Category Archives: Strength Training

Impressive Strength Levels

People who lift weights like having targets to shoot for in their training. Several different websites have created strength standards for men and women of different weight classes, mainly for the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press. However, I have never seen a comprehensive list of strength feats pertaining to a wide variety of exercises. Last year, I wrote a guest article for my friend Ben Bruno where I listed some feats of strength that I find to be impressive in the gym. I recently sat down and updated the list and added more exercises.

2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher

Obviously, this is very difficult to do. Ideally, I’d have all sorts of data to analyze, but I don’t. This is a subjective list based on my experiences as a personal trainer. Some of the exercises I had to take a wild stab at simply because I don’t prescribe it often to my clients or see it often at the gyms at which I train, for example the barbell step up to thigh-parallel height. In my gym, we do high step ups involving much greater degrees of hip flexion while holding onto dumbbells. Moreover, I don’t have a ton of experience with prescribing Olympic lifts to clients. I’m certain that as I pay closer attention over the next year, I will realize that some of my numbers listed below are too high or too low and in need of adjustments. Therefore, I’m going to update and refine this list over time to be more valid and reflective of realistic but still impressive strength feats. Nevertheless, the advanced lifters always find these list to be too easy while the novice lifters find the same list to be very daunting, that’s just the way it goes.

bench

It’s important to know a few things before working your way down the list. First, smaller lifters have the advantage compared to bigger lifters with regards to relative strength (but not absolute strength). If you’re a 160 lb man or a 100 lb woman, many of the feats of strength on this list will be more easily achieved than they would for a 260 lb man or 180 lb woman. Second, everyone has a unique anatomy and anthropometry such that their leverages are excellent for a few lifts and horrendous for a few other lifts. Therefore, some of the feats listed below will seem very easy to you, whereas for others those same feats will appear virtually impossible. If you’ve been lifting weights for a few years, it is very likely that you can already pull of several of the feats below, but there will likely be others that you would have to work very hard at in order to achieve. Third, these feats are based on regular gym lifters who perform a wide variety of exercises in their training. Obviously competitive powerlifters and weightlifters will find this list to be amateurish. And fourth, this list was created with raw, natural lifters in mind.

squat

Squats and Leg Press

Men

  • A maximum thigh parallel back squat with 2.2X bodyweight barbell load or more (440 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more thigh parallel front squats with 1.5X bodyweight barbell load (300 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 10 or more reps in the leg press with 4X bodyweight load (800 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)

Women

  • A maximum thigh parallel back squat with 1.5X bodyweight barbell load or more (195 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more thigh parallel front squats with 1.0X bodyweight barbell load (130 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 10 or more reps in the leg press with 3X bodyweight load (390 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)

Deadlifts and Good Mornings

Men

  • A maximum deadlift (conventional, sumo, or trap bar) with 2.5X bodyweight barbell load or more (500 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more good mornings with 1.2X bodyweight load (240 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)

Women

  • A maximum deadlift (conventional, sumo, or trap bar) with 2.3X bodyweight barbell load or more (299 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more good mornings with .9X bodyweight load (117 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)

Upper Body Presses

Men

  • A maximum pause bench press with 1.6X bodyweight barbell load or more (320 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • A maximum strict military press with 1.0X bodyweight barbell load or more (200 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more reps in the dip with .6X bodyweight additional load (120 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more reps in the close grip bench with 1.4X bodyweight barbell load (280 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more reps in the incline press with 1.2X bodyweight barbell load (240 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 50 or more strict push ups with bodyweight

Women

  • A maximum pause bench press with 1.1X bodyweight barbell load or more (143 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • A maximum strict military press with .8X bodyweight barbell load or more (104 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more reps in the dip with .2X bodyweight additional load (26 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more reps in the close grip bench with .8X bodyweight barbell load (104 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more reps in the incline press with .8X bodyweight barbell load (104 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 30 or more strict push ups with bodyweight

Upper Body Pulls

Men

  • A maximum strict chin up with .5X bodyweight additional load or more (100 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • 15 or more strict pull ups with bodyweight
  • 5 or more reps in the Pendlay row with .9X bodyweight barbell load (180 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 10 or more reps in the strict one arm row with .5X bodyweight dumbbell load (100 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 20 or more feet elevated inverted rows with bodyweight
  • 10 or more reps in the barbell curl with .6X bodyweight barbell load (120 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)

Women

  • A maximum strict chin up with .2X bodyweight additional load or more (26 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • 8 or more strict pull ups with bodyweight
  • 5 or more reps in the Pendlay row with .7X bodyweight barbell load (91 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 10 or more reps in the strict one arm row with .5X bodyweight dumbbell load (65 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 10 or more feet elevated inverted rows with bodyweight
  • 10 or more reps in the barbell curl with .5X bodyweight barbell load (65 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)

Posterior Chain Exercises

Men

  • 10 or more reps in the hip thrust with 2X bodyweight barbell load (400 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 10 or more reps in the 45-degree hyper with .6X bodyweight load (120 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 10 legit swings with .8X bodyweight kettlebell load (120 lbs x 10 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 1 or more strict Nordic ham curls with bodyweight with no arm assistance

Women

  • 10 or more reps in the hip thrust with 2X bodyweight barbell load (260 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 10 or more reps in the 45-degree hyper with .6X bodyweight load (78 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 10 legit swings with .8X bodyweight kettlebell load (104 lbs x 10 reps for a 130 lb woman)

Single Leg Exercises

Men

  • 20 or more walking lunges with 1.0X bodyweight barbell load – 10 steps per leg (200 lbs x 20 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more reps in the Bulgarian split squat with 1.0X bodyweight barbell load (200 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 5 or more thigh-parallel step ups with .8X bodyweight barbell load (160 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 3 or more pistol squats with bodyweight
  • 5 or more single leg RDLs with .8X bodyweight barbell load (180 lbs x 5 reps for a 200 lb man)
  • 20 or more legit single leg hip thrusts with bodyweight
  • 15 or more single leg prisoner back extensions with bodyweight

Women

  • 20 or more walking lunges with .8X bodyweight barbell load – 10 steps per leg (104 lbs x 20 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more reps in the Bulgarian split squat with .7X bodyweight barbell load (91 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 5 or more thigh-parallel step ups with .6X bodyweight barbell load (78 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 3 or more pistol squats with bodyweight
  • 5 or more single leg RDLs with .7X bodyweight barbell load (91 lbs x 5 reps for a 130 lb woman)
  • 20 or more legit single leg hip thrusts with bodyweight
  • 10 or more single leg prisoner back extensions with bodyweight

Olympic Variations

Men

  • A maximum power clean with 1.3X bodyweight barbell load or more (260 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • A maximum power snatch with 1.1X bodyweight barbell load or more (220 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • A maximum hang clean with 1.2X bodyweight barbell load or more (240 lbs for a 200 lb man)
  • A maximum push press with 1.2X bodyweight barbell load or more (240 lbs for a 200 lb man)

Women

  • A maximum power clean with 1.0X bodyweight barbell load or more (130 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • A maximum power snatch with .9X bodyweight barbell load or more (117 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • A maximum hang clean with .9X bodyweight barbell load or more (117 lbs for a 130 lb woman)
  • A maximum push press with .9X bodyweight barbell load or more (117 lbs for a 130 lb woman)

Conclusion

If you can already nail many of these feats, congratulations! You’re a strong guy or gal. Keep working hard to improve upon your already superior base of strength. However, if you’re mortal like most of us, then this list will help you realize that you’ve got some work to do. I hope you have found this list to be beneficial and inspiring for your training goals.

hip thrust

 

12 Observations From Training Women

Five years ago, I wrote an article that contained 10 observations from training women HERE, and six months ago I jotted down 10 tips HERE. Today, I’m providing 12 more observations that I’ve gleaned from training mostly women. Keep in mind that many of my female clientele are bikini competitors or newbies; as of yet I haven’t sought advanced powerlifters or athletes for long-term clients. If I did, my experiences would surely be different, but nevertheless my clientele have provided me with interesting and unique anecdotal experiences. There are many things little nuances associated with personal training that you won’t find in textbooks or certification courses, so these types of blogposts are valuable and important.

1. Box Squat Strength > Free Squat Strength

Around half of my clients are stronger with box squats than they are with free squats to the same depth. The box seems to help them better organize themselves for propulsion during the concentric phase. Box squats lend themselves to crazy-high levels of rate of force development (RFD), as seen HERE. I have not ascertained what factors contribute to one being stronger at box squats versus free squats. I think it’s a good idea to alternate between the two styles throughout the year. You have a “squat to a box,” where you just tap the box and use it as a depth gauge, you have a “rocking box squat” where you rock all the way back and then lean forward and rise, and you have the style I prefer, which involves a slight rock characterized by a relaxing of the hip muscles but not the erectors and a forceful explosion off the box.

P1030113

2. Trap Bar Deadlift Issues

Trap bar deadlifts (TBDLs) are a strength coach’s dream exercise (see HERE and HERE). Unfortunately, around a third of my female clients don’t tolerate them well. They feel that the handles are too wide which creates some jarring on their joints and makes them feel a bit unstable. They wish that there was a trap bar with narrower handles to better fit their bodies. With these clients, I omit prescribing TBDLs.

3. Natural Knee Valgus Tendencies

I’ve spent more time thinking about knee valgus than I care to admit – seriously hours upon hours pondering all the different possible culprits and contributors (see HERE and HERE for thoughts). I believe that beginners knee cave due to a broader list of reasons than advanced lifters.

In my experience, women have a harder time preventing knee valgus than men. I think every woman I train struggles with keeping their knees out with squatting when maxing out or approaching failure with submaximal loads.

I’ve started wondering if this is simply due to a combination of anatomy (femur shape, tibia shape, etc.) and the effects of muscular contraction on anatomy (quad and hamstring contraction pulling the knees inward). In other words, medial knee displacement might just be normal biomechanics for many women when they squat. Counteracting this knee caving almost requires overly accentuated gluteal/hip external rotator contractions which works fine with submaximal loads but won’t overpower what the knees want to do with maximal loads.

Many of these ladies can knee cave year in and year out just fine as long as they limit the amount and frequency of the knee caving (similar to slight rounding during deadlifting). They experience no knee pain and their performance steadily improves. I wonder if we (strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists) are overly focused on “correcting” knee valgus when it could be a normal variance due to anatomy – similar to foot flare and stance width in concordance with varying hip anatomy.

For this reason, I’m strict with coaching anti-knee caving (knees out) with submaximal lifts but I allow for some wiggle room when going for a PR.

4. High-Hipped Deadlifts

The individuals with the biggest quads seem to deadlift with slightly lower hips and better arches in their spines, whereas those with smaller quads tend to pull with higher hips and sometimes greater spinal rounding. Therefore, taller and more slender women will typically pull with higher hips than shorter and stockier women. I’ve found that many bikini competitors and models almost look like they’re performing stiff leg deadlifts (SLDLs), and getting them to drop their hips requires lighter loads to be utilized. This applies to probably two thirds of my clients. For these individuals, I just let them pull with higher hips as long as they keep their spines relatively neutral. I’m happy to hit their quads with squats and lunges and let them use more hammy to deadlift.

P10300925. Lateral Band Work – Hit or Miss

I would guess that eight out of ten women feel lateral band work hitting their glutes (especially upper glutes) well during various sumo walks, monster walks, banded clams, and band seated hip abductions. However, one in ten feels them working the hell out of their glutes, feeling very high levels of activation on every repetition, and another one in ten doesn’t feel them working their glutes at all. It’s not that they’re performing them wrong; it’s probably a natural variation in anatomy. My hypothesis is built on anecdotes involving client feedback, palpation, and EMG, so I’m pretty confident about this observation. For clients who feel lateral band work very well in their glutes, I up the volume, and for clients who don’t feel them working their glutes, I omit them.

P1030099

6. Chin Ups Damn Near Impossible

Most women can eventually work up to being able to perform one or more unassisted bodyweight chin ups. However, I estimate that around 1 in 10 women will never be able to perform a chin up no matter how hard they try, due to a combination of poor leverages for chins, inability to grow ample upper body muscle mass, and skewed body proportions involving greater lower : upper body mass ratios.

7. Faster Deadlift Learning Curve With Kettlebells

This applies to both men and women, but it might be even more pronounced with women. Teaching deadlifting with a kettlebell is one of the easiest things in personal training. You just have them stand over the bell, drop down and grab a hold of it, adjust hip position, pull chest up and make sure spine is neutral, then pick it up. Everything stays tight and rises upward at the proper rates. However, with the barbell, they’ll typically set up perfectly, but upon lifting the bar, energy leaks occur – hips shoot up, spine rounds a bit, bar drifts away from the body, etc. Unfortunately there are very few gyms that have heavy kettlebells (I have 106 lb and 203 lbs, but I wish I had 124 lb, 150 lb, and 176 lb kbs as well), otherwise more personal trainers could take advantage of teaching the deadlift pattern this way. However, when transitioning from kettlebell to barbell deadlifts, there’s still a learning process required, so there’s no avoiding the barbell if you want to build the strongest client possible.

P1030138

8. Front Squats Too Painful

Initially, most women find front squats to be very painful on the shoulders. Over time, the pain tends to diminish and most of these women can eventually front squat pain-free. However, probably a third of women don’t seem to adjust and their bodies always elicit the pain response, so they’ll never be able to front squat heavy without wincing in pain. Since pain inhibits muscle activation, I just pick a different alternative for these clients, such as goblet squats or high bar back squats with heels elevated onto plates.

9. Crazy Arms When Performing Band Hip Thrusts

Many lifters and personal trainers won’t have a ton of experience with band hip thrusts if they don’t have a Hip Thruster, but it always makes me chuckle when I see it happen. When approaching failure during band hip thrusts, around 1 out of 3 women will start doing some crazy things with their arms – they won’t be symmetrical, one wrist will flex and the other will hyperextend, and it just looks really un-athletic. For this reason, I began to recommend that women dig their arms into the bench and make fists – it can enhance performance through irradiation, plus it doesn’t look silly in case I post on Instagram or YouTube.

10. Elbow Flare With Pressing

This tip applies to both men and women as well, but it’s even more pronounced with women. With all pressing movements, most women will naturally want to flare their elbows out as much as possible. This occurs with push ups, bench press, and military press. It obviously happens because they’re initially stronger this way, but nevertheless it’s important to get a bit more tuck with pressing movements. Elsbeth Vaino and I wrote about this four years ago HERE. Getting the arms at a 45 degree angle relative to the torso is a good rule of thumb for push-ups and bench pressing, but it will change depending on the anatomy of the individual. As loads get heavier or reps approach failure, you’ll see the elbows start to flare more and more and the bar touch higher and higher on the chest. While there is certainly some wiggle room, you want to make sure that most of the reps touch down in the same position.

pushup-setup

11. Low Bar Squat Issues

I’m all about low bar squats for maximum squatting strength, and I like high bar for targeting more quad. However, I would estimate that around 1 in 6 women just can’t seem to get the low bar position to feel right – it either hurts or just doesn’t feel stable. This applies more to lankier women that haven’t built up a lot of upper back mass. Interestingly, I started all of my ladies off with high bar, and upon teaching them low bar, several of them set PRs on their very first attempts, whereas others couldn’t stand the low bar. To be fair, it might just be that I wasn’t patient enough with these clients and that I need to start then off lighter and gradually work up in weight, but after a few sessions of complaints, I just told them to stop experimenting with low bar and stick to high bar. The picture below shows a good example of high bar versus low bar – note that the back muscles in the picture on the right are squeezed together to provide a shelf.

Left: high bar, Right: low bar

Left: high bar, Right: low bar (Photo credit: Nerd Fitness)

12. Strange Lumbopelvic Phenomenon Associated With Push-Ups

Here’s another interesting occurrence that I’ve noticed. Some of my women can perform RKC planks just fine and hold a posterior pelvic tilt like a boss. However, when they try to do this during a push-up, they can’t hold it down. They can set up at the top in PPT and lock the pelvis in place, but upon transitioning from the eccentric phase to the concentric phase, they lose it. I think to think that this is related to the strength of the pushing muscles and that either 1) the body needs a slight hypextension in the spine to be able to perform the push ups, or 2) it’s asking too much of the body’s neural resources to perform the push up and hold the PPT at the same time. Over time I assume that this ability will improve.

Conclusion

If you’re a personal trainer or strength coach, hopefully my observations jived with yours. If you’re a lifter, I hope that this article has made you feel less “weird.” Many of these issues are very small in the grand scheme of things; they just require minor work-arounds and the ladies are always able to achieve incredibly productive training sessions.

5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking

Below is an excellent guest article from Greg Nuckols. I just finished reading the new eBook that Greg wrote with Omar Isuf (HERE is a link to the eBooks – there are two of them; The Art of Lifting and The Science of Lifting), and though I liked both books, I actually liked The Art of Lifting most. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Greg and Omar’s insight. I’ve been a big fan of Greg and Omar for a while, so it’s great to see them come out with a great product together.

5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking
By Greg Nuckols

There are three laws I’ve found to be true in a remarkable number of cases:

  • Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have a 2 hour project and 8 free hours to work on it, it will generally take you all 8 hours to finish it. Conversely, if you slack until you only have an hour left, you’ll usually end up getting it done, and doing a pretty decent job at it.
  • Poe’s law: “Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” If you’ve ever been sucked into a really long Facebook argument about almost anything (be it training, nutrition, politics, religion, etc.), then you probably understand who this law is referring to.
  • Sayre’s law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” This is the law that this article addresses. Little nitpicky things that really don’t influence your results in any meaningful way are almost guaranteed to be the subjects of heated discussions where friendships are ruined, e-dicks are measured, and no one comes out of the discussion any better off for having had it.

squat

  1. Bar position for squats

Let me describe an exercise for you. You place a loaded barbell across your shoulders, squat down to a position with high degrees of both knee and hip flexion, either as deep as you can go, or as deep as you can safely go before your back starts rounding, then stand up.

Did I just describe the high bar or low bar squat? If you guess “both,” you’re absolutely right. Moving the bar 2-3 inches up or down your back doesn’t make enough difference for 99% of people to worry about. Try them both out, and do whichever is the most comfortable for you.

If you’re a powerlifter, then obviously the main criteria to use is: “Which allows me to move the most weight?” That’s the whole point of the sport, after all. If you’re a weightlifter, then high bar is probably prudent since it most closely mimics the position in which you’d receive a clean or snatch.

If you don’t compete in either of those sports, then just squat; bar position really doesn’t matter.

  1. Beltless training

This is another topic that, while not entirely unimportant, is not worth arguing about until you’re blue in the face.

It’s pretty clear that training with a belt allows you to lift heavier loads, doesn’t really affect activation of your abdominal muscles, and may even lead to increased activation of your prime movers due to increased spinal stabilization and the aforementioned heavier loads. It also increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause an even larger spike in blood pressure when training, meaning it could be problematic for people who have conditions exacerbated by blood pressure fluctuations.

So if you want to lift as much weight as possible right now, wear a belt. If you have issues that are made worse by blood pressure spikes, then don’t wear a belt.

For training purposes, I’m not aware of any data showing that training with or without a belt really affects strength gains. Plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily with a belt, and plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily beltless. Just do the one you prefer.

Chris-Duffin

  1. Stance width, footwear, grip width, or deadlift style

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a “guide” to choosing footwear or stance width of squat, grip width for bench press, or deadlifting style (sumo or conventional) based off some arbitrary anthropometric measurements, I’d probably have about $1.00. Meaning there are at least 20 too many in existence (I wrote one of them. Sorry).

When did people forget that they could just experiment? Trying different options isn’t feasible for things that have a high opportunity cost (i.e. buying a house. You can’t narrow it down to two, buy them both, live in both for a while, and then decide which one you like best), but none of the aforementioned decisions have a high opportunity cost. The costliest would be buying an extra set of shoes for squats to see if you prefer squatting with a raised heel or without one (which will be ~$60-70 unless you want to buy top of the line weightlifting shoes).

Want to know what squat stance is best for you? Go to the gym, load up about 70% of your max, and try out a few different stance widths and a few different toe positions. Go with the one that feels the strongest and most comfortable. Ditto for bench press grip width. Ditto for sumo and conventional deadlifts.

The most important research in this area? The N=1 case study you do on yourself that will take maybe 15 minutes.

  1. “What’s the best exercise for…?”

There are a few circumstances where there is a clear-cut best exercise to accomplish a specific purpose. One is when you’re having difficulty learning a complex movement; a slower or regressed version of that movement, or the piece of the movement you’re having the most difficulty with (depending on the situation) is probably the best thing you can do. Or, if you’re trying to master an exercise for its own sake (i.e. if you’re a powerlifter and you want to improve your squat), that precise exercise is probably the best exercise you could do to accomplish that purpose.

Beyond that, it’s wide open. There are no magic exercises. If there’s a general movement pattern you’re trying to improve (not a specific exercise. i.e. pushing strength instead of strictly the bench press), then basically any exercise with similar demands through a fairly long range of motion will do the trick. If there’s a specific muscle you’d like to grow and strengthen, then just about any exercise for which that muscle is likely to be the primary limiting factor will work just fine.

Instead of searching for (or worse, wasting time debating online) some magical exercise, use some critical thinking skills and find movements that look similar to the skill you want to improve, or that overload the muscle you’re trying to grow or strengthen, and do them consistently over time, applying progressive overload. It works like a charm every time.

  1. Size vs. strength

Gaining size (muscle mass) versus gaining strength is really a false dichotomy for most people; they’re two sides to the same coin.

Now, if you’re brand new to lifting, you’ll probably gain strength (weight on the bar) much faster than you gain muscle mass initially. That’s a simple matter of your nervous system learning the movement and figuring out how to effectively use the muscle you currently have (plus a little extra you build) to move the load.

Once you’ve learned a movement, though, there’s only one way to keep those strength numbers ticking up: Those muscle have to grow.

On the other hand, if you’re training primarily to gain mass, those muscle gains will be slow in coming unless you apply progressive overload (increasing training volume, intensity, or both). And, by doing so, you’ll get stronger. Then, with that increased strength, you can load the muscles even heavier, create more tension, and grow bigger yet.

To get stronger (unless you’re a complete beginner), you need to get bigger, and to get bigger you need get stronger. Training for one without the other doesn’t really make sense for most people.

In some fringe cases it may be possible and necessary. For instance, if you’re an elite powerlifter weighing very close to the top of your weight class, then you may need to train in a manner to eek the last possible neural improvements out of the movements without gaining muscle mass that would push you into the next weight class (of course, if you can grow into the next biggest weight class, it would probably be good to do so because you’d be carrying more muscle per unit of height, and probably be more competitive, but that’s another discussion). If you’re a bodybuilder with a long injury history and not much more room for growth in the first place, then avoiding the heavier training that drives strength gains in favor of lighter, more voluminous training may be prudent.

For everyone else, get stronger to get bigger and get bigger to get stronger.

Click HERE to check out Greg’s new eBook

The Art of Lifting

About the Author

GregGreg Nuckols is the owner and founder of Strengtheory.com, a website dedicated to combining lifting advice with biomechanics and scientific theory. More than 250,000 people visit and learn from Strengtheory articles each month. Greg is also the chief content director at Juggernaut Training Systems, one of the biggest strength websites in the world. As the owner of one large fitness website and the content director of one even larger, Greg is very tapped into what questions people have and what information is often misconstrued. Practicing what he preaches, Greg has held 3 all-time world records in powerlifting. His current numbers are a 755lb. squat, 475lb. bench, and 725lb. deadlift.

20 Incredible Feats of Strength

I love watching incredible feats of strength, whether they’re performed by men or women. This blogpost is a tribute to all of the hardworking women out there pulling off the unimaginable.

Erin Stern

The Lovely Erin Stern: 2X Former Ms. Figure Olympia

Here is Desiree Walker busting out 10 smooth muscle-ups with precision.

Here’s a young woman squatting 310 lbs (she says 300 but it was actually 310).

Here is Marisa Inda cranking out 8 pull-ups with 25 lbs of extra weight.

This is Elinor Medhammar cranking out 7 dips with 44 lbs of extra weight.

Cheryl Anderson weighs 97 lbs, and her she is pulling a 315 lb sumo deadlift.

Here is a 115 lb young girl with a 330 lb squat.

This is a 17 year old, 100 lb girl squatting 340 lbs.

Naomi Kutin is 13 years old and she deadlifts 245 lbs for 8 reps.

Chen Wei-Ling weighs 100 lbs and squats 440 lbs.

Chen Wei-Ling also sumo deadlifts 410 lbs at 100 lbs.

Jennifer Thompson weighs 132 lbs and can bench press 315 lbs.

Melissa Reyes weighs 97 lbs and totals 667 lbs (226 lb squat, 137 lb bench, 304 lb deadlift).

Roselyn Kennedy hip thrusts 500 lbs for 2 reps at 147 lbs bodyweight.

Nurcan Taylan snatches 215 lbs and clean & jerks 248 lbs at 106 lbs bodyweight.

Chen Yanqing snatches 237 lbs and clean & jerks 287 lbs at 128 lbs bodyweight.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet squats 195 lbs for 20 reps.

Suzanne Svanevik is just out of this world – watch the entire video.

Here’s another Suzanne Svanevik compliation.

Kacy Catanzaro destroys the American Ninja Warrior Course.

Here is Oona Kivelä doing some insane pole dancing and gymnastics maneuvers.

Strong-Girl