Information about military pressing from ‘back in the day”

Back in the day” when someone asked you “What can you lift?” they wanted to know what you could lift over your head. Specifically, they wanted to know how much you could clean to your shoulders, and then press overhead in a strict, letter-perfect, military press. It didn’t matter how much you could squat – how much you could deadlift – or how much you could handle in any other lift. And it didn’t mean, “How much can you bench?” because the bench press was a virtually unknown exercise back then – and the companies that sold barbells didn’t even manufacture benches back then.

The Military Press was recognized as the TRUE TEST of a man’s strength. If you were good at it, then you were STRONG! If you weren’t good at it, then you worked as hard as heck to get better. The Military Press was also recognized as a tremendous upper body exercise – an exercise that built huge shoulders and thick, massive triceps. The Military Press was one of John Grimek’s favorite exercises. Grimek set several American records in the Military Press – and on several occasions came within a whisker of setting a World record in the Military Press. He always rated the Military Press as one of the top exercises a man could do – and one look at his thick, powerful development convinced thousands of lifters to work hard and heavy on the Military Press!

Here are the Hoffman standards for the
one rep military press (i.e., the clean
and military press). All weights are in
pounds — and remember, this was back in
1939, long before roidskies hit the scene,
so don’t think the guys were roiding up
to make these numbers:

132 pound class
Gold — 165
Silver — 145
Bronze — 25

148 pound class
Gold — 175
Silver — 155
Bronze — 135

165 pound class
Gold — 190
Silver — 170
Bronze — 150

181 pound class
Gold — 205
Silver — 180
Bronze — 155

Gold — 215
Silver — 195
Bronze — 175

So Hoffman’s gold medal standard was
roughly 25 or 30 pounds OVER your own
bodyweight in the lighter weight classes,
and something like your own bodyweight in
the Heavyweight class (where most lifters
of the era weighed in at 220 or 225 pounds,
which as BIG back then).
These were good standards in 1939, and
they’re good standards today.
You can even use them to adjust your goals
based on your age. It’s simple to do.
If you’re in your teens, twenties or
thirties, shoot for the Gold medal standard
in the press.
If you’re over the age of 40, shoot for the
silver medal standards — and if you’re over
the age of 50, shoot for the bronze medal
Let me close by saying this — if you hit
the Gold medal standard, you’re doing really
well. As in, better than 99.99 percent of
everyone on the planet who exercises. And
that’s not too shabby.
As always, thanks for reading, and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a
good one (and do some heavy presses)!

About Rick Lange

My goal is to give out training advice that has helped me tremendously. I am 54 yrs old and have been training almost all my life. Weight training...bodybuilding, and powerlifting have been my focus. I ventured into cycling, road and mountain biking and triathlon for a while. Lost lots of weight in order to make myself competitive. Then decided to come back to my roots....weight training. I have a very athletic background, having participated in football, baseball and track in my school days. I am very proud of my accomplishments racing motocross and jet skiis. Also ejoyed windsurfing , kayaying, water skiing and snow boarding/skiing as well. Rick Lange
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