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When Do You Become an "Advanced Lifter"?

This of course is a loaded question, but I am curious to know what everyone’s perspective is on when one can be considered ‘advanced’.

Many people would simply refer to the Big 3 in reference to bodyweight, where

  • <1x BW is beginner
  • <2x BW is intermediate
  • <2.5x BW is advanced

Or do you consider lifts to be irrelevant and base one’s experience on a different metric? Years in the ‘sport’? Programs run? Body composition (when holding a shoe)?

When people pay YOU to compete, you are advanced.

When you pay people so you can compete, you aren’t.


3.5 years in.


This is assuming one put full effort and knowledge forth from the start, which certainly would have been nice for idiots like me who wasted the first few years of training lol.

Given maximum effort, proper nutrition and education on what is - and is not proper training, I think it is justified to make that conclusion. Most of us didn’t start out like this though, or at least I didnt

@FlatsFarmer 's tongue is firmly in cheek on this one. Pretty sure I recognize that from Practical Programming…

My answer is somewhat similar, but about as close as it gets to answering. Trying to use lift numbers doesn’t work, because you can do just like Flat’s is demonstrating: specialize from the start and peak early. If you make the big 3 the mark, this would mean a powerlifter gets to be an advanced lifter before a bodybuilder does, even if both trained the exact same amount of time, with the same effort, simply because the powerlifter is BETTER at those lifts due to their focus.

Time spent training can’t answer it, because you noted: that could be time spent training WRONG.

I think the first World’s Strongest Man showed us what strength looks like: you take dudes and give them a lift they had ZERO time to practice, and whoever does it best wins. Once you allow for specialization and specific training, “better” can overcome “stronger”


I was indeed messing around. I agree with both of you that its a “loaded question,” or one that’s tricky to answer. And then to talk about “Lifts” in the Bodybuilding section muddies the water even more.

This guy is a multi Mr Olympia level bodybuilder who’s trained for years. It will be difficult for him to improve his physique. So he’s advanced. But this lift looks like there is lots of room for easy improvement. Does that make him a beginner?

This guy looks awesome, better than most of humanity. If I covered his face you might say he’s reached an advanced level. But we know who he is, and how he will eventually look. So he’s a total beginner.


It seems to me that we must decide if “advanced lifter” is relative to yourself or relative to a standard. When I was powerlifting there was a standard total for every weight class and corresponding classification that went something like this fictitious example:

  • Class 4 1,000lb total
  • Class 3 1,100lb total
  • Class 2 1,200lb total
  • Class 1 1,300lb total
  • Master Class 1,400lb total
  • Elite Class 1,500lb total.

So if you competed you could easily see what class powerlifter you were on that day. Most lifters used their best total as their reference classification. At a certified AAU meet you could apply for a badge you could sew on your warmup jacket, or anything you wanted. I saw a few lifters wearing them at meets.

AAU bodybuilding had a similar classification based on your placing at various levels of contests.

Obviously to officially achieve a rating you had to compete. And as far as bodybuilding you didn’t know yourself unless you competed. A non-competitive powerlifter could make a total of the three lifts and is what classification it equates to being.

If “advanced lifter” is relative to yourself, I suppose it would just be based on your self determined metric, be it a powerlifting total improvement or your perceived physique improvement.

IMO, a relative perception of improvement is of zero meaning to anyone but yourself. I prefer a standard.

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I think this is fairly reasonable in regards to bodybuilding in that it truly is irrelevant to anyone else how long you have been training. If you haven’t competed, then you are simply a “lifter”.

I like, and dont like the powerlifting classifications. It gives a very quantitative number which can easily be proven, but without regard to bodyweight, it becomes a bit watered down… which of course complicates this further once you start having to bring in weight classes.

I am glad I got to hear the opinion of someone as experienced as yourself!

When your wilks is over 400.

I’m sorry, “wilks”? :joy:

Big “IMO” coming:

I think people confuse “advanced” with “experienced”, and they confuse “knowledge” with “wisdom”.

Many experienced lifters will never be advanced. And many lifters with a bunch of knowledge have little wisdom.

Experience is having done a lot of lifting and knowing what works for you, and being advanced is being superior in your chosen avenue of lifting relative to others.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom is knowing that if you put a tomato in a fruit salad, it’s gonna taste like shit.


@flappinit posted a pure gold…

i agree with this because i know it from my experience in fighting - i am a much better instructor than i am a fighter… i make living by teaching and i even get paid by my country to teach military, yet 1v1 i am average at best if competing against people who have trained with a purpose.
most of people i have trained seriously are better than me now… we started when they were tripping on their own feet and now some of them cause tons of problems for me if we are fighting.
For example - i know how, i can teach, i can critique but that doesnt mean that i dont do the same mistake. Its just that i see them doing it and i fix it. No one looks at me and fixes me. In order for that to happen i need to get a private lessons for myself, which cost money and at the end of the month it becomes a waste because i take money for lessons and i give them away for lessons, but my understanding of technique and tactics does not improve - only my own basic skills improve, which do not contribute to making money.

Being a good athlete means you have genetics, and someone taught you well. Being a good instructor means you know lots of methods, tactics and you can teach different things to different people with a different approach if needed. Both of these are advanced, only one is good in the thing itself, other is good at making someone good.
I believe its simmilar with strenght - i am not too much into knowing who lifts what, but i am a huge fan of Wendler, but the lifts from his later raw competitions are pretty achievable. It doesnt change the fact that he is experienced and smart.

As far as being just plain “advanced” in applying stuff - i would say that it could be based on - what works and what not.
The more details you need to manipulate to progress the more advanced you are.
Beginner is someone who progresses lineary. Intermediate needs a bit different program. Advanced is someone who will also be manipulating water, salt, and how much protein he lost per cumshot.

I dont think we can measure the level via the muscle size or strenght. When i started to train, a classmate of mine also started. He blew up three times my size in 6 months and he was eating soups, because they are “nutritious and help build muscle” as well as all exercises which used arms were “arm exercises” for him.

Gains are like money. Some people are born as millionares - it doesnt mean they know shit and are advanced in finances and business. So how can we measure strenght or size without knowing if maybe it came super easy for them?
Just look at the stupid shit some genetic elites say and do.

I would like to say that someone is advanced if his methods work on other people and help them become at least just as good, but then again some people just suck at teaching, so there goes this idea.
But it has to connect somehow. If a trainer has 200 clients and none of em look like him or can do shit like him, then - wtf.
I believe that if the trainer has the knowledge, all his devoted clients should at least be like him. But since not everyone likes and wants to teach, this cannot be used.



I’ve always thought

Beginner - is learning what your body responds to

Intermediate - being able to set a goal (a realistic one) and achieve it (so know how a few things work)

Advanced - having all your variables dialled in at once rather than just being able to set one goal and achieve it.

All open to opinion though.


Absent a definitive goal to advance towards, likely tested in competition, I don’t believe the phrase “advanced” has any meaning at all.

You can be an advanced powerlifter by testing your progress towards the well defined goals of powerlifting in a meet. Likewise, you can become an advanced bodybuilder by placing well in appropriate shows, as @RT_Nomad suggested above. How do you become an advanced lifter? There’s no definitive statement of goals for a “lifter”, so it’s impossible to be advanced towards them.