Starting Strength and Gaining 80lbs in 9 Months

It is important to me that all of you know who you are listening to and where he is coming from. As such, beginning today, we’ll be embarking upon a journey that covers my entry into the sport of powerlifting. We’ll begin where I began, with the most important book I ever bought: Starting Strength.

This "My Story" series will explain how each leg of this journey unfolded.

This “My Story” series will explain how each leg of this journey unfolded.

I highly recommend watching instead of reading on this one:


For me, weight training was a natural fit. I’ve played basketball, football, baseball, and I even competed in jiu-jitsu and boxing, but nothing allowed me to channel my intensity and individual will like lifting weights. Though I had messed around with dumbbells and weights countless times as far back as 13 years old, I got my first true start with serious training at the age of 21 thanks to Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength.

Starting Strength

On August 1st 2011, I began the program at a skinny fat 165lbs with a 205x5x3 squat, a 135x5x3 bench, and a 225×5 deadlift. I bought into the system like you wouldn’t believe. Everyone said eat as much as you can and drink your goddamn milk. I sure as hell didn’t ignore that advice. In earnest, I began drinking a gallon of whole milk a day.
In only nine months, I drove my body weight up to ~245lbs and my lifts followed suit: I squatted 445×5, benched 240×5, and pulled 455×1. In the span of nine months, I had added 80lbs of bodyweight and well over 400lbs to my total. I went from ~275sq/~165bp/~315dl/~755 total to ~500sq/~260bp/~455dl/~1215total. I trained like an animal and the results showed.

Starting Strength Before and After

BW: 165lbs to 242lbs
Squat: 205×5 to 445×5
Bench: 135×5 to 240×5
Deadlift: 225×5 to 395×5
Total: ~750lbs to ~1200lbs
(watch the video at the top to see some of these lifts)
There was only one problem. I got fat as hell.

Starting Strength: Before and After.

Starting Strength: Before and After.


Obviously, if I could do it over again, I’d never have let myself get that fat. I’ve spent the better part of two years dieting it all off. If Starting Strength came with a nutrition program, perhaps things would have turned out differently.
I tend to have an extreme personality. I’m either all in or all out. With Starting Strength, I was the same way. I never missed a single day of training; I never failed to finish my gallon of whole milk for a single day of the program; and, actually, I never “failed” on squats. I just got too fat to live with myself.
However, what I did (re)learn was the law of diminishing returns. At the time, I saw that my lifts were going up by everytime my bodyweight went up. I knew that my friends wouldn’t be able to push their weight as high as I could; I was willing to “sacrifice” if I could win. I thought I could get a competitive advantage if I out-ate them AND out-trained them.
Well, it sort of worked, but, in the end, I had to the pay piper. If I hadn’t spent so much time dieting off all that fat gain, I’d be much stronger by now.
That said, I don’t have a ton of regrets about this time in my training. I made the single biggest improvement of my entire lifting career thus far. Starting Strength set me up with a solid foundation because, unlike other beginner programs, Starting Strength comes packaged with comprehensive, highly detailed instructions for how to perform each lift safely and correctly. After nine months of pounding away on the program, I drilled in relatively solid technique and got decently strong.
There are certainly worse ways to get into lifting weights than Starting Strength.

Moving Forward

In Part Two, I’m going to discuss how I transitioned from general strength training and Starting Strength into actually competing in Powerlifting; I’m going to lay out how I cut more than 50lbs of bodyweight in ~6 months to make the 198lbs weight class.

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Table of Contents

Part One: Starting Strength and Gaining 80lbs in 9 Months
Part Two: My First Meet and Cutting 50lbs
Part Three: My Experience with Steroids and Totaling 1405@220
Part Four: Tren, Almost Getting Arrested, and Why I Quit Steroids
Part Five: Losing 30lbs in 80 Days and Qualifying for Nationals