Female Strength Levels

By December 16, 2010 Strength, Strength Training

We see a lot of YouTube videos these days involving people performing astounding feats of strength. It’s important to not get discouraged or biased when watching these videos. For example, I can full squat around 365 lbs right now, but there are Olympic weightlifters who can bust out 900 lbs. I can deadlift around 565 right now, which is one of my best lifts. But the world record is over 1,000 lbs! If I compared myself to these individuals I’d feel like a sissy!

It’s important to be inspired by these freaks of nature, but it’s also important to always keep things in perspective. When I used to train at commercial gyms, people were very impressed with my workouts. For commercial gym standards, I’m pretty strong. It’s not everyday you see some guy squatting with over three plates per side while going rock bottom, pulling over five plates per side in the deadlift, or hip thrusting with over four plates per side, nor is it common to see a guy performing chin ups with two plates strapped around his waist. I’m very proud of these feats as it’s taken me many years to reach these levels, and when you’re 6’4″ tall some lifts just don’t come easy.


Think about it. Approximately 2/3 or 67% of people in the United States are either overweight or obese. It is quite rare for an overweight or obese individual to be able to perform a proper repetition in the squat, lunge, push up, or chin up.

As for the remaining 1/3 or 33% of the female population who is of normal weight, probably only a 1/3 of them perform proper resistance training. This means around 10% of women are “competing” with you for strength. As a matter of fact, I’d venture to guess that if you are a woman and you can perform a chin up, you’re in the 95th-pecentile in terms of upper body pulling strength. To reiterate, if you took a random sample of 100 women I doubt that more than five could bust out a full range chin up.

While many women are biased because they base their perception of female-strength off of what they see advanced women doing in the gym or what they’ve seen on Youtube videos, I’m here to give you the real-life breakdown in terms of female-strength. I can speak about this with confidence as there aren’t many trainers out there who have trained more women than me in the past decade. At one point several years ago I had over 30 female clients and I managed to train them all by myself week in, week out.

Below is a chart that I created based on my experiences in training hundreds of women over the past decade.

I thought about including front squats, sumo deadlifts, barbell glute bridges, Bulgarian split squats, glute ham raises, close grip bench press, lat pulldowns, chest supported rows, seated rows, inverted rows, and dumbbell curls, but I opted to keep it simple.


  •  No anabolic steroids (this changes everything)
  • Typical anthropometry (height, weight, body segment length ratios)
  • Of normal age range (16-50 years old)
  • Proper form (full range of motion – no partial reps)

Women taking steroids are in a league of their own as they are manipulating their physiology to function more like a man. Actually some of them are exceeding normal male testosterone levels as our juevos only create around 10 mgs of testosterone per day. These women should not be taken into consideration when determining female strength levels.

Anthropometry plays a huge role in the display of strength. It is not uncommon for a tall women to front squat just the barbell but deadlift with over 135 lbs. Women with a tiny upper body with shapely legs may never be able to do a chin up no matter how lean she gets. Bodyweight reverse hypers are an excellent exercise for this type of client as their ratio of lower body weight to upper body weight makes it quite challenging. Conversely, this type of client can bust out bodyweight 45 degree hypers like it ain’t no thang and needs to hold onto dumbbells to make it challenging.

It’s quite impressive for an elderly women (60+) to be able to squat and lunge with her own bodyweight and deadlift and press with a barbell.

Last, exercises need to be taken through a full range of motion to be considered legit. I’ve seen women who can partial squat 95 lbs for ten reps but can’t do a single rep to parallel or deeper with the same weight. I’ve seen women bust out three partial range chin ups who can’t do a single rep when attempting to start from a dead hang and stopping at their sternum. I’ve seen women claim to dumbbell military press a ton of weight, but when forced to use a complete range of motion by starting at shoulder level and progressing to lockout while keeping a tall spine, it’s whole different story.


Typical, untrained women don’t show up at my doorstep being able to bust out barbell full squats. Beginners need to start off with their own bodyweight, ensure proper levels of mobility, stability, and motor control, and use basic progressions. They need to build a foundation by gaining flexibility, getting their glutes to activate properly, learning how to stabilize their core, and building up some scapular muscles so they can perform exercises with proper form. They need to progress optimally in range with range of motion, reptitions, resistance, and exercise variation. For example, goblet squats are a good intermediate exercise that bridges the gap between bodyweight and barbell squats. Barbell glute bridges come before barbell hip thrusts, and rack pulls come before deadlifts. Dumbbells for upper body are often necessary to bridge the gap between bodyweight and barbells. Bands can be used for assistance on chin ups. The angle on inverted rows and push ups can be elevated to make them easier.

Be the Best “You”

I used to envy others and try to compete with my friends in terms of strength. While being competitive is certainly fine, it’s important to realize that some people will naturally have an advantage with certain exercises and rep ranges. One individual may be horrible at squatting but excellent at deadlifting or vice versa. One individual may not be good at maxing out but excels at performing higher repetitions. One individual may suck at upper body pressing but rock the house with upper body pulling. Just be the best “you” possible and try to set personal records consistently when training.

If you’re at the “advanced” or “elite” stage in any of the exercises listed above, be damn proud of yourself, as that means you’ve trained hard and consistently. Hopefully this chart will help many women keep their strength in proper perspective.


  • Roland says:

    What was the article about? I got to the end, saw Eason’s ass and forgot what I read.

  • Neal W. says:

    5 random women out of 100 can do a pullup? Hmmmm, maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if its even lower!

  • jaime says:

    seriously bret I love this blog post. You hit the nail on the head being realistic about your goals , and not comparing yourself to what you see out there in magazines and on the internet . I have trained a good number of women of all ages,just be boosting up there self esteem with praise goes a long way . be the best athlete you can be!

  • Meg says:

    Thanks for this perspective. Seeing that chart makes me want to push myself harder!

  • Dush says:

    Really good post and something I’m always thinking about when I watch youtube. Actually, so does a buddy of mine that trains he says “don’t ever watch youtube videos cause a 8 stone girl will make you feel like an utter pussy”.

    I use the strength standards posted over at exrnet. I’m currently at the intermediate and advanced stages on all core lifts. You still get serious envy when I see a 130lb chick deadlifting more than you will ever achieve lol.

    But the best thing I love about strength training is your main competition is your last PB. That’s it, as long as your past self you feel good.

  • Karla says:

    HA HA

    You know I am gonna be all over this one.

    What is with this chart? How is it that you do not post coefficients versus this “standard” chart (one size fits all?) sort of thing?

    I mean what exactly does this statement mean?

    [b]Typical anthropometry (height, weight, body segment length ratios)[/b]

    A “typical” woman is this a “Barbie” or an “Olive Oil” height, weight body segment?

    • What up Karla! I hope you’re doing well. It’s funny, I actually had you worked into the article as I anticipated this. 🙂 But I ended up taking out what I wrote, and it included the coefficient issue.

      I believe that coefficients work better with males than females. Men tend to have more lean mass than women so a 250 lb guy is almost always stronger than a 200 lb guy. But with women it’s not so cut and dry. Extra weight often throws off kinematics, so a heavier women sometimes has trouble just doing bodyweight exercises properly. And most heavier women exhibit way more fat than thinner women, so there is less correlation. For example, the 180 lb woman can usually bench press more than the 110 lb woman, but she can’t even come close to performing a chin up, and she probably can’t lunge properly. Of course you’d have to take mass into consideration…

      I suppose I could have created a formula where I incorportated bodyweight into the “total mass lifted” and used coefficients, but quite often women start out at the same level – bodyweight for squats, lunges, and hip thrusts, dumbbells for upper body pressing, etc. Since I train mostly women seeking physique benefits, the goal is to get the larger women leaner (and many can drop 20 lbs their first month by dieting and training hard), so the bodyweights tend to converge since the thinner women put on some weight as I convince them to up their caloric intake.

      In your situation, being surrounded by female football players, the goal isn’t always physique-based and is often strength-based, and there exist more advanced women who have been training for more years and have reached impressive strength levels, so this is where you may see a 160 lb woman at 15% bodyfat who has not used steroids. But if a 160 lb woman enters my facility, she’s usually 40% bodyfat and is no stronger than her 130 lb counterparts. In fact, she’s often weaker and less coordinated in many lifts.

      So in efforts to keep it simple, I refrained from going the coefficient route. I hope some of this makes sense.

      • Karla says:

        Awesome response and plausible even for your demographic. Thanks for it brah.

      • Carolyn says:

        As a fat woman, I find your quick dismissal insulting. I’ve only been lifting since February, and my back squats and deadlifts are “elite” and my bench press and incline are both “advanced.” (Although, it is true that I can’t do a chin up.) Don’t be so quick to sell your clients short.

        • Bret says:

          Carolyn – you want to submit videos? I hear this all the time and then I watch people’s form and it’s horrendous. Please post a Youtube video here and then I’ll respond to your comment.

        • Kellie says:

          Here, here, Carolyn. I too felt a little pang of insult.

        • Shawna says:

          Carolyn Post a video of you doing it and I’ll paypal you 100 dollars. Because I don’t believe you. And you have to weigh yourself and get your height on camera first.

          I literally can’t take you seriously otherwise.

      • Lisa says:

        Out of curiosity, what height and weight are you considering to be ‘average’? A chart based on percentage of body weight in this case might be more useful. I’m guessing I’m a bit taller and heavier than your average at 5’7″ and 155, which certainly helps for some lifts, but I still fall in the ‘elite’ range for most lifts (though admittedly my overhead pressing could use some serious work).

  • Karla says:

    btw: Meant to add that outside of the chart, I like the article.

    LOL @ Roland btw.

  • exactly. i am a bit of a big fish in a small pond. people around me can’t compete with what i can do but i can’t compete with what Dennis Rogers can do. everybody has strengths and weaknesses

  • Rob says:

    Great article Bret! Always learn something when I read yoru stuff!

  • SLS says:

    Glad to have read this. I’m definitely guilty of comparing myself to many of the trained women you show, but it helps set my goals for sure. However, that chart…. maybe should be bumped up a notch? I rank elite in everything but hip thrusts (cause I’ve never done ’em) and that’s just consistency in the gym or athletics.

    Women are definitely capable of amazing strength and endurance, more than they realize or give themselves credit for. It’s just blanket inactivity that sets the bar so low. Elite needs to be…. way higher with more room in intermediate. Still, you’ve based this on years in the field so I’m not saying it’s inaccurate, just probably low expectations :p

    By the way, big time congratulations on the Ph.D. program. That’s definitely where you need to be man. You’re a true academic, but thank you for always giving what you know to the public and keeping it real for us all.

    • Well when I created the chart, I was trying to think of a category above “advanced” and the only term that came to me was “elite.”

      So I left a lot of wiggle room in terms of the elite category because “elite” depends on frame of reference.

      I bet 1 in 1,000 women could perform the lower end of most of the feats of strength on the right side of the column, and probably 1 in 50,000 could perform the upper end of most of the feats of strength on the right side of the column.

      In my book that makes a woman “elite.” Now, if we focus on powerlifting, Oly lifting, strongman, bodybuilidng, and strength-based position sports, then the feats at the right hand of the column are much more typical and probably wouldn’t be considered “elite.”


  • Ammi says:

    Great article Bret. Thanks. Although I really struggle to believe that I could really classify myself as “Elite” yet, depsite neatly fitting into that column on nearly all the lifts. That said, I do take the point that I probably am “Elite” when compared to the majority of women, as opposed to just the sub-group of women who lift regularly.

    I would second Karla’s concern about coefficients but can see why you left them out. Again, I suspect that the coefficients only start to be relevant once you are just working with that unique sub-group of women who already lift regularly and for whom the extra weight probably does mean a good bit of extra muscle.

    How far do you think the difference between men and women goes in that respect though? I know that I am still seeing strength gains (though smaller than they used to be) despite currently going througha process of leaning out and dropping some bodyweight.

    I’m rapidly reaching a hypothesis (based on my test group of n=2 – one being me and the other being my partner, Chris Beardsley) that women can get further in their strength gains than men through improving neural efficiency before sheer muscle bulk becomes the driving force in improving strength. Have you noticed anything similar in your clients? If so, do you think it is likely to be because most women start from a much worse position of neural efficiency and therefore have more to gain in that area than men?

    Would be good to know your thoughts.

    Oh, and I’m assuming that your table is in pounds and not kilos… 🙂

  • Ammi, I suspect that you’re hypothesis either has research to support it or that it eventually will. In other words, I completely agree with you.

  • Very interesting!!!

    The responses on this post and on my Facebook wall help reaffirm by beliefs. Notice that the guys are all okay with this chart. Several male strength coaches posted on my facebook wall and on here saying that they liked the article – and I’m presuming the chart as well.

    But several women now have posted who are not comfortable with the chart.

    I’m known for being a trainer who loves strength and who pushes the strength envelope as far as possible, and I take women who have worked with top trainers and still manage to get them way stronger. I’ve never in my life as a trainer said, “Don’t push it hard today, you’re already strong enough.” There’s no such thing!

    But women need to realize where they stand so they can be proud of their accomplishments. If you need a goal, look at the upper limits of the “elite” category.

  • Parker says:

    Interesting take, Bret. I like it.

    As a 25 year old female, I alllllways hear from guys in the gym who feel the need to compliment and then chat about how much I can lift. I rank in the Elite columns on your graph in everything but chinups (I’ll get there) but I rarely compare myself to other girls because I find it to be not the most motivational thing. I’m not content with my levels of strength, and I hope I never am! Where would contentment leave me on training days?

    I used to lift in Brian Schwab’s gym, Orlando Barbell, where they kept posters up on the wall of impressive gym PRs. THAT was both disheartening and incredibly motivating. Not even in my stratosphere, but damn it kept my competitive spirit frustrated and fired!

    I guess I like seeing those feats of insanity sometimes…especially the Olympic lifters who squat and snatch and clean amazing weight. Compliments on my current status are very kind, but they don’t help me get better. Sometimes, only a YouTube video will do. : )

  • allie says:

    Great post, glute guy. I think that some people upon seeing your chart would be within (or even exceed) the elite category that you put together and argue with you that their strength is not that uncommon. What many people forget, like you say, is that there are SO.MANY.PEOPLE who are not strong at all!

    We (everyone strength training, really) lose perspective of how many people there are in the world who do no exercise, no strength training, and we think we’re not that strong, when really- being the best that we can each be IS very impressive! Thanks for the great reminder!

  • D.Morales says:

    Gracias for the chart Bret! I realize it has a lot of “wiggle room” but it’s a good frame of reference for my female clients to shoot for! Oh yeah,congrats on the phD!

  • Neghar says:

    GREAT post Bret. You are 100% right on about the chin ups too. I didn’t even attempt an unassisted chin up until maybe a year and a half ago. There was always this notion somehow that I “needed” assistance. When I actually pulled myself up the first time I was kind of in shock. I compete with me and only me. When I start to venture into competing with other women, I give myself a little kick in the ass, because we all have very different genetics, training ages and abilities. My strengths are very likely someone else’s weaknesses and vice versa.

  • sohbet says:

    happy christmas .)

  • Nancy C. says:

    Hey Bret! Been lurking here for a while soaking up the great info. I’m a 56 year old woman coming back to training after a looooong layoff and this chart is enormously helpful. I’ve completed changed my training because of what you’ve been posting here and I can’t begin to tell you how much it’s improved my strength and posture. I’m somewhere between beginner and intermediate at this point but it’s good to know that with patience and the right progressions I’ll get into the upper categories someday. I want to be one those those impressive 60+ women you talked about!

  • Lindsey says:

    For weights listed in categories like the dumbbell walking lunge, are you saying hold 30 lbs total or 30 lb dumbells? Regardless, I’m proud to say that I’ve reached a good number of advanced and elite levels on your chart. When I’m at the gym I always get comments on how heavy/hard I am lifiting…my workout partner and I always get asked if we are athletes or are on a sports team!! Thanks for all of your insight, as usual!!

  • Laura says:

    This is one of your best posts ever. Thanks for writing it! I’m definitely going to keep that chart in my favorites as a place to find some targets!

    A third of normal weight women do proper resistance training? WAAAAY too high an estimate, in my experience. I’d put that number under 10%.

    • You’re probably right about that! Probably a third do some sort of strength-based training, and a third of those people actually have a routine that pays attention to structural balance. So that makes 1/9, which is very close to your 10% estimate.

  • Diana says:

    Of the 7 exercises that I do on the chart, I am elite in all of them, although there is quite a spread between the low & high end of the “elite” numbers. I guess training for PL really screws up your perspective, because I am a mediocre power lifter (ranked 25 out of 50-ish in my age group). Gives me something to chew on.

    • Diana, are you on the upper end of the elite numbers, thereby making you “really elite?” 🙂

      Furthermore, I originally had on the chart “full squats.” Since I do so much posterior chain with my clients (really a 3 : 1 ratio now of hip dominant to quad dominant), I try to have them squat in a more quad-dominant fashion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman full squat 225 lbs ass to grass with an upright posture. Probably a lot of powerlifters and especially Oly lifters could pull it off, I just haven’t really seen it happen. I would LOVE to train a female powerlifting/Oly lifting type though and see how far we could push the envelope.

  • Niel says:

    I’m use to Kilgore’s 1RM chart for men and at first thought the same should be done for women, but your chart is so much more practical when training a beginner.

    Any chance you can update Kilgore’s [link below] for front squats, snatches, hip thrust, and other compound exercises?

    What is stated on the website does not reflect the Cashier’s Office intentions

  • Diana says:

    Brett, I’m in the middle rep wise, high end if you are talking 1RM. Out of gear I can squat 225×2, to legal IPF depth, for me I don’t see any point in going lower than that ( : My 16 year old girl squats 165 butt to ankles, she is an oly lifter though and, well, 16. Now I know a lady who is “elderly” who is also elite on your chart, but she is a powerlifter too.
    I admit to a skewed perspective because almost all of the women I know who train are either oly lifters or powerlifters. However, I do see how you found these numbers because I train mostly in a commercial gym. They make more sense in that type of environment.
    Regarding pull-ups: I don’t do them anymore because I found they were making me better at doing pull-ups and there was no transfer to the comp lifts. I’ve seen this with another woman who trains PL, she can do them all day long but still can’t bench over 95lbs. I always believed pull-ups to be a very important upper body exercise, but without any transfer, personally I’m better off using a different accessory lift. I focused on them for over a year and was able to do 8-10 in decent form, now I can do 3 but my bench has gone up about 15lbs in that time. What do you think of that, fluke or is there something to it?
    Oh and thanks, that is a thought provoking article, I am passing it along!

  • v says:

    awesome article, unfortunately will have to wait til i get home to read the chart properly – mobile phone wont let me zoom in. Am one of those heavier (ok.. Obese) girls who loves her strength training.

  • deb roby says:

    Interesting list.

    I am a 58 year old female who just started lifting 2 years ago. A year ago experienced a SLAP Lesion that was repaired by surgery in September. 3 months out my first attempt at Bench Press – to find my current training weight- went to 65# for 10 reps. The week I injured myself I was about going to take my first attempt at 135#.
    My DB BP is equivalent.

    Deadlift 135# for 10 (3-5 sets) every week.

    Yet I know the injury caused all kinds of muscle imbalances and that my left glute is nearly dead. Can’t back squat -but wouldn’t be comfortable doing more than a bare bar now. And I doubt I ever could military press at the same level.

    I have (what I believe) are modest goals. I’m not a competitor. I want to squat and bench equal to my body wieght and deadlift 1.5X that much. And do it as long as possible.

  • Tracey says:

    I totally love this article. I am new to cross fit (3 weeks), though not new to serious exercise (sports training regime). This said I was in peak condiciton then lost it all in a year’s time for various reasons. Thank goodness for Crossfit!. Today, I front squatted 81 lbs (last 3) in the 3-3-3-3-3 WOD (? – Not sure of the terminology). I was online to see how I fit in in the general scheme of things…so I am glad for your chart and your mention of age ranges. This said, I completely resent the reference to 60+ being “elderly.” Elderly doesn’t happen until you are 80! Elderly doesn’t even need to occur in the sentence. This said, I am heading to your FB page to like it to be sure I don’t miss anything more from you. I expect that you will reconsider your perspective and subsequent description of us 50+ folks.

  • Patrick O'Flaherty says:

    Hey Bret,

    Is the type of push up in your chart standard (toes) or modified (kneeling)?



  • Hailey says:

    Ahh! I wish you would have posted the barbell glute bridge data within your chart! I’ve been doing them for the last 4 months and I love them! Now that I’ve been getting to a heavy weight it does get mentally challenging :O but I love a good challenge. Any way you can post those results? 😀 Also, what is a good weight for the quadrupled pendulum hip extension machine? My gym doesn’t have the actual machine, but i do them on the smith machine. (or try to, lol!) Is 85lbs okay for that exercise? I’ve worked up to that so far. Thanks a lot Bret! I enjoy your articles!

  • Ashleigh s. says:

    This post was very informative and made realise im in far better shape then I thought. I have been training for about 10 months now at 136lbs and went for not able to do pull ups to 8reps in 4 months and now squatting 8reps @185. Most areas I fall in advanced or elite there are deff other areas that still need some work! Great information thank you for the post

  • Emily says:

    I can do a pull up! I didn’t know it was so rare. I’m also 30 lbs over weight. I’ve always been able to do pull-ups, in 6th grade I can remember doing three and being the only girl in class able to do them, got embarrassed and just stopped there.

    I’m sure if I dropped the 30 lbs I’d be able to do way more than just 1.

  • Diana says:

    Great article! Could you post a similar table for those exercises you said you omitted in order to keep it simple?: front squats, sumo deadlifts, barbell glute bridges, Bulgarian split squats, glute ham raises, close grip bench press, lat pulldowns, chest supported rows, seated rows, inverted rows, and dumbbell curls. It’s hard to find these guidelines so I really appreciate what you’ve posted.

  • Jenita says:

    Wow. I often discount myself because I don’t “look” like a fitspo, but according to your chart I’m a freaking ROCKSTAR! Still working on some things–like chin-ups and bench presses. Thanks for this.

  • Janicethanks for your thoughtful article. says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful article. I did take exception to the term “elderly” for 60+ women lifters. I found your article because as I just recently turned 60 and can’t find standards for the non traditional lifts such as front squat. Thanks to 5 years of Crossfit and strength training, this “elderly” lady who only took up athletic pursuits at age 54, back squatted 165 (below parallel) for a 1 rm. not bad for an old lady, lol!

  • Thank you for the great article!

  • Gemma says:

    Hi, I know this article is really old but I just wanted to say that I absolutely love it! I have it saved to my favorites on my phone and use the chart as reference every now and then. But for me the article itself really helps when im not feeling great with my progress. You so right about always comparing myself to other women who are always fitness models, bodybuilders etc as I see them on social media all the time. I also train with men so that doesn’t help and they don’t understand that some things are just so muvh harder for women to do. So I just wanted to say thanks as I can re-read this over and over and feel good about my 4 full range pull ups!

  • Alicia says:

    Hi Bret,
    Thanks so much for this great article. This is very helpful, especially since I, myself, wonder if I’m strong or I just feel strong. Also, I continue to come back to your articles to reference and expand my own knowledge.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • B says:

    I have been lifting for about a month. I can bench 110, and I can do 8 reps. I’m 18. Just wondered if this is good or bad.

  • Boston Babe says:

    Posting here to say, hey, there really are a lot of women beginners who can lift heavier than this. My friends and I can, for sure.

    I’m 50 years old, a bicyclist and since I have been really flaky about weight training, so I consider myself a beginner. I finally committed to it 2.5 months ago, and have been lifting an hour three times a week. These are my major lifts @ 3-4 sets each.

    70 x 10

    Dumbell bench press:
    25 x 10

    Deadlift (started three weeks ago):
    75 x 10

    None of these are particularly hard for me. I’m lifting at levels that are not super hard for me because I want to perfect my form and not get injured. I’m working with a trainer who is really good on form. My wrists are very weak and are the limiting factor on many of my lifts.

    The last time I stuck with a weight training program for six months, I was “elite” according to your metric. Except, really, I am not elite. I know I’m not.

    Another example: I taught a friend who has never lifted to bench and she went from not being able to do the bar (mainly a technique issue) to 45 x 10 during the first lesson. She moved pretty fast (maybe a couple months if I remember correctly) up to 65 x 10. She has now been stalled there for a while but I think it’s because she’s only doing one or two workouts a week.

    I am posting this because I want women to know they may be able to lift a lot heavier than they think if they have the confidence to try. And if they work on perfect form to stay safe!

    • Are you pausing for a moment on the chest during bench press? Hitting parallel in your squats? Have any videos on Instagram or YouTube that I could see? Assuming you’re telling the truth, congratulations!

  • Boston Babe says:

    Totally pausing on bench press, and overall lifting slowly and deliberately, not rushing. I hired a trainer known for being one of the two most “technical” at my gym, and known as a stickler, and who picks apart everything….and that’s why I wanted to work with him . He said he couldn’t see a single thing to correct on my barbell bench press form; in fact, he was shocked and said most people have terrible form on that lift.

    He just taught me the dumbbell press last week; and I’ll get an assessment on my form next time we meet; there probably will be some things to pick apart!

    On squats, I’m a total newbie, plus recovering from a torn calf. Baby steps on this one; in fact so far my trainer has me squatting to a bench (just tapping my butt on it) and using only 15 pounds. The calf seems to be healing okay, so maybe we’ll do some “real’ squats at the next session.

    Each of us are going to have lifts that suck for us and lifts that are great for us. I just think you should consider bumping up your advanced and elite ranges a bit. Or maybe defining it…you mean ‘elite’ for women who aren’t bodybuilders or competitive lifters, right?

    My horse in this race is that I worry that women will see this and sell themselves short and not lift heavy. And lifting heavy is important for bone health and maintaining muscle mass with age!

  • Boston Babe says:

    For example, Christie Luehrs, a nursing assistant, bench pressed 264 pounds.


    If she works out at 75% of her 1-rep max, she should be doing three sets of 198 x 10. Or not? I don’t really know anything about powerlifting. Including, what’s up with that crazy arch thing?

  • k 410 says:

    After 4 months of the gym both my daughter and I would be in the advanced category according to this chart. I don’t think this article represents most women’s starting points very well and the photoshopped image at the end is certainly not encouraging me to be proud of myself the way I am now as the article suggests. I know you mean well but this article was pretty discouraging. The only good thing in it was to encourage people to do a full range of motion, and that goes for both genders.

  • Aussiegirl says:

    I’ve only just found this article out of curiosity searching “what is the average female lift”. Now I assume the weight in the chart is measured in pounds (lbs)? To be elite seems a bit piss weak easy. Surly this is not accurate?
    The elite Strength should be achievable for most females training properly 4 days a week.

  • Veronikka says:

    what’s with this statement: “Of normal age range (16-50 years old)?” NORMAL age range. WTH is that supposed to mean?

  • Gina Cappadocia says:

    I began lifting later than many at age 34 (will be 36 soon). I have followed your work from the start of my journey, but just found this article today. THANK YOU. I am extremely hard on myself, and this is a reminder to celebrate how far i’ve come, and continue to push towards my goals. The path has not been easy, but lifting is one of the best things that has happened to me. Thanks again for the perspective.

  • Kim says:

    Love the chart and the article. I am 47 and have been lifting for years, however, just got into serious power lifting, most all my lifts are either at advance or elite. As a female I often feel like I should be lifting more since the men are able to do so much more. Plus without any steroid use I just do the best I can and try to keep improving.

    • Kate says:

      Woot, Kim! Awesome stuff. I’m 2 years younger than you and am in 80% of elite and 20% advanced. Good feeling, huh? Best of all, we can only get better!

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