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Strength Standards for Lifting Weights
Strength standards are set amounts of weight which are considered standard one-rep maximums for specific lifts. These lifts typically include the squat, bench press, deadlift and power clean. These performance standards are based on competitive weightlifting and powerlifting classification systems in place since the 1950s and vary based on gender and age. It should be noted that one-rep maximums can be calculated using submaximal loads, based on weight lifted and the number of repetitions performed.
The back squat is performed with a loaded barbell resting across the back of the lifter's shoulders. With feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, the lifter bends his knees, lowering his body to the ground until the crease of his hips is lower than his knees before returning to the standing position. For a 30-year-old, 165-pound man, a 250 pound squat is considered intermediate, with 445 pounds indicating an elite level. For men 50 years of age, the standards are 190 and 340 pounds respectively. For a 132-pound woman to be considered intermediate, she'd need to squat 130 pounds -- a 210-pound squat would be elite. For women over 50, those figures drop to 100 pounds for intermediate and 160 pounds for elite.
To perform a bench press, the lifter lays face-up on a bench. Holding a loaded barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder width, she bends her elbows to lower the weight, letting the barbell touch her chest before returning to the start position. A 30-year old, 165-pound man would be considered intermediate with a 180-pound bench press and elite at 320 pounds. At the same weight, a 50-year old man would need to lift 140 pounds to be intermediate and 245 pounds to be elite. An intermediate 132-pound woman should bench 90 pounds, while an elite lifter would max out at 150 pounds. Over age 50, those figures reduce to 80 and 115 pounds respectively.
The deadlift is performed with feet shoulder-width apart, standing in front of a loaded barbell. Bending the knees to grip the bar with the hands placed outside of the knees, the lifter pulls the weight up until he is in an upright, standing position. A 165-pound man should deadlift 295 pounds at an intermediate level or 520 pounds at an elite level. Over the age of 50, a 225 pound deadlift is considered intermediate and 395 is elite. For a 132-pound woman, 160 pounds is intermediate and 275 is elite. For women age 50, 120 pounds is intermediate and 210 is advanced.
The power clean is a three-part power lift that involves a jump, drop and catch with a loaded barbell. A 165-pound man should clean 180 pounds at an intermediate level and 290 pounds at advanced. Over 50, those figures drop to 135 and 220 pounds respectively. A 132-pound woman should clean 90 pounds at an intermediate level and 150 at elite. Over 50, she would need to lift 75 or 115 pounds respectively.
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.