T Nation

How to be a Lean Beast at 120kgs


Here goes.

I've been thinking about having a log on here for quite some time - I won't be updating every session, but definitely multiple times per week.

I am currently a powerlifter in the IPF 120kg class.

I'm planning on documenting what I do, in particular PBs, competition prep, and general feelings about how training is going.

My title refers to my goal - to be absolutely dominant in the IPF 120kg class. In order to do that my best option is to look to be lean and strong, and carry as much muscle as I can, ideally lean at about 123 with a view to cutting to 120 for competition.

Will update with some background on lifts, training etc shortly.


I'm 24 years old. Until last year I played rugby and trained fairly exclusively for that...but really I've always been better at being strong than playing rugby.

I did my first competition seven months ago, and since then I haven't wanted to do anything else.

My best lifts are as follows. All lifts have been completed under IPF judging and are unequipped. I will provide rough estimates in pounds for any American spectators.

Sq - 267.5 kgs (588 lbs)
Bench - 192.5 kgs (423.5 lbs)
Deadlift - 302.5 kgs(665.5 lbs)
Total - 752.5 kgs (1655 lbs)

My last competition was the British Unequipped Championship, where I took 1st place in the 120kg class.

Updates on past, present and future training to follow.


great lifts!
Im hoping to compete next year in IPF as well - but probably wont happen lol. Total is low and i dont wanna embarress myself haha

will be following.


Jacob, thanks for following. Get it done, you will find all the support you need to keep getting stronger.


Some background on my training:

I started training with weights at around 15. Just your standard clueless beginner stuff, curls etc.

I joined the gym at my school and adopted general bodybuilding principles to train to, never really using a program. I found I was naturally pretty strong, and put on size fairly easily. I also got fat easily, but generally held this off with a fairly clean diet and conditioning work.

I was soon convinced to join a local gym which was a lot more hardcore. This was where I learned to lift, and where I learned lessons I still train by now. It was awesome.

I trained for rugby, which involved training to be bigger, stronger and faster, with lots of conditioning also.

In my first year of university I benched 155kgs, squatted 200kgs and pulled 235kgs.


Before my first competition 6 months ago I had a lot of success maxing all of the time. I maxed my lifts 5 or 6 days a week, but began to ease off before the competition to let myself recover. It seemed to work well.

I put this down to improving my confidence under max weights, and regular maximal stimulus. I got used to it, and I got better at it, but it wasn't sustainable long term really because of recurring tendinits, niggles etc.

I had the chance to visit Westside this year, where Louie Simmons told me that in order to make serious progress I needed to work on my speed. So naturally that's what my priority is now. And it's working. In 5 weeks my bench (the only one I've tested since the start) has jumped AT LEAST 7.5 kgs. My 3rd attempt at a recent bench only comp was a 7.5kg PB and I still had some left in the tank.

I'm currently doing a slightly modified Westside program that includes an ME deadlift day on its own.

Details of my split to follow tomorrow, when I will also start logging some details of tomorrow's session.

It's late so I'm off to bed.

If you see this log and want to follow along, please ask questions, give criticisms, comments, suggestions, anything you can think of. I want input!


Some strong ass numbers in here man. And you got to visit Westside? That's awesome.

I'll be following


Thanks Inky, more updates to follow.


it's about time!


Haha I've been mulling it over for a while!

Today's training:

DE squatting today - only two of us in the gym, but we had some good intensity going, one of our guys speed pulling and me band squatting on the dual platforms. One of those magic squat sessions where I felt mobile, fast, and ready for anything. My only mistake was that I realised too late and didn't ramp up the numbers with the bands like I could have.

In the end this is what it turned out like -

13 doubles w/ 105kgs on the bar, green bands and monster minis. All deep, snappy and crisp reps, bands kicking in right in the middle and forcing me to blast through. Ideal...but should have worked up to a fast max.

Assistance was 4 sets of 15 back extensions...spinal erectors were on fire. Loving back extensions, but they don't really feel like an assistance movement as the ROM is so small. But I suppose if they are beefing up my erectors I can't really complain.

For supplementary work, formatted as tri-sets:

3 x 12 GHRs w/ 10kg plate + monster mini band

3 x 12 fat bar pullups w/ 5kgs

3 x 15 DB side bends with some big dumbell. Maybe 42 kgs or something.

All in all a fairly short, intense session which could have been a bit more if I had had the foresight to cram some more weight onto the bar for my later sets. I could have put on perhaps another 20kgs without losing too much speed.

Got to be up early tomorrow to watch the rugby, but will update tomorrow's session, and pop in some details about my diet and nutrition (a very important factor for me).

Might look to get some pics and/or vids up soon too.


Had a good blast today.

My dedicated DE deadlift day, Saturday is a nice, fairly low volume session, with a bit of bench stuff thrown in (basically the stuff I would fit in Mon - Fri if I had more time).

If you're wondering why I have dedicated ME and DE deadlift days (quite a large step removed from standard Westside protocol), it's because I have always responded incredibly well to lots of volume and intensity on the pull. That and it's my favourite lift...I miss pulls terribly when I don't do them!

  • ~15 fast doubles with 100kgs + blue bands doubled over the bar. Most were good tidy pulls, with a bit of effort required to smash my hips through the resistance at the top. Around 45 secs - 1 min rest kept the intensity up...my regular training partner and I had some seriously epic tunes going at mighty Big Time Barbell, and the atmosphere was good for the best part of my DE work. A bit of Hans Zimmer, Clint Mansell on the sound system...got us going and kept us coming back at each set with purpose.

-Assistance was around 4 - 6 sets of power shrugs. Put my hips into it a bit, but kept the weight modest enough to get a great range of motion on every rep for a good 12 - 15, up to 180kgs.

-As a bit of extra bench work for my week, I did some extra assistance in the form of standing OHP from pins set about chin height. after a few warmups I got a rep PB of 195 for 6, followed by 2 sets of 5.

-Extras, in the form of tri-sets:

Rope pushdowns, 3 x 15

Supine hip raises, 3 x 15 w/ ankle weights

Neck raises, 3 x 12 w/ 20kg neck harness

A great intense sesh, smashed through everything quickly and with purpose. Generally starting to feel the benefit of the masses of posterior chain and speed work...my back feels bigger and stronger than ever, and my hips are starting to slam through all of my movements with real dynamism. I'm also feeling the benefit of the extra ab and neck work (started those about 6 weeks before I started this log) - I'm standing taller, my posture is better, and my core feels tight and strong.

Commonwealth Championships are exactly 10 weeks away. I'm definitely keen to go and smash some big weights - I haven't started thinking about openers yet really, but I always like to specualte early as to what I'd like to get to on my third attempts - having a best case scenario seems to keep my mind focused on the goal.

At present my hopes for the Commonwealth are a good solid squat above 270 kgs, a 195 bench and a pull at or over 305...hoping to push up my British record a little.

None are out of the question - but I have to be consistent and keep improving from now until then to bring these numbers within striking range.


A note on my nutrition:

I like to keep my weight controlled. I haven't really got a big enough frame to warrant being a superheavy, and I've got fat to lose.

My standard Mon - Fri diet is simple. Very low carb until around 4pm, when I take on a sweet potato and tuna to get some carbs in my system for training. Just before training I nail my pre-training shake, then obviously my post-training shake afterwards. Both contain dextrose. When I get home I scramble 6 eggs and get those down. This is my lot, and I find it easy to prep all my meals, deal with hunger pangs etc because I regiment it so tightly. Routine is my friend.

On the weekends, I don't go crazy, but I do try to take on a bit more food. I take on fruit juices and milk, lots of greens and roasted root veg to make up for any micronutrients I may not get throughout the week. I don't shy away from carbs as Saturday afternoon to Sunday night is my key recovery time and I want plenty of calories in my system, and the associated insulin response. Lots of protein, red meats and generally rich flavourful foods that I miss so dearly throughout the week! I do not by any means be a complete pig about it, as that would be counterproductive to my goals.

This seems to be fairly successful for me - I feel that I am slowly continuing to get leaner for the time being.

However, I am always open to suggestions and comments regarding nutrition (especially recovery nutrition), so if anybody can chip in with anything that might be interesting or helpful to try then please don't hesitate.


nice session mate - I was always curious, do you boys set your own training up and plan it out etc?

Presumably you have it all planned out before each session?


Hey Ad, yeah most of the boys sort out their own training, but we all share information a lot. Jas usually picks lifts for the boys in comp when he's around because he's a genius at picking weights. If I'm doing a max in training I usually defer to him in order to get the most out of myself on the day.

We do have a few nice coincidences where the boys are training the same thing on the same day, and a couple schedule their training together (Me and Matt usually try to ME squat together for example), but really it's an open house in terms of programming.

I have planned out my whole Westside program, but it has required some minor changes on the fly along the way. I think that's natural, as long as the goal is in mind and you know that any changes are still focused on that. In the past I haven't always planned things out, especially when I was maxing all the time. A lot of the time I would evaluate every few weeks what felt week on a particular movement and try to bring that up through a few weeks of assistance.

Looking forward to seeing you compete at the West Mids mate, all of our equipped boys will be going I think, me and Pearce will probably put in an appearance in a spectating capacity!


A good sesh this evening.

Felt a bit sluggish coming in, for some reason I didn't feel very fresh, but I still managed to have a good, productive session, and a big PB to boot.

Had Manta Ray for ME squats tonight, my second week, and I'm getting to really enjoy them. I love most types of squat, and this one is so far removed from my competition squat(which is fairly wide, lots of forward lean)that it is a very interesting variation.

I worked up from the bar to 180kgs without any real trouble, then singles on -

205 - Absolutely lost my head on this one, my line was shit and I hit a sticking point about ahlfway up where I thought the bar was going to take my head off.

I had already decided after last week (I got a 215 and missed 220 last week) that I was going to go 205/217.5 for the PB, so I really had to get my shit together and concentrate fr the next one.

Got under the bar and smashed 217.5, nice and tight, upright, big belly, head held high. My attitude was a bit poor in the session today, but all of the boys and my training partner in particular did a great job of letting me know that now I HAD to get 220.

I got 220 on the next go, put I had to put up a serious fight. Anyone who has squatted with a manta ray will know that the thing higes on an absolute knife edge, and this was one of those reps where I had to slam it perfectly or it was going to staple my head to the floor.

It was a decent rep, ended up a little too far over my toes for my liking, and I knew I didn't have any more in the hole. My training partner did his best to convince me to go for 222.5, but I think I made the right decision in not going for it - the fight was to keep my positions in the depth of the squat without it breaking me, and I knew I didn't have any more of that in me today.

Assistance was back extensions with a 10kg plate...I got something like 5 x 12.

I got a serious burn, which is good (hypertrophying my erectors is a goal)...but I can't help but think it's depressing considering Vasily Alexeyev and Fred Hatfield have used upwards of 400lbs (!) on this movement.

My tri set was

GHRs - 3 x 12 w/ 10kg plate + monster mini

Fat bar pullups - 3 x 12 w/ 5kg plate

Side bends - 3 x 15 w/ big ass DB

My tri set work is becoming unstoppable, which is encouraging. I added a 5kg plate to my scaffolding bar pullups a few days ago and it hasn't even broken my stride...still bashing out sets of 12 like it ain't no thing, so they go up again on Wednesday.

Same goes for GHRs - I initially struggled with the 10kg plate and the monster mini adding tension at the top, but now they're easier than the 5kg plate was a few weeks ago. I'm currently mulling over whether to up it to a 15kg plate + monster mini, or to change to a harder band to add tension in the top, encouraging a faster, ahrder contraction.

A mixed session over all. I have to admit my attitude was sub par and I doubted myself at key points, but on the positive side I kept coming at the weights and got a key squat PB. Lot to improve upon.



Just myself and my training partner this evening.

I had ME bench this evening, a new movement in bench press to the foam pad, and back to an old favourite in Overhead press for (I was hoping) some new PBs.

I worked up well on my max effort work. I quickly worked up through the big plates, then as my last real warm up weight I smoked 180kgs fast off the pad, and felt I was off to a flying start. I got a feel for the movement quite quickly and felt like I was working well with the pad - but I knew when it got difficult it was going to pin me, so I took small jumps.

I jumped to 200, then 202.5, then 205. 205 was tough - there was a serious sticking point about halfway up which it took some grit to grind through. I felt like I had the 207.5, but after a short fight I failed it.

On to Overhead press - I haven't done normal strict overhead press for a while. I've been cycling variations on overhead presses for some time now, and the results were mixed. My plan was to work up to a max single, then to back off with some rep work. I worked up quickly, and was pleased when I absolutely nailed 100kgs. I thought I was definitely on for a PB, so jumped straight to a 2.5kg PB of 117.5. It flew out of the bottom, but hit a sticking point in the usual place and turned into a slow, maximal, but confident grind.
I backed off with 100kgs for 4 x 3, and the quality of my work on 100kgs was testament to my improvement at overhead.

My usual tri set (3 tri sets) was rope pushdowns, hip raises (like a half dragon flag), and neck harness work with 20kgs. I ended up doing a sick drop set on pushdowns just because I felt like it...serious pumpage.

A good sesh, we struggled to get any atmosphere going with just the two of us, but in the end we just whacked up the music volume and said to ourselves that we were going to smash it. I thought we did a pretty good job.


Going to be a stormer tonight...I can feel it


impressive stuff. Keep it up bro.


Tonight's sesh didn't disappoint. It was a long bus ride in heavy traffic to the gym, but I used that time to get my head right and made sure I had plenty of fire in my belly for when I arrived.

It was the last of my deadlift variations of this program tonight, pulls from a high podium (2 of our elevated platforms stacked up...about 4 or 5 inches).

After a bit of foam rolling etc, the usual, I got on the platform and started pulling form about 70kgs. I was really surprised at the difference...an extra 5 inches ROM on my pull is some serious distance.

I initially tried to use a belt from about 160kgs, but still found that getting into my setup was so tight that the bar was too light to keep me locked in for the full setup as a result of the bar being so low. As a result, I didn't really begin to get quality reps until I got to around 245. 245 flew off the floor, but sustaining the speed through that massive ROM was tough. From there I took 265, which was hard, but a good solid rep. The next was 270, which I knew was going to be very near maximal.

For the 270, I concentrated on nailing my setup, getting a bit of rage on, and most importantly, fighting right through until the end. 270 also flew off the floor, but the massive decrease in speed and proportionate increse in difficulty let me know that this was my daily max...but I've already got a bead on 275 for next week.

Assistance for the evening was prone rows with a 2 second pause, and I got fast, quality reps and good stiff pauses with 70kgs for 3 sets of 15. Lat strength is really coming on now.

It's the last point of this program where my trisets increase in intensity too, so the fact that I handled that was an extra boost to an already cracking session-

Rows really beat my lats up so only got 3 sets of 10 on fat bar pullups w/ 5kg plate.

GHRs with blue band 3 x 12

Side bends with our biggest DB(52.5 I think), 3 x 12

A great intense session. I got a de facto PB having never done podium pulls before, but I performed well...and really blasted myself on assistance - I was battered but I kept coming. Next week is my last ME deadlift of this program so that's where I'll target a serious rampage, but today was a flying start.

Currently starting to think about my testing week in two weeks' time...gathering thoughts, visualising my lifts. Building the rage bank for a huge pull!


Cheers YM.