What’s your excuse?

Join the party with PR Friday and post your training PR’s or updates to comments.

Somebody asked me how I was able to have so much success on a linear progression (I used Starting Strength) since I worked up to 465x5x3 a couple years ago. On the first day I started at 325x5x3 and eight weeks later was at 445x5x3. I made a five pound jumps each workout; 24 workouts times 5 pound increments equals 120 lbs. of added weight on the work sets at the end of the two months. I had some set backs and eventually worked up to the 465 realm. I’d eventually work up to an easy 500×3.

AC had similar success. I remember meeting him when he weighed about 180 pounds. We were into CrossFit and were excited when he squatted 385, pressed 185, and deadlifted 435. His linear progression worked up into the 450s before I (intelligently) convinced him to shift the programming (to prevent getting beat down like I did). We put him on the S&C Program that I wrote, and he pushed his squat to 435ish, press to 205, and deadlift to 500. To date, he has squatted a comically easy 534 (barely missing 551 on a mechanical mistake), has benched a paused 380, and deadlifted 569. All raw, of course.

When I met Chris he was pulling about 440×5 and didn’t hesitate to tell me he wanted to deadlift 600×5. At the time it was a fucking tall order, yet he was steadfast in his goal (last week he pulled 600×4). He was squatting in the low 400s when he became my training partner. The first time Chris squatted 600 was at his first powerlifting meet on the third attempt (he deadlifted 633 in this meet). Recently he squatted 644 and deadlifted 661 in competition (raw).

The general trend here is that none of us were very special a couple years ago. People ask me all the time about AC’s “freaky genetics”. The dude isn’t a genetic freak; genetic freaks walk in the gym and squat five plates within five minutes. Chris and I certainly aren’t genetic freaks either. The three of us share the following qualities: 1) we had years of accumulated lifting, 2) we all were completely committed to getting stronger, 3) we did all of the little things right like having consistent technique and recovering/eating well, 4) we used a typical linear progression and later a properly tweaked Texas Method, and — most importantly — 5) we trained our fucking asses off.

I don’t think it’s fair to look at any of us as genetic freaks. That makes it seem like we didn’t earn anything, and that’s bullshit. AC has spent hundreds of hours in a gym, by himself, waiting to squat. Chris has sacrificed his schedule, even being late to school or work, to train. And all of us have had to develop the most sadistic, violent, and out-of-control mental hurricane to attack our hardest sets. I’ve seen Chris strain so hard that his soul died when he missed a 650 lbs. deadlift. I watched AC barbarically press 235 for a triple and completely rage out afterwards with his fists clenched as if he’d just severed the head of a mortal enemy. My heart rate has been 205+ bpm right after squatting a 5×5 that drained my adrenal and neuro-endocrine system so bad that it almost made me emotionally uncontrollable.

The only freakish thing about the guys from 70’s Big is that we cinch our belt, gnash our teeth, bark to the heavens, and fucking own the barbell every single time we train. We rarely miss lifts, we are never flat, and we always attack the bar. Not really all that special.

What’s your excuse?

100 thoughts on “What’s your excuse?

  1. School PR: finished first year of college Tuesday. No heavy PRs but I really improved my form on squat. Depth wasn’t an issue but having my toes pointing foward was but not anymore thanks to Kstar’s mob work. The mob work also really helped with me getting under the bar on snatches and c+j’s. My friend who I played football last year was only 17 and squatting 615 for a ORM and had only been training for a little over a year. THAT is a genetic freak.

  2. Bench press 315×5 PR
    After further assessment I’ve decided to revert back to LP on my squat 320 3×5.
    Deadlifted for the first time in 5 weeks 405×5 ez

  3. Couple of good PRs this week:

    Squat – 345# x 1 – finally getting up there….
    Press – 180# x 1 – came close to getting 185 as well.

    Also, I am loving the CF Football volume squat days – today was 10 x 2 @ 295 for me!

  4. 28 y/o male
    171 lbs
    Deadlift: 315×5

    This matches a previous PR. It felt easy. I should have a real PR next week.

    First time posting on 70sbig.com.

    Welcome. Train hard.


  5. Clean and jerk PR – 153 lbs, which is a PR on the jerk

    Squat PR – 10 x 145 lbs. Squatted my first set of 10 since I said I was going to harden the fuck up after watching Lily’s squat video. I had no idea what to try for a set of 10, as it seemed unfathomable. I went 5 x 145, 5 x 145, 10 x 145. I was very out of breath after I was done.

    Bulky PR – First time that someone actually called me bulky to my face (well, in a FB message). A friend told me I was “looking pretty bulky” and then said that last year she thought I was “looking really good super meth head skinny.” This makes me think that there is no hope for humanity.

  6. I competed in my first weightlifting meet last Sunday. What a fantastic experience. I snatched 65 and clean and jerked 87 kg. I weighed in at 100 kg which is awesome considering back in September I weighed 84 kg. Next meet I need to at least fill out the 105 class and break a 200 kg total. I can’t wait to start the linear progression next week.

  7. I pulled a raw 600lb dead weighing 244lbs on Monday. Not my best form but it went up easier than expected. Here’s the vid:

    My facial expression at the end is rather odd, though…

    You pretty much smoked that.


  8. Justin, I am not crediting your awesome lifts due to gentics and no hard work….

    …but don’t you have a really good vertical jump?

    So in the context of o-lifting, doesn’t this mean that you can clean/snatch a higher percentage of your squat/deadlift?

    Sure, but wouldn’t a squat need to be there to use that?

    I have a 32 inch vertical. It’s good, but certainly not freaky. 35″ is very good. 38″ or more is freaky.


  9. Lifting PRs:

    Squatted 265x5x3, same weight that I lifted for my best squat in my last CrossFit Total. My training partner is in New Zealand right now, I can’t wait to make a video of me hitting all of my CFT bests for reps :)

    Deadlifted 355×5. I’ve done this before, but after my training getting messed up with the 3/11 earthquake, I was only able to hit 355×3. Felt solid, and improving my squat has helped with strength off the floor. I’m also getting used to using a belt when deadlifting too.

    Other PRs:

    Caught back up to 200# after being sick awhile ago. Got a weekend job to supplement the income. Hopefully this will allow for eating the way I really need to be.

  10. Randle – or is it possible that being strong from all of the hard work has increased his vertical? I read an article by a basketball coach saying that his athletes who could jump 40 inches all had double body weight back squats. I think Justin qualifies for that…

    But his athletes didn’t develop a 40″ vertical from lifting. They had genetic help, and in addition to that could squat 2x body weight.

    I’m not sure what my vertical currently is, or if it has varied in different stages of training. This is a fuzzy subject, but it can be trained, although it won’t change that much since it is dependent on neuromuscular efficiency (which is the genetically predisposed trait).


  11. @cqdanforth uh actually yeah he did

    @Alphanitis i’m not one to call people out (well, that’s a lie, but whatever), but, as a former 17 year old, i’m doubting this kid actually squats 615 to any sort of depth

    @Everyone who posted PRs–great job, keep up the hard, inspiring work!

    Didn’t get to post it last week, but this is a quick compilation vid I made of the 1RMs I did on April 29 (BP), April 30 (SQ), and May 3 (DL), on which I completed my 1k total the day before my 18th birthday (even though they were on separate days). Obviously no huge accomplishment on this site, but it was a nice milestone for me. I have recently just started pausing my BPs, which is why this is T&G. Height: 6’1″-6’2″. BW: mid-180’s.

    Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L8u6-GDbeM

  12. Week 3 on Greyskull LP and loving it.

    High bar squat: 120kg x14
    Press: 64kg x8
    Bench: 113kg x9
    Deadlift: 172kg x7
    Weighted chins: 24kg x8x2

  13. Yea, so I’m 34 years old, 5’9” and kinda chubby. Never been particularly good at sports, and I did lift a bit in high school, but didn’t really know what I was doing. Last spring I lifted for a few months doing stronglifts, but I got bored and lazy and stopped for 6 months.

    Last November I got a cold, the cold turned into a cough, the cough turned out to be Bronchitis, which turned into full blown pneumonia. The infection from the pneumonia moved out into my pleural cavity and was resistant to antibiotics. Long story short, I was sick for about 2 months, ended up in the hospital and honestly was touch and go for a bit that I could die of a fucking cough. I now have a 9inch scar where they butchered my right side up, used rib spreaders and manually had to clean out the infection that refused to go away. I hurt when I breath, I hurt when I cough, I hurt when I sneeze, I will probably hurt for the rest of my life. I also have minor nerve damage and numb spots in my upper right abs.

    As I lay there in the hospital bed I decided that when (not if) I heal I was going to fucking stop being a pussy and get stronger. Your goals and priorities in life change at certain points in your life. They told me no exercise for a month, I was doing cardio at the gym 7 days after the surgery… I almost passed out, but I was fucking there doing something. I started squatting in late january with 135 which was a struggle and I kept adding 5 lbs every time, and still do. I’ve missed a few workouts due to life in general, but I refuse to give up, I refuse to give in, I love and enjoy the pain. The pain and the agony caused by accomplishing something and by pushing your body PROVES to yourself that you are alive. Pain confirms you ARE alive. You must push yourself and keep pushing and refuse to give in. Fuck giving in.

    Anyway, so I’m still on beginners linear progression, I will be on it until I can’t walk from my lifts.

    PR’s this week:
    140lbs OHP 5×5
    340lbs squat 5×5
    Bench sucks right now due to a shoulder injury, but I still benched a few sets at 245 until I could stand the pain and was afraid I would permanently damage something. Still, 245 is a PR in bench, even if it was only for 2 sets.

    I don’t think there are genetic freaks really… I think people have drive and determination and there are those that get soft and lazy.

    Now that’s a fucking story. Jesus christ.

    Careful with the shoulder injury; no sense in exacerbating it.

    Well fucking done, sir.


  14. Some nice PRs this evening.

    Squat: 405×1* Was grinding through my sticking point with 405 when my buddy jumped in and touched my chest. It shot up immediately and he said he was concerned about me losing it forward. I was pissed but I’m sure I had it. Will get it without anyone touching me next time. Still calling it a 20 lb PR.

    Bench: Form PR, quit close grip bench pressing and tried spreading my arms out about five inches, 215×3 flew up for a PR.

    Deadlift: after PR squat was feeling kinda shot, but belted up. Got 465×2 no problem, but the third rep hung three inches above my knees for about 5 bajillion years before I lost it. Waited ten minutes, then said fuck it and loaded up 505 and ground that shit up. 5 lb PR, and it could have been loads more fresh. It stalled out at the same point, but after holding it stationary for around 4 solid seconds I got up the juice to eke it up a little more and lock out. It was funny, when I turned around all six guys on the various benches had stopped what they were doing and were staring. One of the dude’s lady friend smiled at me and said nice lift as well, ignoring the guy who was currently doing tricep kickbacks with 15 pounds.

    Humor PR: I also did a 135 strict press as I was moving the bar, so I technically did all the parts for a Crossfit Total that scores 1045. Woo… It cracks me up that I had friends who thought that CFT of 1k was ELEET strength levels.

    I can’t thank you enough Justin, for both the motivation on the site, and helping me put together an intelligent TM plan. Going to take it easy next week, then start ramping my triples up again according to plan.

    1 Month results from TM
    Squat: 20 lb 1RM PR (15 lb 3RM PR)
    Deadlift: 20 lb 3RM PR
    Bench: 10 lb 3RM PR

    No fucking excuses today. Felt Reckless.

  15. Back Squat 300×5
    Deadlift 340×5
    Clean and Jerk 215×1
    Snatch 170×1

    olympic lifting technique is getting better by the workout, Just need to get my strength up to really see where I can go with them

  16. It Is Impossible Not To PR While Listening To Slayer.


    Squat 365 3×5
    Press 200 3×5

    No other PRs this week. Just working on my Oly Technique. Getting stronger everyday.

  17. Squat 150×5
    Press 65×5
    My oly lifts were a little off, was trying to go for a PR in C&J but failed. Oh well, there is always the next workout.

  18. Sure, but wouldn’t a squat need to be there to use that?

    I have a 32 inch vertical. It’s good, but certainly not freaky. 35″ is very good. 38″ or more is freaky.


    Christ, really? I thought you were one of those 38″+ guys. Especially since you qualified for nationals in oly lifting very quickly. In fact, i’m pretty sure my vertical is higher than yours.
    It’d be surprising if your vertical was higher just because anything over 30 is progressively less common

    I am a little confused, since if I remember correctly, can’t you clean a very high % of your best squat? And, when you did TM wasn’t the spread between your volume day weight and your pr weight very large?
    I never maxed on clean when I was at my strongest (because my jerk was the limiting factor and I had various other issues, like stupid injuries, to deal with), nor did I max on squat. If I had to guess, the clean would have been a bit over 70%. I squatted a bit above 500 low bar and front squatted 400×2. The FS was post-injury and a bit before nationals I think. I clean a higher percentage of my deadlift — maybe that’s what you were thinking about.

    All these things tend to be an indicator of good CNS/genetics? And normally go hand in hand with a good vertical?
    Again, you’re assuming that my strength numbers are due to genetics, and they are absolutely not. My brother would have arguably similar genetics, and he hasn’t trained since high school football. He can bench 185 and probably could squat 225 if he had to. Those are higher than average (his build is naturally about 6’1″ and 192ish), but those absolutely aren’t freak levels.

    Furthermore how much someone cleans with respect to the squat or deadlift is arbitrary, since it assumes that both sides of the comparison have been trained to a high level of potential. My clean wasn’t progressed as well as my squat, and my squat was capable of continued increases. Instead, vertical jumps are a better measure of this kind of thing, yet they don’t take into account someone’s strength.

    In any case, a 32″ vertical is better than average, but it definitely isn’t freak levels. When I started more serious lifting, I could power clean 100k pretty routinely (yet I wasn’t de-trained, I had been doing something since I was 14 including squatting every week), but I had to work it up to being able to do 130k for reps, and up to the 145ish range for a single. It just wasn’t there.

    It seems like you’re just trying to attribute abnormal success to the genetics, and my point, again, is that there can be a genetic predisposition, but it has to be expressed through training.


  19. I will be moving back to an LP on my squats and deads after my next mesocycle ends with a 5-3-1. I treally enjoy squatting multiple times a week, but my cocern is with my bench press. I have heard its not good to bench more than once a week. I’ve also heard you should do it three times a week. Anyone have any insight on how to train bench as I approach an LP for my squats and deads?

    This week
    PR Dead – 320×5
    PR Bench – 245×5
    PR overhead press – 150×6

  20. Will be doing a total on Sunday but worked this week with:

    Squat 5×5 started at 225 ended at 300
    press 5×5 started 135 ended 175(6)

    Looking to 1RM 385 squat, 215 press, 445 DL this Sunday. Resting up today.

  21. Posting PR: first time poster, few months of lurking

    Lifting PR: deadlift, 405×5, my old 1rm for a workset of 5. HUGE for me.

    Excitement PR: just finished my first year of college at junior college. moving out in 92 days to ‘real’ college.

  22. “Again, you’re assuming that my strength numbers are due to genetics, and they are absolutely not.”
    “It seems like you’re just trying to attribute abnormal success to the genetics, and my point, again, is that there can be a genetic predisposition, but it has to be expressed through training.


    No i’m not. I was:

    -attributing your higher than average vertical to genetics (which as it happens, wasn’t as high as i thought)

    -attributing your ability to power clean a high percentage of your squat/dead, which some people say is a sign of good genetic neuromuscular efficiency.

    At no point did I ever say that your progress is due to genetics and not training. In fact, the first line of my first post actually states this.

    Very well then, my mistake, good sir. My last point would be that a person still has to develop their clean/squat/deadlift to express the efficiency. To address your question/point of the last post, those things you brought up can be demonstrative when expressed through training, but a true genetic freak will have impressive numbers without the training adaptation.


  23. Yes that’s very true.

    And your o-lifts were very well developed, very vertical bar path and all that jazz. Also you got very good at catching the bar low, without cutting your second pull short.

    On a side note, It’s a damn shame you don’t do much o-lifting these days – i always enjoyed your posts and vids on this site about weightlifting.

    I’m probably gonna do a meet soon, although it’s not the primary goal.


  24. Haha, I started off squatting less than 135, so a dude doing 325 off the bat would be pretty amazing to me.

    Anyways, I missed yesterday because I was smoking and drinking. Ironic? Not really, just poor discipline.

  25. I also think people need to address genetics without using it as an excuse. Let’s be honest, me pulling 155 as a starting deadlifter and Andy Bolton pulling 600 of the bat is a bit of a difference maker. That don’t mean I won’t try to improve myself.

  26. Training PR: back to squatting after a week and a bit out of the gym due to back issues, squatted 115 for 10 and felt good (not a PR but enough to make me happy).

    Eating PR: Caribou medalions in the Arctic with lovely red wine and an amazing 70s Big man, rawr!

  27. @ domjo54 I understand your skepticism, I wouldn’t believe it either but he hit a full depth squat with 615. I saw him do it. his uncle was a powerlifter and hit a 800+ squat in competition so I think it’s safe to say he has freak genes

  28. Been doing GSLP and am almost back to passing all my previous 5RM

    Squat 312.5 x 9 on the 3rd set (325×5 old PR)

    Deadlift 315 x 9 (315×5 old PR)

    Press 157.5 x 5 x 2, 6 last set

    Bench 260 x 8 last set (265×5 old PR)

    squats are getting fucking hard though and only did 315 x 5 x 2, then 6 on last set on thursday… don’t understand since i was feeling great back when i got to 325

  29. Not a joke at all brent kim. I just like breaking bricks and coconuts and teaching others about progressive hand conditioning. Btw, I watched the vid of your last meet, it inspired me to try a meet out in the fall. Very well done sir. Check out the vids on the site if you get a chance, we got a seminar booked in ohio on june 18th. Gonna talk about how strength training is a necessity for martial artists and breakers. Don’t shrug me bro….

  30. Is there an implication in some of these posts that the answer to “what’s your excuse?” is genetics?

    Anyone ever see any pictures of Misha when he started olympic lifting? (Check out his you tube channel)

    The reason some of you are so weak when you start to lift is because you haven’t done any physical heavy work in your life and don’t eat much. Some of the people who start of very strong are so because they have worked hard and eaten well. My 12 year old daughter works hard on the farm and deadlifted over a 100kg first time she tried.

    The body will adapt over time especially if you start when you are young.

    9 year old daughter PR – noticed her carrying a 25kg sack of meal across our yard easily yesterday.

  31. Justin-
    How old were you and AC when you started linear progression and the strength and conditioning program respectively? Were you both on gallon of milk a day during this time?

    I was…22 turning 23. I drank a gallon for at least 2 months. Maybe about 3. Then tapered it off and still drank quite a bit until mid to late 2010.


  32. Brent,

    I saw that website, too:

    “Rodney is devoted to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is strongly opposed to occultic influence in martial arts.”

    And then this:

    “Shane is a Christian and is devoted to the presence of the Holy Spirit and moves in the prophetic at Gods will. Shane believes one can believe in Chi/internal energy and Jesus without conflict ”

    Fucking lol’d. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

  33. Wow! Sorry for being christians guys. Next time we’ll remember to ask your permission before pursuing something. Please go strike a stack of three unspaced blocks as hard as you can and when you break your delicate hands then you can come see me. The thing that gets me here is that you guy’s worship Wolffe’s law to build the conditioning of your muscles and bones, but hate on me for doing the same thing with combat related conditioning, and OMG being a christian while lifting and condtioning. *gasp* how dare I? Thought this was a community of weightlifters supporting one another and trying to popularize real strength training through hard work. Guess I was wrong. Sucks man, I like you guys too.

    This sparked a fuse. Don’t get all pissy with me because of something Jake said, who isn’t involved in the website (but is a friend of mine). Furthermore, they never insulted you and merely laughed about it. I’m sure you’d laugh at their belief(s) as well, but even if not, have some humility.

    I don’t see how bringing up Wolff’s law is relevant whatsoever.

    In any case, relax, we can still be friends.


  34. Little late posting PRs for the week, but whatever.

    3x5x240lb Squat
    1x5x215lb DL
    BW, up to 190, 6’2″

    Kind of an odd week lifting. Had back off on bench & press as my should is being odd again. Right hip/ass area was also problematic all week. Still cruised along to 240 on the squat then completely bombed out on Friday going for 245. Felt completely dead and hat to set it on the pins attempting my 4th rep of the first set. Ate a bunch of food and slept plenty this weekend. I’ll probably bump back down to 225lb and work up at 10lb jumps this week and get 245 by the weekend. Then again maybe I should just attack 245 on Tuesday when I’ll be good and fresh, who knows.


  35. Justin, you’re right, my bad sir. Just a bad day altogether today, my lifting partner was all jacked up because of some stupid girl who dumped him and it totally f’ed up our workout. Bad mood, no excuses though, I apologize brent and jake. I really do enjoy the site and have been following it for some time. In fact, you guys inspired me to stop being a wimp and lift in the first place. In 30 weeks I went from 145 bench, 185 dead, 185 squat to 285 bench, 405 dead, and 365 squat. I also acquired an olympic lifting coach so I can go even further with my training. My first meet is in the fall and I’m traveling to Nationals this year to help handle my buddy Rod. This site has just always amazed me because of the dedication of the lifters and I have always been able to count on it for motivation. I am in sore need of a powerlifting gym though, I saw you guys mention that AC’s dad had a gym in Alpharetta or something, but have no idea where it is. Anyhow, my bad, you guys rule, keep being awesome.

    No harm, no foul. Where do you live?

    Also, have you seen a difference in your combatives/martial arts after getting stronger?


  36. Oh apparently it will be next year’s RAW nationals because he’s gonna miss his qualifier this year, the next he is able to go to falls in Novemeber. But still, it should be sweet regardless.

  37. @Justin

    I live in Cumming, Ga. It’s about 9 miles from Alpharetta and about 4 hours from statesboro. Interestingly enough, I’m originally from Nacogdoches, TX and have a cousin who lives in Wichita Falls.

    Yes my martial arts/breaking have improved exponentially since I became stronger. I have studied SAMBO(Russian wrestling) since I was very young, but I have never been a better wrestler/figther/breaker in my life than I am now. Weightlifting gets treated like the boogeyman amongst many martial arts circles because people are afraid they will lose their speed/skill/flexibility if they lift heavy. As I’m sure you know, nothing could be further from the truth. True speed and flexibility come from being strong. I also have a newfound reserve of strength that can last every round of grappling. That’s why when we hold iron palm/combat seminars we always talk about how important hard strength training is to anyone who wants to be serious about their martial arts goals, especialy if they plan to compete.

    I’m in the north-east Atlanta area now and will be training and possibly doing a little coaching at Quest Gym and probably CrossFit East Decatur. Quest Gym is THE fucking powerlifting gym of the southeast. Sherman has coached lots of IPF world champions and world record holders. It’s only about half an hour from you, depending on the traffic. E-mail me if you want to talk more.


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