Self-test: Strength Levels

By Team Cellucor

An ant can lift up to 50 times its body weight; a rhinoceros beetle can haul a massive 850 times its own mass. As humans, we can reach our own strength potential.

But where do we start? First, we need to assess our current strength levels. 

Sit-up Test

How it works 

You perform as many sit-ups as possible in one minute. The goal is to measure the strength and endurance of your abdominal muscles.

How to do it

Plant your feet firmly on the floor and execute as many sit-ups as you can in one minute, ensuring your head and shoulders are fully raised off the floor each time.

What your results mean

According to the Mayo Clinic, these counts are indicators of good strength and fitness levels. If you fall below the count, no worries, use the number as a goal to work toward!

25-30 44 39
30-45 40 30
45-55 35 25
55+ 30 21


How to improve

It might sound counterintuitive but in the long run, the best way to get faster at sit-ups is to slow down. Slow and controlled movement makes your muscles do the work rather than the momentum, which will help you build strength over time. For continuous improvement, try working your core 3x a week. 

Farmer's carry

How it works 

No, you’re not required to locate the nearest farmer and hoist him or her over your shoulders for this one. Instead, you’re required to carry weights in each hand (jointly amounting to 75% of your bodyweight) and walk 250ft in 90 seconds.

How to do it

Hold either kettlebells or dumbbells in each hand, ensuring their joint weight comes to three-quarters of your bodyweight. Fully extend your arms at your sides, and walk. Form is crucial here – go at a rhythmic, slow, controlled pace, stand tall and pull your shoulders back.

What your results mean

If you manage to cover 250ft in 90 seconds then you have a good level of strength and you can continue building on this by lifting heavier. But if you didn’t manage the distance in time, then keep working at it! 

How to improve 

This simple test is easily adaptable and you can build up to 75% of your body weight over time, or increase the distance. But posture is the most basic thing to master here – so start with a conservative load if you feel you can't do the exercise with good form.

Burpee test

How it works

For this test, you are required to attempt the maximum number of burpees in a set time period. You’ll need a stopwatch and ideally a non-slip surface. It will shed light on your agility, balance, and coordination, as well as strength and endurance.

How to do it

With this test, you perform as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds. 

What your results mean

Men with good levels of strength should complete 16+ burpees while women should complete 12+.  

How to improve

There’s no denying that burpees are tough, after all, they fatigue your muscles and lungs faster than any movement out there. A good bit of advice is to find a (realistic) rhythm and stick to it. Use motion to your advantage. 

Squat Test

How it works 

This test is a favorite of strength and conditioning specialist Tony Gentilcore and one he uses to assess his clients. The squat test measures the strength in your glutes, quads, and core. 

How to do it

Gentilcore uses the 3-rep max system and recommends starting with a weight you can lift three or four times (but not much more). After resting for three to four minutes add 5lb or 10lb plates on each side and repeat until you can no longer perform three reps in a row. The weight you lifted just before your breaking point is your 3-rep max.

What your results mean

You should be able to lift your bodyweight on this one. A ‘good’ score is lifting 1.24 times your bodyweight and ‘excellent’ is 1.5-1.75 times your bodyweight; if you can do more, then even better. 

How to improve

Make sure you're using a bar position that works for you. Play around with where it fits best on your back. You’ll need to have good mobility in your upper back, hips, and ankles in order to keep your torso vertical as you descend. If you have a higher bar position, you run the risk of tipping forward as you squat if you’re not strong enough. You’ll have better leverage if you slightly lower the bar position and adopt a slightly wider stance.

The Push-Up Test

How it works 

The Mayo Clinic recommends this as a test for muscular strength and endurance. If you’re just starting you can do modified push-ups on your knees but if you’re generally fit you should carry out classic push-ups.

How to do it

The aim is to do as many push-ups as you can until you need to stop, and yes this means lowering your body until your chin touches the floor each time.

What your results mean

According to the Mayo Clinic, the below counts signify good strength levels.

25-35 28 20
35-45 21 19
45+ 16 14


How to improve

Practice makes perfect with this test, so to boost your push-up score try improving over a four-week period. In week one, perform 10 sets of eight repetitions, resting for two minutes between sets. In week two, complete eight sets of 10 reps, with just one minute of rest. The next week, do six sets of 15 with one minute of rest and then in the fourth week, do four sets of 20 reps with two minutes of rest between sets. After this, take five days off and then try the push-up test again.

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