What Are Your Strength Goals? (Part 2)

Part one of this series on goal setting here. Part 2 – Joe Pinelli who just started StrongLifts 5×5 at age 61 wants to know how realistic the 400lb Deadlift and 300lb Squat strength goals are depending on your age and body-weight …

Thank you for all your valuable information. I love your simple, basic approach to gaining strength and size.

I’m just starting your StrongLifts 5×5 program. I’m 61 years old and have worked out throughout my life on and off with mediocre results at best. I’m not a big guy being only 5’8 or so and weigh about 140lb. The amount of weight I can handle on the various lifts is embarrassing so I won’t even mention it. Almost all training routines I did in the past were the high rep, machine type circuit workouts.

My question is, is there a way to determine what is “good” as a lift? As an example, someone weighing say 140lbs – what would be an approximate weight that they reach on squats, deadlifts, bench and press, that would qualify them as strong? Would it be best to use percentages like “If you can press 80% of your body weight” Or “If you can squat 1.5 times you body weight, that’s a good lift”.

Clearly a 200lb guy who can squat 240 is not a strong as a 140lb guy who can squat 200lb. Age and other factors being equal. I know darn well that 150lb body weight at age 25 is NOT 150lb body weight at age 60. Therefore a person like me at 61 cannot expect to achieve what a 25 year old can at the same body weight. So age has to factor in at some point.

My goals are to gain strength and size and I feel your program will get me there. I just need a bit of realistic guidance.

Thanks again.

Joe Pinelli

Bob started StrongLifts 5×5 at age 62 with 90lb on the bar for Deadlifts and 45lb for Squats. 12 months later, he pulled 335lb and Squatted 310lb. Another 12 months later he Deadlifted 410lb, Squatted 335lb and won the NY State Raw Deadlifting Championship in the Masters division. Bob also lost 16lb in the process, 4″ waist, and his blood pressure plummeted from 136/89 to 105/75.

So age IS a factor, but not as much as most guys think. The big difference is that progress tends to be slower than for younger guys. Like I said in the last post on strength goals – any guy under 50y can Squat 300lb and Deadlift 400lb within 12 months of training. Past 50y, it could take you 18-24 months to achieve these strength goals. Although as you can see by Bob’s results, he DID Squat 300lb within 12 months. This is proof that you could do it too.

Bob is not alone. StrongLifts Member John R. (New Zealand) is another lifter who Squats 396lb, Deadlifts 474lb and Benches 281lb… in his 60s. So when you claim that a “61 cannot expect to achieve what a 25y can”, I answer that a lot of 25y olds can’t Squat or Deadlift what John and Bob lift in theirs 60s. If you need more proof, go to a powerlifting meet, you’ll find plenty of senior lifters.

Body-weight IS a factor too. The raw World Squat record in the 148lb class is 556lb vs. 655lb in the 198lb class – this 99lb difference shows that bigger guys have an advantage because they have bigger muscles. BUT, it also shows there are 148lb guys Squatting over 500lb raw. Let’s say you not only have your age against you, you also got bad genetics and skinny 6.7″ wrists like me – would reaching 50% of that be realistic? I think so – and that’s still a 250lb Squat.

In reality, if you do StrongLifts 5×5, are consistent, and reach the 300lb Squat, you’ll most likely no longer weigh 140lb. Almost all guys who do SL5x5 gain several pounds of raw muscle, often while losing body fat, usually without even trying. Heck, despite my skinny built I went from 132lb to 175lb (44lb drug-free weight gain) without getting fat but while losing my belly fat and man boobs.

Just do StrongLifts 5×5 as laid out, aim for the strength goals I gave you, and stop worrying about your age and body-weight. Age may slow progress and force you to switch from 5×5 to 3×5 earlier, but it won’t stop you from pulling 400lb. Body-weight? It will increase anyway by getting stronger.

The strength goals I shared are for every single guy whatever your age, body-weight, height, genetics, length of limbs – no excuses.