How strong is strong enough?

Jun 22, 2022

This article is an excerpt from Coach Brendon Rearick's new book "Coaching Rules: A How-To Manual for a Successful Career in Strength & Fitness" Rule #57: How strong is strong enough?

I often ask myself: Does this person need to be able to do more of “this” to achieve the end goals? Am I pursuing valuable improvements or just chasing numbers?


This can also sound like:

Is a two-times bodyweight deadlift for five reps enough to play catcher in college baseball?

Is a one-and-a-half bodyweight bench press for five reps enough to play college basketball?

Is a quarter-bodyweight in a goblet squat for 10 reps enough to be healthy, garden and play with the grandkids?

Is a six-minute mile important to drive the ball farther in golf ?


How strong is strong enough? Can you spend your time filling other buckets? Only you and your client can answer these questions.

Coach Dan John's article “Strength Standards Sleepless in Seattle” was my introduction to the concept of fitness standards. Below are the adult fitness standards, athlete foundations and performance standards I use to answer the questions “how strong is strong?” or “how fit is fit?”


Why use standards? Standards set expectations, give people goals to strive for and allow us as coaches to ask better questions leading to better choices.

The standards I use come from many years of experience, trial and error. I use bodyweight only...and not gender, sport or training age due to the wide range of clients I work with—athletes and adults of all ages and experience levels. Bodyweight is a metric we all share. It doesn't work for all scenarios. There are always outliers, but it works well for the majority of athletes and adults I train.

If I was coaching a less-general, more-specific population, I'd take the time to narrow my standards to accommodate the specific context of that population.

When I share my approach, I'm often met with questions about applying this body weight metric to women. I don't make special accommodations for women. In fact, I've found that applying this same metric to men and women often results in women proving they're just as strong as men pound for pound.

I challenge you to make your own standards based on the specific populations you work with, using my standards as a reference.


There are two exceptions to calculating standards based on bodyweight:

  • If you're working with a weight-loss client, use the goal weight as the working number for all calculations, not the current bodyweight. If the person is currently 250 pounds but wants to be 180, use 180 as your working number. As an example, goblet squats with 50% bodyweight x 10 reps would be done with 90 pounds, not 125.
  • The second exception is using standards involving sprint times and jump distances. Bodyweight as a metric doesn't work well here. Therefore, my sprinting and jumping standards accom- modate for the inherent differences between men and women. If you feel compelled to explore this more, consider how you might use lean muscle mass and experience levels to establish additional standards around sprinting and jumping.




Looking for more on standards?

For mobility and stability standards, refer to the Functional Movement Screen and their 21-point scoring system.

For strength, power and conditioning standards, refer to the Certified Functional Strength Coach Level 2 course and Brendon's Exercise Checklists Course.

If you're interested in the other #104 Coaching Rules by Movement As Medicine co-owner and CFSC Coach Brendon Rearick you can read more at 

Brendon can be contacted at