Setting Realistic Weight-Lifting Goals

No matter what stage people are at, setting the right goals is absolutely vital. I’ve worked with many different athletes and have found that both too high and too low goals can be problematic. Too low, and you won’t get to your strength and fitness goals. Too high, and you run risk of injury.

As you consider the weight-lifting routines that you want to stick to, you’ll want to keep in mind that you should set realistic expectations. If you’re starting out, you shouldn’t set a goal that isn’t very realistic for you to reach in the shot to medium term.

To help give you an idea on what you should expect and do for your weight lifting goals, we’ve compiled some suggestions and tips to get you started. Remember, building muscles and strength takes time and with time, you’ll find yourself being able to do more and more.


For The Beginner

If you are a beginner, you don’t want to push yourself too much that you tire your body out or give up hope before you reach any goals. You’ll need aim for something reachable and that will make a difference huge difference on your motivation.

Here are some strength goals for one repetition that can be reached:

  • In a barbell squat, you can reach body weight x 1.2.
  • In a barbell deadlift, you can expect to reach bodyweight x 1.5.
  • For the barbell bench press, you can expect to achieve x 0.9.
  • In pull-ups or chin-ups, you can achieve body weight x 0.9.
  • The seated military press can be done with body weight x 0.6.


It may not sound like much to start off with, but its actually the best way to start. You’re training your muscles and increasing strength at a healthy level that will allow you to reach more challenging goals further down the line.

It should take you about 6 months to reach these goals, dependent on how often you head to the gym. So it will be challenging enough to keep you hooked on weight lifting without burning you out. Make sure you have the right gear at all times.


An example of how much improvement you should expect to see:

If you weigh 180 lbs, you should be able to squat 215 lbs after 6 months of training, deadlift about 270 lbs, and do a seated military press of 110 lbs.


For The Intermediate

After you’ve been training for about a year, you should expect to be able to reach goals that are a bit higher, but it will take some work:

  • You should be able to do a barbell squat with body weight x 1.5.
  • You can do a repetition of barbell deadlifts at body weight x 1.75.
  • You will be able to do a barbell bench press at body weight x 1.1.
  • You can achieve a pull-up, chin-up with body weight x 1.1.
  • You should be able to a seated military press with body weight x 0.75.

An example:

If you weigh around 180 lbs, after you’ve been training for a year, you should be able to squat at 270lbs, bench press at 200lbs, do deadlifts at 315lbs, and do a seated military press at 135lbs.


Advanced Goals

If you’ve been doing this for about 1 to 2 years on a regular basis, then your goals can become much higher than the above ones. You should be able to reach the following levels of strength for one repetition each:

  • The barbell squat at body weight x 2 isn’t as hard as it would have been before.
  • The barbell bench press at body weight x 1.5 is doable.
  • The pull-up and chin-up at body weight x 1.5 is easy to achieve.
  • The seated military press at body weight x 0.9 can be done.
  • You will be able to do a barbell deadlift at body weight x 2.4.


An example of what you can do if you’re advanced:

If you weigh around 180lbs, you should be able to squat at 360lbs, bench press 270lbs, do pull-ups with 270lbs of body weight and belt weight combined, and a seated military press at 160lbs.


Final Thoughts

You’re not going to be able to squat 360lbs if you’re just starting to lift weights, as much as you would like. The above goals will help you to be able to progress at the best pace for you. With time, you will see the results that you’ve been hoping for.


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