T Nation

I'm a Power Lifter Not a Body Builder...


Be sure to answer question 5 below about what size belt I should get if you can.

I'm 18. I go to LA fitness. One day I was doing sets of 5 deadlifts. One of the trainers that works there (short but jacked) comes up to me and asks me if I'm training for anything in particular. I said not really I just want to get stronger. He says well you're pretty strong you have 4 plates on each side blah blah you have the potential to be up there with the strong men blah blah (is it standard procedure for them to just flatter the **** out of you?) but you cant do it alone...

So the next thing I know my mom has me signed up to do 26 dollar 30 minute sessions with him twice a week. We found out that he has been bodybuilding/competing for 15 years and was a former navy something etc etc and my mom is a former marine so she could relate to him so I was on the bandwagon.

Before I signed up for this I came to the gym Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I would do squats on Tuesdays, bent over barbell rows on Thursdays, and deadlifts on Saturdays. I would alternate between military press and bench press (so military one time bench the next gym time then military the next and so on). I would do strict barbell bicep curls, isometric grip strength holds, and finger/wrist curls every time. On all of these lifts i would do 3 sets of 5. I would then proceed to do the escalator machine (imo the only cardio machine worth touching. imo the only machine worth touching). Today I did it for 30 mins at level 10 out of the max 20 (been working my way up). I had to get push and get mad and scare people with loud grunts toward the end to finish though (during wrestling season I could do it for 30 at level 15 without being too short of breath afterward). After that I would go do abdominal in the sauna (leg lifts and sit ups).

Please make constructive critiques to the above routine.

Today was my first session with this trainer. He asked do you want to do legs today and I said yeah. So we started with squats. He had me do this set of 10 warm-up up set with 2 plates, 10-20 seconds of rest, set of 5 with 3 plates, 10-20 seconds rest, set of 5 with 3 plates and a dime, 10 - 20 seconds, set of 3 with 3 plates and a quarter. At first I was going deep not quite ass to grass but bouncing a little and he said not to do that and to go parallel. He also helped stabilize me with his hands on my lats. After that we took the weights off and rushed over to that 45 degree angle leg press (an exercise I haven't done in like a year). Without delay we put 6 plates on (my this point my quads were mad wobbly) and 3 sets of 5 with 10 -20 seconds in between with my feet shoulder width apart. Then we quickly took a couple (2) plates off each side and did 3 sets of 5 with my feet about an inch apart 10 - 20 seconds in between. After this is where I get pissed. we rush over to the leg extension machine. Gay sets of homo, 10 - 20 secs in between. Then on to the calf raising machine. Good thing we were about done because I was about to rage quit. We went on to some ab work and then it was over.

After he went on to his next client I went to go do military press and barbell curls and grip stuff. Was too worn out to do as much weight as I would have liked to. Then I did the escalator and sauna and went home and here I am now.


1) Is 10 to 20 seconds in between sets adequate rest for a strength building power lifter?

2) If I keep this up, will I get weaker before I get stronger?

3) Normally I wait 1-3 minutes in between sets and sometimes 4-5 for deadlift. Is that too long?

4) My football coach always said, "3-5 sets, 3-5 reps, 3-5 minutes in between sets, that's how you get stronger." And that DID make me stronger. Will I make as big of gains as fast by resting less in between sets than I would with more rest in between?

5) I don't use a lifting belt. Trainer insists I get one. I think it would be nice to have one even of I don't use it all the time. I hear Inzer 10mm belts are good. I am 51 inches around the navel at rest and 47 sucking it in as hard as I can. What size belt should I get?

6) I started my routine in early December after doing no physical activity for all of my first semester of college (I had school every day and was too tired after). I have lost fat, maintained my weight, and gained strength. I'm not trying to be the biggest loser here I will gradually lose fat as I get stronger. My trainer seems to think otherwise. Should I ditch him?

7) From what you've read do you think this guy knows how to train a power lifter?

8) Do you think this guy is trying to turn me into a body builder?

Thanks in advance for your replies.


I have no response to the rest of this, but as far as the belt just use the sizing information they have on the site. For inzer, 51 inches around puts you with a 3XL.


Rest of 10-20 seconds between sets for the same muscle group is for conditioning/ weight-loss, not for mass, CERTAINLY NOT for strength. The total rest between sets of an exercise, for strength, should be 3 to 5 minutes, sometimes even more, because the nervous system takes longer to recover from high intensity sets than the muscles do. (intensity = %1RM. 80%1RM= 80% int. ; 50%1RM and puking after the set = 50% intensity)
So yes, you'll probably get much weaker because the too short breaks.

In short: 1) HELL NO
2) YES
3) Certainly not
4) Great for beginner and intermediates (3-5,3-5,3-5). Advanced lifters actually have to go heavier (>90% 1RM), so they'll actually get to do sets of 1 or 2 reps. Less rest: see 1) above
5) Dunno, I also don't use one. But I'd do power-breathing exercises to strengthen my transverse abdominis (the "natural" belt; it does the exact same thing as a belt). And KKonstantinovs set the raw world record DL without one. But still, ask around.
6) Low carb diet and sprints and you should lose weight easily. You don't have to go on a drastic weight loss programme and lose strength/mass. Many around here lost fat and even gained muscle at the same time.
7) Ask him if he does. And ask him what kind of routine he put you on (don't tell him it's clearly a fat loss routine), and how will he change it after . Or ask him how many reps should you do when training for strength and how long should your rest between sets be. If he says anything over 5 (remember, advanced lifter require very heavy- relative to their 1RM - weights to gain strength) and anything less than 3, he doesn't know what strength training means.
8) If he was going to put you through such a routine every time (10-20 secs rest, and anything under 3 mins), yes.

NOTE: The more fat you have to begin with the easier it is to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Losing fat while gaining muscle while at 20% works. While at 10% BF it's way harder. So you should have no problem since you're not exactly lean. :slight_smile:

Strength to you, Vlad


My guess is that if the trainer is a bodybuilder and will train you like that because its the only thing he knows. He might even think you will get stronger doing it because bodybuilders are strong, strong per pound of muscle on them.. probably not. If you were preparing for a meet it sounds like you would probably do worse with this guy than if you trained on your own.

I'm not saying this guy is doing anything wrong, hes just doing what he knows. The strongest person I know is a bodybuilder too but I would probably never ask them advice on improving my 1RM, although I kind of want to know just to see what they say.


"Gay sets of homo" haha! That made my morning. I say drop this guy and focus on the basics for now. Something like Starting Strength by Rippetoe will have you progressing fast on the main lifts.


Doesn't sound like a routine you'd find any of the stronger bodybuilders doing.

Most bodybuilders who put up major weights usually ramp up to a low rep top set or even a single (if they feel up for it that day, but singles aren't popular in bbing) on a main lift of the day (if you want to compete in powerlifting, do the big three with powerlifting setup and technique obviously... I'd do that in general whether you want to compete in BB or PL, but that's just me... I prefer using subsequent exercise for, say, chest growth), then maybe another lift for moderate reps, then some lighter stuff.

Some train their muscle groups with more frequency (Ronnie), others just once a week (more wide-spread nowadays). Guys who train more often tend to have heavy and light days/cycles (Ronnie again, for example).

Some of them take fairly short rest periods (Warren), but not 10-20 sec on big exercises if they want to improve their poundages.

Most take 3-4 minutes at least between their heavier sets... Obviously less between their lighter sets.

BB training isn't usually as organized as powerlifting training, i.e. many don't plan out their poundages or anything... Take Jeremy Hoornstra... If 495 or even 405 feels heavy/bad that day, that's where he'll stop his ramp, and does maybe a lighter set for high reps at 315/405 or whatever.
So it takes some experience to get it right... But then again, you don't gain experience by not doing it.

He has a log up (google his name) if you want to learn more about what he does.
Sincityiron's 600 lb raw bench thread is another good source of info if you want to see how a guy with higher training frequency goes about it.

Just keep in mind that making such routines work requires some serious protein intake, and they tend to increase your strength the fastest while you're gaining bodyweight.

OP, ask the guy what got him his best strength gains... If you want to stick with him.

I'd suggest finding a PL crew to work with, or at least someone who has experience with it, puts up major numbers, and can monitor your lifting technique.


Good post. Ive read through your entire "how do you train" thread, you definitely seem to know your shit. Would you mind if I hit you up with a few questions regarding 5/3/1 (could shoot you a PM or something?)?


How much do you weigh and how tall are you?

20-30 seconds rest is a bit short, but it is a good experiment to try.

Comparing it to the conjugate method and specifically some of the stuff I've read on Louie Simmons's site pertaining to speed work, there is a direct correlation between the loads handled on DE day and what they expect to squat in a meet. For example, a guy did 600lbs with bands or whatever for 8 sets of 2 w/ short rest, then he would expect to total. He also uses the total volume on this day i.e. 600x8x2 to determine how much more is volume is required to squat X.

As an anecdote, my training partner is a heavy 181 right now and can raw squat around 550. He trained at Westside for awhile, before an injury and moving. The thing is, he rarely power squats, and does box squats once a week for 6-12 sets w/ chain at a load that is much heavier than what would generally be considered speed work. Training with him for awhile now, I would also consider him a very genetically average lifter.

The rest of his training is for oly lifting including leg squats i.e. high bar olympic style squats, front squats, and all sorts of olympic pulls. He only does benches and deadlifts when preparing for a power meet.

So, he's a very good squatter and doesn't do the traditional sets of 3-5reps/3-5sets/3-5 minutes rest at all. All that strength he has was built doing high density, heavy with lots of band tension, short rest, low rep squats.

All in all, your trainer is training you a bit like a bodybuilder, but that isn't a bad thing if you are getting stronger and bigger (you're only 18 so expect to gain weight whether you want to or not if you are lifting heavy as it will be unavoidable if you eat when you are hungry), and there may be a place in strength training for heavy, high-density, short rest period training.

I say keep it up for a couple weeks, then switch over to more conventional training style if you want. Try not to get stuck in the "there is 1 way to train and everybody else is doing it wrong mentality" because eventually you will get stuck no matter what you are doing, and will need to switch it up.


My pm's don't work... You can shoot me an e-mail if you want (address in my hub). It may take me a while to answer though.


I didn't even read your questions but I did read your story... if you really want to get stronger, stay the hell away from that guy.


Cool, Ive sent you a mail. Thanks, big guy!


Why don't you stick with him for a while and see how it pans out? If you don't like the results, go find someone else.


Just be happy this trainer let you do squats.


I'm not quite 6 foot and weigh 265.


How about you tell him what your goals are and ask him how his methods are going to help you reach them. Given the discrepancy between what you're trying to accomplish and the workout he put you through, it sounds like you haven't had that conversation yet.


I would have said MEDIUM



Hi Mike,

I think there may be an angle on this trainer that you haven't considered yet. Let me present a theory, first some facts:

  1. You are 18 years old, not quite 6 feet tall and 265 lbs. with a 51 inch waist. I'm really not trying to be a jerk, but you are more than likely obese.
  2. Your trainer has you on a program which is obviously geared towards conditioning and fat loss. This is despite the fact that you have made it clear to your trainer that you are interested in lifting really heavy weights and not much else.
  3. Your MOM hired the trainer, not you. Your Mom is writing the checks, not you. Therefore, your Mom is his client, not you. Therefore he is going to work to achieve your Mom's goals, not yours. Do you see where I am going with this?

I could certainly be wrong here, but it seems to me that your Mom may have hired this trainer and given him explicit instructions to put you on a program to shed some bodyfat and get healthier. My guess would be that your Mom is concerned about your health, it sounds like the kind of move a caring Mom, especially a US Marine Mom, would make. Perhaps she didn't want to tell you because she didn't want to hurt your pride, I obviously don't know.

And of course I could be 100% off base on this, but the facts seem to lead to the logical conclusion that the goals of your Mom and Trainer don't really match up with yours. My $.02, which I fully understand you may not give a damn about, is that you could probably drop some weight and maybe even a weight class and not lose any strength along the way. However, your goals are your own, and more power to you in attaining them.


You watch too many sitcoms


If you want to become a strength athlete, find another trainer.