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Early Training Targets and Benchmarks

How you measure your success in the gym is incredibly important for the purposes of motivating yourself to continue on with your training. As much as you just love being in the gym, being around other like-minded individuals and feeling like you are a part of something even greater than yourself, there also has to be that component of knowing that your time in the gym is producing results. There are certain benchmarks early on that are universally sought out by anyone who has dedicated their days to lifting weights and these milestones are important when it comes to feeding your psyche and assuring you that you are progressing much the same as the people you look up to and admire in your gym. If you haven’t hit these benchmarks yet, it’s ok. Just give it some more time and it will happen. If you have already surpassed these points in your training, then congratulations. No matter where you’re at in your journey, it’s important to have training targets to keep your training focused and your efforts on peak so let’s take a look and see where you’re at.

#1:          Benching Two Plates

My entire professional career has revolved around getting individuals started on their fitness and weight training journey and by far, the most popular and easily most sought after benchmark is being able to bench press two plates. We all know how important it is to have a big bench in the gym if you’re trying to establish dominance and being able to press 225lbs is the very first benchmark you have to attain if this is the goal.

#2:          Squat Three Plates

Along with the bench press, getting in that squat rack with three plates resting on your traps is again another highly sought-after feat of strength in the early stages of a training career. 315lbs is a lot of weight and when you see someone with a bodyweight to lifting weight ratio that doesn’t even make sense actually complete this lift, it is impressive to say the least.

#3:          Pull Four Plates

To complete the trio of main lifts and to check off the third benchmark of your early lifting career, being able to deadlift four plates really seals the deal. 405lbs is no joke and it will require total body strength to lift this from a dead stop position off the floor. Be careful in your attempts and really focus on form to avoid an injury and subsequent setback in your training.

#4:          Shoulder Press 100lb dumbbells

This one is really all about the mindset and your belief in yourself. For some reason or another, going from a double-digit number on a dumbbell to a triple-digit number, really messes with the minds of new trainers. Yes, jumping from the 90’s to the 100’s is a ten-pound increase, but it really doesn’t feel like it once you’ve done it. It seems to be more of a mental block than a physical one so just go ahead and do it.

#5:          Leg Press 10 Plates per Side

This accomplishment is probably the one that happens the quickest and sets the tone for being able to complete the rest. Setting up on the leg press under 10 plates per side is something almost everyone wants to do. It looks like a ton of weight, because it is, and it feels great when you can do it. It’s also fun to hear the sense of pride that comes out when you hear the person who finally hits this benchmark talk about it.

Bonus Benchmark:          Full Stack on Any Machine

The last benchmark and target that really lets you know you’re progressing the way you had hoped for is being able to max out any stack on any machine at your gym. Whether your stack goes up to 300lbs on the bigger movements or 150lbs on the smaller ones, knowing that you can drop that pin right down to the bottom and hammer out a set, is awesome and rewarding all at the same time.

The bottom line here is that your goals and how you perceive personal success is absolutely going to be an individual thing. You can’t allow the accomplishments of others to guide your own self-worth and success but if you’re a competitive person, then it’s good to know the benchmarks that others are after. If you’ve already checked these targets off your list, then make a new list. If not, keep working until you do. Either way, you’re in the gym and you’re doing what you love so I’d say you’ve already hit your target.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member