When Do You 'Make It' in the Gym?

Time to get to work.

Press This.
Press This. Photo by Jason Lengstorf.
Being a bit of a 'gym rat' I've seen a bit of how people operate. Some are putting up impressive numbers all over the place, while others are only concerned about putting 2 plates on each end of the bar and benching it.
Ya, it's a pretty big accomplishment and ego boost once you're able to bench 225lbs (that's two 45lb plate plus the bar), but it shouldn't be the only thing that these monkeys strive for.

There's more to working out than just putting up impressive bench press numbers. Here's a list of other numbers to strive for. When you hit these numbers, then you can consider yourself one of a select bunch that's made it in the gym.

Here's the list:

  1. Benching 225lb

    I'll just get it out of the way. It's probably the exercise that's done more than anything else, the bench is always in use, and meatheads have a hunched look because of it. This is an awesome number, but make sure you hit the next number to even out muscular imbalances.

  2. 20 Pullups

    This number has been up for debate around plenty of fitness forums. There are many "tests" around that say if you can do over 13 reps, then you're considered 'above average'. In my opinion, that's pretty good, but I'm not going by numbers that fitness guides are throwing out there. These are numbers that are going to put you closer to 'elite' status among your peers.

  3. Squatting 315lb

    Ever see a guy squating 3 plates a side? Probably not. That's because they're over doing chest exercises instead. If you want strong legs, skip the leg press, put some weight on your back and squat. There's a reason powerlifting competitions don't include the leg press as an event. The squat is harder and you'll be a stud in the gym once you hit this number. Athletically, you'll also dominate because of the leg strength you've accumulated.

  4. Deadlift 2.5 x your weight

    Ya, I put exact numbers for the other exercises, but when you consider bodyweight, it's tough for me to keep putting numbers that skinny runts will never hit. If you can put up 2.5 times your bodyweight, you've developed some serious strength. This is not just a leg exercise either, as you're working your hip extensors and overall posterior chain. This is another exercise, like the squat, that should be a staple in your program if you're looking to increase your overall strength and power.

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Now those are some numbers that will impress people in the gym, no matter where you are (with a few exceptions like Gold's out in Cali). But since I'm a sports guy and like to include other types of training, besides just strength into my programs, here's a couple numbers to strive for outside of the gym.

  1. 30" Vertical Leap

    The vertical leap test is included in every professional sport combine in the US and Canada. In terms of athletic ability, this test shows what kind of explosive leg power you can generate. Athletes with a 30" vertical and higher are always able to compete at high levels because of their sheer explosiveness.

  2. Under 6 second 40 yard dash

    No matter what sport you're in, being fast is always an advantage. You're never going to reach Usain Bolt speed, but don't let that discourage you. Under 6 seconds for non-professionals is pretty damn fast.

So in my opinion, those are numbers you should be looking to strive for, instead of just impressive bench press numbers. To become an overall better athlete, you need to focus on your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Avoiding pullups, squats, and deadlifts will not get you closer to becoming an awesome athlete. Do the hard exercises, increase your strength, and start seeing yourself perform at higher levels.

To your success,


Conor Doherty

Conor Doherty is an Educator, Personal trainer, and sports-obsessed fitness-enthusiast. He shares his training wisdom in the Complete Hockey Training System, and at his group training sessions in Ontario, Canada.

Find out more at Star Factory Fitness, Facebook and on Google+.

And, of course, in Gymchat 199 - Stretching & Warming Up & Gymchat 228 - In-Season Training for Hockey. Great conversations.

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