Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World

Starting Strength: A Two-Self Case Study

by Jordan Stanton | August 23, 2018

erin stanton bottom of the squat

My wife Erin and I met in high school. She was a lacrosse player, I was a basketball and football player. We both enjoyed competition and used the weight room to gain an advantage. We both went on to different colleges, but remained together. During this time neither of us trained or participated in sports beyond a little recreational involvement. After severely damaging my right knee in a basketball game, and with the rigors of a nursing program, I lost most of the muscle mass and athletic ability I had ever obtained. The situation did not improve as we started our life together, in considerable debt and working far too many hours, as most motivated young people do these days.

At the age of 26, I found myself weak, small, and in chronic pain with an arthritic right knee. My wife too was not in her best physical shape – she suggested we get back to lifting. We began with a silly lifting program that accomplished pretty much nothing. Remembering back to high school when we used to squat, power clean, and bench press, I searched for a program that could create actual results. I stumbled across Starting Strength, and our training would never be the same.

From the first time we were “allowed” to point our toes out, shove our knees out, and bend over in a squat, we were hooked. This was not the squat we had been taught in school, but wow, it felt good! We worked up in sets of 5, with both of us landing on 135 our first squat workout. Being competitive, we decided that we would add 10 pounds to the bar every single time, three times a week, until someone failed or failed to attempt a weight. We thought little of it when Erin missed the first rep at 315 during the start of week 7. It was the other patrons that notified us that it was unusual to see women squatting 315, especially not to depth.

After a little convincing, we changed from a commercial gym to a local powerlifting gym. We finished out a very strong linear progression and apparently impressed a few powerlifters on the way. They had never seen anyone gain as much size in such a small amount of time as I did. I began at 150 lbs and was now 205 roughly 6 months later. None had ever seen a woman gain as much strength as my wife did. She was convinced to compete, and in 6 months hit a 1003 lb raw total with a 403 lb squat. 

We floundered around while learning the ropes of intermediate programming, and eventually found our way with a volume and intensity split reminiscent of Texas Method. My coaching skills and knowledge base grew to accommodate Erin's increasing ability. She would go on to become an IPL world Champion in 2014. And even after an injury, she would come back to become the Starting Strength National Champion two years in a row. Erin’s best competition lifts are a 545 squat, 250 bench press, a 525 deadlift, and a 165 press. Her best gym lifts are a 565 squat and a 265 bench press.

jordan staton before and after training

While I would also compete in the sport of powerlifting and strongman, I was never as impressive as her. I continued to gain size and found myself over 220 lbs by the end of the first year of training, and by 18 months in I was 240 lbs. Ultimately, I would hit 255 lbs to be more then 100 lbs heavier than when I started – and the kicker, leaner as well.

I focused on my coaching, offering services for free or closer to nothing. I managed a powerlifting team. I managed Erin’s lifting career. In 2016 I would go on to get my Starting Strength Coach certification and to begin Stanton Strength. Being the first coach to get his credential while herniating a lumbar disc on the platform exam, my lifting would take a back seat to the development of my coaching skills for some time. (The rehabilitation of my credentialed back is worth a full-length article in itself.)

In 2018 I made my return to the platform, now 31 years old and 255 lbs. My best competition lifts are a 600 lbs squat, 415 lb bench press, 650 lb deadlift, and a 255 lb press. I once tried to beat the world record of most weight deadlifted in one minute, achieving 405x40 reps.

jordan stanton competition deadlift

This year I retired from my career as an intensive care nurse to focus on Stanton Strength, Starting Strength Online Coaching, and the strength training of others. Using the Starting Strength methodology Erin became a dominant force in the sport of Powerlifting, owning many federation world records along the way. I would gain over 100 lbs of bodyweight to completely transform my body and become far stronger then I had ever been. The principles of Starting Strength made, and continue to make us big, strong, and capable.

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