High School Athletes – How Strong Should You Be?

We all know it takes a lot to be a significant contributor on your high school varsity team. Even more so for those athletes who dream of playing in college. Sport-specific training to learn skills and strategy are critical. That’s one reason for the tremendous growth in club and travel teams that play virtually year round.


But look closely at the kids who are the go-to players in high school; the ones that are getting looks from college coaches.  You’ll notice a couple of things. First, they’re often different than the kids that were the stars at younger ages and second, they tend to be more powerful athletes. In elementary and middle school the stars were often a bit older or those that mature earlier. That is, they are stronger and quicker.


The varsity players in high school, and those getting a serious look from college coaches, are also stronger and quicker. A “good” basketball player will attempt a layup, get fouled and make 2 (or 1 or zero) free throws. A “star” basketball player will be strong enough to fight off the defender(s), make the layup and the free throw! Do that 3 or 4 times per game and the wins begin to pile up! That same phenomenon is true of any athlete playing any position in any sport.


So, how strong do you have to be? Many athletes can’t answer this question. They have no idea whether they’re strong or if they need serious improvement. They can only compare themselves to other people lifting next to them, which—let’s just say is not all that reliable.


Simply put, stronger athletes are more effective athletes. You need to have consistent strength across your entire body. This serves as the foundation for nearly every athletic movement—sprinting, jumping, battling with an opponent and performing your skills.


But the million-dollar question is, how much weight should you be able to lift on the Bench Press—or any exercise for that matter? If you lack strength in one or more lifts, you probably have a strength deficiency that effects how you play on the field. For example, if your core is weak, an opponent can more easily knock you out of position. Or if your legs are weak, you won’t have the strength and power you need to quickly accelerate off the line.


That’s why it’s important to test your strength with exercises such as Squats and Deadlifts, to ensure that your strength measures up across the board.


Mark Roozen, owner of Coach Rozy Performance, who frequently travels to China to work with Chinese national teams, provides general recommendations for how much a high school junior or senior athlete should be able to lift.


Before we get to the numbers though, consider the following:


• The minimum strength number is the absolute least amount of weight or reps you should be able to perform on a lift. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, even beyond the elite level.

• If you’re a young, developing athlete, don’t be intimidated by these numbers. Squatting twice your body weight might seem impossible at this point, but over time you will build the strength you need to crush these tests.

• It’s OK if you fail a test. That identifies an opportunity for improvement. Problems arise only if a strength issue goes unaddressed.

• Form and technique is important. Sometimes you can just muscle the weight up and down, compensating for strength and mobility issues. If your technique breaks down, lower the weight and try again without sacrificing form.

• And yes, there is a difference between males and females. According to ExRx.net, after puberty, a female’s upper-body strength averages about 55 percent of a male’s, and her lower-body strength averages about 72 percent (testosterone is an amazing thing!). However, females are slower to fatigue at high intensities and can actually a higher percentage of their one-repetition maximum more times than their male counterparts (so there!)!


Alright, let’s get to the numbers:

Strength Guidelines for High School Athletes



1. Back Squat

The Test: One-Rep Max Test
Minimum: Males and Females – 1x your body weight
Elite: Males – 2x your body weight, Females – 1.5x your body weight


2. Deadlift
The Test: One-Rep Max Test
Minimum: Males and Females: 1.5x your body weight
Elite: Males – 2.5x your body weight, Females – 1.75x your body weight


3. Bench Press
The Test: One-Rep Max Test
Minimum: Males and females: 1x your body weight
Elite: Males – 1.5x your body weight, Females – 1x your body weight


4. Pull-Ups
The Test: Max Pull-Ups
Minimum: Males – 10, Females – 5
Elite: Males – 20, Females – 10


5. Push-Ups
The Test: Max Push-Ups in 60 seconds
Minimum: Males – 20, Females – 10
Elite: Males – 50, Females – 30


6. Farmer’s Walks
The Test: Farmer’s Walk with Dumbbells for 10 Yards
Minimum: Males – 80% of your body weight, Females – 40% of your body weight
Elite: Males – 100% of your body weight, Females – 50% of your body weight

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *