T Nation

How Long Did It Take?


I'm a newbie--almost 1 year into serious lifting after screwing around with weights on and off (mostly off) for a few years.
Current 1RM: Bench 225, DL 365, Squat 225. Not great but I'm rapidly improving and love lifting heavy.

I hear quite a few guys saying they can bench 400, squat+dl 500. Big numbers imo. How did you reach these numbers?

For example, if you can bench 400 did you reach 300 after 2-3 years and then move up real slow after that. I'm guessing most people spike up quickly for a year or two then it's lots of small gains.

Maybe I'm wrong and it's been slow and steady. Just curious when I read about Westside guys putting up 600-700 lbs. Have they been gaining 10-15 lbs every few months or just started out as monsters.

My dl increase has been real linear--gone up about 10-15lbs. each month for the last 10 months. Would love for this to continue


VERY quick at first then SLOW with a 5lb increse being GREAT. But you also get a spurt from time to time. Just figure YEARS of dedication.

No telling or giving an exact answer as its different for everyone. Just once you get to a seemingly respectable base Yes it slows and takes real WORK!!!


Phil gave a pretty good answer. You should have made some fairly good and steady gains right when you started getting serious, if not, you migh thave to reassess what you have been doing.

Of the big three lifts, the slowest for me overall has been the squat, which was by far my best lift when I started getting serious. My deadlift gained the fastest and I think the only thing that slowed it down was mental. I hit 500 in the deadlift in about two and a half years after my very first deadlift attempt.

When I was younger, my first strength goal was a lifetime goal to bench 405. I still haven't gotten there, but now that I am close I realize I have more in me and need to aim a lot higher.

Again, for me I think the bench was mental. I got up to 295-300 within maybe just under 2 years and got stuck there for what seemed like forever. I just couldn't press 3 plates. Once I hit 315 it shot up a little again and my last max was about 4 months ago at 355.

But I'm sure all my lifts are down right now since I was recently hit by a car and haven't lifted heavy in a couple months.

Just to reiterate, I know it can be fun to know, but my numbers mean nothing to you. You may reach these numbers faster or it may take longer.



After the initial "new" gains, it's all mental. You have to be willing to push yourself harder than you would want. Of course diet and rest all play a HUGE role in gains, but your mentality is what gives you that edge to up the weight in the lifts and break new ground. It's tough, and it's a long journey to setting big PR's, but a never quit attitude is a must if you're going to go anywhere with progress. You just can't give up or get complacent.


I agree with everyone above. It takes time and some things increase at different rates. Just how it is. For me right now I hope to hit over 400 BP by the end of the year. Its pretty crazy of a goal since I can only get 300 right now. One thing I have going for me is that I've trained parts without training the weakest link, which right now is my shoulders. As that has strengthened, my BP has easily gone up. My tris and chest are ready, but my lift off from chest is what's holding me back. And either way, shooting high motives me to work harder.

But things like Pull ups and curls, etc are just slow for me. When I first began lifting again 4 years ago, I couldnt curl 40 lbs. Now I can do 75 lb DBs, hammer. Granted thats crappy form, but I figured it wont be long before its palms up.


Which is why I see far fewer people ever getting close to 400lbs. Most others think 2 plates a side is a truly massive test of strength and that anything more is simply impossible for humans. I think where you train as a beginner may have something to do with those initial beliefs, along with what the trainer believes he can reach himself. It seems to be commonplace to apply limits before even starting. The "skinny trend" isn't helping much either now that some guys actually believe anything larger than Brad Pitt must takes drugs.


Agreed. I'm from the school that says you have to test your will in order to beat the odds. I guess that's why I'm the one with the furrowed brows and gobs of sweat running while I train. It's not just because my routine is strenuous, but also because every session is a test of will. One must be able to tap into that stored force to see continued improvement.


I think it happens quickly right after you start training, then comes in slow measured (read hard earned) bits. IF you get stuck at 225 over and over, you gotta learn and adapt so you can overcome. That is the whole reason for lifting. Learning what our bodies can do and then pushing them justa little bit farther.

I will agree with prof. I can't count the number of guys that load 225 on the bar and think they are god.


Definitely agreed on the environment issue. If nobody around you is pushing you or doing more than you, you have to be damn dedicated to break barriers yourself. I know nothing made my bench press, or any lift for that matter, increase more than being embarassed that other guys around me were able to lift more.

As for the original question, my bench press strength has always progressed as a 2 steps forward, 1 step back kind of thing, depending on the type of training I'm in. Squats and deadlifts have progressed pretty steadily over the course of 9 years, however.


The guys I trained with for about two years are what got my bench to 405lbs initially. Matching them was the motivation and there was never the belief that it couldn't be done.


I figure most people that lift weights that heavy have been around weights for a large part of their lives, of course there are a few anomalies, but you have to spend a fair amount of time to be strong. I started lifting with guys way, way, way stronger than me which showed me how intense you have to be and gave me the motivation to try harder. It also showed me that it doesn't come over night. As long as you love it and do it just for yourself, you'll keep making gains.


I agree with this. When I first stepped foot in the Y, I was 18 years old, and, within the first week there I saw a guy benching 405. He was late 30's/early 40's, so at the time I thought he was old, but strong. That was where I got my lifetime goal of benching 405 from. And it was a lifetime goal because I saw him being older, and assumed it might take that long to get there.

Of course, had I stuck with lifting the since then, I'm sure I would have long passed 405, but I got lazy from 20-26 and fell in love with beer and other vices. However, once I started lifting again and learning about powerlifting, I met a competitive powerlifter in my gym and started lifting with him. We only lifted together for about 3 months before I left California, but the impression was set. I wanted to blow this guy's numbers out of the water. I knew there was no limit to my strength (well, obviously there is a limit, but you can't think that way).

The training environment you lift in can play a huge role in your gains. I know it is true for me. I react better, gain better, and train harder when I have someone training with me. It doesn't even have to be someone stronger than me anymore. If I am lifting with someone weaker than me, I still don't want to slack off; I still want to "show-off" I guess.


It took me from age 14 to 21 to get there, so seven years for me. And yes, it went in slow increments. I did it natural, so it didn't happen overnight like it did for some.


I'm probably the weakest person ever to stumble upon this site...at least in the beginning...

I started seriously about 7-8 months ago. I was a pitiful little creature (and to be honest still am) so I'm mainly still living off newbie gains

I went from a god awful bench of 35kg to 75kg, 40 deadlift to 115 and my squat has gone from 40 to about 95 (I'm still too damn skinny...)

I know I've been getting it easy in terms of newbie gains but I was simply inspired when I saw a genetic freak for the first time...he put up 95kg on his first ever time on the bench...my goal eventually is to conform to the 300/400/500 standard to my bodyweight...


Thanks all for your input. Cannot predict the future but I really enjoy lifting right now and will continue to lift heavy and intelligently (thanks to T-Nation)

One of the best things I've noticed is that powerlifters can continue to make gains into their 40s and 50s. I'm 33--obviously way to late to start baseball, football or any other sport. But if I stick at this and am dilligent I know I will make some good gains. Must admit--it's easy to become a bit obsessive about lifting.

Anyone know of any good powerlifting gyms/trainers in NYC? I go to NYSC because it's in my building but I'd like to go to a coach or trainer to make sure I'm squatting and deadlifting properly. Would also like to learn the
oly lifts.

Thanks again


yes mate myself included in with you there ^

I've only been on it seriously for about four/five months (inc. (tryiing to) eat right, but my first main goal has been met which was ot bench my own bodyweight, bout 78kgs which i've jus done. was doin it progressively as well, so i tink my max is probly a bit more as I can jus about get 3 reps out lol!

I no it's basically nothing, but to me its encouraging and shown that with a bit of work you can up your lifts, which is obviously the goal! I've also added bout 6 kgs of weight, and obviously this has helped (if you can even imagine me bein ne smaller lol).