Last Updated on April 24, 2014 by Amir Rehman
What are the recommended weight ratios for power clean, bench press and squats in terms of your bodyweight? You can see my old weight training program, a discussion on how to determine 1 rep max (1 RM) and another sample weight training program from another coach.
I try not to get hung up on numbers in the weight room. After all, for me, it’s the stopwatch (and FAT time) that’s more important on the track.
But I do like to see a guide to general strength for my sprints and jumps group. I look at every athlete’s strength and weakness and assess a training plan from there.
We used to hold “mini-competitions” during our testing phases.
In College, we did 1 rep max (1 RM), but today we do doubles or triples (2 or 3 reps) to avoid injury. No pec tears here (**cough cough Asafa Powell cough cough**).
The 3 tests were:
- Power Cleans – off the floor
- Bench Press – normal grip and width
- Squats – to parallel, to ensure adequate hamstring recruitment.
I’m purposely leaving out my weight numbers, just to give you an idea of the increases and guidelines, and to focus on the ratios, but my bodyweight at the time was 185 lbs ( I am 6 feet tall)
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The first goal was:
- Power Cleans – 1.0X bodyweight
- Bench Press – 1.25X bodyweight
- Squats – 1.5X bodyweight
My total weight lifted was almost 700 lbs (the sum of all 3 lifts)
My next set of goals were:
- Power Cleans – 1.25X bodyweight
- Bench Press – 1.5X bodyweight
- Squats – 2X bodyweight
… and this totalled almost 880 lbs.
Finally, by the end of 2003, my lifts were as follows:
- Power Cleans – 1.3X bodyweight
- Bench Press – 1.7X bodyweight
- Squats – 2.17X bodyweight
… and this totalled 965 lbs.
But I never reached that exclusive 1000 pound club. It was more of a status symbol than anything else.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is adjust your weights to your bodyweight, AND remember weight lifting should be a supplement (or complement) to your training.
For me, I reached 400 lbs in the squats with thighs parallel to the ground (not full squats). How strong do I need to be? Especially for 400 meters? I have no aspirations on being a Ben Johnson with his 2 x 6 reps at 600 lbs full squats.
The corollary of the story is taken from the late Bishop Dolegiewicz, who sadly died in 2008. He quoted, “You can never be too strong, but not at the expense of flexibility”.
Otherwise, you might as well join the Weight Lifting club 3 doors down. Or Gold’s Gym.
Thoughts from strength coaches out there?
I always believe flexibility means fitness. The more flexible my arm is the faster the ball leave the hand. Now the power comes in only at the time of the release of the ball but bend of the arm and the wrist is what gives it the start.
Jimson Lee says
Zotrim – yup, I truly believe in what Bishop says…
Pat Pawlowski says
Your point on relative strength is, I believe, most important.
Stronger equals faster but this is relative to body weight. Most lifting I see at the youth and high school levels is promoting muscle size and strength. I have no issue with the strength concept but size importance depends on the sport. I rarely see specific speed strength training. My athletes either work both maximal strength and speed strength or they use only plyometrics. even in the case of footballers where size is usually an issue we incorporate speed strength specific protocols.
As to flexibility, this is a relative issue as well. I have been a big proponent of active range of motion movements for 30 years and this just recently seems to be accepted in lieu of static stretching. It is range of motion relative to the sporting activity of the athlete which is paramount. And, we must train strength through the full range of motion of the athlete. This is not always done and strength gaps lead to poor technique and occasionally injury.
I also support the comment on the weight club down the hall. As a competitive lifter I am big on big weights but I regularly have to remind my soccer, baseball & track guys that the strength training is not an end in itself. It is important as to how it helps their performance in their chosen sport.
As for throwers, I would like to suggest that it is more important to train coordination than flexibility or open chain strength. For throwers I prefer to emphasize closed chain movements where coordination of a variety of muscles is required to meet the exercise. Throwing of most types (all I can think of) is strongly dependent upon being able to continuously accelerate in the desired direction until release of the implement. This requires excellent coordination which can be trained while increasing strength and maintaining or enhancing range of motion (if desired) through exercises where the body or body part is moved around an external axis. I like straps, bands, ropes rather than moving a weight around the body as is traditional.
Beautiful comments – keep it up!
women's exercise says
That was a cool post. I am not a coach, just a personal trainer… but to what Pat said about weight lifting today…
Even not in high school, just in the real word, there always seems to be this underlying battle to see who can lift the most and get the biggest. I guess it’s probably because the gym I use trains lots of bodybuilders.
But I like to put a precedent on mixing strength training with speed training. Maybe I should say my speed straining is more about explosive training. I guess I subscribe to the saying… train slow you’ll be slow, train fast you’ll be fast.
Almost any resistance exercise you can perform on a weight bench or standing up can
be performed on a stability ball. * Standing one arm
dumbbell presses: This workout mainly focuses your middle deltoid.
“It started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says.
The reason you aren’t in the 1000 lb club is because you are including the wrong exercises. Deadlift, bench press, and squat are used in calculating your club level. A typical deadlift (instead of power clean) is double your body weight or more.
Otherwise a nice article.
Jimson Lee says
@Ryan, Thanks, I feel better already :) I never was a fan of the deadlift. Maybe my coach didn’t teach it properly. Always afraid I’d blow my lower back.
I noticed that your strength don’t not have any lat pull-downs and rows
Jimson Lee says
@Richard, we do lat pull downs or upright/seated rows as part of the ancillary exercises.