If your goal is to be healthy, lifting heavy weights is aggressively overrated.

Lifting weights is important to improve and maintain bone density.

Lifting weights is valuable to build and maintain soft tissue strength.

Male athlete performing chin-ups during cross training class in the gym.

Lifting heavy weights at maximum capacities and pushing in a performance is even a debatable point of contention depending on what you want to perform.

So the logical question is obviously “what is heavy?”

Here are some basic guidelines. Note, they’re not based on any hard science. I do not have the hard numbers for where risk begins to outweigh reward, that would be the holy grail of strength and conditioning, and rehab.

This is based on experience and common sense that is derived from it…

Deadlift 120% of body weight
Squat 100% of body weight
Press 70% of body weight
Strict Pull Up 3 at body weight

For those who will say “a stronger athlete is a better athlete”, sure, as long as everything else is equal.

The stronger fighter loses to the fighter with more skill.

The stronger runner loses to the distance race to the runner with more endurance.

Strength is cool. Strength is worth pursuing, the question is “when is enough, enough?” And the answer is going to vary based on your priorities