Louis has been a member of CS&C since November 2017. Louis has the distinction of being the first and only (for now) member of the illustrious 2-3-4-5 club. For those who don’t know, this means he overhead presses, bench presses, squats, and deadlifts over 200, 300, 400, and 500 lbs, respectively.
He also is a pretty badass Dungeon Master for our gym’s D&D campaign!
Tell us a little about yourself…
By day I’m a data scientist, working on data quality, analytics, and machine learning for a cancer services company. I have a lovely wife and newborn daughter. I grew up in central New York, went to undergrad in Boston, went to grad school in California, and now I’m here in Chicago.
What was your exercise history before joining CS&C?
I first learned how to squat and bench press in high school, as a member of the football team. And when I say “”squat””, I really mean “”super high box squat so that the coaches can claim their entire line squats 315″”. I remember being very impressed with myself at the time; I mean, that was over 300 pounds, and I just stood it up and squatted* it!
Fast forward to grad school, where a labmate of mine (hey Tony) asked if I wanted to go to the gym and lift, using some program his friend had told him about. You just squatted, pressed, deadlifted, and benched, and it was supposed to get you way bigger and stronger. There was also something about drinking a gallon of milk a day, but that was right out. I didn’t like benching, so I usually skipped that, and I didn’t know how to deadlift, so those numbers were pretty bad, but I enjoyed the squatting and pressing, and so committed myself to ditching lab in the afternoon and working out three times a week for a few months.
Fast forward to three months later, and I’ve got 310 loaded up on the bar. I start my first set, and two reps in, it feels like someone drove a rusty, jagged spoon into my spine. I racked the bar, pulled the weight off, and spent the next month treating my back like the special snowflake it obviously was.
Luckily for me, I blamed myself and not the Starting Strength method. Clearly I was doing something wrong. Was I not going deep enough? Was I suffering from terminal butt wink? What about the master cue?
How did you end up at CS&C?
Repeat the above story two or three times between 2012 and 2017, when I moved to Chicago. I had repeated the novice linear progression two or three times, and without fail, once I got to around 315, I would do something wrong and hurt my back. I knew that humans could squat more than 315 without killing themselves, so it must be something I was doing. I went home, searched for a Starting Strength coach in Chicago, and CS&C came up. I scheduled an Intro Barbell Clinic with Dave and shortly thereafter joined the gym as a full member.
What are your current personal bests and where did you start?
- Squat: 145x5x3
- Bench: 90x5x3
- Deadlift: 167×5
- Press: 72.5x5x3
- Squat: 227×1
- Bench: 143×1
- Deadlift: 242×1
- Press: 95×1
What is your favorite lift and why?
Nothing beats unracking a weight that you think is going to crush you into something resembling a chunky ragù and squatting it. That being said, the press is the most fun because it looks the coolest.
How has barbell training made a difference in your life?
Dave pointed out form problems and gave me solutions during the intro clinic. So, I guess I noticed a difference before I really even started at CS&C.
I’ve always enjoyed weightlifting as a form of exercise, and being a member at CS&C has let me increase that enjoyment by both teaching me how to lift safely and getting my numbers up. It has also altered my understanding of the word “difficult”; many things that we think are difficult or even impossible just require an uncomfortable amount of focus and effort. Working through discomfort is something you learn.
What would you say to someone who is unsure about starting a barbell strength training program?
My usual way of convincing someone is to flex my bicep, kiss my arm, and wink at them. If that doesn’t work, I’d try to find out why they exercise in the first place. Regardless of the reason (losing weight, gaining weight, wanting to stay active, get stronger, look better, feel better, smell better) I’d recommend weight training to them, as it can do all of that. It’s a process that results in measurable progress every time it’s done correctly. And if you’re not sure you’re doing it correctly, go visit CS&C, like I did.
What does “happy, healthy, strong” mean to you?
It means being able to achieve your goals, regardless of pain, worry, or doubt.
What would you do and where would you go if time / money were no object?
What adventures, events, trips, competitions do you have planned?
Surviving the first few months with my newborn is adventure enough 🙂
What are your goals?
It would be really neat to be in the 3-4-5-6 club. (300 press, 400 bench press, 500 squat, 600 deadlift).
What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I own (and can juggle) torches.