What Is Strong? Real World Strength Standards For Raw, Natural Lifters

Updated June 11, 2020

Eavesdrop on a conversation between a powerlifter and an average Joe talking about their lifting PR’s…and you’ll see disbelief on the face of the average guy, regarding the numbers that get moved around by the strength athlete.

1,000lb squats and 800lb bench presses aren’t uncommon to find on YouTube, in an era where men are seemingly trying to become a modern-day Hulk.

However, many of these people are taking anabolic steroids, giving them a superficial advantage. Thus this article is dedicated to the lifter who wants to know the benchmarks for natural strength (outside of the steroid realm).

What is strong?

We know what strong is in natural powerlifting, because we have charts for each weight class that define state/provincial/national standards, see such charts below:

Record-Breaking Strong

Squats
National Raw Records for Men
Weight ClassUSAPL100% RawNASAADFPFUPA-AD
 132 479.50 530.90 275.58 247.50 None
 148 473.75 550.90 473.99 445.50 220
 165 534.50 530 512.57 447.70 529
 181 562 601.10 540.13 500.50 529
 198 573 610 644.85 550 600
 220 650.25 650.30 699.96 583 633
 242 705.25 700.70 650.36 621.50 705
 275 766 850 755.08 599.50 640
 308 854.25 826.70 766.10 599.50 704
Bench Press
National Raw Records for Men
Weight ClassUSAPL100% RawNASAADFPFUPA-AD
 132 314 330.40 231.48 187 None
 148 337.25 360.40 294.31 302.50 165
 165 402.25 400 363.76 374 314
 181 385.75 385 363.76 385 364
 198 443 425 418.87 374 412
 220 523.50 490 451.94 423.50 425
 242 462.75 485.60 415.57 451 457
 275 501.50 585 507.06 511.50 440
 308 546.50 520 476.19 484 501
Deadlifts
National Raw Records for Men
Weight ClassUSAPL100% RawNASAADFPFUPA-AD
 132 578.50 450 358.25 341 None
 148 523.50 540 567.68 473 353
 165 661.25 630 567.68 535.70 567
 181 677.75 641.10 617.29 638 600
 198 706.50 661.30 661.38 671 630
 220 727.50 672.40 677.91 654.50 677
 242 699.75 760.50 722.01 704 645
 275 832.00 800 705.47 632.50 650
 308 843.25 760.50 810.19 665.50 744

How Strong Are You?

Thus by taking the above records into consideration, we can work out what strong is by natural standards (via doing some quick maths):

  • Elite strong = Raw record x 92.5%
  • Extremely Strong = Raw record x 75%
  • Very Strong = Raw record x 67.5%
  • Strong = Raw record x 57.5%
Pro Natural Raw Strength Standards
Men – By Weight
WeightSquatsBenchDeadlifts
 132 430 270 440
 148 460 300 470
 165 500 330 540
 181 540 350 580
 198 570 380 610
 220 610 410 640
 242 640 430 660
 275 670 450 680
 308 700 470 700
Elite Natural Raw Strength Standards
Men – By Weight
WeightSquatsBenchDeadlifts
 132 400 250 410
 148 425 280 435
 165 465 305 500
 181 500 325 535
 198 530 350 565
 220 565 380 595
 242 595 400 610
 275 620 420 630
 308 650 435 650
Extremely Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards
Men – By Weight
WeightSquatsBenchDeadlifts
 132 325 205 330
 148 345 225 355
 165 375 250 405
 181 405 265 435
 198 430 285 460
 220 460 310 480
 242 480 325 495
 275 505 340 510
 308 525 355 525
Very Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards
Men – By Weight
WeightSquatsBenchDeadlifts
 132 290 185 300
 148 310 210 320
 165 340 225 365
 181 365 240 395
 198 385 260 415
 220 415 280 435
 242 435 290 445
 275 455 305 460
 308 475 320 475
Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards
Men – By Weight
WeightSquatsBenchDeadlifts
 132 250 155 255
 148 265 175 270
 165 290 190 310
 181 310 205 335
 198 330 220 350
 220 350 235 370
 242 370 250 380
 275 385 260 390
 308 405 270 405

The average American man is natural and weighs 198lbs, thus as a general rule of thumb – being strong translates as having a 330lb squat, a 220lb bench press and 350lb deadlift.

Again this only applies to natty lifters, if you’re injecting anabolic steroids these numbers are going to be significantly inflated; especially when taking AAS like anadrol, tren, deca and dianabol.

One study found that in the first 10 weeks of taking steroids, participant’s strength increased by up to 20% (2). It’s also worth pointing out that in this study, the steroid-users only gained 5kg in weight (lean mass). This is a very small amount for taking roids, thus they may have been taking low doses. This means that a bodybuilder taking moderate doses can expect to increase their strength even more than this…especially after running cycles for several months.

These are some serious strength gains, thus if you’re natural and you can lift bigger poundages than a guy who you know is juicing – props to you.

How do you compare to these numbers? What is your ultimate squat/bench/deadlift PR? Let us know in the comments below!

References

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr122-508.pdf

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15248788

 

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