The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

Ordinary Muscle

Introducing Dave Tate's Protégé Ted Toalston

Bench Press

Elite Fitness Systems is home to some larger-than-life personalities.

It's not surprising, considering the organization has Dave Tate at CEO and some of the worlds premier strength experts like Jim Wendler and Matt "Kroc" Kroczaleski in the training directory.

But Ted Toalston is shockingly well, normal. The 32-year old powerlifter from Columbus, Ohio is barely 200 pounds, has a mundane 50-hour a week job as a warehouse supervisor, and juggles training with his responsibilities as a new husband and father to two stepsons.

He doesn't even have the street cred afforded by a laundry list of badass injuries – unless you consider suffering a hernia a few years back "badass."

Yet despite being Elite's equivalent to Clark Kent, Toalston hasn't let his everyman personality keep him from putting up some truly badass numbers.

At his most recent meet, he secured a Pro total of 1970 pounds (785/510/675), despite having only started powerlifting competitively in January 2009.

Less than two years to a Pro total? How does that happen?

Toalston's powerlifting journey began in the unlikeliest of places – the dreaded commercial "fitness center."

says Toalston.

His first few years of "bodybuilding" were hardly productive.

Despite training like a moron, Toalston was able to get relatively strong, at least by commercial gym standards. he says.

Toalston's numbers were enough to draw the attention of powerlifter Mike Ruggiera, who also happened to train there.

Enter Dave Tate

This wasn't the only time Toalston was able to recognize a good opportunity when it was presented to him. After a few Saturdays spent deadlifting, Ruggiera asked if next weekend he'd like to try out a friend's gym in nearby London, Ohio.

That was when Toalston first met Dave Tate.

His first workout at Elite opened him up to a whole new world.

Toalston started working with Tate regularly and he put up 565/425/600 in his first meet before reaching Elite status shortly thereafter with a 1790-pound total.

Toalston gives full credit to Tate for getting him on the fast track to powerlifting success.

he says.

Check Your Ego at the Door

Mastering proper technique in all lifts was Toalston's biggest challenge. he says.

Toalston says many lifters completely discount how important perfect technique is.

He also had to learn another important quality: patience.

Speaking of injuries, Toalston also credits staying relatively injury free for his quick progress.

he says.

Tate's balanced approach to programming is also a big help.

Elite Training

Bench Press

What's it like training at Elite?

says Toalston.

he says.

Toalston's next goal is to secure his place on the top 20 All Time list in the 198-pound weight class, a goal he says won't be easy to attain. 

he says.

Bench Day – October 31, 2010
Deficit bench with chains (RAW)
135 plus 2 chains, 3 x 1
185 plus 4 chains, 3 x 1
225 plus 6 chains, 3 x 1
315 plus 6 chains, 3 x 1
315 plus 8 chains, 2 x 1
315 plus 10 chains,1 x 1
Hammer Strength incline press with mini band 3 x 8
Lat pulldowns 3 x 12
Cable triceps extensions 4 x 12
Cable shrugs 2 x 16
Bench Day - November 4, 2010
Speed bench 3 x 6 (205)
Close grip dumbbell press (hammer grip), 3 x 12
Chin Ups 6 x 10
Dumbbell lateral raises 5 x 20
Bench Day  - November 7, 2010
Bench Press

Bench Press w/ Metal Ace (Pro) Bench Shirt 365x2 (1x3-board, 1x3-board)
425x2 (1x2-board, 1x1-board)
495x1 (1x1-board)
515x1 to chest-PR
Raw presses 365x3 to 2-board
405x3 to 2-board
Dumbbell rows 3 x 12
Cable extensions 5 x 15
Horizontal press 3 x 8 (10's)
Bench Day - November 11, 2010
Bench, 185 against mini bands
6 x 3
Lat pull downs 5 x 15
Horizontal raises 3 x 8 (35's)
Bench Day - November 14, 2010
Incline press
135, 10x1
185, 10x1
225, 5x1
275, 1x1
Chest supported rows 6 x 10
Cable Triceps extensions 6 x 12
Band pull aparts, dumbbell curls, and neck.
Bench Day - November 21, 2010
135, 3x1
225, 3x1
315, 2x1
Bench Press w/ Metal Ace (Pro) Bench Shirt 365x2 (1x3-board, 1x2-board)
425x2 (1x2-board, 1x1-board)
495x1 to chest
520x1 to chest-PR

Diet and Nutrition Changes

Another area he's benefitted from Tate's guidance is nutrition.

Elite's affiliation with Biotest allowed Toalston to be an official Anaconda protocol guinea pig, and he quickly made it a part of his daily routine.

The protocol has also forced Toalston to deal with something he's never faced in the past: making weight.

Tate also has him taking Metabolic Drive throughout the day, Surge Recovery post workout, and Elite Pro Mineral Support before bed, which Toalston says has benefitted his sleep considerably.

he says.

Ted Toalston's Tips

Bench Press

You don't have to pack your bags and move to sunny London, Ohio to make progress in your own training. Toalston says you can make outstanding progress in even the most non-hardcore commercial gym if you incorporate the following tips:

  • Arrive with your workout planned out. "Too many guys just wing it, or show up with just the bodyparts they want to train [in mind]. Have a plan before you show up – even if it means writing out your training in the parking lot. The last thing you want to be is that guy who does ten extra sets of something just because there's a hot chick stretching nearby."

  • Keep a training log. Planning your workout is step one, but having something written down to refer to is invaluable, especially for percentage-based training. "I don't know of a single strong lifter who doesn't keep a training journal of some kind," says Toalston.

  • Work hard, but smart. "Training hard doesn't mean constantly chasing PR's, and there are times when you can just get the required reps in. Progress is still progress, and always trying to hit a new PR will just get you injured."

  • Plan variety into your training. "There are dozens of variations of the basic exercises. Try them all. Don't just do barbell rows or T-bar rows. Use different grips and attachments to create a new stimulus and prevent pattern overload."

  • Don't just do what you're good at. "Pick a movement that you're a bit weaker at and perfect your form, and then gradually get strong. Often what you suck at or hate doing is exactly what you should be doing."

That's all pretty good advice from a "normal" guy, but we suppose it takes more than just taking off your glasses to become a powerlifting superman.