A Black Iron Success Story, Jordan Kussmaul


Jordan Kussmaul is a pretty athletic kid from a small-town just outside Lansing, MI. His whole family has trained at my gym over the last few years, and they had all mentioned that Jordan was quite an athlete and needed to get in to work with me. I was looking forward to seeing what he could do with the Starting Strength Program. As a Starting Strength Coach it is always exciting to get to work with a prospect who is the perfect age to start training. More often than not I am working with older folks who are dealing with different ailments and are not able to prioritize barbell training like they should. It is frustrating, but very much part of the deal when working as a professional coach. Everyone can benefit from barbell training, but athletes in their prime definitely enjoy the most progress.

Jordan was a decorated high school athlete in football, basketball, and track. We were able to starting training a little between his junior and senior year, but there was not enough time to get serious because of his hectic schedule as a multi-sport athlete. During the little time we did have I taught him how to do each lift and started running a novice linear progression. Our training was cut short due to football practice and training camp, but he made a little progress and got stronger. It was enough to earn him all-area and a few college scholarship offers.

After basketball playoffs ended Jordan weighed 175 pounds soaking wet. At over 6'2 he needed to gain weight and he knew it. He had committed to playing college football the next year and we had to get him bigger and stronger. Luckily, I had just the program to do it with.

Jordan considered not running track to focus solely on lifting, but he is way too much of a team player. We did our best to balance both. Over the next 4 months of training 3 times a week for 60-90 minutes a session we added over 200 pounds to Jordan's squat and deadlift, 75 pounds to his bench and power clean, and 50 pounds to his overhead press. We also taught him how to do the Olympic lifts to increase his power output. In the same time Jordan's bodyweight went up to over 205 with a big increase in muscle mass. Pretty good results. Especially when you consider the fact that he was running track throughout the process.

One of my favorite parts of the story is the fact that within the first few weeks of the track season while Jordan was still considering quitting he was asked to high jump for the team. He had never done the event before, and only had experience competing in long jump, hurdles, and sprints. But the team needed a high jumper and he was their best option. We were in the process of squatting three times a week and adding weight to the bar every time, so I figured it would be interesting. Jordan got first place in his first meet as a high jumper and almost broke the school record. We are pretty sure his increased force production from low-bar back squatting had a lot to do with that.

Jordan went on to win regionals in the high jump and qualified for states where he finished 12th. Pretty good considering he was just goofing around with it while we were making huge gains in the gym. He was also busy eating everything in sight and trying to gain mass, but it didn't slow him down at all. His sprinting got faster and his jumping increased even while he was in the process of adding 30 pounds of mass onto his frame. It is no coincidence that as he gained weight and got stronger his performance continued to improve. A bigger motor always goes faster.

The program we followed was the basic novice progression as spelled out in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe. We followed the program as best as we could while Jordan was running track. Then I switched him to a HML split with some Olympic Lifting. When track was done we ran Texas Method for awhile and continued to work on his Oly lifts. Nothing fancy, just all of the stuff that works.

Jordan has that very special trait that all coaches love. He is very coachable. He listened to what my coaches and I had to say, and he followed the program. I appreciated the fact that he quietly showed up everyday and put in work. Most people just want to talk about doing things, but Jordan didn't come to the gym to talk. He put in work. Jordan did all of the sets that were scheduled and broke all kinds of PR's along the way without ever feeling the need to brag or boast.

Jordan sent me a message from college a few weeks back. He is there now getting ready for his freshmen year of football. The team did a combine recently to test all the players and see where they were to start the season. Jordan ran a 4.56 40 yard dash, benched 185 for 9, and squatted 225 for 15 reps. Not bad for a tall, kind of skinny 18 year old kid who just started training this year.

Jordan is another great example of our program's success. When you put in the work, you get the results. Not everyone is training to be a college athlete and that's not the point. The point is when you get stronger things get better. Your time in the gym should be spent working towards a goal, and getting stronger is the best place to start.

Nice work Jordan!! You make us all proud and have set a great example for others to follow. Good luck this year. Remember to keep working hard and always stay humble. And when you get out on the field be sure to give it all you got!

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