What Is Strong? Real World Strength Standards For Raw, Natural Lifters (2023)

What is strong? We live in a world filled with 1000 pound squat and 800 pound bench press Youtube videos. Kind of makes you feel weak, doesn't it? It sure makes me feel weak. There are a couple of key things you need to know about most of these lifts.

1000 Pound Squats and 800 Pound Bench Presses?

How are these guys able to move Herculean amounts of weight? Here are 2 major reasons.

#1 - Training Gear. The guys putting up these monster numbers are for the most part using training gear. What is training gear? Training gear includes the use of specialized squat suits and bench shirts that are designed to help powerlifters add hundreds of pounds to each lift.

So when you see a guy benching close to 800 pounds with a bench shirt on, there's a good chance he "only" benches 500 without a bench shirt. The same goes for squats suits. A squat of over 700 without a squat suit is fairly rare. Add in a squat suit, along with knee wraps and squat briefs, which go under a squat suit to help move even more weight, and these guys are squatting over 1000 pounds.

Training gear is not magical though. It requires an amazing amount of dedication and practice, and few can master it.

#2 - Drugs. Another factor adding to these monster totals is an obvious one - steroid and human growth hormone usage. Now it is certainly not my intention to label everyone with a big lift as a drug user. I've seen some pretty staggering natural lifts in my day.With that said, drug use is fairly common in the sport of powerlifting, and I'm not going to lie to you and pretend it's not.

There are some natural-only federations. Outside of this realm, your guess is as good as mine as to who is clean and who isn't.

Anti-Gear, Anti-Steroids?

Before we move on any further, I want to make something very clear. The point of this article isn't to bash lifters who use training gear or drugs. This article exists to provide natural and raw strength standards to lifters who will never use either. Period, end of story. I respect the iron, and the men and women who move it, and am not here to judge or stir up debates.

Raw, Natural Strength Standards

Let's dive into the topic of raw, natural strength standards by analyzing the national records of several drug-free powerlifting federations. Some of these federations are large, and some modest in size.

  • 100% Raw
  • NASA
  • UPA-AD

These numbers will give you somewhat of a reasonable look at "elite" strength levels. They are not meant to be elite standards in and of themselves. I will make an attempt to define my opinion of elite standards later on.

Natural Raw Records for Men



Bench Press




So, what do these numbers tell us? The first thing I noticed is that the following lifts are extremely hard to achieve:

  • Squat - 600 pounds
  • Bench Press - 400 pounds
  • Deadlift - 650 pounds

It's safe to say that if you hit these numbers, you're well into Elite territory for a raw, natural lifter. It should also be noted that it is darn near impossible to hit a 2000 raw, natural powerlifting total. Only a small handful of natural lifters have performed this amazing feat.

The lifting standards I am about to present are merely guidelines. Use them to assess your progress, and potential for future gains. Don't be discouraged by the numbers of the top one percent of lifters. You can make amazing strides forward without having the best genetics, so remain patient and train smart. If you do so you will exceed your expectations.

Before I move forward, here are some simple definitions for standards names.

  • Pro Strength - The very best of the best. Superhuman. Supreme strength.
  • Elite Strength - You should be extremely competitive at a National level powerlifting meet.
  • Extremely Strong - You will be one of the top lifters at most local, natural powerlifting meets. Your strength levels land you in the top 1% of humanity.
  • Very Strong - In the muscle building and strength training realm, this would be considered intermediate level strength.
  • Strong - Your lifts are around a 200 raw bench, 300 raw squat and 400 raw deadlift. This doesn't seem strong compared to powerlifting records, but you are still stronger than 90% of men walking the earth.

Raw Natural Strength Standards Based On Weight - Men

Pro Natural Raw Strength Standards


Elite Natural Raw Strength Standards


Extremely Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards


Very Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards


Strong Natural Raw Strength Standards


I used the following multipliers to determine these numbers:

  • Elite = Pro x 92.5%
  • Extremely Strong = Pro x 75%
  • Very Strong = Pro x 67.5%
  • Strong = Pro x 57.5%

The Last Word on Natural Strength

Most of you aren't competitive powerlifters, nor do most of you have the goal of weighing 270 pounds or more. So with that in mind, I want to end by presenting you with an easy set of natural strength standards to remember.

The following goals are perfect for the lifter who wants to get big and strong, but who may never have any interesting in competing in bodybuilding or powerlifting. Reach these goals while focusing on conventional hypertrophy (muscle building) rep ranges, and you will not only add muscle to your frame, but also have the power and strength to back it up.

  • Bench Press - 300 pounds
  • Squats - 400 pounds
  • Deadlift - 500 pounds
  • Power Clean - 225 pounds
  • Overhead Press - 225 pounds
  • Barbell Row - 300 Pounds

There have been fewer than 85 men who have ever hit a 2000 raw powerlifting total. Of these men, only a very small handful accomplished this feat while competing in major drug-tested federations. I hope this helps put powerlifting numbers in perspective.

The use of bench shirts, squat suits, steroids and growth hormone has made it difficult for most natural athletes to understand just what strong means. I see far too many strong forum lifters refer to themselves as weak, simply because they do not understand what reasonable natural standards are. They talk themselves out of competitive powerlifting because of a misguided vision that everyone is putting up 2000 pound totals. Not true at all.

A 1200 pound 3-lift total (bench press, squats and deadlifts) is more than 95% of gym rats will ever accomplish. A 1500 pound 3-lift total is a huge accomplishment, and will be hard to beat at most local, natural powerlifting meets.

For those of you who are doubting this, let me leave you with some numbers from my first powerlifting experience. In 2011 I competed at a local ADFPF meet. This was my first competition and I had no idea what to expect. I certainly had no clue that I would be the strongest lifter at the meet. My 3-lift total was 1501 that day. The second best total was approximately 200 pounds below this level.

This reveals that a 1300-1500 pound total at most local, raw and natural powerlifting meets is fairly impressive. Those that achieve these levels usually move on to national-level competitions.

I currently hold 2 national-level deadlifting records, one in the ADFPF, and one in the UPA. Certainly not a legendary achievement (far from it), but my records do provide further evidence that a 1500-1600 pound total is noteworthy in the natural lifting world.

Did this article help? Let me know in the comments. I would also like to know where your strength levels currently are, and what natural goals you are after. Good luck, and smash PRs!


What is strong real world strength standards? ›

To optimize the health of your body, you should be able to squat and deadlift ~1.5x your bodyweight, bench press ~1.25x your bodyweight, and overhead press ~0.75x your bodyweight.

How strong can a natural powerlifter get? ›

A 1200 pound 3-lift total (bench press, squats and deadlifts) is more than 95% of gym rats will ever accomplish. A 1500 pound 3-lift total is a huge accomplishment, and will be hard to beat at most local, natural powerlifting meets.

How strong is strong enough? ›

With the back squat, we want men to hit at least 1.5x bodyweight and women to hit 1.25 to 1.4x bodyweight. With pull-ups, we want women to do 5 to 7 reps and men to be able to bust out 10 pull-ups. For the bench press, we want women to do bodyweight or slightly below with men doing bodyweight to 1.25x bodyweight.

What is the average strength of a lifter? ›

The average untrained man can deadlift around 155 pounds. Then, with three months of practice, he can deadlift 285 pounds for a single repetition. That means the average man you meet on the street can deadlift roughly: 285 pounds as their 1-rep max deadlift.

Can you bench 405 naturally? ›

It is possible for someone to bench press 405 pounds naturally, but it would depend on several factors such as their training experience, current strength levels, muscle mass, and overall body composition.

Is the 1000 pound club impressive? ›

A 1000 pounds total for all three lifts will put you in the category of advanced lifters. You can compete in state championships and you may have a shot at national championships qualifying. You are very strong and athletic.

How rare is a 405 deadlift? ›

A 405 pound deadlift is achievable for most recreational gym goers with a well-organized gym program. Some lifters may take around a year whilst others will take much longer. Women lifting 405 are classed as elite-level lifters meaning it takes much longer than men to achieve.

How rare is a 315 bench? ›

Within numerous estimates, approximately 0.6-1% of the entire United States population is capable of performing a 315 pound bench press repetition, of which is only 5% of all resistance-trained individuals within the Western hemisphere. At a global scale, approximately only 0.3-0.5% are able to do so.

How rare is a 405 bench press? ›

Male Standards
Odds of being able to perform the liftBench PressDeadlift
4 more rows
Oct 28, 2019

Can I use 100% of my strength? ›

Estimates vary, but researchers have pegged the amount of muscle mass recruited during maximal exercise at around 60%; even elite athletes who have trained to get more output from their musculature might only harness around 80% of their theoretical strength.

What percentage of men can bench 225? ›

What Percentage of Gym Goers Can Bench 225? Though we can safely say that – based on national statistics – less than 1% of the population can bench press 225 pounds, this figure becomes somewhat more dubious when changing the sample size to only individuals that visit the gym.

How rare is a 405 squat? ›

A raw 405 squat is very impressive as a natural. Now, I've seen people do 4 plates on the Squat, but only for 1RMs or 3RMs, only once have I ever seen a guy do 405 for reps, and he was juicing. Not saying it's something “impossible for mortals” or can't be done or extremely rare. It's just rare.

How advanced of a lifter are you? ›

The first method looks at your total training experience i.e. how long you've been lifting for and puts you into a category based on this: Beginners: 0–1 years of weightlifting experience. Intermediates: 1–2 years of weightlifting experience. Advanced: 2–3+ years of weightlifting experience.

How can you tell if someone is strong physically? ›

There are certain things that are clear indicators of a high level of physical strength—like being able to run a six-minute mile, bench press 275 lbs, or do 30 pull-ups without breaking a sweat.

How much volume for natural lifters? ›

Normally for a natural trainee, I recommend using a total of 4-5 exercises in a workout (out of which only 2-3 are big demanding lifts) which an overall volume in the 8-16 work sets range for the session.

What is real world strength? ›

Real strength goes far beyond the physical limitations of the human body. It's strength plus mobility. It's the ability to move freely without pain. Real strength is the physical, emotional and mental resilience.

What percentage of the world can bench 225? ›

When speaking in terms of global population, being capable of performing the bench press with 225 pounds of weight is a rather impressive feat – especially if one considers the fact that the estimated number of people strong enough to do so is less than 1%.

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