How you can lift 400kg with no relevant knowledge or training
You might wonder that this sounds impossible and strange, maybe even dangerous. You might say to yourself “On steroids everything is possible” or “With the right lever I can lift anything”. This is all true, but I did it with free weights, no special lever and no steroids. It took me from June 28th 2014 until 2nd to April 2015, but it was worth it. I totaled a powerlift record of squat, bench and deadlift at 407.5kg compiled of a 122.5kg press, 120kg Squat and 165kg deadlift using the Stronglift 5x5 program.
Step 1: Realize you want to change
For me it started with my better half pointing out that I was becoming too fat. From there I started marathon running and made it my aim to become fitter. A year into the training first comments were made about how unhealthily skinny I had become and that people are worried about my appearance. This made my think and realize that I should bulk up a bit. Whatever the reason is which helps you to stay motivated, find one and apply it. Getting stronger was one of the best decisions I made and had also positive effects on my running performance.
Step 2: Find the right program for you, I recommend Stronglifts 5x5
Depending on where you start, find the right program for your needs. Stronglifts 5x5 has the advantage that it is very easy to do and follow. If you download the app it will tell you what exercises to do, how much you have to rest and how you have to do the exercises. The Stronglift blog also helps bringing you up to speed on execution, nutrition and all other questions you might have.
Step 3: Follow the program
The lifts start with the empty bar and progress in 2.5 and 5kg increments over time. Each time you complete 5 sets of 5 repetitions with a certain amount of weight you add either 2.5kg or 5kg to the bar. If you fail you stick with the same weight. If you fail three times at the same load you will deload by a certain percentage. Also hear the app tells you everything you need to do.
Step 4: Show up in the gym
The most important step which most people get wrong. Of course we all have busy schedules, so do I. I work full time, have to commute 2 hours a day and have two stepchildren and still manage it (due to having an awesome partner who supports me a lot). Stronglifts 5x5 asks for three sessions a week half an hour each in the beginning. The descriptions of Mehdi conveniently leave out, that this will not stay like this. Once you hit over 80kg on the squat, the warm up and rest between sets will take the workout in the range of 60 – 90 minutes if done properly.
Step 5: Do not cheat on squat form
Out of the lift incorporated (Barbell row, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead press, Squat) the squat is the one for which you will cheat most likely. Always squat as deep as you can with proper form. If you can parallel or even slightly below, your squat is a no rep. Rather stick to a lower weight and do it properly than scaling to quickly. Remember my record of benching more than I squat? That is mainly due to laziness on form earlier in the process.
Step 6: Do other exercises on off days
In the days between you can do a run, use kettlebells or do a crossfit wod. For me that was very helpful to keep the balance and boost performance on lift day. Personal favourites are: 10K run, Tyre Flips & Annie.
Step 7: Go out with a bang
After a year of Stronglift with great results I can say, do it, it is a great beginners program. I will now move on to another template to hopefully break the 200kg Deadlift, 150kg Bench Press and 170 kg Squat mark. For now I leave you with my 122.5 kg bench press after ten months of training. You can do it too.