According to some random Internet tough guy, the strength and fitness standard for being a real man is: 

  • Overhead press x2 your body weight. 
  • Bench press x4 smoking hot, Instagram influencers
  • Squat the weight of a hippo. 
  • Deadlift a lorry (for reps). 
  • Be able to do more pull-ups than a bearded capuchin monkey on heat. 
  • Run a 3 minute mile (uphill) with a 20lb bag of steaks strapped to your back. 

And if you can’t do any of this, apparently this makes you a complete failure as a person. 

And that my friends is why internet talk of strength standards is (mostly) bullshit. 

Image from Pexels

When strength standards are needed… 

The reality, you only need to follow a strength/fitness standard if: 

  1. It’s your job to be physically fit. 
  2. You want to be a high performing athlete. 

For the latter, it’s pretty much given you’ll only get invited to the Olympics if you’re one of the top competitors in your chosen sport, and able to beat your nations closest rivals. 

Then there is the standard required when it’s a requirement of the job: 

For example, to be considered for Royal Marines Commando training you need to be able to do 60 push-ups.  At my best I’ve managed 43 push-ups in a row, therefore I’ll never be accepted onto further training. 

If you want to be a lifeguard of a swimming pool, you need to demonstrate your ability to navigate a range of watery tasks, something which I spectacularly failed, because my swimming skills were not up to par, so I never got the job. 

Luckily, I’ve never lost much sleep over this and moved on with my life to other areas that took greater interest than refining my back stroke. 

Despite what Internet tough guy says, it doesn’t matter if you can deadlift twice, three times, ten times your bodyweight, because neither of these professional care about your gym lifts.  

Image from Pexels

In the end, my career, probably like a lot of you, took me to a place where physical fitness is not a measure to do the job – it doesn’t matter if you’re an ironman, or just a bloke who is only just capable of getting out of your chair to grab another bag of Doritos, as long as you can bang on a keyboard and send emails. 

Although I wouldn’t want you to become lazy because your job doesn’t require it, don’t feel bad about because you don’t measure up to a standard posted by an anon on the internet with a cartoon character avatar!  

The only strength that matters… 

Through persistence I’ve managed to squat over one and half times my body weight, and there is still some douche out there who says: 

“That’s not impressive, that’s just beginner weight, to be considered a strong squatter you need to be lifting at least double your body weight…” 

These made-up metrics mean nothing, it’s just what you choose to dedicate your time to improving – it could have been swimming, it could have been climbing, it just happens I dedicate my time to weight training. 

It is worth remembering it’s more important to develop your mental toughness to make this progress rather than following someone else’s standard. 

Even if I lost all my strength and had to start again, I’d do it because I’m driven by the need to get better. Isn’t the mental strength to perverse in whatever is within your natural abilities better than hitting a few impressive, but in the scheme of things, useless numbers? 

Next steps… 

When you release most standards around strength and fitness are just made up by what some armchair expert reckons, it’s quite liberating. 

However, just because your job doesn’t care whether you can do one or one thousand push ups doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take our health and fitness seriously. 

This simply allows the opportunity to set our own standards – to think for ourselves and decides what matters to you. Based on your current abilities what do you think would be an impressive achievement in something you want to do?

Image from Pexels

So set some health and fitness goals that suit you and start today: 

  • Go out on the bike. 
  • Have a walk. 
  • Do a YouTube exercise class
  • Join a gym. 
  • Sign-up to do a marathon. 
  • Take-up a new hobby involving physical fitness. 
  • Make one small change to improve your diet. 

Set those health and fitness goals with the intention to get that little bit better each day and stop caring what some stranger on the internet says… 

Good luck my friends, wishing you the best in your success. 

Take care of yourself and see you next time.

James @Perfect Manifesto


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10 thoughts on “Strength Standards: How Strong Should I Be?

    1. Definitely give Joe a try Hugh. During lockdown I was doing his HITT workouts and they range from absolutely beginner to really hard! There are also workouts that last just 10 minutes if pushes for time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’ll be ‘absolute beginners’ for me, James. I’m glad to see he does something for everyone, including those of us who don’t do a lot of exercises. For me, the only exercise is walking. However, a recent purchase of a fitness watch has spurred me to walk at least 10k a week.

        Liked by 1 person

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