How Strong Are You? Possible Poundages
By David Gentle
The Great, Reg Park was benching 500lbs over 50 years ago!
Everyone in the gym business has experienced the phenomena of 'lone' home gym lifters soon upping or even doubling exercise poundages when they come out of the garage or bedroom and join a real 'hard core' gymnasium.
This remarkable surge in power and potential results, not only because it is far safer and easier to have spotters or training buddies standing by, lifting in or taking off weights, especially in squats or bench presses, but also because of the open friendly rivalry or competition and encouragement such team efforts always bring.
Simple vocal encouragement for just one example is a proven method of increasing power and endurance, focusing the mind away from negative thoughts and fear and redirecting energy into positive channels.
Many moons ago, when a dollar was a dollar, when you could open a packet of custard powder without the fire brigade and special forces turning up, with anti-anthrax spray, I wrote an in depth article in the now defunct BODYPOWER magazine, entitled "HOW STRONG ARE YOU?" Bob Kennedy's Muscle Mag International also more recently ran a whole series of body parts, along with the same demanding headline, with plenty of examples of contemporary bodybuilders workout poundage's, to be used by your average 'gym rat'.
Both of us, in our analysis, suggested and quoted lifts and exercise poundage's which included many known physique champs of which it is fairly reasonable to assume, use or used 'chemical aids' to assist recovery or provide extra energy and muscle growth, after all that's the whole point of such supplements.
Let us not be naive, by admitting such performance enhances have been in general use since the late 5O's albeit not in such massive and health threatening doses as taken today.
Those who do take such high amounts, can ignore this article and simply continue to set as their targets the oft quoted, although at times almost unbelievable poundage's listed in the USA glossies. But unless such lifts are 'official', take some articles and their info with a pinch of salt, or go write your 'wants list' to Santa Clause.
This is not a debate or argument for or against performance enhances, it is in the nature of all wanna be champions to seek the extra edge, we are simply suggesting that those who prefer more natural/healthier training methods and diets, should have a far more realistic set of goals.
People who belong to the multi various 'all round' lifting associations, will have immediate access to standards required for trophies and recognition awards. Many such sets of standards evolved from original BAWLA lists and the early days of BILL PULLUM.
The BAWLA originated back in 1911 and covered over 4O all round lifts/exercises. Recently the A for amateur has been realistically dropped so now it is just BWLA.
The 'Strength Set' originally consisting of the bodybuilders favorite exercises the squat, curl and bench press soon dropped the curl, which leant itself to too much back bending and cheating, (God knows what the old timers would have thought of today’s ultra arched bench pressers and lifting suits) and substituted the dead lift.
This lot ended up as 'Powerlifting', itself now fragmentated into many, many associations and acronyms. Most basic powerlifting record lists compare closely. Such current powerlifts along with Olympic records for all bodyweights can be studied freely at any time by reading the latest Guinness Book of Records at your local library.
The well established journal ‘Powerlifting USA’ has covered most top events (including European) and is a mine of information and training advice for those specialists.
While it is always interesting and hopefully inspirational to read of and compare great feats of strength.
For example John Parrella (US pro-footballer) who tosses up unaided 2x225lb dumbbells for sets of 5 reps in dumbbell bench press (source Planet Muscle Vol 4 no 3), of 1000lbs squats and squatters like Clark, Waddington, Hatfields et al, and similar bench presses hitting the 700lbs mark, do not get discouraged and dump your weights for bunji jumping.
This brief article is for your 'down to earth' average 'tank top' who just wishes to know where he is in the muscle power map and what sort of poundages to aim for.
We have tried to include most basic exercises in our estimates based on a lot of practical experience (believe it or not I too trained alone and used to 'rock up' unaided 80lb dumbbells for bench presses) and honest analysis. So check out the chart, and wherever you are, just aim to do better.
You already know the basic systems of using lower reps and higher sets for building power in most muscle groups. Nor should you, when seeking strength, train too often, twice a week is plenty. Take time to recover, eat well, sleep well and hey presto, power will come.