Analysis on EXRX and Rippetoe’s Strength Standards – Part 1

http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.html is a popular website to figure out how “advanced” a lifter you are in various categories. It’s also referred to in Rippetoe’s excellent book Starting Strength – a copy of the standards at http://startingstrength.com/files/standards.pdf

People often refer to this table as gospel but instead miss this key tidbit of information:

In other words, they sort of made it up, albeit from the best possible sources:

To see if I can do better I am going to run some regression analysis and use accumulated performance data to figure out both what we can learn from the experience of these Starting Strength authors, see if the standards can be improved and ultimately get a better measure of strength.

The only regression study I’m aware of is what has become the Wilks Coefficient. Is anyone else aware of similar analyses? If not, I will rely solely on Wilks, exrx and some basic maths.

Before that, I can draw some inferrences from Starting Strength tables alone. All else being equal (i.e. ignoring height, genetics etc. etc.) the Exrx table indicates male atheletes from intermediate onwards split their totals as follows

  • 35% Squat
  • 25% Bench Press
  • 40% Deadlift

Or to interpret it another way, a typical deadlift is 14% higher than the typical squat and benchpress is 71% of the squat. That’s kind of interesting – it’s an FAQ on what typical Squat/Bench/Deadlift ratios are, so here you go. Furthermore, the ratios don’t change across different bodyweights! (Height probably matters though)

For the newer athlete, squat/deadlift take a lower ratio, whilst bench press takes a higher ratio. I pay less interest to this because it may be the typical untrained athelete has actually tried to bench before whereas squat is a foreign exercise. Or perhaps it is interesting because it shows how the Squat can proportionally improve as the fastest exercise when you are first starting out.

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