Strength standards are a measure of a person’s strength based on different factors, such as body weight, sex, and exercise activity. When beginning a new exercise regime, everyone starts at a certain level, then aim to become stronger over time. Benchmarking against a set table of strength standards allows the person to monitor their progress and compare themselves against others in their category.
Although not a hard and fast rule, heavier body weights are usually stronger than lightweight individuals. Similarly, males are more likely to be stronger than females, all things being equal. Physiology plays a key role in determining the level of strength, as do other factors, especially the training regime, length of training, and diet.
A beginner of limited experience will only be stronger than 5% of lifters in their category. A novice that has participated in regular exercise or lifting should be stronger than 20% of their peers in the same category. Intermediate, advanced, and elite are 50%, 80%, and 95% stronger in their respective categories.
The key to becoming stronger is to add more weight and repetitions to the exercise. A training programme focusing on strength and diet is the best way to get bigger and become more powerful. Muscle recovery and regular training is key to moving up to new strength standard categories. But it is worth noting that although strength standards act as a guide for workouts, it is never ideal to obsess too much on them.
Most strength standards work on the principle of one-rep max performance compared to bodyweight and sex. The strength standards for exercises such as bench press, squat, shoulder presses, deadlift, barbell curl, and others all operate in this manner. One-rep (one repetition) simply means the amount the person can lift in one single repetition. So in the case of a bench press, the strength standard is measured by the amount of weight a person can lift during a single motion of the bench press.
Be aware that strength standard benchmarks can vary depending on the source of the information. And since every person is different, the benchmarks are not always 100% accurate. But they do give an overview of typical ability for certain exercise and lifting activities.
Remember: the aim is to improve on personal goals, not to focus on others who may already be stronger. By continuing to progress, over time, it is possible to move into higher strength categories and become more powerful.