T Nation

An Average Man's Strength Progression

I am not an Olympic weightlifter. Nor am I an elite power lifter. In fact I couldn�??t be further from elite. I am not a Professional athlete, a college athlete, or a former college athlete. I am not an athlete in any sense of the word. I have not been trained by a coach or professional of any type, and I probably never will be. I am not the 5% of the weight training population who are those listed above.

What I am is the rest of us. I am overweight. I have average genetics. I am not superior physically in any sense. I am the average man. And that is why I am starting this log.

I wanted to see what would happen if a man with average genetic potential and sub-par training could do if he went on a pure strength program. Fuck, if my fat, lazy, weak ass can do it anyone can.

So if you want to follow along, thank you. I could use all the encouragement I can get. If you want to fuck with me for being a lame ass, that�??s cool too.

In my next post I will detail my program, and how I eventually came to it.

It�??s time for specifics.

My Stats
28 years old
234 pounds (of which about 20-25 is pure lard).
Weight training experience �?? More off than on for since I was 17.

Personal Records-
Squat - 285x1
Overhead Press (OHP) �?? 155x1
Deadlift- 300x3
BB Row- 165x5
Bench Press -190x5
Good Mornings �?? 230x1

My Program �??
I have created a program based on the Westside Barbell Club principals. As many are aware these principals include using Maximum Effort days and Dynamic(speed) days. My typical schedule will be as follows �??

Sunday �?? ME Squat
Monday or Tuesday�?? ME Overhead Press
Thursday- DE Squat
Friday or Saturday �?? DE Overhead Press

I have replaced bench Presses with over head presses. Right now I feel overhead presses will help my overall strength. No real reason for this. I just wanted to do overhead presses.

I plan on working on my lifts for 4 weeks and then on week 5 retesting my 3 major lifts. Two of these cycles I will take a week off or active rest.

I have already completed my first week. I will follow up later with my day by day workouts so far.

It’s my impression that many ultra-successful super-strong athletes have so-so genetics. While many mainstream athletes such as basketball players and baseball players have been stars all their lives at the first sport they ever tried, it’s the kids who got bullied or were put on the bench during junior high who learned that they had to work harder than everyone else.

I think the biggest disadvantage you have is not your genetics, but that you are starting your athletic carrier later than most. That, and you’ve let yourself believe you’re lazy and you’ve yet to prove yourself wrong. You still need to learn your body and learn how to be mentally disciplined. Mental Discipline will carry you much farther than genetics will.

It may have been another author on this website, but I believe it was Dan John who said that ANY man under the age of 50 who is in good health can Deadlift 405 within just two years of training.

I think most men are capable of 15 chin-ups and a six pack in much less time then they’d imagine. If joint problems aren’t an issue or are taken care of, then I think we can add a Double Bodyweight Squat to the list of what someone with below average genetics is capable of.

A lot of people will tell you there’s no such thing as a “Hardgainer.” This is a pretty good message to send so that people aren’t discouraged if they think their genetic potential sucks. I disagree with this strategy. Here’s what I’ve always thought: If you are a hardgainer, admit it to yourself. Understand that you need to put in 10 times the intensity and 10 times the dedication into your training if you want to reach your goals. You gotta play the cards you’ve been dealt. But you can make up for a lot with how you play them.

Fighting Scott - Thank you for the excellent post. Your post is the reason I have deicided to do this log.

And I do believe you are correct in your assessments. I know I have to work harder than anyone else. And that is because I have to. Do I believe I can reach my goals, certainly. I may not be the strongest man, but I do have my confidence. Hopefully that, and the hard work, will get me far.

As indicated before here is my first week on this program.

#1 - 06/9 -ME Squat/Dead
Good Mornings
65x3,95x3,125x3,135x3,145x2,165x1,185x1,195x1,205x1(PR)
Partial Deadlifts
185x5x5
Hypers
ABS

#2 - 06/10 -ME OHP
Floor Press-
95x3,115x3,135x3,155x3,175x2,185x1,205x1,215x1(PR),225x0
Barbell Tricep Extension
45x5x5
Barbell Row
165x5x3
165x1x3
Side Raise
20x12x4

#3- 06/12 DE Squat
Box Squat
175x3x8
Stiff Deadlifts
125x5x5
Hypers
ABS

#4 - 06/13 DE OHP
Overhead press
80x3x8
DB JM Press
35x5x4
35x1x10
Side Raise
25x12, 25x8, 25x5

#5 06/17 ME Squat
Good Mornings
105x5,135x3,155x3,185x1,210x1,220x1,225x1,
230x1(PR)
Stiff Deadlifts
135x5x5
ABS

Looks like you know what you’re doing. Where’d you get the idea to make Overhead Pressing your big Upper Body Lift?

I hear what your saying im kinda going through the same process. Theres nothing like the feeling of getting stronger everytime out. I also like overhead pressing
like Dan John says lift some heavy shit from the floor and put it over your head. good luck mike

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Looks like you know what you’re doing. Where’d you get the idea to make Overhead Pressing your big Upper Body Lift?[/quote]

I used to read a lot of Ironman mag. Ok, before anyone punts me on this one, they always ran an article by Bill Starr called the Strongest Will Survive. These articles are what made me start thinking about getting stronger as opposed to the mentzeresque dribble the rest of the mag was spouting. Starr had always considered the overhead press to be a much more productive lift, and a better test of strength than the bench press.

Truthfully I never liked the bench. I never saw any athletic carry over to it. Nor did I see any real life carry over. Starr stated that it was an accessory lift to strengthen the shoulder and tris for olympic lifters. But the true test was the over head. I tend to agree.

On a side note, none of the pussified 140lb “Trainers” do it at my gym. And while I’m on this rant, shouldn’t a trainer look like he trains? Because 90% of the trainers at my gym can’t squat their bodyweight. I’m just saying?!?

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Looks like you know what you’re doing. Where’d you get the idea to make Overhead Pressing your big Upper Body Lift?[/quote]

oh, and the only reason I know anything about this is that i read Dave Tate articles like they are helping pay my rent.

#6 06/18 ME Overhead Press

Floor Press
115x4,145x3,165x3,195x1,220x0,220x1(PR),225x0

DB JM Press
40x5x4
40x10x1

Barbell Row
170x5,170x4,170x3

Notes:
Floor presses weren’t bad, but they weren’t good either. I missed on my first attemt at 220, but hit it the second time after some rest. The 225 wasn’t going anywhere. The bar went up about 3-4 inches before it stalled, so I know it is definitely a tricep issue. I think I shoulder the bar up the first few inches because my right shoulder is a little fatigued now. On my next meso I may add pin presses to fix the sticking point.

I can not express how much I HATE barbell rows. I don’t like doing them at all. But I know they are important so I’m going to keep at em. I don’t like to go too crazy with the volume because when I do I feel like shit. I’m going to keep these in the 3-4 set range. I’ll only up the weight until I hit 3 sets at 5 reps.

So I have decided that along with the strength phase that I�??m also going to try lose some weight as well. As I noted in previous posts I�??ve got myself a bit of a gut and it�??s gross. So losing some inches there wouldn�??t be the worst thing in the world. After some intensive research I have decided that I am going to do the following.

a. I am going to eat as my body tells me to �?? Something just doesn�??t seem right to force feed the body to take on thousands and thousands of calories that it can not handle. I mean, did you start out with a 400 pound squat, or did you ramp it up gradually allowing your body to adjust. I feel the same concept applies to eating. Right now, with my training, my body may require 2000 calories a day to grow. A month from now I may need 2500 a day. And so on and so forth. When it is time for more food, believe me I will know about it.
b. I will eat when my body tells me to. �?? I don�??t think having scheduled meals will work for me. Just like the above this is something that is intuitive. My body will tell me when I need to eat. So when it does, I�??ll eat. Simple.
c. I will eat what my body wants to eat �?? I do believe protein intake is important BUT I do not believe that my body right now can process 300 grams of it a day. Just like in a. my body will tell me what it should eat. If it�??s a small portion of meat that meal, then that is what I will eat. I am sure once my strength and my weight go up my protein need will increase at well. And all my junk food will cut out.
d. Cardio �?? I know this is the dreaded C word in Powerlifting circles but I do believe it has its place. For no other reason than staying power. I mean if I die before I�??m 40 then all of this shit if for not. Heart health is important, and if you don�??t like it, well go scratch, I�??m doing it anyway. . . .so 30-45 minutes steady state cardio will be done after all weight workouts.

#7 06/19 DE Squat

Box Squats
180x2x8

Romanian Deadlifts
135x5x5
Hypers
Abs

Notes -
Box Squats went well. I used a much lower box this time around. Box must have been about 12-15 inches high. I was about 4-5 inches below parallel.

My speed was ok. Coming off the box and through the midpoint were a bit slow. But I know I was using enough force because at the top the bar felt like it was going to fly off me. I guess with time I’ll be able to get through the slow part better.

RDL- Since is my “Speed” day, and since I’m still working my weight up I decided to do these with speed just like the box squats. Went up well, no problems.

I do have one question and that lies with stretching/flexibility. I do not stretch. Mainly because I don’t like it and I suck at it.

I’m as flexible as a block of ice. But I can get into the proper positions on all my lifts. So my question is how important is it? Do I need to be able to do a split? Or just getting into the proper position/dept of my lifts good enough. Since I’m not sure if anyone is reading this I’ll post it in another section as well.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
It’s my impression that many ultra-successful super-strong athletes have so-so genetics. While many mainstream athletes such as basketball players and baseball players have been stars all their lives at the first sport they ever tried, it’s the kids who got bullied or were put on the bench during junior high who learned that they had to work harder than everyone else.

I think the biggest disadvantage you have is not your genetics, but that you are starting your athletic carrier later than most. That, and you’ve let yourself believe you’re lazy and you’ve yet to prove yourself wrong. You still need to learn your body and learn how to be mentally disciplined. Mental Discipline will carry you much farther than genetics will.

It may have been another author on this website, but I believe it was Dan John who said that ANY man under the age of 50 who is in good health can Deadlift 405 within just two years of training.

I think most men are capable of 15 chin-ups and a six pack in much less time then they’d imagine. If joint problems aren’t an issue or are taken care of, then I think we can add a Double Bodyweight Squat to the list of what someone with below average genetics is capable of.

A lot of people will tell you there’s no such thing as a “Hardgainer.” This is a pretty good message to send so that people aren’t discouraged if they think their genetic potential sucks.

I disagree with this strategy. Here’s what I’ve always thought: If you are a hardgainer, admit it to yourself. Understand that you need to put in 10 times the intensity and 10 times the dedication into your training if you want to reach your goals. You gotta play the cards you’ve been dealt. But you can make up for a lot with how you play them. [/quote]

Couldnt have said it better myself.

#7 DE OHP 6/21/08

Overhead press
85x3x8

Dumbell Extensions
25x8x5

Dumbell Rows
50x5x5

Side Raises
25x12x2
25x8x1

I’ll follow along with ya…

hell, I too had ZERO athletic participation until recently…starting at age 42 I took up p’lifting . you got it licked compared to me !

I just made the move to Westside also . It’ll be good to watch another in the same average-guy class.

you stated you were 235 pounds , with 25 pounds of fat ? would’nt that put you at about 11% B.F. ? nothing average about that

cheers…see ya in the funny-pages

just noticed also that you use some decent weight on your good-mornings . did you have someone help you learn these ?

I ask because I just started learning these about 6 or so weeks ago , and I feel like a fish-outta-water doing them .

[quote]marlboroman wrote:
just noticed also that you use some decent weight on your good-mornings . did you have someone help you learn these ?

I ask because I just started learning these about 6 or so weeks ago , and I feel like a fish-outta-water doing them . [/quote]

Actually I just learned them on my own. I kind of youtubed it and figured it out. And I got the technique from reading Bill Star articles. His articles in Ironman had excellent detail on the techique.

How I figured out to do them was not to actually bend forward on them. I kind of bring my hips back. I know this isn’t the greatest explaination, but hopefully someone could expound on it a little.

#8 - 06/22/08 - ME Squat/Deadlift

Box Squat
135x3,165x3,195x2, 225x1,245x1,265x1,285x1, 305x1(PR)

Romananian Deadlift
145x5x5
Hypers
Abs

Notes - The box squats went well I think. I never had 300+ on my back and I’m happy it didn’t feel too heavy. The only issue I have is that I have a regular squat rack, and not a power rack. Due to this I have to take a solid step and a half back and this caused the bar to go a little crazy. I have to figure out a way to do this without having to walk too much

nice box-squatting . I havent gone heavy with those yet either(225x5,I think)…new movement paranoia again .

[quote]marlboroman wrote:
nice box-squatting . I havent gone heavy with those yet either(225x5,I think)…new movement paranoia again .[/quote]

Thank you. They aren’t that bad to get into. I realized you need humoungous core strength getting off the box. I think more so that straight squats.

Its also a rare movement in my gym. I had about 5 people come up to me an ask me about them