Tip: Test Your REAL Upper Body Strength

Two exercises are all you need to test out your upper body strength for sports performance. Check 'em out.

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Here's one press and one pulling movement to test your upper body strength. I didn't choose the bench press, however. Instead, I went with the strict, standing overhead barbell press.

While I don't necessarily believe that one lift or exercise is more "athletic" than another, I have a hard time justifying a test that requires you to lie down on a padded surface. Plus, there are a million bench press tests so it's high time the press gets a prom date.

The Press

You can use a 1RM or a rep-max for the test. To convert your rep max to a projected 1RM, use this simple formula:

Weight Lifted x Reps x .0333 + Weight Lifted = Projected Max.

Remember, an athlete – the guy who uses the lifts as a means to perform his sport better – doesn't need to max out. He can, but it doesn't mean any more or less than a rep test. The only key to this test is to not turn it into a push press. Keep it strict with no dip.

  • 1 times bodyweight: Awesome
  • 90% of bodyweight: Good
  • Less than 90% of bodyweight: You have work to do.

Pull-Up/Chin-Up Test

The second test is the pull-up/chin-up. Take whatever grip you want to use, even if it's a neutral grip. (I'm a big believer in using a wide variety of grips. This includes using ropes and towels.)

There are two tests you can attempt. Use the one you're good at. The first is a single, all-out set with your bodyweight. The second is a weighted pull-up/chin-up done with 10% of your bodyweight added. You can use a dip belt or a weight vest. Do as many reps as you can in ten minutes. Do I need to add that the test is done with a strict motion?

  • 20 reps of bodyweight/40 total reps with 10% added: Awesome
  • 15/30: Not too bad
  • 10/20: Keep working, kid

Note: These tests are just part of the equation. You need balance across several tests. More info HERE.