#40 – How Strong Is Strong Enough?

It’s an innocent question… when is strong, strong enough? For most people, the answer is never. They will never be strong enough. Because most people aren’t actually training, and if they are training they are not training for strength. Those of us in the 40fit Nation aren’t most people though. So back to the question: how strong is strong enough?


Like many things, the answer is “it depends.” Mainly, it depends on your goals and interests, and how much priority you place on them in life. For the competitor, the athlete, she may never be strong enough. Every athlete needs a high level of strength, and athletes in strength sports, naturally, need as much as they can attain. For those with no competitive aspirations, it may not be worth the time, effort, and pain to pursue the highest level of strength.


Everyone would benefit from at least running through the entire novice phase of their linear progression. Coach D recommends, for men, working toward a 2x bodyweight deadlift, a 1.75x squat, 1.5x bench, and bodyweight press, for men. Women should scale these multipliers down: 1.5x deadlift, 1.25x squat, 1x bench, 0.75x press. This puts an average sized, 200lbs man at a squat in the mid-300’s, a 400lbs deadlift, 300lbs bench, and 200lbs press. A man who has attained these strength levels could be considered strong, certainly strong enough for just about any situation life could throw at him.


As the loads continue to climb, it is common for trainees to experience some aches and pains at some point as their connective tissue fails to adapt as quickly as their muscle tissue. This is the point where a competitor would continue to push through, and accept that aches and pains come with the territory. For the person just looking for general health, this is the time to back off the strength training a bit, slow down the rate of adaptation, and allow the connective tissue more time to adapt.


As you can see, there is no answer to the question: strong enough? If you have to ask it, you’re probably not strong enough. But to those dedicated trainees who have made an honest run at a novice linear progression and achieved the strength levels above, it’s OK to back off the strength training for a while to focus on other aspects of fitness.


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