T Nation

Compound Lifts- What They Did for Me


When I started working out, my general tendency was to use machines, isolation movements, stupid things that wouldn't bring me results. Of course, I didn't know much better. I constantly wondered why I didn't see any gains in muscle or loss in body fat. It was starting to anger me that I was a poor 18% body fat, 6'1" 182 pound, 160 pound squatting weakling.

Although most people will tell you that gaining muscle while losing fat isn't possible, I would say that's only the case for intermediate+ legitimate bodybuilders. Even now, having trained for over half a year, I eat a heavy protein diet, probably close to 4,000 calories a day, and I just keep getting leaner. Of course, I have to deal with +10 hours of intense cardio a week, as I'm an active athlete 6 months out of the year.

To get to the point... Over 6 months of true training (Had volleyball and basketball 4 months since I began compound lifting) I lost around 8 pounds of fat, and gained around 45 pounds of muscle.

I did absolutely nothing but deadlifts, squats, benchpress, overhead press, rows, isolation for my abs, and a bit of isolation for my arms. I aimed for 6 reps for each of these compound exercises, 10 reps for the isolation.

I gained in 10 months:

Deadlift- 200-330 +130
Squat- 160-280 +120
Benchpress- 130-200 + 70
Rows- 160-220 + 60
Overhead Press- 100-140 +40

Please, all you newbies, listen to me when I tell you that compound lifts are where it's at. Personally I eat a large source of protein whenever I'm hungry, additionally adding complex carbs. I've used creatine this whole time, and aim for a 40 grab protein shake after every workout.

I know it's long, but I hope you all can get something from this. BTW I'm 16 years old. OF course, being a newbie myself, I could use every bit of advice from all you experts out there. Please, help us newbies out, add any advice or criticism you have for me.

I am now at around 15% body fat, 6'2" and 210 pounds, bulking and aiming to be 230 <17% by February 5th.


are all of those weights your 6RM? good job on making progress. any before/after pics or measures?


yes, and ill upload pics in a few, ive been slacking lately due to basketball so not in quite the best condition atm :smiley:


I just noticed, no pullups/pulldowns?


Why 6 and 10 reps?

Just curious on how you came to those numbers.

And, he does rows and deads. Why are pull ups and downs so important right now?


why not do them?


He's 16, on a decent program, doing deads and rows.

I am just curious. Are they really that important RIGHT NOW. If he was on BB split, yeah, I would see that, but right now? Besides, hes at least doing the basics and, of course, vanity work (arms and abs).


since you put it that way, no. aside from a vanity lift I've just always felt that it's one of those things that a healthy male should be able to do.


ive actually incorporated pullups into my workout recently now that im getting stronger. i still cant rep more than 2 or 3 tho..


aNd i do 6 and 10 because i seem to gain the most size and strength with 6. the 10 is advice i got from a bodybuilder at my gym for isolation exercises


Good job dude, good luck with further progress.

ps. Thats some sick lifts for a 16year old. When I was 16 I had the body of a 8year old girl and some
would argue I still have :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


those lifts are 1 rep maxes :confused:


Still excellent progress. Keep it up.


Yeah amazing stuff. If you like the compound lifts you should check out some of the articles by Ken Leistner. Your program reminds me of a lot of the stuff that he suggests. "The look of power" and "Sensible Training - A Logical Approach to Size and Strength" by Leistner.

you will gain some world-class strength over the years on a program of compound lifts, trained hard/heavy each session. you are already well on your way, keep it up.


+1. you are 16, and you made that progress in 10 months. you are now closer to a man-child now than just another skinny stick of a 16 year old like most of your peers.

imagine where you could be in 10 years.. hell, by the time you go to college you could be a beast.

keep it up, keep moving the goalposts back, identify your weaknesses as you go along and make them your strengths.


Compound lifts are awesome. However, I can say that after doing workouts where benching, chinning, rowing, pressing, squatting and deadlifting were 95% of the stuff I did, my middle has gotten really thick but my arms, traps, and calves have been left behind.

I've been doing this "back to basics" thing since last year, in various forms (Beyond Brawn, Huge in a Hurry/Get Big/Get Strong, my own "Upper/Lower" split, etc.) it's given me a nice base of strength and helped me get over 2 plates on bench, 3 on squat and nearly 4 on deadlift, but I'm about to throw all of those big lifts into maintenance mode (1x/week) and start doing some vanity workouts again until my arms no longer look like straw sticking out of a keg.


Dude your strong as hell compared to most 16 year olds keep up the good work