Now, you are not weak

Jeremy-January 26-barbell strategy-2018-01-26 11.32.51 - Edited.jpg

In my previous post I tried to measure up against Dan John’s strength Standards. In this entry I’ll use the tests prospective StrongFirst instructors must pass and see how I do.

It is fairly safe to say that Pavel Tsatsouline and the team over at StrongFirst have been important to the way I train and teach. I would feel comfortable giving anybody a copy of Power to the People or Simple and Sinister with the instructions “Do this and get strong.” Next year I plan to get certified as a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor (SFG) and eventually I’d like to complete the barbell certification (SFL) as well.

In order to complete these certifications I will have to demonstrate an understanding of the system, the ability to teach it, and the strength required to do the lifts. The strength standards include, but are not limited to, the following:

2x bodyweight rounded up, for 1 rep
1.5x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps

Bench Press
1.25x bodyweight rounded up, for 1 rep

Back Squat
1x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps

Military Press
.66x bodyweight rounded up, for 5 reps
24kg, on each side

Front Squat
Double 24kg, for 5 reps

The biggest difference that jumps out at me is that while Pavel’s standards are higher in terms of weight for a single rep, he doesn’t expect you to bang out nearly as much volume as Dan John does. The folks at StrongFirst care about strength and strength-endurance is a much lower priority. Another difference that isn’t clear from the list above is that everything including the 1 rep max is a technique test. Let’s assume that Mr. John cares about technique. I’m sure he does. He just doesn’t make that an explicit part of the test.

Just like last time I want to see how I measure up. I feel good about both of the squats and the TGU is totally doable for me at that weight. In my last article I said I was about 30 pounds short of a double bodyweight deadlift but I think that number has shrunk. A 1.5x bodyweight deadlift is roughly 265 pounds right now and I can knock out those reps without worrying.

Once again the presses are where I get in trouble, I am nowhere near the standards here. I have been working on pushing these numbers up but progress on upper body lifts is slower going. Another confounding factor is that my training right now is centered around preparation for the Tactical Strength Challenge this fall. I’m doing a lot of deadlifting, snatching and pull-ups these days, but not enough pressing to really improve. My focus will have to shift once I’ve achieved my lofty TSC goals.

I have to keep in mind that while I can’t improve everything at once, I can’t ignore my weaknesses either.

[Ed. note - I always like Pavel's description of these strength standards: when you meet them, it's not that you are now strong, it's that you are now not weak. Keep working!]

Blake Nelson