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Muscle Strength Assessment

Learn how to perform muscle strength assessments.A Muscle strength assessment can be done either statically or dynamically.  

Performing muscle strength and endurance assessments gives you an idea of your abilities. These results may help you determine your strengths and weaknesses of your body. Muscle strength (the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert maximal force for one repetition) and muscle endurance (the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert submaximal force for several repetitions, or to hold a contraction for a substained length of time) are both important components of fitness for your well-being. Without adequate muscle strength and endurance, you are more likely to suffer from low back pain and/or poor posture, as well as other musculoskeletal problems. 

The development of muscle strength and endurance leads to an increase in lean body mass and an improvement in body composition, which in turn causes and elevation in resting metabolic rate. In addition, maintaining muscle strength and endurance is a important factor (especially for elderly clients) in performing everyday essential tasks adequately and without injury. 


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1 Rep Bench Press Test

A frequently performed 1 RM test is the bench press, which assesses the strength of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps muscle groups. The maximum amount of strength for one repetition is found through trial and error. The procedure follows for the 1 RM bench press:



1. Warm up by rhythmically limbering and statically stretching the muscle groups to be tested.

2. Familiarize the client with the equipment and start with a weight that can be comfortably be lifted. Then progressively add weight until the weight can be lifted with proper form just one time (try to find the maximum amount within the first three attempts to avoid excessive fatigue). Allow yourself time to rest three to five minutes between trials.

3. After finding the 1 RM for the bench press, divide the 1 RM weight (in pounds) by the client’s body weight (pounds) in order to apply the norms.

Printable bench press test norms chart for men and women.

Download Bench Press Test Norms Chart (17" by 11")

Researchers have found that the 1 RM Bench Press (as well as the 1 RM Military Press), is the most valid measure of upper body strength.  (Norms also exist for the 1 RM Leg Press, which test the muscle strength of the upper leg muscles.) The test is relatively safe (especially when performed on a bench press machine), the subject’s back is supported, the equipment is readily available in most fitness facilities, and the test is easy to administer.

Disadvantages include the potential for injury that exists with any maximal effort, the fact that you may perform the Valsalva maneuver, the lack of portability of the equipment, and the “intimidation factor” for you if you are unfamiliar with weights. In addition, some research indicates that the 1RM test is not appropriate for beginners.

To minimize a few of these disadvantages, some experts recommend measuring a percentage of the client’s 1RM. For example, if your client can perform six but not seven repetitions of a bench press at 80 pounds, then he/she has a 6 RM of 80 pounds.

Record your results.


Bench Press lbs._____________________Trail 1

Bench Press lbs._____________________Trail 2

Bench Press lbs._____________________Trail 3

Maximum lift / Body Wt. (lbs) x 100 =____________% of Body Wt. lifted

Bench Press Norms


Below Average


Above Average



40% or below



61% or above


86% or below



113% or above

What should your one max be according to your weight and gender?

According to the ACSM your one max rep percentage is determined by your age and weight.

Generally it is considered good to be able to bench press your body weight at least 1.1 times your body weight for men. (This is considered intermediate). For women, you are considered strong if you can lift .77 times your body weight for one repetition. The chart to the left breaks down different levels of the one rep max. 

It is also good to be able to calculate your max percentage when creating a workout routine. Below is a quick reference chart of max weight percentage. First locate your max bench press weight in the left column. Then find the percentage that you want to workout at on the top column. For example, if you want to perform a chest workout using 75% of your max and your max is 225. Simply find 225 in the left column and slide over to the 75% and that will give you a weight estimate of what you should workout at. Below is a quick reference chart for weight percentages.

How much should you lift according to your age?

You can find out how what percentile your bench press is according to your age group. First you must determine your max bench press. After that, divide your weight by your max bench press to determine the lift to bodyweight ratio. Find your ratio on the chart according to your age to see what percentile you fall under.  


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Printable Bench Press Chart

Using a bench press chart is a great way to estimate your maximum bench press without hurting yourself.

Printable bench press chart for men and women

By choosing a lower weight that you can do 2-10 times, you can closely find out your one-rep max. To use this chart, you must choose a weight from the far left column. Once you find a weight you want to use, chose how many reps you can perform from the top row. The box where the two numbers intersect is your estimated one rep max.


   Download bench press chart template

   Download bench press chart (Pdf Format)



How a bench press chart can help you? 

A bench press chart helps you reach your goal without risking injury.You can lift a lighter weight for reps and estimate what your one rep max will be. For example, if you can bench press 135 pounds a maximum of 10 times, your estimated one-rep max is 176 pounds. You may also estimate how many reps you can do a lighter weight by finding your 1 max rep and using the chart to find how many times you can do a certain weight.  


Bench Press Max Calculator

If you want to find out your bench press max even quicker try this 1 Rep Max Calculator. It will quickly help you find the right weight to use when you are pumping your pecs. 




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Upper Body Strength Push Up Test

You can test your upper body strength using the push up test. The push up measures your chest, shoulder, and tricep endurance. This test is easy to do and requires no equipment. Once you are finished compare your results with the chart below.

push up test chart



  Download Push Up Test Norms Chart  


1. Assume the appropriate push up position: men get on your hands and toes (regular push-up). Make sure you breath with each rep.

2. Count the number of push-ups performed correctly. The spine should remain in proper alignment supported by the abdominals, with the neck continuing as a natural extension of the spine. The chest should come within three-inches of the floor.

3. The test is complete when the correct form can no longer by maintained or when you are unable to complete another rep. Look at the chart below to see how you did.




RATING 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >55 >45 >40 >35 >30
Good 45-54 35-44 30-39 25-34 20-29
Average 35-44 25-34 20-29 15-24 10-19
Fair 20-34 15-24 12-19 8-14 5-9
Poor <19 <14 <11 <7 <4





RATING 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >49 >40 >35 >30 >20
Good 34-48 25-39 20-34 15-29 5-19
Average 17-33 12-24 8-19 6-14 3-4
Fair 6-16 4-11 3-7 2-5 1-2
Poor <5 <3 <2 <1 <0



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Crunch Test for Men

The crunch test is a safer modification of the sit up test. It is important to test your abdominal strength and improve on the results. Weak abs can lead to lower back pain and poor endurance. Here is how to perform the crunch test for men. 

Printable 11 by 8 inch crunch test norms chart.

Download Crunch Test Chart (Word format)

Download Crunch Test Chart (Pdf format)

Download large Crunch Test Chart small poster (17" by 11")


How to do a crunch test 

1. Lie flat on your back with your knees comfortably bent, arms at your sides with fingers pointing toward feet. The low back should remain on the floor at all times. Curl up with head and shoulders off the floor and slide hands a distance of six inches forward on the floor.

2. Begin the timer, and count the number of correctly performed crunches in one minute. Make sure you exhale with each rep.

3. Look at the chart below to see the norms for men.


RATING 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >75 >75 >75 >74 >53
Good 41-74 46-74 67-74 45-73 26-52
Average 27-40 31-45 39-66 27-44 16-25
Fair 20-26 19-30 26-38 19-26 6-15
Poor 4-19 0-18 13-25 0-18 0-5