Mike Durham is a client of mine. He is 38 years old and married with a daughter. He started training at a young age and has competed in the USAPL, WNPF, UPA, AAU, and APF. His best raw total is 1530 in the 242 class. He is a graduate of The Citadel and Clemson University and served as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer for 10 years.
I always thought training was choice between heavy and short or lighter with more volume. I wanted to be strong so I chose heavy and short. Most workouts were usually a warm up, a couple of hard sets on the Big Three and then some lighter bodybuilding assistance. I got stronger and gained muscle but I eventually hit a plateau. I read some stuff on Bulgarian training so I thought I would give it a go. Multiple short sessions a week on the squat and bench resulted in some quick gains but I quickly stalled again. After a short bout of full time Olympic lifting, I was looking for something new. I read Jim’s E book and liked his training philosophy and thought I would give it a go. I thought I was training hard before but I found out fast that I was entering an uncharted territory.
The first six weeks were rough. I would get nervous the night before a squat session and usually break into a cold sweat during. Each session consisted of me walking around between sets having the same conversation with myself over and over. “You can do one more set.” or “Just one more and you can stop, that’s enough”. I would get through that one and the whole process would start over again. I started bringing a pad of paper with me and I would make slashes for all the sets I was supposed to do. After I did one, then I drew a line through it.
I cant tell you how many times the first set would feel really heavy and I would somehow make it through 10 more. What probably got me through it was I took every session as a challenge. I wasn’t going to wimp out and have to report back that I failed. I stuck through those first six weeks and thing started to change.
The first thing I noticed was my mindset of what I was capable of totally changed. I started powering through workouts that I just flat out couldn’t do in the past. My second week of squatting was 445 12x2 and I barely made it. Week 8 I squatted 460 for 6x5 and it was just another workout. I started enjoying the workouts and added more work in after I hit Jim’s prescribed set and reps. You learn that you can always do one more rep or set and that your mind will shut you down way before the body hits something its not capable of doing.
I started this type of training weighing 230 pounds with a 520 squat , a 355 bench, and a 235 Press. After 14 weeks, I am 238 and have hit a 540 squat (Just a belt) after one of Johns Marathon squat sessions, 400-pause bench, and a 260 strict press. I also managed to Front Squat 405 for a triple and Push Press 280. I have hit countless rep and set Prs in the squat and bench from 485 for 20 singles to 335 for 7 sets of 3.
My body composition has changed without any focus on it. My waist is down and I gained 8 pounds. I have to eat a large amount of calories to get through the workouts. I actually don’t think it would be possible to eat enough to gain a lot of fat with these type workouts.
My experience has altered the way I will train forever and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s not for everybody but if you care about your lifting then there is no better way to train. It will be hard at first and you will question why you are putting yourself through it. Stay mentally tough and take it a workout, a rep and a set at a time. Your body and mind will adapt and you will reap the gains that only true hard work can give.
Squat: 495x2 525x1 3 cycles 540x1