Things I can lift: How I visualize my strength training progress

Published on April 15, 2021 by Dr. Randal S. Olson

data visualization humor strength training

2 min READ

Earlier this year, I set up a power lifting cage for myself and restarted my journey of rapidly building strength. Every other day I perform squats, once a week I perform a deadlift, I alternate between bench presses and overhead presses, and I throw in pull-ups and chin-ups on the non-deadlift days. It's a fairly standard Starting Strength program.

The difference this time is that I decided to track and visualize my progress every day in a spreadsheet. Part of the fun of rapid strength training is keeping track of your progress, and I like to take that to the next level by keeping track of things that I'm newly capable of lifting. It's a lot more fun to say you can squat a refrigerator than to say you squat 200 pounds, right?

My week 7 progress on 5-rep lifts

One of my early goals has been to get to a point where I can replicate the Dirty Dancing scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love:

I'll never share Ryan Gosling's charm, but at least I'll share his strength

Some other exciting milestones for me include being able to bench press a full beer keg and lift a medium-sized refrigerator with relative ease. I would've thought that refrigerators weighed way more than ~200 pounds!

The ultimate milestone, of course, has been reaching the point where I can lift the legend himself: Arnold Schwarzenegger. At his prime bodybuilder weight, Arnold weighed in at about 225 pounds, which is ludicrous to imagine because of how muscular he is. Henceforth I'm going to measure multiples of 225 pounds as "Arnolds."

This is all tongue-in-cheek, of course, and not meant to be taken too seriously. I'll make sure to provide an update down the line when I've hit some more big milestones. As the legend says:

What object-lifting milestones should I aim for next?