T Nation

Tell Me Exactly How Much I Suck


Today in the gym was finding out what my 1RM was for the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. I'm starting 531 on Monday so I needed the numbers. I took video of each lift and I want to know where exactly I suck, so I can fix it.

And please, judge me like I would be judged at a meet because that's the ultimate goal. And in case it matters, I haven't picked a federation to lift in yet so I'm not sure of Federation-specific rules I'm going for. SO if you see something that's illegal in certain feds, please point it out. Thanks a lot and I look forward to colorful critiques.




Squat was 185, bench 155, and Deadlift is 225


You should be able to add 10lbs to your squat and deadlift each week. Do that until you can't add 5lbs each week.

You should be able to add 5lbs a week to you bench for awhile too, get a good strength base before you jump into 5/3/1. Might take 3-5 months but that's nothing. I Benched 275, Squatted 315, Dealifted 435 before i started using 5/3/1. Not impressive numbers but strong enough to be able to utilize a useful ramping technique.

So just add weight every week until you start stalling then do 5/3/1.


I'm not a power lifter but I know you are going to need to work on the depth of your squats a bit. I'm pretty sure all feds require your thighs to be parallel to the floor for it to count as a rep. Go deep.

Bench looks kind of unstable. I would personally brace my feet against the floor a little better, but that's just me. Try to keep your ass planted on the bench at all times.

Your dead lift form is just awful (no offense). Read this: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/mastering_the_deadlift_part_ii . Most important points: chest up at all times, butt down, drive through the heels.

Hopefully a real power lifter can come in and give you some advice. Good luck in any case!


Since you said that I'll ask another question I was thinking of. I've been doing just a basic Squat, bench, dead routine for a few weeks now. Just those three exercises each workout. Usually a 3x5 setup with a little accessory work after sometimes. I took the template from Starting Strength, I just don't want to do any Olympic lifts yet. Plus my gym doesn't really have the space for it. So should I just keep up with my 3 lifts, 3 days a week and add 10lbs to my squat and deadlift, and 5lbs to my bench each week?


I would honestly just jump into a bodybuilding split with your major movement being one of those main lifts. Start doing accessory work right away, it's going to be a few months before you get a decent strength base...so you might as well get to know your body right now.

If you skimp out on accessory movements right now, you won't know what you like when it comes time to add them in.


Back/Bi day.


BB rows-3x8

DB curls-3x8

Facepulls 3x10

EZ bar curls 3x8

Ramp all the sets, you don't have to get 8 reps on the 3rd set..but try and beat yourself next week.

When your weight starts stalling change the 3x5 to the 5/3/1 template. Get plenty of rest and eat quality food, and be intense in the gym.


I'd go ahead with 5/3/1, the Periodization Bible template is particularly good for beginners


i really dont see the problem with you starting 5/3/1 just be prepared to stay on it for a long time.


The problem is that you increase weight on your calculated 1 rep max monthly. Deadlift and squats go up 10 pounds a month, bench 5 pounds a month.

Since he is new he can be doing that weekly.


Right. I think unless you know you want to be a powerlifter, and you've already got your foot in the door, doing any routine where you need to calculate percentages is a waste of time.


yep, you could go a long way from where you are with a basic ramping 5x5, BB split whatever at this point OP, 5/3/1 would be a bit slow for you for now.

Squat: not to depth. crease of the hip needs to be level with the top of the knee to be parrellel. really focus on keeping you upper back tight, elbows forward(take a thumbless grip on the bar) and PUSH YOUR HIPS BACK AND SPREAD YOUR DAMN KNEES. Dont worry, teaching yourself take ages.

Deadlift: AGH wtf was that? improve your hamstring and hip flexibility so you can get in the proper position - hips lower than shoulders, both go up together. keep the spine in its neutral position, you are rounding at the moment.

Deisel Crew's website has some really good flexibility and mobility articles - read them.

Bench: yeah, good. better powerlifting technique than mine lol.


hmmmmmm...... I never thought about 5-3-1
being to slow for me at this point. I think I'm gonna stick to my 3x5 or even
jump to the 5x5 and stick with that for a while.
I'll save 5-3-1 until after I can't bump the weight each week. This might
be the beginning of a year-long workout plan. 6 months of this followed by
6 months of 5-3-1. It's simple and I can focus on my nutrition, which needs
even more help then my deadlift.

Thanks a lot for the pointers Caveman. My Deadlift has always sucked. I even
went to work out with IronAbrams and he basically told me it sucked. Gave
me some good pointers which, even though you can't tell by the video, helped a lot.

The only reason my bench looks decent is because I obsessed
over it for about a month. I had Dave Tate's 6-Week Bench
Press Cure in my iPod and I listened to it on the way to the
gym, and in the locker room before each of my bench workouts. Worked great. I just wish
I could find something up to par with that video for the squat and deadlift.


I lift USAPL.

Legal squat: hip crease needs to dip BELOW top of knee. You're not quite there.

Legal bench: feet flat on floor.


Good starting point, you're better now than most are when they get into it..

The first thing that I noticed is that you don't tighten your back - you need to squeeze your upper back, your shoulder blades and your lower back together. I saw a Dave Tate video on You Tube where he pointed at a spot between the shoulder blades, and said that you need to be pulling everything towards that spot. It gives you a solid foundation to start with, and you do it before you walk out. Set up, Squeeze, lift and walk out.
The second thing that I could see is that your first movement needs to be with the hips. Right now, you're bending your knees, you need to push your ass out back behind you - think about how you sit on a toilet, it's like that.

Pretty good, but if you want to lift in the IPF/USAPL, you're feet need to be flat on the floor. I think you could also set up a little further towards the bar, the distance between the rack and your starting point looked a bit too far. All told, though, you've got really good bench form.

I used to do the same thing that you do, my hips would move up, my legs would straighten out, my back would round, and THEN the bar would start to move. I came up with a pretty home-brew fix for it... When I walk up to the bar, I posture myself as if I were going to jump as high as I could from a standing start. I set my feet a little wider apart than I used to, my heels about shoulder width and my toes pointed out a bit. I make a point of flexing in an exaggerated lockout position, really arching my back and pushing my hips forward. It looks a little silly, but I find it helps me to focus on the right muscle groups. When I bend down to get the bar, I arch my back, take a deep belly breath, and rock side to side to set up. When I lift, clench my hands, my shoulder blades and my glutes first. I push down into the floor with my heels and pull backwards with my upper body. I thrust my shoulders and head back, and imagine the bar path tipping me backwards, not straight up.

Hope this helps, I know that it's long winded, but it worked for me.


Here is today's deadlift. I dropped the weight down to 155 just because I wanted to be able to focus on everything else.

I pointed my toes out a bit and made my stance a little wider and I could feel a difference. I think I kept my back a bit more from rounding. And re-watching the video I see what you guys mean about bringing the hips and shoulders up at the same time. I'm defiantly not doing that at all. I see where the focus of Leaning Back comes into play.

The whole shoulders down and back thing is hard to coach myself to do. On the last set, I actually wrote it in big letters in my notebook and set the paper in front of me.




That's worlds better than your earlier lifts - the timing of it all is much much better. As the weight gets heavier, you'll have to focus on keeping the bar closer to your body at the top, it's a bit far out as it passes your thighs.

What will happen as it gets heavier is you'll end up having to lean back farther, or you'll really start to feel the stress in your lower back. You can either focus on leaning backwards, away from the bar, or you can start to thrust your hips forward earlier and with more effort. They both accomplish the same thing, but it all comes down to whichever mental cue you use to get the job done.

Once again, excellent work. You'd be a coach's dream.


I'd suggest you start with a 5x5 program as well. Your form needs help, you probably have some rapid development in you (that deadlift went up fast, if sloppy), and your 1RMs are going to be changing too quickly now for 5/3/1 to make a whole lot of sense.

Check out Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" or Mehdi's Stronglifts 5x5 (they're very similar). 2nd's at http://www.stronglifts.com/ first is a book though there's now some online material. Hit Boris Bachmann's "Squat Rx" series at YouTube.

Squat: too high.
Bench: feet flat, looks like you're bringing the bar too far toward your feet as well.
DL: hard to tell from camera angle (hint: put the camera where the plates won't block your body), but hips start high, back is rounded, chest is low. Bar may be too close to your shins.

Start light on the 5x5 program (50% or less of your 5RM), add 5# per lift for everything but deads, 10# per lift for deads (that's 15# per week progress on dead and squat, 7.5# for bench and press).

It's a lot easier to go low on squats when the weight's manageable. I still start with a set of ten at just the bar.

Drink your milk.

When you hit 1.5x BW for 5 rep squats, try some heavy singles, take a month break, then start 5/3/1 with your actual or computed 1RMs.


On the squat you are not pushing your chest out enough or pushing your butt out enough. Also, you need to go a little lower on your squat.

On your bench you need to put your heels on the ground.