Home Blog Strength Training Program Success: How Dr. P Did at 47 What He Couldn’t Do at 20 or 30

Strength Training Program Success: How Dr. P Did at 47 What He Couldn’t Do at 20 or 30

Written on August 15, 2011 at 7:08 am, by Eric Cressey

Last May, my buddy Dave Jack put me in touch with a local chiropractic neurologist, Dr. Peter Percuoco.  I was still somewhat new to Hudson, MA – and “Dr. P” was a resource that Dave thought would be a great addition to our corner.  In his exact words, “Wait until you start to drill down inside this guy’s brain…be prepared to go there, EC!”

Dr. P and I met up the following week, and sure he enough, he more than lived up to Dave’s flattering description – and he’s become an excellent clinical resource for us to this day.

What I didn’t expect to learn, that day, is that he was ready to piss some excellence by becoming a client at Cressey Performance.

Though an accomplished high school and college football quarterback back in the day, Dr. P had – like many folks in the health and human performance industry do – put everyone else’s needs ahead of his own, and it had taken a toll on his body.  He was ready to change that, though – and that’s exactly what he did.

Over the past 10.5 months, Peter has completely changed his body.  In fact, the transformation has been so impressive that we have gotten quite a few of his patients and friends at CP simply because they’ve seen what it’s done to not just his body, but his energy levels, athleticism, and overall quality of life.  I’d argue that Dr. P was already pissing some serious excellence when he first started at CP – but we unleashed a firehose of excellence pissing.  Literally every time I see him, I regret not taking “before” pictures when he first started up.

Transformation aside, Peter confided in me about ten weeks ago that it had been a lifelong goal to bench 315.  He’d tried for years to do it while playing football, and only cracked 300 once – and that was at the age of 30 after years of consistent weight training.  Now 47, he wanted to know if I thought it was a legitimate goal – and if I could help him to get it.

Now, anybody who reads EricCressey.com regularly knows that I love a project – and so we embarked on a bench press specialization after testing his one-repetition maximum at 285 back in early June.  This was Saturday (roughly eight weeks later):

A 30-pound increase in a bench press with no change in body weight in under eight weeks is a serious accomplishment – but doing it at the age of 47 makes you a freakin’ rockstar in my book.

What can you learn from Dr. P’s success?  A lot!  Here are the primary things that come to mind for me when I think about why he finally hit his goal:

1. He made time instead of finding time – We know that Dr. P is going to be at Cressey Performance at 12pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  He blocks it off in his schedule at work months in advance.  For a guy who has a wife and two kids, a thriving business, it would be very easy to just find time to get to the gym.  It was important to him, so he made time for it.

2. He recognized that there was always something he could do to get better – From hands-on treatment of patients, strength training, and yard work, Dr. P has somewhat of a chronic golfer’s elbow condition that we’ve worked around on and off during his training at CP.  Many folks would simply skip the gym entirely until something like that resolved – and with a chronic condition like this, it could be months or even years to get symptomatic relief (if you do at all).  Instead, Dr. P and I collaborated on strength training programs and specific strength exercises that would allow him to maintain a training effect without exacerbating his symptoms.  There was no pity party.

3. He didn’t try to ride multiple horses with one saddle – Here’s a shocker: when it came time to make a run at this bench press goal, we wrote up a bench press specialization program geared toward not only increased upper body volume, but a specific attention to his weaknesses. It constantly amazes me how people will state their specific goal, but not change their training program to focus on it.  Specific results come from specific actions, not doing everything under the sun and keeping your fingers crossed.

4. He found what worked best for him – A big mistake I see in up-and-coming lifters is that they try to conform strictly to one training or learning system.  As you can tell from the video editing above, Dr. P’s very technologically inclined – and he used that to his advantage by using video with his iPhone during training to tinker with his strength training technique.  Others might not like video, but they may prefer a specific hand-off person on the bench, a certain kind of music, a specific warm-up protocol, or particular strength exercises to bring up weaknesses.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so you have to put in the time to find the strategies that help you the most.

5. He got in a great environment – During the winter, Dr. P’s training time coincides with our professional baseball guys, and at this time of year, he’s surrounded by a lot stud college athletes.  There’s no choice but to push yourself when you’re surrounded by guys who won’t let each other slack.

6. He told others about his goals – Our entire staff and many of our regular clients knew about Dr. P’s 315 bench press goal.  There’s something to be said for making yourself accountable to a goal by telling those around you about it.  You increase the likelihood that they’ll bring it up, constantly refocusing you on the task at hand – and you also have a built-in support network that will encourage you every step of the way.  A 30-pound bench press increase seems less daunting when you’ve got 30 people pulling for you. Plus, the immediately post-lift celebration (which unfortunately wasn’t caught on camera) becomes all the more epic.

These are just a few examples specific to Dr. P’s case, but there are surely many more success secrets my readers have used to accomplish lifelong goals.  Please share some more ideas in the comments section!

Congratulations, Dr. P!

Need some structure n your strength training program to help you closer to your goals? Check out Show and Go High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

18 Responses to “Strength Training Program Success: How Dr. P Did at 47 What He Couldn’t Do at 20 or 30”

  1. Kris Wolff Says:

    One of the many reasons to train at CP is to be surrounded by people like Dr.P. I’ve had several informal conversations with him and he is such a nice guy as well as being a respected professional and an amazing athlete. Looking forward to getting back in the fall…miss you all. Congrats Dr. P!

  2. Lisa Says:

    I think you have touched on some pretty key points when it comes to trying to achieve a fitness goal. For those who don’t have the opportunity to work at a world class facility such as yours, a great way to stay on track is to have a training partner. I know mine won’t let me take a day off cause I’m tired or had a long day. Congrats to Dr. Pete on his bench!

  3. Derek Says:

    Ricky Bobby is an inspiration to us all. A big harry American winning machine.

  4. Dr. P Says:

    E – you are the man. There was no chance of reaching this goal wihout you and the whole Cressey experience. I feel like part of a family……..one serious ass kicking family. Thanks Dave Jack for putting us together. Dr. P

  5. Deane Moore Says:

    Awesome Job Dr.P! Motivation for us 40 somethings. Keep up the great work both clinically and physically.

  6. Darryn Says:

    Actually got a bit of a tear in my eye watching that lift. Awesome effort at any age let alone 47!!! Well done Dr P and EC for achieving this goal!

  7. Darren Says:

    Great job Dr.P! In regards to goals, thought some of you might appreciate thinking critically of this video.


    Made me think differently about goals…not to underpin this accomplishment, it’s monumental.


  8. Jeff Blair Says:

    Good article Eric and congrats Dr. P

    A few thoughts:

    1. Aging is not the problem-disuse is the problem. I would be surprised if Dr. P did not keep progressing to 320 and 330 as he approaches 50 years old. Research and lots of experience show those following a serious program can make major gains in spite of aging. Much of what our society calls “aging” is myth and misinformation.

    2. Many people have spent their training careers using bodybuilding-training variations rather than following a serious strength-training program. When a strength-based program is designed and followed, serious gains usually follow. People should train with those who understand and practice strength training if they want to get stronger.

    3. Successful people succeed. Dr. P’s history of professional and athletic achievement show he understands success requires work, and he has internalized that concept. I will always bet on this personality to keep succeeding.

  9. Nick Efthimiou Says:

    Very inspirational.

    It’s a common theme that successful people (in business/life) achieve great success in the gym when they put their minds to it (assuming good guidance). They know what it takes to get something done.

    I’m sure training at CP accelerated what was going to be inevitable progress.

  10. C Milne Says:

    Have been toying with the idea of putting in a big off season and making a proper go after retiring from football for around 10 years and then playing because the young blokes in the side I coach needed help…have now made up my mind…if it’s good enough for the Dr at 47, I have NO EXCUSE at 33!
    Want to build my strength and fitness back to peak by incorporating Cressey product. Should I use Show n Go or Ultimate Offseason for Rugby League which is an Australian game? (Speed Bursts; Power dependent; High aerobic & anaerobic fitness required)

  11. Walt Says:

    This is a great story!

  12. Gary Adolph Says:


    Great post !!!! And congrats to Dr. P for striving to reach his goal. My chiropractor has been trying to covince me that at my age (almost 58) that I should not be using heavy weight to train with. I think if it is done responsibly and safely why not go for your goals. It is never too late !!!!!


  13. Pete Viteritti, D.C. Says:

    Congratulations Dr. Percuoco. Wow, that’s really awesome! It just shows you what is possible with great coaching and a committed athlete.

  14. Dennis Blair, Fort Collins Personal Training Says:

    Impressive, and great evidence that it’s never too late to set a goal and create a plan to accomplish it. I emphasize with my clients the need to schedule, plan, and prioritize their health. It is cliche that if you lose your health you have nothing, but it is true — congrats to Dr. P for not accepting the status quo for his age and our society.

  15. Bill Says:


    I enjoy your website and book, and quite frankly I’m amazed at the about of knowledge you have for a relatively young man. I made a lot of progress when I was following your program, but deviated for a few months to build up my endurance.

    Dr. P will serve as inspiration not only because he is successful, but because we have similiar goals. I’m 51 y/o and have been working out most of my life, but have never benched 315lbs (I did 305lbs a few years back), yet I could (not now) bench 225lbs for 20 reps. I just assumed it my genetics and I would never bench heavy.

    I’m currently working an aggressive 5×5 program for squats, bench, press, dead lift (only one heavy set after squats) and I’m currently making good progress, so anticipate doing this until the end of SEP (hopefully have my deadlift up to 2x bodweight by then), and squat around 330lbs.

    Then I’ll push into another hard conditioning phase (fast runs, cross fit like workouts, etc. while trying to maintain my strength), then I’ll try your program again.

    I want to eat and have my cake to, I want to be strong and be fit (endurance, high intensity endurance, etc.), and that is getting harder to do since I passed 45 y/o.

    There are a lot of guys like Dr. P and myself that desire to excel physically at the 45 plus years, which is great market for a pro such as yourself. I would love to see a book focused on us older gents who don’t plan to hang it up anytime soon, but at the same time realize we need to train a little differently. Thanks, Bill

  16. Tom Reddin Says:

    Now that was awesome!!!

  17. Brad Says:

    First, Congrats to Dr. P! Second, I have chronic tendinitis in my right elbow and find it hampers my workouts, sometimes significantly. I’m a wide receivers coach in a local high school too so I ended throwing the football a pretty good bit at least a couple of days per week this time of year. Any suggestions for things to do to continue to work around the elbow? Thanks and keep up the good work Eric.

  18. Fredrik Gyllensten Says:

    I think number 5 might be the most important one of all 🙂

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