Strength standards and benchmarks are specific tests commonly used to gauge your fitness or progress.
They are certainly not the only way to measure your health. For instance, there are a number of fitness trackers out there that can measure additional benchmarks such as resting heart rate and cardiovascular health. That being said it’s definitely worth being aware of the types of strength standards there are, and how these can be used to inform your training and programming decisions.
Possibly one of the most well-known physical standards in the fitness world is the strength standard.
Strength standards tend to be set as a multiple of an individuals bodyweight and are normally based around some of the big compound or powerlifting lifts such as deadlifts, bench press, squat and overhead press. Below are a range of widely accepted strength standards that someone with a decent amount of training can achieve.
Below are a range of widely accepted strength standards that someone with a decent amount of training can achieve. Unless otherwise stated these refer to your one rep max, this is commonly written as 1RM and is the maximum you can lift for just one rep.
- Benchpress – 1x bodyweight
- Squat – 2x bodyweight
- Deadlift – 2.5x bodyweight
- Overhead press – 0.75x bodyweight
While these are certainly are a great gauge of strength it’s also worth considering some other well-known exercise progressions and general standards associated with them. Below are a few exercises with their associated progressions and rep ranges that can be achieved with dedication over a prolonged period of time.
- Spiderman Pushups – 10 reps
- Bodyweight Dips – 10 reps
- Pull Ups – 10 reps
- Single Leg / Pistol Squat – 10 reps per leg
Fitness standards are used all over the world to test the general health of individuals looking to undertake a range of roles. This includes all branches of the armed forces and certain areas of the emergency services.
These fitness standards generally involve a timed run over a specific distance or in some cases a multi-stage fitness test (beep test), as well as some sort of dynamic strength test such as a lift or carry. Below are some common fitness tests and the associated standards.
Below are some common fitness tests and the associated standards.
UK Police Force
The minimum fitness requirement to gain entry into the UK Police Force is 5.4 on the beep test.
Royal Marine Commandos
The absolute baseline for entry into the Royal Marine Commandos is to perform two separate 2.4km runs on a treadmill and 2% incline. The first is to be completed is 12 minutes 30 seconds. After a one-minute rest the second run starts and is to be completed in under 10 minutes.
The fitness standards and training for the SAS is recognised globally as some of the toughest in the world. Individuals that are capable of passing these tests are probably better thought of as a particular brand of athlete, than recreational enthusiasts. To pass the hill phase an individual must complete a series of five marches, against the clock, over 14 – 17 miles. This then culminates in a 40-mile speed hike carrying a rifle and a 25kg pack.
Other Fitness Standards
To get an idea of some other standards you can take a look at various races and competitions and look at those in the middle of the pack as a good gauge of somewhere to aim for in the initial stages of training. Below are a handful of standards based on the middle pack of local races.
- 10k Run – 1 hour
- 5k Run – 30 minutes
- Marathon – 4 hours
- 750m Swim – 25 minutes
Aesthetic standards deal almost exclusively with certain ratios relating to an individuals appearance. these standards are commonly used by people with an interest in bodybuilding type activities.
Male Shoulder To Waist Ratio
Studies performed in 2002 & 2003 showed that men with a shoulder to waist ratio above 1.5 are deemed more attractive by females. You can find this by taking the circumference of your waist and multiply by 1.5 to get your ideal shoulder circumference. This has lead to the rise of men seeking the “Classic V” body-shape by building the lats, shoulders and upper back while maintaining a slim waist.
The Ancient Greeks had a clear and well-documented idea of the ideal male form. This ideal can be seen in the many works of art from the period, in particular, sculpture. This can be calculated here by using an individuals wrist circumference.
Bodyfat percentage is generally considered a good indicator of overall health.
It is particularly useful as it doesn’t rely on just bodyweight but lean mass as well. Therefore a holistic approach to nutrition and training is often needed to achieve the desired standard.
|Obese||30% +||36% +|
|Overweight||21% – 31%||31% – 36%|
|Average||15% – 20%||24% 30%|
|Good||11% – 14%||16% – 23%|
|Athlete||5% – 10%||8% – 15%|
Mobility standards are one of the most important, yet often overlooked physical standards to be aware of.
More than any other fitness standard general mobility impacts almost every area of our lives.
Mobility is our quality of movement, impacting everything from getting out of bed, playing with the kids to engaging in a sporting activity. It also plays a massive part in injury prevention in later life.
Add to that the fact that more and more of us spend hours a day hunched over desks or smart devices, leaving us with a whole range of postural issues.
Functional Movement Screening
The functional movement screen is a series of tests used to identify compensatory imbalances in an individuals body that could be caused by an underlying injury or muscular weakness.
That means that it is used to highlight any potential issues in our joints and movement that may cause us problems down the line.
A functional movement screen can be performed at any strength and conditioning or athletic performance centre. Some care should be taken when booking your screen that you are using a reputable centre.
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