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The Iron Horse's Secret to Big Lifts

Steve Goggins became one of the greatest lifters of all time by staying consistent.

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Steve Goggins

If Ed Coan is powerlifting’s Babe Ruth, Steve Goggins is its Lou Gehrig—without the untimely ending. Lifting quietly and mightily under the noise of Coan’s celebrity for most of his career, Goggins has collected some of the sport’s biggest lifts. And, like Gehrig, Goggins’ only tricks are consistency and hard work. 

From reps to recovery, every aspect of his approach is simple. That simplicity has yielded lifts that exceeded even some of Coan’s bests in the same weight class. Goggins’ 1,032-pound squat at a body weight of 240 stood for seven years as the all-time mark in any division. His training has always followed standard linear periodization—ratcheting up the weights week by week ahead of a competition.

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“I always stick with what works,” he says. “My training is boring, but I don’t mind repetition.” The salient difference for Goggins is that, instead of dropping from sets of 10 to eight to five, as the weeks and weights progress, he performs singles from the start of the cycle. Only after working up one lift at a time does he drop down and knock out some reps. He follows this with pause squats and other heavy assistance work. 

Even now at 52 and after a hip replacement, he’s making a run at a raw 800-pound deadlift. Goggins is another kind of Iron Horse. His lifts may plod—grinding up instead of blasting—but damn it, do they move. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Goggins has pulled 881 in competition and 900 in the gym. He’s the first man to ever squat 1,100 pounds.

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