How much is enough?
As I write this, my 1RM on the deadlift is 385 lbs (stop snickering). My 3RM on weighted pull-ups is bodyweight plus 105 pounds. I would say my pull-up numbers are respectable, the deadlift numbers, not so much. I’m hoping a couple months of the “5/3/1 training program” from Jim Wendler will help. My goal? I would like to start that deadlift number with a 4…405 sounds nice. At 170-175 pounds, pulling 405 is respectable strength in my eyes…isn’t it?
How much is enough?
I’ve felt this way for a couple months now…eyeing that “400” barrier and it got me to thinking, “how much is enough?” Do I need to lift nearly 2 ½ times my bodyweight? When I pull that 405, will I become that much faster, or jump much higher, or be much more injury proof? Maybe 385 is enough…
The importance of goals
It comes down to your goals. Everyone is unique, everyone responds a bit differently to exercise modalities, and most people have different goals and different things that motivate them. For me, I train for life. I train to stay healthy and to have the ability to take a grappling class or muay thai class without any problems. If I want to hop into a pick up soccer game or shoot some hoops, I should be able to without any troubles or be sore for the following 4 days. Like I said, different goals for different people. Different strokes for different folks. Many of my “everyday population” clients would like to lose a couple pounds; they sit at a desk during the week and need to get through their daily activities of purchasing groceries, taking care of the kids, and playing in a weekend softball league. How “strong” do they need to be to reach their goals? Another client of mine, UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, competes in a sport of weight classes. Our strength training goals are to have him injury-free, quick and efficient as possible, and strong as possible without packing on too much mass. If you are a strongman competitor or powerlifter, then the answer to the “how much is enough” question is dealt with differently. There is no limit here. Moving as much weight as possible is absolutely functional to your sport.
Let’s look at a typical client that is married with 2 kids and has an office job that has him seated for 8 hours per day. The heaviest things he’s lifting in a typical week are the bags of groceries, taking the trash out to the curb (he’s a good husband), and picking up his 4 year old for a hug. If his primary fitness goals are to lose 5-10 pounds, stay healthy, and run in an upcoming 5k, does he need to pull 3x his bodyweight? Because of his busy schedule and seated posture 40+ hours per week, I think our main points of focus should be on his nutritional habits and maintaining consistency with a full body strength training program. I realize that being stronger will boost metabolism, increase fat loss, enhance self-esteem, and trigger loads of other fantastic benefits…however, a healthy, 40 year old client will receive these benefits pulling 1½ or even 2x his own bodyweight from the floor.
Ironically, I recently came across a great thread exchange between two people who I admire, Bret Contreas and Rob Panariello. They touched on this very topic and brought up some great points. Click here
Is this a small man’s cry? Admittedly, perhaps a little bit. At the end of the day, I realize what my “big picture” fitness goals are and I’m feeling pretty good with where I’m at. The take-away here is that your program and methods should be developed around your realistic goals. Follow this important rule and you will be fine. I will admit I’d still like to pull that 405 before the year is out. Damn ego.
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). He is also the strength coach for Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, CA. He earned a B.S. in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University and completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU. Certifications and specialties include the ACE Personal Trainer Certification, NSCA-CSCS Certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, Spinning certification, FMS training, and CPR/AED instructor status. He has appeared in multiple fitness videos, manuals and magazines; produced his own 2-DVD Set on strength & conditioning for combat athletes, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program, and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.
For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.