T Nation

1025 --> 1500?


Hello everyone.
I'm a junior in high school and i'm hoping to compete next year for my school powerlifting team.
My main question is about making the transition from raw lifting to assisted lifting. Heres my background info first:
I've only very recently taken up an interest in PL(maybe 3-4months ago). Before that, my only exercise consisted of a receational soccer practices and games.
My nutrition has always been relatively "clean", following most of 7 essential habits(by Berardi i think). My parents rarely buy junk food and keep alot of fresh foods. Ive never been lean, but i've always been healthy and and fairly fast, though not very strong.
Right now my best 3-lift total is 1025 with just a belt. When i started weight training, i was really weak and i've really made alot of improvement quicker than i thought i would. Here are my lifts in detail:

Before(November 2005)
Bench: 180
Squat: 305
Deadlift: 290
Total= 775

Most recent:
Bench: 245
Squat: 415
Deadlift: 365

I've been using a modified westside type template for my workouts, well really it's not too much like westside except that i have ME and DE Upper body and Lower body days. Something like this:

Day 1
ME Upper
Flat or Incline Bench work up to 1RM
BB Row 5X5*
Pull Up 5X5*
Skull Crushers 5X5*

Day 2

Day 3
ME Lower Body
Squat or Deadlift work up to 1RM
Pull Throughs 5X5*
Goodmorning 5X5*

Day 4

Day 5
DE Upper Body
Flat or Incline Bench 10X3 @ 70-80%
BB Row 5X5*
JM press 5X5*

Day 6

Day 7
DE Lower Body
Squat or Deadlift 10X3
GHR 20 reps as many sets as necessary
Reverse Hyper 5X5*

Day 8

*add reps/sets or increse weight each session

I've been taking the last 2-3 days of each month off for some extra recovery and making new PR every week, including this week, so i don't plan on changing it up just yet.

I realize i'll eventually stall out and am a little unsure as to how well i'll be able to address fixing a possible sticking point. I fail at different joint angles/heights on my final Max effort attempt on ME bench days so it's hard to asses a potential week point especially since i'm still making steady gains.

My main question is: at what point i should start implementing gear and what kind of results should i expect to gain? Also, i'm wondering how long ussually does it take to get used to putting on and efectively using gear?

I"m hoping to acheive a high 1400s total by january next year so i have a chance at placing at state in 181lb class.
Any other comments are appreciated.


Squat suits are pretty easy to learn, the first time I used a suit plus wraps I got 100 lbs. Bench shirts are more difficult to learn, and the time it takes to learn them varies person to person and shirt to shirt.

I would start learning the gear 3-4 months out from the competition.

One other thing, get someone from the team to make sure that you are squatting to depth. You don't want to spend a year training only to find out you've been training incorrectly. Just my observation that 95% of people who squat don't even get to parallel.


If you're squatting wide a metal squat suit might get you over 500 pretty soon. My best pull was about 400 and with the suit i got 495 to just above my knees the first time using it.


Three Questions.

  1. Was 1025 achieved in a meet, or are these gym numbers?

  2. Are you planning on competing in the THSPA? If not, which fed?

  3. Do you pull sumo or conventional?

Answer these questions and I will give you some thoughts on gear.


Make sure you get your precision of the moves down to a science so you're using the equipment, not fighting it.

Which is to say, practice in it often til you're used to it, then don't use it again until a few weeks before the contest.


If your goal is to compete equipped, then I suggest you get into the gear as soon as possible. Not only does it take time to leanr, but it takes time to locate and purchase. Some companies are very good at getting things out to you fast, and others are not so.

I will recommend that you find the best gear your federation will allow, and purchase those designs right off, albeit in a looser fit, rather than buying less effective gear and "graduating" up to stronger. For example I would suggest purchasing a loose Centurion and loose RageX, rather than a tight Superior-Suit and tight EHPHD. You will find it easier and more consistent to use, and you won't have to relearn the grooves when you get stronger gear.

I will also suggest that you have conservative goals for your equipment. A consistent 50 lbs is far better (and far safer!) than a questionable 100 lbs to you at this stage.

Train hard, and smart, with the best people you can find. Get your technique down, and you'll be fine.


yah id check the depth on the squats. cause arent most raw deads higher than raw squats? maybe im wrong and retarded, just a thought


  1. Gym Numbers

  2. My school competes in THSPA.

  3. Conventional
    i've been trying to learn how to lift sumo because i squat wide, but i can only get about 80% of my conventional max off the ground ~75% to lockout.

I need to work more on DL form in general. i have relatively long limbs, yet my squat numbers are significantly better than my DL.


You're off to good start. If you want to DL higher numbers, I'd recommend pulling more often. I am a conventional puller also and I have found that my squat gains were not always correlated to my DL gains if I was not doing much direct training of pulls. Personally, I like pulling triples with about 75% of my off the floor max while standing on a low box or some plates. With your good raw squat, I suspect doing pulls from a deficit like that will bring up your DL quickly.



First of all, the numbers you have posted are basically meaningless. You need to go and do a meet ASAP to establish a baseline.

There is nothing wrong with going into your first couple of meets in belt and wraps. That is how we always start lifters. We let them get 2-3 meets in like that, depending on their strength level, and then start them in gear.

A kid your size (181) I would want to see at least a 300 squat and pull and a 180-200 bench under meet conditions before I started putting you in a suit and shirt. Some kids get there real fast, some not so quick.

Since you are, in all likelihood, already there, the best advice I can give you is go do a meet without equipment and then pick another meet, buy your equipment, and start training in it.

Typically, there are two mistakes newb lifters make as it relates to gear. The first is not training in it enough, the second is becoming too reliant on it.

Bottom line, you need to rep in your gear. Especially bench shirts. I would state a solid 5-6 weeks in the shirt and 4-5 weeks in a suit and wraps. Minimally.

We try to never get more than 3 weeks away from our gear. In other words, we will use it every third week in an off season training cycle.

In regards to what to purchase and what to expect, WEC gave pretty solid advice.

I would recommend probably @ a size 38 Centurian, and 42 F6. The whole thing about an F6 being for a big archer is nonsense. Accross the board, it is an easier shirt to control. Obviously, the manufacturer can help dial the size in, but buy the loosest fit.

We alter our own gear, so we start a lifter off relatively loose and then tighten it up as they get stronger and more confident. There are tons of competent lifters around you, so find some and you will probably find someone who has a clue about alteration and can refer you to a tailor to get the job done.

Honestly, I am suspicious of your squat depth because, unless you are a squat freak, your conventional pull should not be that far behing your squat, unless your squats are high, and/or you stiff leg your pulls.

In fact, I would expect your raw squat to be lower than your raw pull. You may be the exception, but I would take a close look at that.

Bottom line, there are tons of meets in TX, so pick one and do it. Don't change a thing for the first one, except get some knee wraps.

Get that one under your belt, and take it from there. Nobody cares what you total at your first meet. It's just like your opener. Nobody remembers where you started, but you want to make sure they remember where you finished.

What's most important is surviving your first meet, and ideally going 9/9.

Good luck.


Thanks, i appreciate your help.

I've acctually been pretty eager to lift at a meet. I work on the weekends and am in several honors courses at school, so those responsibilities come first. Once summer time comes around and i'm alleviated of school responsibilities i'll definitely be diving into a couple meets.

As far as my squat depth goes, it for sure is legal depth. A bud of mine has an electronic device that you put on your upper thigh that beeps when it's parallel to the ground. 2 beeps actually, one coming down through || and one coming up.

After looking through my training log, i'm pretty sure that lack of practice is the issue with my DL being so low.
I've trained DL 6 times vs. 20 times for Squat. I hit a 5lb PR for the DL last night, so it's not like i'm not making progress. I'm thinking i just need to up the frequency of testing the DL, maybe 2 weeks deadlift 1 week squat for 6-9 weeks or so.

Thanks for the help everyone.


It's about 50/50. On the dead the range is shorter, but on the squat you get the stretch reflex and don't have to worry about having a weak grip. There are top guys raw who do 100 more on squat than dead, and some who do over 100 more on dead than squat.


You are way off as it relates to young lifters. Perhaps 90/10.

Top guys have nothing to do with newbs.