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I'm am wondering if someone could provide a reference to a scale or explain the limits of how much it is possible to lift for different exercises, based on how much you can lift in one exercise.

For example, I have seen many people state that the amount you can lift in an overhead military press (as demonstrated in the picture), is about 2/3rds of what you can lift in a benchpress.

So if someone can lift 60lbs in a military overhead press they can bench 90lbs -- is this scale correct?

If so, is there any reference to see how much, on average, it would be possible to lift in other exercises?

Thank you.

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Someone who can overhead press 60 pounds may or may not be able to bench 90. It's just a rough map that works for some people, most definitely not a "limit". –  Dave Liepmann Jul 25 '13 at 20:10
    
@DaveLiepmann limits was the wrong word to use, I guess ratio would have been a better word to use. –  MuyJingo Jul 26 '13 at 0:38

6 Answers 6

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Exrx to the rescue! http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm

But remember, the genes your parents gave you will make you better at some things.

So, for example, I'm 200 lbs and can deadlift about 290 lbs, so looking at the deadlift sheet, I'm quite exactly a novice, thus I should, according to the bench press sheet, bench press 175 lbs, which is a bit low since bench press is one of my strengths.

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I chose this answer as it was what I was looking for, for a specific purpose, although the other answers are most excellent and more detailed. –  MuyJingo Jul 29 '13 at 3:17

Try checking out http://www.strstd.com/ which is actually based on the exrx sheet someone else posted.

It has a simple interface where you can put in the weights you can lift and it shows you where they rank in terms of untrained, novice, advanced and elite. For example, if your benchpress and overhead press are both exactly at novice, then you'll know they're strong in reference to eachother.

If you lift regularly I think you'll find yourself coming back to this site and measuring how strong you are, as it's quite addictive ;)

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You will find that there are variations based on body weight, individual leverages, and what you have focused on. Some exercises do have a direct carryover to others, while many exercises do not.

For example I've heard that you should be able to incline press 90% of your bench press and front squat 80% of your back squat. All these ratios provide is a target to shoot for. Incline has a direct carryover to bench, and front squat has a lesser carryover to the back squat. The reverse, however, is not true.

Military press does not have any carryover to the bench press though. It strengthens some muscles you use on the bench such as the triceps, as well as some stability muscles that are neglected by the bench press. However, increasing your overhead pressing won't have an automatic carryover to bench. Incline (being between the two) does have a carryover to both the military press and the bench press.

Long story short: ratios that people give you are nothing more than goals. You will find some exercises easier than others. That can throw off the ratios. So should you pursue them? That depends on your goals.

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The ratios aren't hard-and-fast rules. Basically, you will always see (from least amount of weight to most amount of weight) Shoulder Press -> Bench Press -> Squat -> Deadlift. If you don't, then you need to work on whatever lift is lagging behind. Training for a specific percentage is pretty silly though.

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Everyone's body is a little difference. The squat and the deadlift might use a lot of the same muscles, but if you have longer arms and a stronger posterior chain, there's a good chances that you'll be proportionally better at the deadlift. Similarly, since the bench press focuses more on the chest whereas the overhead press focuses on shoulders, depending on where you're stronger, you can easily be off.

However, as has already been posted, the exrx strength standards (also found in various Rippetoe books) are at least a starting point.

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As other answers have mentioned, these ratios are just rough averages for most people who are well and equally trained on all movements. Moving beyond the EXRX standards mentioned (which focus on powerlifting lifts), here are some more ratios for Olympic lifts taken from Greg Everett's Olympic Weightlifting.

  • Snatch -> 80-85% of Clean & Jerk
  • Power Snatch -> 80-85% of Snatch
  • Power Clean -> 80-90% of Clean
  • Clean -> 70-75% of Deadlift
  • Muscle Snatch -> 60-65% of Snatch
  • Press -> 70-75% of Push Press
  • Front Squat -> 85-90% of Back Squat
  • Overhead Squat -> 65-70% of Back Squat
  • Snatch -> 90-100% of Overhead Squat
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