“So..how much d’ya bench??”

This used to be the classic he-man, gym question that one guy would ask another.

Whenever I heard this and whatever the answer was, my rule of thumb was to take at least 10% off, and that would be a closer reflection of how much benching was actually done but the dude.

It was so refreshing to not hear the fantasy verbal numbers game, when I started CrossFit. Firstly, the bench stopped being the measure of a man, and the idea of recording your maxes either verified by a hardass crowd and judge who will no rep you, or letting the world decide on how good or bad a max effort is by recording it on video via Facebook or YouTube.

I’m very pleased that the video trend continues and flourishes.

It’s brave and mad at the same time. You open yourself up to criticism but you also prove to the world what you can actually do.
However as CrossFit has grown it has definitely absorbed many of the “How much d’ya benchers”. They might be asking “How much d’ya squat” or “What’s your Fran time?” Instead of asking about bench numbers but the they are essentially, once again, part of my world.


This is an irritating dick measuring contest!

Lifting numbers are nothing without action.

It also means I’ve had to start using my 10% deduction rule again!

So, I’ve come to a conclusion. There are basically 3 max numbers for your average person.

The first one is your absolute max number. This number is the one that hardly anyone ever actually gets. It’s the saving the person trapped under the bus by lifting it up, in the pouring rain number.

It’s the, I was being chased by a hoard of flesh eating zombies and ran the fastest ever mile I could ever run. The form and technique during these moments means nothing. Your adrenaline is maxed out and it’s a one time only thing. You’ll probably be shaking and wetting your pants afterwards and if someone asked you to repeat what you just did you would tell them to go away…

This scenario hardly ever happens. Its so rare so let’s ignore it.

The other 2 numbers are of more value for a CrossFitter and coach.
These represent efforts that are done with reasonably good form and technique.

1- There’s your “I did this once” max number.
Let’s face it, this number is also unlikely to happen very often. It might be a goal number to shoot for that you could get under your absolute, ideal, perfect conditions but it’s definitely not an every day you know you can achieve it number.

People usually get this number or beat it when they get coached properly from someone with a fresh perspective, after following a decent program or perhaps after a decent rest!

2- Then there is your “this is my likely max today, assuming all goes well” number.
This is the number I’m interested in. It’s probably your true max. The repeatable number.

Interestingly, these 2 numbers generally have a difference of around 10-15%. This is where my 10% deduction originally came from but it may go up to 15% depending on how well my bullshit detector is functioning!

Sure..you have good days and bad days in the gym and we all know that many factors effect performance. Sleep, food, stress levels, the color of your shoe laces, if you’re wearing your spiderman underpants etc.

However I get annoyed by mediocre athletes claiming they can do something they have never even closely publicly demonstrated…ever.

For example don’t tell a coach that you can Snatch 185lbs when you can’t even do a proficient overhead squat at 135.

Don’t claim you can clean and jerk 265 then struggle to do 205 in a competition. Unless you have your best ever attempt, with good form on video or you are injured or recovering from injury, saying something you can’t back up just makes you look really, really silly.

Worse than that it makes what you do and all of us look bad, because there are a lot of strength and conditioning specialists, Olympic lifting coaches and fitness professionals who are highly critical of CrossFit, its methodology and poor technique.

Big claims without any action to back those claims just reflects badly on this CrossFit thing we are passionate about.

…besides, I’ll take 10% off when the bullshit alarm sounds and the world is a nicer place.