Thank You T-Nation for Making Me Strong

I came here in November last year looking for some guidance on how to get strong and into shape. I did not know how to settle in on a routine and was all over the place. Then 2nd week of December I challenged myself to stick to a program for 1 year. I settled on doing a version of the Full Body template of 531. I did not follow 531, but I used the template to help guide me. The 531 days I pushed it hard on that particular lift and other days ease back a bit. Because of my work schedule, I had to do workout 2 days back to back.

squat 3x10
overhead press 531
deadlift 531

squat 3x10
db bench 5x10
db row 5x15

squat 531
bench 531
chin ups 50-100 reps

My only assistance was body-weight work. I only did dips, push ups, lunges, ghr, sit ups, back extensions and leg raises. On the 531 days for the lifts I did A LOT of sets and reps. My workouts took me 1.5-2 hours each time.

I started at 174lbs with no abs what so ever. I am now 182 with my abs showing at all times.

My lifts went:
High Bar Squat - 135x8--------345x4
Deadlift - 185x6------------------405x3
Bench Press - 135x5-----------225x7
Overhead Press - 95x5--------155x8
Chin Ups - 3 in one set--------16 in one set

I did hill sprints 2 to 3 times a week. I would eat 4 meals a day. Over time the amount at each meal increased. But the same meal remained. The meats might of changed weekly but the format was the same.

breakfast - eggs, cheese, fruit
lunch - meat, veggies
pre workout - pb&j, banana, almonds
post workout - meat, white rice, gravy, veggies

During this time, I missed only 3 training sessions. That was all the in same week because I was on vacation.

I just want to thank all of you at T-Nation who put my head on straight! I had no idea all it takes was some REALLY hard work. Now I am at a point, where I don’t want to get any stronger. I’m strong enough for myself. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but the fact that I can say that means I did well.

I learned what it takes to get into amazing shape:

pick a program
stick with it for an extended period of time like 6+ months before fucking with it
eat well don’t worry about calories or how many meals
don’t miss training days
run around, play a sport or find something to get your lungs on fire at least 2 times a week
most importantly have fun dont make it a task
every 4 weeks have one really nasty shitty meal like Taco Bell

Anyone can do those together and chances are you are going to be great!

Thank you T-Nation, bye for now!


Very good work, man, especially for just about 9 months time. So, hard work with effort and consistency leads to results. Sounds simple, but not many really get it.

You’re, like, allowed to hang out and keep posting, 'ya know. Could definitely be a killer example of how to get it done, and you probably picked up some info and insight that guys could use.


I’d say you made yourself strong - congratulations on your hard work paying off.


You mean you got in shape with without doing bro-tastic sessions 6-10+ times a week.?? But, butt…


Seriously tho, -fantastic work. That deadlift progress alone is nuts :ok_hand:t2:


I use to be one of those people as well. Because it truly is simple. It’s just hard as hell. That’s why I don’t want to try to get stronger, it’s just too hard. I feel like I’m strong enough now for myself so now it’s maintenance time and focus more on conditioning.

I know I would love to. I might start a log here. It’s just I truly don’t have a lot of time for the internet because I’m running my own clothing company. Maybe I’ll see leave some tidbits for people to follow.

Thank you! Couldn’t of done it without someone knocking some sense into my head.

I’m a simple man. I try to get the most out of the least.

Thank you! I think all the squatting, ghr, lunges, back extension and tons of ab work really boosted my deadlift and my squat. I think upper body exercises you don’t need as much assistance work as you do with lower body. For me this seemed to be what I needed.

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I’m as strong as I ever want to be
Such a weird thing to say. How can one be too strong? But getting strong is fucking hard man. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and discipline. Now that I am part of the 4/3/2/1 club for the major lifts I feel like if I can maintain this for the next half of my life, I’ll always be strong enough for myself. I have no need to try to squat 500lbs. I’m good staying in the 300s.

Pick one goal at a time
It’s hard to be the most conditioned, most ripped, strongest, most agile, can jump the highest, can throw a car at someone person at the same time. You will have to work in blocks. Always get gassed doing a set of squats? Then work on conditioning. Always had chicken legs? Then work more on lower body. Etc etc. Just pick one thing and don’t abandon the other stuff, but don’t emphasize it. For example I wanted to be strong. So I put most of my focus on my workout days, but still made sure I conditioned 2-3x a week so maintained and even improved my conditioning.

Conditioning is not an afterthought
Conditioning matters a shit ton. You don’t have to go out to run to condition. There is lots of ways to do it. You can instead of resting your 5 minutes between sets, rest for only 30 seconds after a heavy set of 6. You can use KB, bw circuits, jump rope, even just do jumping jacks. For most people I say play a sport like tennis or bball. This will be way more fun than being by yourself. At least 2 times a week condition hard.

Assistance work is important
My upper body responds easily to compound work. My lower body takes a lot more work. I personally needed to do lunges, ghr, goblet squats, and tons of core work to make my squat and deadlift go through the roof. I was stuck at 225 for 3 weeks. One week I could get 5 reps, then the next week it was hard at 2. Once I included lunges, ghr, direct ab and lower back work, my squat and deadlift exploded.

Direct core work is not assistance. It is vital!
Ab wheel, sit ups, hanging leg raises, 45 back extensions are vital. A strong core will help out a lot. I know all the compounds work your core, but direct core work truly helps. I would do it every training session. Everything was a lot more stable once I included them as a necessity.

Stretch before and after
You don’t have to kill yourself doing this or spend 30 minutes foam rolling. I spend 15 minutes warming up. This includes some basic stretches, jumps, and I flow through a few movements. Everyone should have their own routine. As we age it gets even more important to have a proper warm up. After lifting you should stretch out a few muscles that you know are tight. My favorite thing to do is stretch my back, quads, wrists, and hip flexors.

All you need is basic equipment
Anyone can get strong using the most basic equipment. If all you had was a barbell and plates and a jump rope, you can get fucking strong and stay conditioned. All those cables and machines are nice, but that’s a luxury. For Christmas I’ll be getting myself a squat stand with dip/chin attachment, barbell, bumper plates and some heavy dumbbells. No bench? That’s because I know at least once a month I’ll be going to LA Fitness with the friends and I’ll do it while I’m there since they all for sure will.

Curls help the elbows
Do curls once a week. I don’t think the average person needs to hit them a million different ways. Get in 100 reps a week. You are already doing rows and chins. Use light weight. I only use 20lbs.

Go for reps before weight
I took big jumps in weight. Sometimes 10lbs, but sometimes 50lbs. Work on doing more reps before adding weight to the bar. That volume of reps will really help reinforce technique and does build strength.

Reps/Sets don’t matter
Well they do matter, some are probably more optimal, but just get in and put in work. I didn’t have any set rep scheme in place. My 531 days I would just go all out some days working up to a 1RM and then doing 5x10 after. Some days I would do 3x5, but on the last set try to go all out for as many reps as I could. Sometimes I would even work up to my 1rm and then do a set of 20-30 squats. Just get in and put in some solid work.

For a big squat, you need to squat
Everyone is built different. But in my opinion I think in the beginning you need to squat 3x a week. It doesn’t always need to be heavy, but just get use to squatting. Perfect mix is one heavy day, one light day, and one day thats moderate that maybe you try to set yourself some type of pr whether it be weight or reps.

Body-weight exercises works wonders
All my assistance work was body weight work. They really strengthen everything and you can really focus on the muscles and get tons of reps in. Trust me if you can do 100 back raises in a row with just your bw this helps your deadlift and squat.

Bar speed matters
Don’t grind out a ton of reps. Reps should be smooth and fluid and the bar should move relatively fast. Grinders once in a while are ok, but 90% of your reps should feel powerful and explosive.

Rows and chins are not assistance
They are super important and should be treated as such. Always superset these with your pressing. This way you never have to wait to get to it. My personal favorites are db rows and neutral pull ups. Band pull aparts are a nice way to finish off your session.

Most importantly, eat and rest
You MUST eat! Start with 3 solid meals a day. Don’t worry about calories, macros, weight, etc. Build the habit of eating well. Easiest way to eat for anyone is:

  • breakfast - eggs, slices toast w/ butter, glass of milk, banana
  • lunch - big salad w/ meat, spinach, lettuce, tomato, seeds, dressing
  • dinner - meat, rice, beans, roasted vegs
  • snack - spoonful of peanut butter

You don’t even have to meal prep. All I did was basically eat like this and when I started feeling run down a bit, I would increase the portion size.

Eat your vegetables
Just eat them. Lots of spinach, broccoli and then whatever else you like. Buk choy in garlic sauce is a good one.

Trouble eating right? limit carbs to only right before/after workout
This saved my ass. I only ate carbs (bread, fruit, rice, potatoes) before and right after working out. I don’t think carbs are bad. But when you have some extra flab, I think it helps to develop the habit of EARNING those carbs.

Drink non-milk tea
I always drink tea with my dinner and breakfast. Having a hot tea when eating really helps settle the food. I feel much lighter after I eat.

Build one habit at a time
This my personal advice to anyone seeking to get into shape or strong. This was my progression and I had crazy program ADD. Only difference it took me 3 months. My friend did this with me at the same time and it took him 6 months.

  • Month 1 - Pick a program, don’t miss a training/conditioning day at all
  • Month 2 - Continue not missing training days, now add eating a big breakfast daily
  • Month 3 - Now you haven’t missed days and your eating a big breakfast daily, now time to add a big salad for lunch daily.
  • Month 4 - Haven’t missed a training day and first half of the day you’ve been eating right, now time to get those dinners up to par.
  • Month 5 - You’ve been busting ass. Time to up the intensity of your workouts and add a pre workout snack
  • Month 6 - Continue with exactly how you’re doing things for years and you’ll have the body you are dreaming of.

In 6 months you can change your life physically and mentally. I think that’s all a person needs to really change things around!


This is really inspiring and great work! You must feel really accomplished! Now you have “habits” that will last you a lifetime, congrats again!

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Thank you! I do feel accomplished. I was spinning my head for 2-3 years not getting anywhere before I finally settled into that routine. I committed to a process and that made all the difference in the world. I didn’t have really high goals like a 500lb squat, 600lb deadlift, etc. I just wanted to be part the 4/3/2/1 plate club.

Thanks again. In my opinion, I think the habits you build in the gym (discipline, respect for yourself, intensity, focus, etc) carry over to every other part of life. I’ve become a better worker at the office. I’ve become a better husband. I’ve become better at knocking down goals. I think the barbell is the first path to success. Once you conquer your own personal barbell path, everything else will follow. I think this is true because you can’t cheat the system. If you don’t work hard in the gym, your body will not have the results. You can scheme and cheat through the corporate ladder or lie in a relationship. But when you have to pull a heavy weight off the ground or over your head, if you’ve put in work, you’ll be able to do it. If not, then shit the barbell knows you’ve been lying. That’s the way I look at it!

@mytittyhurts you can definitely stay around here if you want :grin:

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I think I’ll get on the site once or twice a week. I’ve read through the training logs section of the forum and I think I would like to start one soon and keep it going. A lot of very strong people on this site!

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This is awesome! Thank you for sharing all the things you learned from your 9 months.

Gives me hope that as long as I put in the work, I will get the results I want.

Hi there

That was awesome reading. Congrats.

I think your version of “the barbell never lies” is pretty good.

But when you have to pull a heavy weight off the ground or over your head, if you’ve put in work, you’ll be able to do it. If not, then shit the barbell knows you’ve been lying.

That’s great and awesome.

just now reading this. great posts :slight_smile:

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That was impressive…Congatulations!

Congratulations! This is so inspiring

Honestly, I could not thank you guys/gals enough. I’ve learned so much from articles and posts! You gals/girls are honest and inspirational. I haven’t been posting workouts and diet because I am on a high high calorie diet. And my workouts vary due to how I feel. I am just amazed how our bodies can heal themselves. You guys/gals have helped me “grow emotionally and physically”. I don’t mind being bitch slapped for being a dumbass because I respond well to that. It makes me put that “bar” much higher than any other site. Keeps me coming back :hugs:

you’ve been kicking ass, it’s really great to have you as a regular forum poster these days!


Thanks. It’s nice to come home and get your post! Watch out…here it comes :hugs:. And no ribs poking out either. Haha. These giant hugs crack me up

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No idea if you still post here, but if so I’d be interested in a detailed breakdown of your training.