Gym Math is HARD!
Do the numbers 135, 225, or 315 mean anything to you? Maybe some lottery pick combos you are about to use?
How about the phrase: “Just pulled 4 wheels!” Why the heck would you pull 4 wheels when you could just roll them?
If you are lost, it’s okay.
“Pulling 4 wheels,” means you just deadlifted 405 lbs or 4-45 lb plates on each side of the barbell.
And, if you spent any amount of time in your high school weight room, the numbers 135 (45 lb plate on each side), 225 (2-45s on each side), and 315 (3-45s on each side) were bar math totals that everyone was striving to bench!
I can’t tell you how many times I heard an adult male say, “yeah, I was pretty strong in high school, I could bench 225 for like 3 reps.”
But here’s the thing, understanding this lingo isn’t a prerequisite to train at FIT.
In fact, sometimes it can be a detriment.
We have, more than once, bruised egos by putting half the weight someone once lifted on a bar and then made them do it correctly. But the long term gains made by doing this are MASSIVE.
To be FIT Strong, you just have to have the desire to get as strong as you can while learning the proper technique, thus developing confidence like never before. It’s our job to educate you and at times the hardest thing to learn is…..GYM MATH!
“How do I get the bar from 85 to 95 lbs?”
“My program says 140 lbs, I don’t know what to add to get from 135 to 140!”
“Oh shoot, how much does the bar weigh? I was only adding up the weight on the sides!”
Don’t worry, I get it. I’ve spent over a decade helping individuals understand it. So today, I want to help you by explaining the basics needed to understand not just how to do gym math, but WHY it’s so damn important to your long term success!
So let’s start with WHY gym math is important
Mostly because Simon Sinek (author of the book “Start with Why”) says so…he’s pretty smart.
But in all seriousness, there are three significant reasons why you need to appreciate and embrace gym math.
- Celebrate wins: Training with a barbell is fantastic because you have the ability to add 5 lbs from the last training session and set a new personal best almost every time you walk into the gym. Where else do you get the chance to consistently set new personal records, get high fives, fist bumps and celebration dances? (seriously I want to know because I’m not sure there are many other places that happens)
- Before and after effects: Too often individuals walk into a gym and the first thing they do
is step on the scale. Why? Because it is one of the simplest quantifiable measures that exists.
If you have gym goals, any goal for that matter, you want something measurable associated with it so you can track progress.
Thus, focusing on the weight on the bar, the reps you can complete or the new variation you learned are great ways to measure progress and compare your “before” capabilities versus your after, and after, and after 🙂
Coincidentally, when you make progress on your gym math, particularly the addition of more weight, the side effect tends to be the scale moving in the right direction!
- Comparative Confidence: This is probably my favorite reason why, as our gym is named Functional Integrated Training. Learning gym math by adding weight to the bar over time is great, but the real reward comes when our clients go out to try something they haven’t done in a long time or haven’t done ever before.
They come to find that a task that was once difficult or challenging isn’t anymore, or something deemed as “hard to learn” is much easier because of the strength gained through training. It makes boring tasks go faster and challenging opportunities become fun and exciting! If that isn’t training to integrate into functions of life, I don’t know what is!
What is gym math then?
I would be remiss if I didn’t have a little “go-to” guide for bar math in a blog on gym math. So here we go!
*Precise or obsessive compulsive people pay attention to (parenthesis)*
Actual barbell weight:
45 lb men’s bar (20k at FIT – 44 lbs)
35 lb women’s bar (15k at FIT – 33 lbs)
Adding weight to the bar:
Typical plate increments: 2.5 lb, 5 lb, 10 lb, 25lb, 45 lb plates
Additional weight increments you might see: 1.25 lbs, 15 lbs, 35 lbs, 55 lbs, 100 lbs.
Fractional plates are NOT common but great for progressive loading: ¼ lb, ½ lb, ¾ lb, 1 lb
Double for weight added:
Add 2.5 lb plates – 5 lb total weight on bar increase
Add 25 lb plates – 50 lb total weight on bar increase
Important benchmark numbers for barbell total weight:
65 lbs (men’s bar plus a 10 lb plate on each side)
85 lbs (men’s bar plus 2-10 lb plates on each side)
95 lbs (men’s bar plus a 25 lb plate on each side)
115 lbs (men’s bar plus a 25 and 10 lb plate on each side)
135 lbs (men’s bar plus a 45 lb plate on each side)
185 lbs (men’s bar plus a 45 and 25 lb plate on each side)
225 lbs (men’s bar plus 2-45 lb plates on each side)
275 lbs (men’s bar plus 2-45s and 25 lb plate on each side)
315 lbs (men’s bar plus 3-45 lb plates on each side)
405 lbs (men’s bar plus 4-45 lb plates on each side)
Before I go any further, I am NOT discriminating against women. The women’s bar is typically as durable and solid, if not more so, than a men’s bar because there aren’t cheap, chincy versions of women’s bars out there.
However, there aren’t many regular gyms that have women’s bars. Gyms like FIT and some Crossfits or weightlifting focused facilities are usually the only ones considerate enough to purchase quality equipment for their women 🙂
So the benchmark numbers often discussed are based on using a 45 lb barbell, hence the male discrimination!
How do you get better at gym math?
The answer is simple but not easy: practice, practice, practice!
Get to the gym, load the bar up, put the work in and you will learn. It will take time and you will make mistakes (occasionally leading to unrecognized personal records until Coach tells you after the fact).
But when you have mastered the skill of gym math, your brain and body will be stronger and you will be one step closer to achieving your goal of becoming FIT Strong!
We are FIT Strong!