T Nation

Strength Across Borders


Hey people, Im curious what age many of you started lifting and what were your numbers on your starting lifts, and what your CURRENT age and lifts are at this point?

I live in Kenya and I have NEVER seen some of the shit that happens abroad (generally outside of Africa, but particularly USA and Europe) going on here. From reading some training logs here and there plus watching vids, theres a huge lot of you who are strong as f*ck or who get strong really quickly from the time you begin lifting. Im trying to understand whats the variable that makes such a difference in strength other than the whole ''genetics'' thing.
For example, I am yet to witness ANYONE perform a 500lb squat or a 400lb bench here, yet from what I gather, its not an unusual thing in other continents. (And its not because my sample size is small)

People here train hard, eat right, rest enough etc but the differences in strength between here and other countries is VAST....


I started lifting with consistency when I was 15 soon to be 16. I weighed about 166. I was able to do about 10 pullups. I could bench 185, deadlift 245 for reps, and could squat 155 for 20. I had been been doing pushups and whatnot since I was 11, but this was the first time I actually lifted hard and with consistency.

I turned 18 two months ago. I have benched 365, deadlifted 555, and squatted 520. I can put up bigger numbers than these, but that is what I HAVE done. I weigh around 218. I can also tbar row 6 plates, do dips with 180, and strict press 225 to name a few.


In that case, the fact that not many are strong probably sets everyone back.

Plenty of strong people here in Japan, even in spite of their low weight.


spar4tee, you are one strong MOFO. The first time I looked at your log I was impressed and then after I saw your age my jaw dropped! There are guys here who have trained longer than you have and are even heavier and can't put up those numbers. And I aint talking about guys who do curls on a bosu ball...

Thanks for the info though


I know Japan has strong people. Here the strange thing is I have seen some VERY solid physiques before but haven't seen any wild strength.


i weighed 165lbs at this height when i started lifting.

i weigh 230lbs right now.

no drugs.


How old were you when you started and how old are you now?

What were your numbers in the SQ,BP,DL and OHP then and what are they now?


i was 18/19. i just had my 25th birthday.

i dunno, i was weak as a mofo.

i'm pretty strong now.


Ok, where are your lifts at now? Correct me if Im wrong but wasn't it you in the vid doing DB incline bench with 130's?


I was training when I was 14, but in all honesty I dont remember what my starting numbers where. I grew up in a small farm town and we had no internet and I knew next to nothing about what I was really doing. I looked at a picture of myself a few months after I had originaly started at 14, and for 14 I looked pretty good. Now I am 19, and I train in my basement. My best lifts the last time I was in the gym was 500lbs leg press @ 12 reps (after already fatiged), 375lbs deadlift @ 8 reps, and 230lbs bent over row @ 6 reps (this was almost a year ago so I am kind of guessing the poundages and these where all in the same workout too). I can also do 22 underhand chinups, 18 overhand wide grip pullups, 70 pushups, and heavy bag for 7 min. I train for overall strength and athletics, and the size I have comes as the secondary benefit. I weigh about 190 now, and when I started I was somewhere in the area of 135-140 I think. I want to increase my back strength and leg strength more because they are my "assets". My back and legs have always been strong and I beleive it is because of my genetics. I know that my strength has went up in the last year and I would do much better in the gym now than before. BTW, I have also done 568 situps in a row even though I dont train situps particularly hard. It is more planks for me.


So thats a 55lb gain in BW in 5 years.
I hope the reps on the leg press exceed 2 inches :slightly_smiling:
Thanks for the info

I gotta ask though, why would you do those many situps at once?


FWIW, while a 400 lb bench and (especially) a 500 lb squat are not earth shattering lifts for a serious trainee of 220lbs and up (depending on how they train, genetics and whatnot), they are still exceedingly rare in Europe unless we're talking about what happens in some 2 dozen hardcore PL and BB gyms... The vast majority of trainees here are likely no stronger than the ones you've observed.

In the U.S. you have football for example... A much larger emphasis on athletics and sports which require/benefit from a great deal of strength. Here you mostly have soccer...
So a lot of kids in school and college in the U.S. already train with weights thanks to the demands of their primary sport, be that football, track and field or whatever.
If they're lucky then their coach even knows how to get them progressively stronger.
Oh yeah, then there's the drug culture on top of everything (big time in the U.S. wherever you go, big time in Europe only in some places, and I have no idea how much of a factor it is where you are from, but it can allow guys to get rather strong with little in the ways of periodization and such) ... Dietary differences possibly...
And many other factors.

Still, from what I gather the numbers you've mentioned are rare in the U.S. as well if you look at the total gym going population...

Back when I wasn't yet training at home, I helped some people at various local gyms I went to at the time out with their training.
A typical beginner has done either no prior exercise at all (other than the useless school p.e. which has nothing to do with training people up or any real sport usually) or just soccer (which does not build or require much in the way of strength and size).
They were almost always significantly underweight, think 55-62 Kg on a 178cm / 5'10 frame, scale for height.
Numbers would be something like a 30Kg bench for a few reps (perhaps...), 30-40Kg squats for a few reps to competition depth (if they managed the depth), and a 35-60Kg deadlift for a few reps perhaps (really tall guys/guys with long arms can of course ace this lift from the start pretty much and get 100+... Still, I've seen no one come in the gym and get a 700lb deadlift within 9 months of training or 800lb after a year and a half or however long hulk-something on here managed).

As for the "they eat right and train right" part, give us some more detail on that?


I did it because my dad bet me 50 bucks I couldnt get over 400. I won. :slightly_smiling:


Sorry,I may have set the bar high,(pun intended) by using the 400lb bench and 500lb squat as examples. Let me be exact, the biggest bench Iv seen is 270lbs. The biggest squat - NADA. I hear people tell me they can hit 400 but words haven't become action with most. Deadlifts - probably around 350 - 370 but I saw it in a picture on a gym wall.

Pertaining to drugs, I don't think theres much of them here. I don't even know how someone would get them around here.

Are 500lb squats and 400lb benches really RARE in the US? DL's as well, 550 maybe?

Interesting what you've said about soccer (called football here) because I've played it since I was 6 or 7 years old and now Im 18.

I don't think anyone can get to a 700 DL in less than a year LOL.
Im not talking about lofty numbers like that, more like a 350 DL. That's not very common here, yet it seems to be no big deal in most other places. Same with a 225 bench. Its definitely a milestone but its not something to brag about.

"they eat right and train right" - Sorry, I may have caused some confusion with this again. What I mean is they aren't people who slack off training yet still expect to get strong. They show up and train. With the ''eating'', I mean they pay attention to what they eat. They're pretty strict with junk food, alcohol, artificial sugars,etc....

BTW, Happy New Year to everyone!


First time benching at 18 ... 66 for 10 reps
First time squatting at 19 ... 88 for 5 reps (more of a half squat)
First time deadlifting at 19 ... 110 for 5 reps (BS form)

Current age 23 ... best lifts from 2011:

Bench: 309 x 5 (left elbow strapped from dislocation few months earlier)
Squat: 309 x 8 (hamstring to calves)
Deads: 517 x 1 (conventional)

As for in Australia ... I have seen one person bench 400 for a single (juiced out of his brains), one high school friend who hammer throws full squat 460 for a single, yet to see anyone deadlift 600. I'm sure there are those guys out there but you don't see them very often. On the whole, a 220lb bench, 300lb squat and 400lb deadlift are the common standards of strength here. Neither of which is really an extraordinary feat.


lol yeah that was him


Atmosphere, scope, and attitude make the biggest difference in my opinion. You would occasionally see someone with extraordinary genetics that get really strong really fast, and then years later you never hear about them because they didn't have the drive. The heaviest lift I've seen in person is a 700lb raw squat, so obviously that raises my expectations of myself.


Well, that's really no different than what you can see in the average commercial gym here.
In fact, you can visit some 50+ gyms here never seeing anyone bench more than 220, squat or deadlift at all... Unless they're tall and overweight (and bench like 270 for their troubles)... Before you run into one serious gym where the majority put up 300+ benches squats and 400+ deadlifts.

Well. Likely a lot less rare than in Europe and a damn sight less rare than in Africa, but still.

Food choices have little to do with it though, beyond getting adequate amounts of protein in. You can eat "squeaky clean" and weigh everything you eat all the time for 10 years straight, train in a way that is touted by many gurus as great, be perfectly consistent in showing up at the gym... And make little to no progress.

Unfortunately, from what info you have given I still don't know how they actually train (periodization for example), whether they've gained bodyweight in that time-frame and how much, etc.

Happy new year to you too.

What's the average gym like where you live?


Good work dude. Thats some really solid progress right there. Keep it up.

Haven't seen anyone squat 300lbs yet either. There was this one guy who was telling me he could hit 220kg (approx 488lbs) and then the day i saw him doing 300lbs I was TERRIBLY disappointed because of how high it was. I don't whether I should let him off easy since he had leg pressed (the horizontal one) 350kg (approx 777lbs) for 2 sets of three reps and he had worked up to that weight.


Then he's strong. The heaviest DB's Iv seen here are 120's and most of the time they're covered in dust. Heaviest Iv seen used on the bench are 95's. (flat)
Is it common in the US for people to use the 80's and upwards regularly?

True,those things are really important. Someone can have the bad genetics but if they can set their mind to it then they can get what they want.

If I saw a 700lb RAW squat my eyes would just fall out. Damn......