Are You As Advanced As You Think?

Share This:

With both EC and Pete away on (a much deserved) vacation this week, to say I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off would be an understatement.  Between checking e-mails, scheduling clients, taking phone calls, tracking sessions, and babysitting the high-school kids who are supposed to be here helping out, the last thing on my “to do list” is updating the blog.   

Alright, that’s it!  Tyler and Tish:  put the scissors down!  You’re both going into the timeout corner. Goddamit, who tied Chris to the pole?  hahahahahaha.  Wedgie!!!!!  Weeeeeeeeeeeeee.

With that being case, today I’m going to re-post part of an interview I did for NYC-based trainer Mike Arone a few weeks ago on his site ( – mostly because I sound really smart, which is a rarity.

What do you feel defines someone as ‘advanced’– if there is such a thing?

There’s definitely a fine line between what separates someone who’s a beginner, from someone who’s an intermediate, to someone who is  considered more of an “advanced” lifter.

Beginners, with few exceptions, are those who have never really followed a structured training program in the past.  Sure, he or she may have stepped into a gym once or twice in their lifetime, and did a Cybex circuit here and there; but for all intents and purposes, they’re pretty wet underneath the ears.  Jazzercise gets them sore.

Intermediates, on the other hand, are a bit easier to define.  These are the people who, in one way or another, have been training for a while, and read sites like or maybe follow the monthly Men’s Health workout.  Generally speaking, they know their way around the gym, know the difference between a supinated and pronated grip, can perform a proper push-up without making me want to pour gasoline into my eyeballs, know that squats/deadlifts should be the foundation of any decent training program, and heck, they may even be able to name all external rotators of the hip.  But I doubt it.

In short, intermediates tend to be those you see at your local commercial gym on a consistent basis.

Lastly, are the advanced trainees, which are a little (okay, a lot) more difficult to define.  It’s funny, though, EVERYONE thinks they’re advanced.   I’m always perplexed as to why a lot of people follow advanced training protocols when they can’t even perform one simple bodyweight chin-up, or do a lunge without tipping over.

They think just because they can load the leg press up with all the 45s (and piss everyone off to boot), and do those partial range of motion thingamajigs, that they somehow know what the hell they’re talking about.

Lets put it like this:  you’re not advanced if you can’t deadlift at least 2x your bodyweight. (as an example).  More to the point, I was listening to Dan John speak a few weeks ago at Mike Boyle’s Winter Seminar and here are the MINIMUM number for his HIGH SCHOOL varsity requirements:

Power Clean: 205 lbs
Front Squat: 205 lbs
Back Squat: 255 lbs
Deadlift: 315 lbs
Power Clean and Jerk: 165 lbs
Military Press: 115 lbs
One-Arm Bench Press: 32 kg Kettlebell (5 right, 5 left)

I’m sure many reading right now would be hard pressed to hit a lot of those numbers.  Still think you’re advanced?

What’s more, I just walked out and looked at the CP High School Leaderboard, and just to crack the bottom, you’d have to hit a 285 lb front squat and a 250 lb 3-rep chin-up (bodyweight + external load).

I’m sure I could go on and throw out specific numbers that I feel defines someone as “advanced;” but the truth of the matter is – it depends.

There are plenty of people out there who can’t squat 400+ lbs, but they can pound out picture perfect one-legged pistol squats like it’s their job. 

Who’s to say they’re not advanced?  Likewise, watch any of those Cirque du Soleil shows.  Are you telling me that they’re not advanced because they can’t bench press 1.5x their bodyweight?

I think many of us in the industry are quick to ONLY use quantifiable numbers to label someone as advanced.  While that’s a nice starting point, and I feel those are good measures, there’s so much more that goes into it.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

Share This Post:


Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.