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Strength: Just Do It
Let's get clear about strength, because I've become increasingly cantankerous about nitpicking and bullshittery whether its "to-carb-or-not-to-carb", supplements replacing food, "wrestling vs. jiujitsu" or other such decisiveness.
Do strength standards even matter? What do they do? Aren't benchmarks arbitrary anyway? If you want to win, then shut up and win. Stop with the excuses. Stop with the explanations. Do the damn thing.
"Standards" and benchmarks are arbitrary, but
They're helpful if you don't know where you're at or where you're going.
There's a "Just do it" set of standards at the bottom of the page.
As well as my current strength training regimen.
It's about time to update the strength standards I published last year. The "strength" portion is just fine. However, the capacity (Power : Weight Ratio) and endurance (VO2 Max) sections were greatly underdeveloped and I've subjected myself to much education over the last year.
Why Standards in the First Place?
A given "benchmark" is, by it's nature limited. Likewise, when a test result becomes the objective in and of itself it ceases to become a good test (e.g. only bench pressing because Austin put that on the test marks whilst your overhead press is wretched).
As described before, the titles can vary, but effectively there are points where:
LEVEL 1: If you're below this you're at a significant disadvantage below your peers.
LEVEL 2: If you're here, you're notably better than your peers (approximately +1 standard deviation).
LEVEL 3: If you're here you're far superior to your peers and have developed some degree of specialization to achieve this attribute at the exclusion of others.
Most people are between Level 1 and Level 2. Statistically, that's 83% of people who are below +1 SD on a normal distribution ("bell curve"). The exclusions of Level 3 don't necessarily imply deficits, but they do indicate a severe point of diminishing returns. For example, if you want to be a competitive power lifter, not even nationally, let's just say regionally, you're probably not running marathons in your free time.
Put another way, the frequency of PRs dramatically decreases with training age. This is true in sport as well. For the first 6 months every day is a whole new world. By 6 years you've taken on a completely different perspective and maybe understand just how far there is to go. The myth of getting 1% better every day is for rookies and unmemorable mediocrity (ref.).
The Value of Simplicity:
This year I've leaned harder in to comparing myself to the previous year rather than against a given metric. Of course, the metrics are part of that, but I used to have a color coded spreadsheet that let me know (red, yellow, or green) which of the "levels" above I'd hit for a given dimension (push, pull, squat, hinge, etc.).
Now, my strength log only lists the personal bests of a given year. Yes, I use an app to track workout-to-workout numbers, but that is for the literal day-to-day adjustment. 5 years from now I won't be concerned with what I benched on a random Tuesday in February. My personal best from each of the previous 5 years is much more clear information.
Personally, I think a 4 x 7 table for each men / women is pretty concise – yes, there are differences in physicality. To the point above, it's missing a large part of the story to (for example) compare myself after finishing an 8 week strength block, that began after 4 weeks of injury, to the results of a 12 week endurance program I completed last fall.
Remember that point of diminishing returns? Specialization?
An important carry over from the metrics I outlined last year was that you would be a truly special athlete to just "drop in" an hit all the numbers on the top "cut off" tier on demand at any time of the year.
Rather, I had the insight then to specify that the goal was to hit all of those numbers within one year of each other; which I did. That gives enough time to work, and to specialize, and to avoid usta-could syndrome – "10 years ago I could... (but haven't done anything since then)."
Just Do It:
Strength / Power: Snatch 1 RM (Goal = Bodyweight)
Endurance: 40 erg calories + 400m run; 60 min AMRAP (Goal = 12 rounds)
Capacity: Assault / Echo Bike; 10 min for total calories (Goal = Bodyweight)
Training Archive: Strength 2023-02
View on Google Drive.