A Practical Guide to Adding 100lbs to Your Lift

Yesterday I put a hundred pounds on my one rep max split jerk. OK, I specifically put 97lbs, but you get the point. Now, I’m going to give you the details on how to do this, but like any classic “sell them what they want, give them what they need” scheme, it has a surprise.

I actually remember June 16, 2015 very vividly. I had to look back at the exact date, but my training effort that day is what was memorable. I set a new personal best in the split jerk by fifteen pounds. I felt fast and light that day and I really surprised myself by sticking 340lbs. It’s always a little extra special to PR in those major lifts, isn’t it?

Yesterday, just shy of two years later I had the opportunity to retest this effort. Forget the maxes in my example. It’s not about that. The message I’m giving you today is about the realities of improvement. 

Here’s a little context. I train a strength and conditioning program at the gym called Strongman 202. The split jerk isn’t critical to the sport of strongman, so it shows up rarely. I’m not training for any competitions this year, but I’m still a fitness professional and train four days per week. I also have some damage to my right shoulder from throwing a million baseballs in a previous life that manifests as some stability issues. For transparency sake, going overhead can be hit or miss because of this.

Stronger than ever by two pounds.

From June 16, 2015 until yesterday, I logged more than four hundred training sessions. While none of them specifically trained for the split jerk event in and of itself, more than two hundred of those were specifically designed to address pressing strength, speed, shoulder stability, supporting muscle accessory work, and conditioning to increase my work capacity over the nearly two year span. For a non-professional athlete, I trained my ass off for yesterday.

Yesterday, the big elephant in the room was the basic question, “Are you stronger or not?” Well, it’s with great pleasure to share with you that I am.

Two years of training and a truly maximal effort gave me two pounds more on my split jerk. Ring the bell! It took two years to add two pounds and I couldn’t be happier. Hell, I even had to go get two of those little one pound plates in the corner than no one ever uses.

Most of of us want big results and we want them fast. For most, the thought of toiling in the gym for years for just two pounds is more cause for a refund than a celebration. This is the secret. There’s only one road to substantial success and it’s the long road. Before you roll your eyes at me, what if I could tell you how to put one hundred pounds on your favorite lift? Here’s how I did it:

Results come faster in the beginning. In fact, I looked back on my training log to learn that my first time ever performing a max effort jerk was June 15, 2010. I jerked 245lbs. May 18, 2011 I’d set a new record at 265lbs. Finally, April 17, 2012 I’d jerk 300lbs.

The teachable observations here are:

Progress feels slow in the moment. It seems anti-climactic to train so much only to retest a lift and improve just by adding five pounds plates and the little two and half pound plates on each side to the bar. And, those were the big jumps. Imagine adding just the little one pound plates I used today! Celebrate the small victories. (NOTE: They are the only kind.)

The big jumps in performance come early. I put 55lbs on my best jerk in my first two years and just two pounds on the lift in the last two years with the movement. However, I did put just shy of 100lbs on this particular lift over the course of seven years. Be ready to embrace how flat the growth curve gets, people.

I added 100lbs to my lift and I weigh exactly the same as I did seven years ago. While I have weighed more in the past for strongman competitions (as much as 226lbs), I weigh 215lbs today, which is exactly what I weighed in 2010. Lifting heavy didn’t turn me into a bulky mess, but it did make me much more useful and it’s made putting on fat mass terribly difficult. Concerns about weightlifting and negative body image continue to be a baseless distraction from all the hard work you could be doing.

If you’re interested in adding a hundred pounds to your lift, you’ll need to be willing to grab the one pound plates and a dose of patience. Settle in.


Logan Gelbrich



5/16/17 WOD

Find a max for the following complex:

1 Push Press

1 Push Jerk

2 Split Jerks


Then, complete 4 rounds:

400m Run

-Rest 2 min-