Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World

From 155 to 405: The Gains of Guerrazzi

by Chris Kurisko and Ben Witzke | March 15, 2018

jeremy guerrazzi deadlifting black iron training

Jeremy Guerrazzi came to Black Iron Training through our after-school barbell program.  He had heard about us through several of the kids who were attending or had worked with us, and had achieved better success on their respective fields of play. Guerrazzi was a lanky 6'2" and weighed in at a measly 165 pounds when he began. A basketball player, he wanted to no longer be an undernourished, weak participant on the court. He was, quite frankly, a benchwarmer with nowhere to go but up. 

So I began to teach him how to squat, press, and deadlift properly, taking him through barbell exercises that he had never done at his local high school gym, and some movements that he struggled with for a while. I had one of my interns, Ben Witzke, start coaching Guerrazzi through the summer and into fall of 2017 before his season began. Ben is a sharp young kid who had done his homework and knew what had to be done.

After ironing out the problems with much of his form, particularly on his squat, Guerrazzi saw steady progress, going up in weight consistently and running through a novice linear progression and seeing gains he had never could have imagined. His long arms naturally helped him in the deadlift, and his numbers in the deadlift began to rise much more quickly, and easily. He hit 405 for an easy single on his last day before starting camp for basketball.

Weight wise, we kept it plain and simple. The advice was that he needed to eat, eat, and eat some more. And for good measure Ben told him, “When you are done with that, eat even more.” This is not the typical advice for most of our members outside of our after-school barbell program, but Jeremy was an extreme case and we needed to make sure he got the message.  

After some initial hesitance, he started to listen and began to steadily increase his caloric and protein intake every day. Slowly but surely, he began to pack on weight, going from a skinny 165 to a solid 190 pounds. Under Ben’s guidance, Jeremy’s numbers continued to climb. 

His first day:

  • Squat: 95x5x3
  • Press: 65x5x3
  • Deadlift: 155x5

His last day:

  • Squat: 280x5x3
  • Press: 110x5x3
  • Deadlift: 405 for a single.

Being stronger ended up really helping Guerrazzi, as he is now playing as an undersized center on his local high school varsity team. He is no longer a skinny mess of arms and legs, going toe-to-toe with some of the best athletes in the mid-Michigan area, and more than holding his own. His PPG (points per game) and REB (rebounds) have nearly doubled.

Programming after running out his novice LP, became a steady dose of a HLM (Heavy-Light-Medium) with some prowler work a few weeks out to start getting him ready for the court – pretty simple and straightforward. In my experience it just doesn’t have to get much more complicated than that when working with young athletes. I usually get a very limited window of time working with them between sports seasons, so I don’t waste it on anything but getting them as strong as possible. 

Just as important as the increases in his training log were the mental effects barbell training had on Jeremy. Ben had a conversation with him several weeks ago, and he said that the main thing he gained from the training was that he no longer felt weak. “Pulling 405 was really crazy.  It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do…Going out and knowing now I won’t be getting pushed around, it’s pretty great.”

Coming in, he was a quiet, reserved guy who didn’t say too much. By the end of his training, he had turned into quite the outgoing kid. And a lot stronger kid. Jeremy’s results are a testament to Starting Strength, and shows that by simply getting work done under the bar you can yield results that were once thought unattainable, placing them very much within reach.

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