Strength is the foundation of performance. When all else is equal, a strong guy will run faster, hit harder, and last longer than an average Joe. Find out how strong you are with the deadlift, which tests your legs, hips, back, and grip.

How it's done

Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, your toes facing straight ahead. Squat down and grab the bar with an outside-shoulder-width, palms-down grip. Keep your lower back in its natural arch, and drive your heels into the floor and push your hips forward, lifting the bar as you rise until it's in front of your thighs. Reverse the motion, and return the bar to the floor. That's one rep.

The test

Estimate your deadlift one-rep max—the most weight you can lift for one rep—and compare it to the calculations below.

Your 1RM is...

  • Less than your bodyweight = You're a novice
  • 1.25 x your bodyweight = You're average
  • 1.5 x bodyweight = You're pretty strong
  • 2 x bodyweight = You're a beast

A 200-lb guy who can deadlift 300lbs for one rep is pretty strong. If your number falls in the novice or average categories, see below for tips on how to bring it up.

Bringing up your lift

If you bombed out on our test, try these tips
1) As you lift the bar on a rep, increase your speed. Start firmly from the floor and try to go faster as you approach the locked-out position.

2) Try the workout below. Make it your first session of the week each week.

Week 1: Deadlift standing on a 45-lb plate. Five sets of five reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. Use the same weight on all five sets.

Week 2: Deadlift standing on two 45-lb plates. Five sets of five reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. Use the heaviest weight possible for each set.

Week 3: Perform good mornings. Set up as you would for a squat, but point your feet straight ahead. Now, brace your abs and push your hips back as far as possible. Keep the arch in your lower back as you bend forward at the hips as far as you can—you must keep this arch at all times. Extend your hips to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Work up to one working set with a weight that allows you only three reps.

Week 4: Same as Week 3.

Week 5: Deadlift standing on two 45-lb plates. Three sets of three reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets.

Week 6: After a thorough warm up, test your one-rep max. It should be significantly higher.