The Swole Quotient Formula

Posted on by Ben Bruno

The purpose of this article is to help you determine your swole quotient.

Your swole what?

Your swole quotient.

The idea behind the swole quotient started last week when I had a new article come out on T-Nation. In the comments, someone commented that I look much more jacked than I did when I started writing for T-Nation about a year and a half ago.

It’s funny because I’ve heard that a couple times recently, but I’ve been exactly the same weight for the past couple years, and recently I had someone test my bodyfat and that was the same too. So I’m not sure how that works, but I joked that I guess my swole quotient has improved.

I made that term up on the spot, but I defined it as your swoleness to bodyweight ratio.

Put another way: Swole quotient=Swoleness/Bodyweight

It was really meant to be a joke, but it got me thinking more, and I actually really like the idea.

The swole quotient isn’t all absolute strength and it isn’t all about relative strength. The idea is to level the playing field between bigger dudes and smaller dudes. This gives people something to strive for if they want to get more awesome but don’t necessarily want to increase their bodyweight or get bigger.

So what’s swoleness anyway?

Swoleness is the sum total of three different things:

- Subjective levels of jackeditude and overall badasssery

- Bodyfat (lower is better)

- Strength Levels

So if you improve in any of those three areas, your overall swole quotient improves. This gives you some leeway to account for various goals.

Now I’ll go into each of the three categories individually and discuss how to determine your score for each of them so you can in turn plug those numbers into the formula (which I’ll get to below) and get your overall swole quotient.

1. Subjective levels of jackeditude and overall badasssery

This one is obviously tough to calculate because there’s a high level of subjectivity to it.

I think the best way to do this is to set what I deem to be the gold standard and then allow you to rate yourself relative to that standard.

So for ease of numbers, let’s assume that the gold standard is 100. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t rate yourself higher than 100; it just means that’s the standard. If you think you’re totally jacked and badass, feel free to rate yourself higher.

But again, remember that you’re on your honor.

Here is a scale of the ratings.

100= Jackeditude of Vernon Davis (above) and badassery of James Bond.
50= Jackeditude of Tom Brady and badassery of Pierce Brosnan*
10= Jackeditude of Justin Bieber and badassery of Nickelback

* Pierce Brosnan is a 50 on the badassery scale because while he’s played James Bond, the ultimate badass, he’s also starred in that corny musical Mamma Mia, the complete antithesis of badassery and manliness, so he’s balanced right in the middle at a 50.

Case in point.

Rate yourself according to where you think you fall on that scale and record that number.

Now ask two of your friends (one male and one female) to rate you separately. This is to help account for an inflated self-image or low self-esteem.

Take the average of the three scores and you have your overall score for this section.

2. Bodyfat

This again is a little tricky because lower numbers are better here bodyfat-wise, but in the formula, lower numbers would yield a lower overall swole quotient.

Accordingly, here’s what you’ll do.

Measure your bodyfat. I don’t care how you do it, but be honest and be consistent. Calipers are far from accurate, but they’re the most practical for most people, so that’s fine.

Now triple that number. This is to reward lower bodyfat levels.

Now take that total number and subtract it from 100.

So if you’re 10% bodyfat, you’re overall number for this section would be 70.

10×3=30, 100-30=70

If you’re 18%, you’re number would be 46.

Anything over 33% yields a score of 0 for this section. Time to lean out!

Capiche?

Good. Now record that number.

3. Strength Levels

Again, this one is a bit difficult to create because there are tons of different ways to determine and evaluate strength.

We could test max strength, but I think that could be dangerous and causes issues, especially for people that don’t max out on a regular basis.

We could test relative strength, but then that favors the lighter guys, which isn’t fair.

So we’re going to pick a set weight and rep out with it. This theoretically gives the bigger guys an advantage, but since the swole quotient takes bodyweight into account, it all evens out in the end. Plus, it’s only fair to give the bigger guys a slight advantage here because the smaller guys have an advantage in the bodyfat section.

For the sake of ease and simplicity we’re just going to go with two exercises: the bench press and the trap bar deadlift.

Why just those two?

The bench press is the ubiquitous measure of upper body pushing strength amongst males. In fact, most men gauge strength solely based off the bench press to the exclusion of everything else. So I think it’s safe to say that most guys bench. Not all, but most.

It’s also relatively easy to judge; the bar must touch your chest on each and every rep, and you must lockout each rep at the top. Simple.

I also chose the trap bar deadlift because I believe the deadlift is the best overall measure of total body strength, and I chose the trap bar because I think it’s safer when repping out. And again, like the bench press, it’s relatively easy to judge. The bar must touch the floor at the bottom, and you must come of a full lockout at the top.

I thought about including chin-ups because, well, I love chin-ups and I think they’re a great test of upper body strength, but I ultimately left them out because I think they favor the smaller guys too much, and I also know from coaching tons of chin-ups that almost no one does them correctly when they’re repping out, whether it’s coming half way down or kipping like a fish having a seizure. So chin-ups are out.

I also thought about including squats, but I think squats are too hard to judge, especially when you’re repping out as people inevitably end up cutting reps higher and higher as the set goes on and they get in a rhythm. So squats are out.

So it’s just two exercises.

You’re going to bench 185 pounds for as many reps as possible and trap bar deadlift 275 pounds for as many reps as possible.

Rules

No bouncing the bar off your chest on the bench press. You don’t have to pause each rep, but keep it controlled.

No straps on the deadlifts. Reps must be done in a continuous fashion—so no rest pausing— and the minute form breaks, the set is over; no questions asked. This is important because the difference between good reps and crappy reps could be huge on this one, and you don’t want to get hurt.

So basically, you can’t do this. This is me grinding out 275×61 with straps and crappy form back in the day. I highly recommend against this, and it’s also against the rules here. Good form only.

I’m much stronger than I was then, but following the rules of the contest, I’m only good for 30 good reps. I don’t want to harp on this anymore, but keep it clean.

Record the total number of reps for each exercise and add them together.

That’s your number for this section.

Note: If you can’t deadlift for injury reasons, or if you don’t feel comfortable with higher reps, you can substitute the deadlift for Bulgarian split squats. Take a pair of 65 pound dumbbells and have at it. Reps must be done continuously, and you must match the reps on both legs. Rest as long as needed between sides.

Calculating Your Total

Take the final numbers from each of the three sections and add them together.

Now multiply that total number by .785.

This is what’s known as the ego coefficient. This is put into place because people have a tendency to lie and exaggerate, so this helps bring a dose of reality back into the picture and account for inevitable internet inflation.

Record that total number and divide it by your bodyweight in kilograms. We’re using kilograms to make it friendly to international folks, and it’ll also lead to a higher overall swole quotient so we can feel better about ourselves.

For those of you unfamiliar with the metric system, take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2.

That’s your swole quotient.

An Example

I’ll use myself as an example to show you how to complete the calculations.

Step 1. Determine your subjective jackeditude and overall badassery

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll give myself a 50. I don’t have anyone else to corroborate this rating, so the median seems appropriate.

Step 2. Bodyfat

I tested at 8.5%, so I’ll round up to 9% to keep the calculations easier.

9×3=27

100-27= 73

So 73 is my overall score here.

Step 3. Strength Levels

I benched 185×19 and trap bar deadlifted 275×30. So my total score here is 49.

Step 4. Add the totals from each section

50+73+49= 172

Step 5. Multiply by .785 to account for the ego coefficient

172x.785= 135.02, so let’s round that to 135

Step 6. Divide that number by your bodyweight (in kilograms)

My bodyweight is 183 pounds, or 83 kilograms.

135/83=1.626

Rounding to two decimal places, my swole quotient is 1.63.

Closing Thoughts

Please don’t take this too seriously, and don’t overthink it.

If you find yourself asking “how many sites should I use to measure my bodyfat?”, “how wide should my grip be on the bench press?”, or “what if I have the jackedness of Vernon Davis with the badassery of Nickelback?”, you’re missing the point. In fact, if you’re asking that sort of stuff, give yourself an automatic 33% deduction on your overall total.

It’s meant to be fun. And remember, you’re really in competition with yourself, so rather than freaking out trying to compare yourself to others, control what you can and give it your best.

If you’re swole quotient improves, it’s a safe bet that you’re getting more awesome. If it goes down, well, it might be time to reevaluate your plan.

  • internet

    #effortpost

  • Nate Palmer

    61 reps at 275 is crazy. I cant imagine trying to tie your shoe the next day.

    • Ben Bruno

      I remember it wasn’t very pleasant :)

  • Bret Contreras

    Holy crap that 61 reps was insane! Sure the form wasn’t the best, but I don’t know many lifters who can push themselves to those levels. Karazy!

    • Ben Bruno

      Thanks man!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.j.cortes Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes

    I watched the Pierce Brosnan clip………………………………………………………………………………I am now shaken with the realization that I can never UNREMBER seeing it

    • Ben Bruno

      Hahahaha!

  • TonyGentilcore

    HA – I actually trained in that weightroom once, Ben. Epic post – I need to figure this sumbitch out.

    • Ben Bruno

      You trained there? Cool. Well, not cool as in “cool gym” but more “it’s a small world” cool. I bet your score is really high.

  • Barath

    Given I was the one who left the comment on your jackeditude on the TNation page, I am gonna claim some credit for this :)

    Bodyfat calculations can be made easier by simply taking the reciprocal of you BF level, no?

    • Ben Bruno

      Barath! You definitely get some of the credit for this! Hahaha. The reciporical would work I guess, but I think this way will lead to cleaner numbers and rewards lower bodyfat more. Not perfect, but it’s all just fun anyway :)

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