Q: Are there any useful or game-changing strength standards for more than 40 men and women?
This is such a useful question that I am going to solve, although my answer may leave some of my readers dissatisfied. But let's take a hit on him.
My first thought is that we have to ask ourselves why we are looking for such standards in the first place. My opinion: we love standards because it gives us the opportunity to shoot, and also because it is a way for us to evaluate ourselves in relation to our peers. If you can do one pull-up, and your friend can't do it, well, something tells you where you are “standing”, right?
The problem, however, is that there are many characteristics that need to be taken into account when we try to assess who our peers are. Age and gender are two of the most obvious, but we also need to consider height and weight. Digging deeper, there is an orthopedic history, training background, fiber type dominance and general health, just to name a few of the most important considerations.
Suddenly the choice of an objective standard from the mix is a rather difficult task. So let's go into what is really a philosophical question, but the one that I want to decide is fair and useful.
Big draw big elevators
Let's consider a very often used standard and evaluate it for discussion.
Many coaches claim that you are “strong” if you can double your weight. Superficially, I tend to agree. If you take the entire human population, then, of course, less than 1 percent can double their body weight for one representative (although almost all of those who can probably be young people). Therefore, from this general point of view, I like the standard.
Now, if you are over 40 and you can double your body weight, this, of course, is even more significant. More than 50, even better. Personally, at the age of 59, I can pull double body weight for 10 repetitions, so it seems super strong, I think. But my other lifts, such as benches, are much less impressive. For some reason, I just become a good dead man.
I think you can already appreciate the complexity of this issue. For this reason, I tend to think about power standards in a pragmatic and personal way, instead of worrying too much about how “valid” the standard is or not. In my case, I sometimes look at the classification of powerlifting elevators just to see how I stack up compared to the raw competitive powerlifters that are my sex and weight. Of course, I am much older than open class lifters, so I take this into account, but I use it as a way to motivate myself. And if it serves this purpose, then these standards are useful to me.
If, on the other hand, you do not have much experience with three powerlifts, or if you simply focus your strength training elsewhere, these standards will not be relevant or useful to you. The question is, what will happen?
If you get stronger, you are strong
Here is the standard that, in my opinion, is most useful for more than 40 lifters: the vast majority of people are 40 years old and physically reduced. This means that if you are currently becoming stronger, even if you are very strong, you are “strong.” Honestly, even if you just support, you are ahead of your peers.
I often notice to my clients that no matter how strong you are, you will always find people who are stronger. For example, I am proud that I can delay 405 pounds in 10 repetitions, but the other day I watched a video about Larry Wheel, pulling out an unreal set of 700 by 10. Of course, he is much younger and bigger than me, but still -700 in 10? !
All of this simply means that you are best served, mostly judging yourself against your current abilities. We either improve, support, or decrease.
If tomorrow you get a new lifelong personal record for pull-ups, you will be stronger than you have ever been. Even if this PR is just one representative! And if you are over 40, this makes your achievement even more meaningful. For me, this is the only meaningful standard.
Is strength really your greatest weakness?
I will leave you with one final consideration: yes, it is super valuable to be strong, but insufficient strength may not be your Achilles heel in terms of total physical capacity. You can be very strong, but have poor cardiovascular ability or mobility. Many of your health markers can be bad, even if your PRs are respectable.
If so, your health, longevity, and overall quality of life will be better served, primarily by addressing what happens to your greatest physical disability. This, in turn, will not only help you to become strong, but also help you to feel strong.