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Between them, pushups, pullups, squats, deadlifts and bench presses hit all the major muscle groups in your body. By knowing how you fare on these exercises compared to the average male, you can see what exercises you exceed in, where your weak points are and how you can tailor your training to balance your physique and fitness levels.
Pushups work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core and are also a measure of your strength-to-body weight ratio. Each rep should start and finish with your elbows completely straight and your chest should be an inch from the floor in the bottom position. Perform as many pushups as you can before you have to put your knees down. While how well you score depends on your age, a score of 56 or above is considered excellent for a 17- to 19-year-old male, though this score drops to just 30 pushups for a man of 60 years or above. Between four and 10 reps is a poor score for a young male.
Like pushups, pullups are a test of relative body weight strength, though they're much tougher than pushups. Each rep should begin with a dead hang and finish with your chin just above the bar. A score over 13 is excellent, nine to 13 reps is above average, six to eight is average, three to five is below average and two or below is poor, according to UK Athletics conditioning coach Brian Mackenzie.
Squats test your lower-body and core strength, focusing on the quads and glutes. To find your squat maximum, you'll need to test your one rep max, by gradually squatting heavier until you find the maximum weight you can lift for one rep. Always have a spotter on hand when you test any maximum lift. Heavier men should be able to squat more, as they carry more muscle mass, so the standards are separated by body weight. An untrained male weighing 114 pounds should be able to squat at least 80 pounds, while an intermediate should squat 175 and an elite trainee 320 pounds. These numbers rise to 120, 270 and 480 pounds for a 181-pound male and 50, 300 and 595 for a man over 320 pounds. Trainer Stuart McRobert also writes in "Brawn" that all men should aspire to a 400-pound squat.
Deadlifts also test your lower body and core, but with a greater emphasis on your hamstrings and lower back. You'll need to work up to your one rep max in the same way as for squats. A 114-pound male should be able to deadlift 95, 205 or 385 at untrained, intermediate and elite levels. The standard is 150, 315 and 550 for a 181-pound male and 185, 390 and 615 for men over 320 pounds. McRobert notes that 500 pounds is a respectable target to aim for.
The bench press tests your chest, shoulder and triceps strength. Untrained lifters should aim for 85 pounds at a body weight of 114 pounds, 130 pounds at a body weight of 181 pounds and 160 pounds at over 320 pounds of body weight. Intermediates should strive for 130, 200 and 250 pounds respectively, while you'll need to hit a 220-, 345- and 425-pound bench press to reach elite level. Aim for a 300-pound bench press to be considered strong, advises McRobert.