NOTE by Mehdi: this post was written by StrongLifts Member Jake McMillan (18y, Canada, page 187 inside the 5×5 report) who currently holds the British Columbia powerlifting records with his 600lb Squat and 600lb Deadlift.
All things considered, genetics, age, luck… they all mean very little compared to the time and consistency that you put into strength training. I want to show you how true this really is. It doesn’t matter how strong you are to start off, everyone can end up at the ‘champion’ or ‘elite’ level depending on how much time they put into training, and how consistent they are.
Take Doug Hepburn for example, born by a forceps delivery scarring his temples and leaving him cross-eyed, and with a withered lower right leg. I would call that crappy genetics, I mean that right leg greatly hindered him in his lifting career. That wouldn’t stop him from squatting close to 800lb no wraps, belt or spotters, benching 560+, and pressing 450 all while being lifetime drug-free.
Here is how Mr Hepburn did it: He believed in the “big picture” approach. 1-2 years(!!) planning cycles, low reps, and a handful of simple exercises: Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, Curl, Press, Barbell Row, High Pulls… He believed that it took 5-7 years to develop a champion. Let me paint this picture:
When you start strength training, strength gains come rapidly. In just over two years I put 100 pounds bodyweight on, 410 pounds on my Deadlift, 365 on my Squat, and 180 pounds on my Bench Press. After those 2 years, strength gains slow down exponentially. This is when you can adopt Hepburn’s theory:
You can add 60 pounds to your lower body lifts per year, and 30 pound on your upper body lifts per year.
So let’s see, judging by Hepburn’s statement that it takes 7 years to develop a champion… over the course of 4 more years, my Bench goes from 315 to 435, my Squat goes from 600 to 840, my Deadlift goes from 600 to 840, Press goes from 225 to 345. Do I think this is possible? Hell yeah, especially the upper body lifts, since my Press is WAY undertrained! All I have to do is consistently gain bodyweight, follow Hepburn’s training method, and think of the “Big Picture”.
4 years from now, when I’m 22 I’ll be hitting those numbers. It’s totally a game of time for me. Maybe the lower body lifts are a bit exaggerated, but I think the upper body lifts are under-exaggerated. And let’s see… when do Strongman competitors start getting successful? Between the ages of 26-30 years old.
So if I have an extra 4 more years until planned world-level competition, let’s again apply Hepburn’s Law. And to make it more believable, I’m going to cut his numbers in half. 30 lbs for lower body, 15 lbs for upper per year.
- Squat goes from 840 to 960 (around Bill Kazmaier’s best squat),
- Bench from 435 to 500 (just under Derek Poundstone’s best bench)
- Deadlift from 840 to 960
- Press from 345 to 405.
Hey, that’s not far off Hepburn’s lifts! A few more years after that and I could hit a 560 Bench like him. And if Hepburn had used a belt and knee wraps back in the day, he could have Squatted 900. The Deadlift though… seems like a bit of a reach, but who knows right? I know, I know…. 960 Squat and Deadlift come on. Impossible for most people right? I would have to agree.
After those dedicated 7 years of hard work, what more you can accomplish will come down to your genetics, your work ethic, your bodyweight, and possible use of steroids. Of course I don’t expect many people want to put so much work in to getting incredibly strong. I only do because it’s my life passion.
So that’s the training secret. Hard work, consistency, TIME, eating like a horse, and keeping it simple. If you want to achieve the strength that Hepburn had, you truly can! It might take you up to 12-15 years though!
-StrongLifts Member Jake McMillan (18y, Canada)
This is a post by StrongLifts Member Jake McMillan (18y, Canada) current BC record holder with his 600lb Squat and 600lb Deadlift. StrongLifts Members, read Jake’s original thread and additional comments inside the StrongLifts Community. Non-Members: the StrongLifts Community is closed to new Members. To stay up to date of future openings and join over 20,948 Members, click here.