing your strength to others is the dark side. I remember I thought I was strong judging by the standard of the other lifters in my gym. Wasn't til I trained with a 17 year old who was 30lbs lighter than me and could deadlift 50k heavier than me that I was truly humbled.

And then of course you read the PR thread and see that Jason can deadlift a 747. Really puts you in your place!

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:28 pm

pdellorto wrote:There are really only two strength standards worth considering:

- are you stronger now than you were last week? Last month? Last year? Are you making progress?

- are you stronger than Jungledoc? Does he weep with envy when he reads your log? Does it drive him nuts to know you squat more than him, out-deadlift him, and overhead press what you bench?

If the answers to both are yes, you're doing fine. :wink:
:lol: :lol:
Ya'll have adopted a pretty pitiful standard of excellence. ("after 7 years of lifting I'm only in the beginner column on this table, but at least I bench more than the frail arthritic old guy who just started lifting yesterday.") :lol:

Jason, I love to see your videos. You never project a competitive attitude, or sound like you're bragging. I love your work ethic, and love that you're still producing PRs and still challenging yourself. Same with a lot of the guys who post training logs, or who put items on the PR thread.

I'm an old guy who has only been lifting for a few years. I sure am not going to compare myself directly to healthy young guys (except Peter, of course :lol: ) . And that would be what I was doing using the standards tables. As for comparing my lifts to each other, that seems more useful to me, but still, there are so many differences in limb-length proportions that it would be hard to write a useful standard.

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Post by Velcropop » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:43 am

robt-aus wrote:i had a quick look at a previous post of yours from may - with hope the knee situation is better, and hopefully your routine is still fresh and allowing improvement. if the shoes fit... but if they don't, time for a new pair.

it appears we're probably in similar situations regarding deadlift bodyweight to lift ratios and making progress. my dl, despite several attempts at improvement in my recorded training cyclesm, has stayed at around 130-140% of bw.

i'd understand my situation as a plateau and the short textbook answer is variation of ex and program. i've only cleared a dip plateau; many more people in here have cleared them for just about everything. guess it's time for me to try and break another. i suspect you might be at the same point.
Hah! I had a look at that old post. My fears were eventually realised when asking my physiotherapist's advice in relation to squats. She was somewhat vehemently opposed to my undertaking any kind of high intensity weight training of the legs. She'd rather have me doing weighted one-legged 1/4 squats to improve control and strengthen my bum (her words). Soon after I stopped making appointments.

I have to admit that my knee feels much stronger a day or two after a heavy squat session than it otherwise would. Another thumbs up to the exercise provided its done at full depth with proper form.

Re: the deadlift situation, I think my plateau or barrier may be slightly psychological and slightly physical. I am confident that I have a posterior chain strong enough to increase the weight but every time I get past about 3 or 4 reps my grip becomes a major issue and I get psyched out. So while I can feel the gains made when I squat I also feel that I'm not going to get much past 120% bw dl's (even though, by most accounts, I should be "stronger" in that ex).

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Post by Jungledoc » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:51 am

I don't think any lift has a bigger psychological component than the DL. Squat is close, but DL plays with my mind.

What grip do you use? Alternate? Hook? If you haven't tried hook grip (and many people haven't) try it. Try it with very light weights for a while, like just your first warm up set, then use it heavier. I don't have a particularly strong grip, but with the hook I can grip as much as I can pull. It feels odd at first, but now I find that's how I grip without even thinking.

Also, as you reset for each rep, reset your grip. Without changing hand position, relax your hand slightly, push your hand down on the bar, and then squeeze again. This takes just a second as you are taking the breath for the next rep. It will give your gripping muscles a moment of respite and get your hands back in maximum contact with the bar. Of course, you should try to keep everything else tight while you do this.

Do you ever use straps? At the risk of restarting old arguments, it isn't a great sin to use them once in a while. If you use them very much of the time, your grip won't improve, but on your heaviest set it may give you the edge you need to get your dead heavier. (Saw a guy once using straps on a pec deck :lol: )

I assume that chalk goes without saying.

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Post by dale2177 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:41 am

Re: your grip issue, i'm guessing there's lots of old threads on the subject but the thing i found that helped me the most was barbell holds.

set up in a power rack or on blocks if you can so that the bar is maybe 5 or six inches below lockout and load it up, then partial deadlift it to lockout and hold for time. This did wonders for my grip (and ego) as I could load up with more than my deadlift max and feel like a beast!

Now i could lockout a one rep max and hold for a minute or more.

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Post by Velcropop » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:58 pm

Jungledoc wrote:What grip do you use? Alternate? Hook? If you haven't tried hook grip (and many people haven't) try it. Try it with very light weights for a while, like just your first warm up set, then use it heavier. I don't have a particularly strong grip, but with the hook I can grip as much as I can pull. It feels odd at first, but now I find that's how I grip without even thinking.
I generally use a pronated non-hook grip and squeeze as hard as I can. A mixed (alternate) grip feels too weird and uncomfortable for me. I might try using a hook grip to see if that helps. Just so I've got it right that's the grip where you hook your index and middle fingers over your thumb as you grab the bar, correct? That's what I use when I power clean, anyway.

I've never used straps but I might treat myself for christmas and get some. A friend of mine never deadlifts without them and even Rippetoe recommends there use on occasion.
dale2177 wrote:set up in a power rack or on blocks if you can so that the bar is maybe 5 or six inches below lockout and load it up, then partial deadlift it to lockout and hold for time. This did wonders for my grip (and ego) as I could load up with more than my deadlift max and feel like a beast!
So do you lift directly out of the rack? I'm just worried that doing partial deadlifts like that might mess with my knee/hip extension when doing the full exercise. Could the same result not be achieved performing a full rom deadlift and holding for time?

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Post by robt-aus » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:36 pm

following jungledoc's instructions about reseting grip i just increased my dl pb to 1.5bw. 2nd time using hook grip.

i rationalised the only real downside of failing to move the greater weight was looking silly. i don't need weights to do that.

and. magically. 5 smooth and easy reps.

most of you IS strong enough to handle way more weight. just not the grip.

use hook or straps. or something. it's grip work time.

i haven't done barbell holds, but the objective of the exercise is improving grip, so i assume you just make the distance you're lifting the bar small enough so the weight is safely lifted up, and hold on for as long as you can.

i like the SAID acronym from exrx.net a lot - specific adaptation to imposed demands. (consistently) impose a greater demand, (eventually) cause a specific adaptation.

in this case, holding onto a weight greater than what you could move in a full ROM deadlift will eventually improve your deadlift.

like Dale2177 said - use more weight than you can dl and just hold on.

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Post by stuward » Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:46 am

Doing static holds and rack pulls in general will strengthen your grip but also your shoulders. Doing them after your full ROM deadlifts is a good idea. If you have flexibility issues that prevent full ROM, they're still a good idea. I usually do full ROM, followed from pulls from the knee and use straps for the last set or 2.

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Post by Jungledoc » Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:35 am

Velcropop wrote:So do you lift directly out of the rack? I'm just worried that doing partial deadlifts like that might mess with my knee/hip extension when doing the full exercise. Could the same result not be achieved performing a full rom deadlift and holding for time?
Yeah, just set the bar up on the safety pins at the desired height. I don't think these would do anything except help your hip and knee extension on full DL. Doing partial ROM DL, or "rack pulls" is a fairly common assistance lift for improving your DL. You can also set up on boxes. I have 3 pairs of 4-inch and 1 pair of 2-inch boxes that nest on each other to give me up to a 14-inch lift in 2-inch increments. A couple of years ago when I was coming back after an injury, I did warm-up DLs from the floor, and working sets from the boxes, and gradually lowered the height of the bar. Of course, I wasn't doing this primarily for grip.

MattZ does really heavy grip holds. Watch his log sometimes.

And, yes, you could do holds for time on a full-range DL. That would probably help as well.

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Post by Velcropop » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:57 pm

OK, today I tried a number of things as suggested in this thread.

I warmed up with a couple of sets of full DLs and then set the pins on my rack so i could try some rack pulls - bar situated at about low to mid thigh. I loaded up the bar with just under workout weight and practiced a little bit. The exercise was confusing in the sense that I wasn't sure how my back/body was supposed to be positioned as I applied force. As I feared it messed with my hip extension in the eccentric phase (I was leaning forward to reset the bar) but a little bit of focus cured that.

After I got a bit of confidence I loaded the bar up with > workout weight and tried a hook-grip, and also used a standard grip with a hold.

The hook-grip failed miserably. The bar would press down on my thumbs under load and pop them out from under my index+middle fingers, leaving the weight to be "caught". Not a very comfortable feeling.

I noticed something strange using a standard pronated grip as I was holding the weight at the top of the movement. My hands were kind of just rolling back (much like what was happening before) and the bar was effectively just left in the tips of my fingers. I was able to keep my thumb more or less gripping the bar in my RIGHT hand but the thumb on my left hand would separate and kind of just float, barely assisting.

Todays little session may have helped, but I'll have to wait until my next workout proper to see (probably tomorrow). I might cut the weight back and really concentrate on keep those fingers curved around the bar.


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