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Thread: Starting Strength and Barbell Training in the Military

  1. #1
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    Default Starting Strength and Barbell Training in the Military

    by LtCol Christian "Mac" Ward

    “On my last deployment I trained 15 Marines and Sailors in the proper use of barbells, and I did it with a simple Starting Strength protocol. For approximately 7 months, these folks performed the squat, bench, deadlift, press, and clean 3 days a week. We incorporated the prowler to keep conditioning high, we incorporated weighted chins, and dips for some.”

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  2. #2

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    I'm curious if Mac's results were natural or chemically assisted. I don't look down on steroid use at all, but being 48, we are close to the same age, and I know there is now way I could get my maxes back up that high (they were up there when I was younger), without some type of chemical assistance.

  3. #3
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    As President, you must already understand that all soldiers in a deployment situation are required to take anabolic steroids, which are provided along with their cigarettes, chocolate bars, and MREs. I am shocked by your naivete.

    StrengthCon II – Injuries & Rehab


    Starting Strength Seminars

  4. #4

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    I'm not shocked or naive about the situation, I was just wondering. I live in a military town and have been around soldiers in gyms for the past 30 years now, so I've worked out with plenty a military man who was getting assistance. However, as a 48 year old, non-combat civilian (school teacher), whose maxes now are higher than those than Mac started with (by quite a bit actually), I was wondering if those results could be replicated in myself, without the assistance of drugs. My lifetime maxes are similar to those of the author, but I was 19 at the time and had way fewer injuries than I do now. I in no way look down on anyone taking PEDs, since I've been around them for 30 years now, and look at them as safer than alcohol, tobacco, and most prescription drugs being hawked nightly on television. Anyway, thanks as always for the response.

  5. #5
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    If I seem to be offended by your suggestion, it's because it is illegal, highly discouraged, and can end the career of a deployed soldier to be caught on illegal drugs. Such a suggestion, especially by someone who should be familiar with its ramifications, could easily be interpreted as an accusation. And THAT we cannot have.

    StrengthCon II – Injuries & Rehab


    Starting Strength Seminars

  6. #6

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    I'm truly sorry if that's how it came across - I didn't mean to be accusatory at all. I was just looking how possible it would be to replicate the same results in myself. I do stand by my statement about what I've seen in gyms in my home town. I've seen many soldiers get a lot bigger and stronger and not worried about how they did it. I've also known soldiers whose job it was to compete for the military's official powerlifting team who were also doing so with extra help. My home town currently houses one of the nation's largest military bases, and what is officially frowned upon and reality are two totally different things. But in regards to the author, again, my question was strictly for comparing to my own performance experiences and the possibility of replicating his results, nothing more. Sorry for the mix up.

  7. #7
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    President, you do realize that I've added a whopping 120lbs to my squat in 2 1/2 years - less than a pound a week...I don't find this particularly exciting. Drugs are illegal in the millary, we are randomly tested weekly, and I have no intention of risking my 24 year career to add a few pounds to my squat. The biggest change for me was I stopped running, trained with a barbell, drank milk, and gained a lot of weight from my 175lb runners frame.

    I'm curious how you know that the folks you metioned were getting assistance - and I don't want answer. It's offensive to me that any kid with a good strength base is considered to be cheating or getting assistance or any other such nonsense - this statement is often used to hide behind our own laziness or denial of our laziness. I've watched kids do some amazing stuff - assisted by drinking milk and working with a barbell with proper rest.

    If your numbers were better than my best, take a look at your training and figure out what your lacking. I'm happy to assist, you're the demographic I prefer to work with - it's more important to us than it is to the 20 year old kid sitting in a computer science class.

  8. #8

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    Hi Mac - the people I saw do this readily admitted it. It wasn't sneaky suspicion, they flat out told me what they were using. Again, my experience is over the course of 30 years, not just over the past couple of years or so.
    My top maxes I achieved back when I was 19 - 365 bench, 505 squat, 450 deadlift (I hated deadlift back then). I also use to run 2-3 miles 3 days a week back then as well. I'm 48 now and workout every week (between 2 and 5 days a week, depending on what type of program I'm running). I only run 1 day a week, because I do like competing in 5Ks and need at least 1 day to be able to keep a feel for race pace. I'd say now my maxes go around 300 for bench (on my best day, once a year), 405 squat (every day max), and I couldn't tell you on deadlift, as I have two bulging discs in L4 and L5 and have to keep my deadlifts on the lighter side for more reps (although I did rep 325 for 10 over the summer). Like I said, I could not imagine hitting my 19 year old maxes in at this age - too many injuries have accumulated over the years. I resent the implication that I'm lazy in some way. I work hard to maintain my level of strength/fitness, on most days waking up before 3:00 AM just so I can get my workout in. Again, I was asking about the results because I've never done drugs and was curious to see if those results could be replicated in myself. If I was insulting in any way, my sincerest apologies.

  9. #9

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    Mac - after re-reading my last post, it does come off a little strong. I appreciate your offer and may just take you up on it. I also appreciate your years of service to our country. In no way do I want to sound like I'm dissing the military. I have friends and former students who, like you, have served over seas defending out country, some coming back changed, some not coming back at all. In all this discussion of working out, sometimes I need to pull back and remember that's exactly what it is - something that is suppose to make us better and not bitter. Sorry for the tone, and hopefully I'll be getting in touch soon.

  10. #10
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    President - no problem. Happy to help if you are interested. I believe your training is lacking from the brief description. Additionally, what you don't know is that I suffered foot drop last year from lL4-L5, L5-S1 disc issues. I pulled 560 last week, and will pull 565 this week, with 6 plates and 600 on the horizon.

    We all heal, you do not strike me as an idiot, and the lazy portion of my post does not apply to you. I see and talk to many people throughout my day, laziness is a culprit more often than you know.

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