Setting new standards for movement and strength

With emerging science, nutrition, information and progress over the last 100 years, we all know much more than we used to. Additionally, the average age that people live to has significantly increased.

And that’s great! Power to the people!

However, the smart phone, refined carbs and the time spent sitting on a chair has drastically regressed the ability for people to move properly, be pain-free and have only one chin.

Standards and averages are getting lower when it comes to what we label as “healthy” or “acceptable”.

We’re in a culture now that gives participation ribbons and sets lower expectations to keep everyone feeling good.

Yes, being happy is part of good health but don’t think your expanding waistline is ok just because everyone else has one.

Aiming for average might have you looking like Homer Simpson…

Touching your toes shouldn’t just be for people that do yoga and gymnastics. It’s a baseline standard, and one that is dwindling because it’s now “all too hard” for the general population.

Here are my 6-baseline movement (minimum) standards for health and reduced risk of incidental pain or injuries. Please note all the below MUST NOT induce pain. If you have pain during the below movements, seek out qualified help. Starting a strength training program without achieving these minimums, can move you closer towards pain and injury, unless you’re factoring this into your programming.

  1. Being able to touch your toes with no knee bend or bouncing.
  2. Raising arms completely vertical above head, in a straight line. Looking on the side, if your arms are ahead of your body, then it’s a fail.
  3. Having the ability to hinge (bend) at the hips with no knee or back bend. Google “hip hinge” if you don’t know what this looks like.
  4. Breaking parallel in a goblet squat, without your lower back bending like a banana.
  5. Static lunge (knee to floor on the back leg – front knee angle at 90 degrees) with a vertical torso position. No twisting or bending like a pretzel.
  6. Stand on one leg for +10 seconds.

If you are reading this, then there is a strong chance you lift weights. And with that, here are my strength (minimum) standards. If you have been training (properly) for longer than 6 months and these numbers seem crazy, you need to rethink your programming.

  1. Plank for +2 minutes.
  2. 1.25 x body weight deadlift.
  3. Hang for 30 seconds from a bar (men should be able to complete 1 pull up post 30 seconds).
  4. Inverted row 10 reps for men (feet elevated in line with body). Women 5 reps.
  5. Bodyweight bench press (women ½ BW).
  6. Squat body weight 10 reps (women ¾ BW).

Yes, the two above lists might be a challenge for you to be able to check all of those off and there are always exceptions to those rules… If you’re 7-foot-tall or have structural anomalies then some of the tests won’t apply. However, for most people those are the bench marks that you need to be aiming for, in my experience.

When those minimums are hit, then training, results and life in general become significantly better.

Remember, the movement tests come before the strength tests. Loading up and testing your strength standards without considering the quality of your movement can be dangerous.

If you can’t achieve the position without a weight, then loading up isn’t the smartest option. Walk before you run and move well before you strengthen.

See how you measure up to these standards.

Stay strong,

Coach Adam

P.s. See my latest podcast with the talented best selling author Tim Anderson here

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2 Replies to “Setting new standards for movement and strength”

  1. I read this blog with interest and, at 65, found I can do all of the movement standards and all but the bench press and squat in the strength standards (never was much for the bench press or heavy squat but pulled 305 from the floor at 60 years, 185 pounds). What are reasonable standards for an older lifter? I’m tired of seeing the lame suggestions that are usually published.

    1. That’s a good pull for your body weight and age! The main area that is important for older lifters is to be able to achieve the positions without any compensation. I.e. rounding of the back at the bottom of a squat or not being able to touch toes (without pain). If you maintain mobility and the movements as the priority. Strength would be the second standard. Remember when reading these standards they’re global and not specific the the individual. Training history plays a big part in these standards. Taking 25% from the written standards would be good for +60 age demographic, providing you have been lifting for years before. If you took up lifting at 60 years old then the standards might be even lower.

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