T Nation

How Long Before You Looked Like You Lift?


#1

This question is mainly posted to y'all older lifters on here? Tried searching for it online but couldn't find much so I figured I might as well ask it here. How many YEARS into lifting did it take before people could tell that you lift? Currently 17 going 18 and I'm no where near looking like I lift. Plus points to those who've before and after photos. Seen quite a few of them here from guys like flipcollar & T3hPwnisher, real motivating stuff.

EDIT: By looking like you lift, I would define it as, when people look at you, they know that you definitely do, in fact, lift and people be always asking you how you got to where you are currently.

"The fun happens when people recognize your accomplishments without you having to bring them up, when people tell you that you look big, that you look strong, that you look fit, that you look healthy." - guess who


#2

I’m 5’10". If I were going to make some somewhat arbitrary distinctions, I would say that before about 185lbs and fairly lean, I looked like I did some type of physical activity, but it could have just been running and calisthenics like pullups and whatnot. 185-195, look like something of a crossfitter. Over 195 (probably about 200 atm) and fairly lean (visible abs and such), I look like I lift weights.

Overally, I started at about 150 and it took probably 3 years to get to 200.

(Edit: sorry, no pics here. Just think it’s generally a bad idea to post pics on the Internet, particularly on public boards)


#3

I think the answer to your question depends on so many variables it’s impossible to answer beyond “keep lifting hard and find out”.

I do believe that’s a Th3Pwnisher quote though. A good one, although I don’t agree with it 100%.


#4

Nothing makes dudes look skinny like bird-necks, narrow shoulders and no upper back/traps.

Remember Arnold and the X-Shape, or the V-taper? Wide shoulders, narrow waist. Thickness in the back and shoulders.

Everybody knows you build your base, and continue to drive your strength with compound lifts. These will be enough for some guys.

But the rest of us will need some specific work for the delts, traps, upper chest and upper back. Bench pressing and deadlifts dont do much for my delts and biceps. I have to build mass above my sternum to look like a lifter. Fill out those polo shirts!

After 3 months, you should definetly see mass, and results. But if you only build up certain areas, you could end up looking LESS like you lift.


#5

I think everyone should have micro and macro goals. Yes you want to eventually be a jacked human being from the viewpoint of anyone who comes in contact with you. But long before that… if you lift hard and are consistent then people who know you and where you started will make all sorts of comments based on what you “used” to look like.

When I first started lifting I was as scrawny as you could be. 5’10 and 126 lbs with 12 inch arms. By the time I reached 150 lbs i was getting all kinds of comments from people asking me what i was doing, was i on roids?, I look “huge” etc.

Now I know its laughable to think a 5’10 dude who was 150 lbs looks huge or would be on roids but the change that i had made to MYSELF was that dramatic that it caused people to say those things.

Now if i saw someone i never met at that time saw me then sure… maybe they would say I didn’t even look like i lifted at the time. I would focus more on nearer goals of stuff like gaining the next 10 lbs or hitting certain numbers on your lifts or certain measurements on your arms or whatever… keep reaching those goals and you’ll get to the point where you’ve put enough time in that anyone you meet will know that you lift weights.


#6

[quote]DJS wrote:

When I first started lifting I was as scrawny as you could be. 5’10 and 126 lbs with 12 inch arms. By the time I reached 150 lbs i was getting all kinds of comments from people asking me what i was doing, was i on roids?, I look “huge” etc.

Now if i saw someone i never met at that time saw me then sure… maybe they would say I didn’t even look like i lifted at the time. I would focus more on nearer goals of stuff like gaining the next 10 lbs or hitting certain numbers on your lifts or certain measurements on your arms or whatever… keep reaching those goals and you’ll get to the point where you’ve put enough time in that anyone you meet will know that you lift weights.[/quote]

This is a large part of what I was going to say. And I’m still gonna say it, lol.

I started lifting when I got to college. None of my high school friends saw me for about 6 months. During winter break, I got comments from like EVERYONE. The roids comments, you look huge, etc. And I also went from about 125 to 150 during that period.

Over the years, the comments have progressed something like this:
friends telling me they can tell I workout, my arms look nice, etc.
people I don’t know particularly well asking if I workout.
Strangers asking what I do to workout.
Strangers asking if I’m a bodybuilder (this is only in the last year).
Friends simply assuming I use steroids without asking.

I would say the answer to your question, in a general way, is that it takes a few years. I was not particularly dedicated to lifting, and didn’t lift at all, for a large chunk of the last decade. If I had been, I would have gotten to the point I’m at now probably 5 years sooner.

The best indicator, to me, is when strangers approach you about lifting and stuff. I get comments almost daily now when I go out now. That’s a pretty good indicator. Grocery checkout lines, restaurants, the mall, strangers walking down the street, literally anywhere. People either want to tell me how much they lift, how much they used to lift, ask me what I do, etc. It’s cool and embarrassing at the same time. I still haven’t figured out how to respond to some questions.


#7

Will vary greatly depending on the person and their training protocol and adherence to it.

For me (timeframe begins with onset of serious, consistent training):

6mo - I have a better physique than any sedentary person. Lean enough to have solid abs and big enough that ordinary people would consider muscular, an “athletic” build (about 160lbs at 5’8"). I look good in t-shirts, but not impressive in sweaters/jackets.

1yr - People start asking if I’ve been juicing.

2yrs - A lot of regular people have stopped asking if I’m juicing and started assuming I’m juicing. Every time I set foot into a doctor’s office I am asked about it. I have started to noticeably fill out sweaters and jackets.

3yrs (present day) - I get asked if I juice more rarely. Most people assume that is the case right off, including many lifters (but not experienced ones). Currently sitting at 5’8" and 186lbs (profile pic is from a few months ago at 178lbs).


#8

…less than six months.

But I began training with experienced lifters who pushed me to go hard, or else they wouldn’t allow me to train with them.

Additionally, I wasn’t afraid to EAT.

Thanks to those two things, I packed on the pounds and was able to make noticeable changes to my physique in a relatively brief amount of time.


#9

Oh and to possibly add on to the question, I’m sure y’all have tried getting friends/family (who don’t lift) on lifting and such, how much success do y’all usually have? In my experience, keep in mind that I haven’t been lifting for all that long, most people (5 friends and counting) just give up 1-2 months in regardless of how much I try to help them. Giving them a beginner programme to follow, asking them to track their macros, etc etc. Is it just be or are most people just not willing and for a lack of a better term, lazy?


#10

Depends on your frame but if you’re a skinny kid changes come pretty quick and I remember how my friends were amazed only with my noob gains in 3-4 weeks (6"35 150->165)

I believe if you’re skinny and gain 30-40lb you’ll have people telling that you look athletic. Well that’s what happening to me when I go out, even though I’m far from being impressive when I look at big dudes at my gym. You might really draw attention from fellow lifters and start being impressive at 50+ gains imo.

It all depends if you wanna look like you’re athletic or look specifically like you lift. Triple jumpers I know look average in L clothes. Not exactly average in track suits. I bet you have to fill L/XL clothes at the H&M to look “big” (another criteria I have. Went from small M and size 28 jeans -lol- to decent L and size 32)

Regarding that last question : you can’t force anyone into a sport if they don’t like it. Going to a gym sucks for many people for many reasons. Either they have it deep inside or they don’t. You should be able to see what the mentality of the guy is like : how humble, how dedicated, how he behaves at the gym, if he sends text instead of being in the zone for the next set etc.
BTW same goes with “how to find a gym bro” I thought I had found one recently since we have the same maxes…but just doing one day with him turned me mad and I dropped him - was doing 4 sets while he was doing 1-2 because he was constantly texting his new GF and showing me her texts about the raping post gym etc.


#11

I think it’s easiest to tell based on how a person’s traps, chest and delts fill out their shirt. As long as you’re hitting those areas it’ll become more noticeable over time.


#12

I still don’t feel like I do, but people comment on it all the time so I guess I must.

No idea when it happened


#13

Honestly, it probably took at least a few years before it started to become obvious that I lifted.

I started lifting at nearly 6ft 6 & 200lbs.


#14

[quote]Benanything wrote:
Is it just be or are most people just not willing and for a lack of a better term, lazy?[/quote]

No one likes it when they’re told what to do, even if it may be good for them.


#15

In regard to what flipcollar said, after about 6 months of me lifting (started around age 15), everybody seemed to notice and always commented on how I was a beast all the sudden. Meanwhile was fat 15 year old lol.

I think I finally now look like I lift to be honest. I’ve always looked like I can’t lift what I can. So 4 years ago I could bench 315 but I only looked like I could bench 225. So pretty much I look like a decently strong dude but nobody would guess I compete in strongman competitions on a national level :(.


#16

3 months for friends to start noticing, around 6 months when new acquaintances would ask if I trained.


#17

Did anybody try C.T.'s “Power Look” Program?


#18

[quote]Benanything wrote:
Oh and to possibly add on to the question, I’m sure y’all have tried getting friends/family (who don’t lift) on lifting and such, how much success do y’all usually have? In my experience, keep in mind that I haven’t been lifting for all that long, most people (5 friends and counting) just give up 1-2 months in regardless of how much I try to help them. Giving them a beginner programme to follow, asking them to track their macros, etc etc. Is it just be or are most people just not willing and for a lack of a better term, lazy?[/quote]
Most people have no interest in this lifestyle. Doesn’t mean they’re lazy. It’s just not for them.


#19

The Chicago Marathon 2010 was my last ever Endurance Event at the age of 43.

I weighed 173# and couldnt bench 135#. Two very Consistent Heavy Lifting years later…

I weighed 210# and could Bench 245, Squat 375# and Deadlift 455# …

remember, competitive Cyclist (i.e. NO upper body whatsoever) so dont bag on the bench.

So Two years of doing everything Right (thoughts, breathwork, sleep, nutrition and training).


#20

[photo]41047[/photo]
Jan 2011. Resistance training 8 months doing BW stuff and DBs at home, but only in the gym for 3 months here.