Thread: Strength gains
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Old 11-14-2015, 12:21 PM   #10
David Meverden
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Re: Strength gains

Good stuff here but I can't believe nobody has mentioned bodyweight. Your willingness to gain weight is a HUGE factor in how quickly you can get stronger and how long you can continue to make novice gains, especially lifting on your own without an expert eye to point out weaknesses that. After gaining proficiency in the lifts most average Joes will need to build muscle (i.e. put on weight) to get significantly stronger. You can gain weight quickly, or slowly, and this will dictate how quickly you get stronger.

In my mid twenties I'd done CrossFit for a couple years (mostly metcons, sporadic heavy lifting) and had a squat 1 RM of 265 lbs. I weighed ~170 lbs. To get stronger for CrossFit I decided to spend some time on the Starting Strength novice progression, complete with 5000 kcal a day using the Gallon of whole Milk a Day (GOMAD) plan.

Seven weeks later I completed 3 sets of 5 back squats at 290# and weighted 200 lbs. When I went back to CrossFit I could do thrusters in Fran unbroken.

After that I went back to CrossFit, slimmed down to 185, and spent several years experimenting with hybrid lifting and CrossFit programs. Strength progress was slow. Slowly gained muscle, got back to around 200 lbs, but less body fat this time. After that spent several years oscillating between more CrossFit focus, pure strength focus, and (this last year) preparing for strongman competitions. Strength progress was slow and tended to coincide with slowly putting on weight. Now I weigh 230 lbs and am the strongest I've been but it took a long time to get here.

Moral of the story:
  • You can get a lot stronger in a relatively short period of time on a serious strength program (talking Strength Strength, Stronglifts, maybe CF Football novice), but only if you are willing to eat a LOT to gain muscle and overall bodyweight.
    Translation: 400+ backsquat for you in maybe 3-6 months with 30-40 lbs weight gain with some squish.
  • If you are willing to slowly gain weight (it will go on with less bodyfat this way) then you can make good steady progress, but you'll still need a lifting focused routine (could be a CrossFit program with conditioning, but the strength work needs to be priority #1).
    Translation: 400+ backsquat for you in maybe 10-18 months with 15-25 lbs weight gain.
  • If you are determined to remain 167 lbs and be conditioned then, as an adult lifting in your garage, you will not get a lot stronger.
    Translation: 400+ back squat probably never.

So, Philip, how do you feel about going up to 190 lbs or so? How tall are you? If you gained weight and got to where you could squat 315 for sets you would be able to do the large majority of CrossFit workouts RX'd.
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