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Mehdi in his blog says

Start with the bar and you could be Squatting 100kg/220lb for 5×5 in 12 weeks

Ok. So say born in a 3rd world country, born to parents with a combined height of 5"2, malnourished until the age of 20 weighing 48kgs, and with sub-optimal T levels (even after bulking 20 kgs). Is it really possible to squat 100kg in 3 months? Or 6 months? Or 1 year? No.

As someone with an unquestionably inferior set of genetics (yes, please don't dispute this unless you fit exactly my background and have achieved respectable/normal standards), I find it interesting how people throw out estimates like Mehdi did.

Which is why I am interested in understanding how I should measure my progress. Concretely:

Is there a scale that guesstimates what your progression should look like, parameterized on your: (starting) weight/height/nutritional background/T-levels?

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  • A missing parameter is the intensity of your training. And that's where it gets iffy. Certainly someone who barely works out won't have the same progress as somoene who trains with discipline. But the training routine is different for everyone, so even with all the other parameters being the same, we can't "guesstimate" how progress would look for everyone with the same height/weight/T/nutrition etc.
    – Alec
    Feb 23 at 13:17
  • Nothing will give you a personalized milestone plan but I'd make sure you're at least using relative strength milestones. A 225 lb squat in 12 weeks is very different if you weigh 100 vs 300 lb.
    – C. Lange
    Feb 23 at 13:31
  • I think the important word in the quote is "could". Doesn't mean it's possible for everyone. Strength gains, like most things, follow a bell curve, there will always be outliers on either side.
    – E.Aigle
    Feb 23 at 13:57
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    Yeah. It's so sad when people throw out absolute numbers like that. I work at one of the biggest companies in the world making 2-3x what people in my profession make. If I went out there and said "if you start from scratch and do x and y in <some_timeframe> you can get here as well!". Saying something like that would be so wrong and so idiotic as it completely ignores background information and the years of hard work and pain that went way before the timeframe.
    – user33409
    Feb 23 at 14:02
  • @Alec I have attended a three month squat course several times. Few participants and expert instructors. Personally I had a progress of 10-15% and was satisfied. A single participant improved I guess 80%. Did anybody get stronger? Perhaps... But the key word for progressions was technique.
    – Gyrfalcon
    Feb 23 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

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How I should measure my progress[?]

The only way you should measure and/or gauge your progress is by tracking and comparing against yourself. To be clear, the best metric is your own individual progress. What did you lift yesterday, last week, last month, or last year? How do you compare against that? That's the best measure.

Why? Ultimately, there is no way to compare two individuals in their journey through fitness. People don't have the same height, weight, hormone levels, stress levels, nutrition, leverages, training plans, technique, support, money, or time. The list could go on. If I were to look at every Gymshark 16-year-old-upcoming-powerlifting-star who out lifts me on every lift and ask myself why I'm not that good, I'd go insane.


With that said -- I get wanting to know how you stand. I'm in powerlifting. That's literally the sport. The best way to make sure you're not setting unrealistic goals is by keeping your strength expectations relative. This article from StrongerByScience talks about objective strength standards and also links to a very popular Strength Standards Table. Specifically, Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift in kg. Remember, when you're looking at these tables you should be using your 1RM for the lift. If you've done a 3RM you'd want to convert it to an e1RM using something like this calculator. For example, if you can Squat 60 kg for 3 reps, and you think you still could've done 3 more reps to absolute failure you'd enter:

Weight: 60
Reps: 3
RPE: 7**
View your Estimated 1 Rep Max: 72.5

Based on the website's definitions, if we accept them, then we'd be saying that we are to reach the intermediate level, for a given body-weight, within a couple of years of training that specific lift, with intention, nutrition, and support.

September 2021 you hit 60/60/80 kg on SBD but with +20-30 kg on squat and deadlift with form breakdown. I don't advocate for bad form and form breakdown is not good for training or long-term health, but unless it's severe, I'd count it. A 90 kg squat, 60 kg bench, 110 kg deadlift at 61 kg BW puts you around ~Intermediate/Novice/Intermediate. If September was a month, that makes February six months, and I'd say you're making excellent progress.


** Quick RPE breakdown: If you did a rep and you absolutely could not have done any more reps or weight, that's a 10. Could've done more weight but not another rep? 9.5. Another rep? 9. Two reps? 8. Three reps? 7. Four reps? Your training weight isn't heavy enough.

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I agree claims in miracle programs make no sense as they typical not even are based on the athlete's physics or technical abilities. You have realized this, so let us skip that part.

Squat is a technically demanding exercise, and if you learn to master the technique you do not need to be young nor strong nor 7 ft high to squat a completely insane weight. Dr. Squat aka Frederick Hatfield was not much taller than you. Take a look at his shocking world record he set at an age of 45.

Now, which progress should you expect? I suggest you consider which progresses you should avoid. If you are training, eating, sleeping etc correctly, then your muscles easily gains strength even you do not live in Colorado, but what about your joints? And your technique? You do not want injuries. Consider not to increase the load more than 5-10% per week, and bear in mind that people react to training in different ways. What is good for one athlete is not always optimal for another one. Reasonable training is not just like following a simple recipe.

Scientific literature is full of reports like those tables you are asking for. But, as you almost have realized, parameters are endless and unsure or unknown.

If you exercise using a high load and a low number of reps as suggested by Mehdi then you will improve rate of voluntary activation. This means even to measure your actual progress is not a simple task.

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    As someone who's 6' 6", being 7' tall would make squatting a lot harder than being shorter :)
    – Dark Hippo
    Feb 23 at 9:08
  • @DarkHippo I agree. Being tall usually means longer legs leading to longer range of motion leading to larger energy consumption as this is defined as force multiplied the distance you lift the bar.
    – Gyrfalcon
    Feb 23 at 11:03

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