Team elitefts athlete Dan Dalenberg hails from a place he describes as a two-stoplight town in the middle of cornfields: Georgetown, Illinois. He grew up there, where some of his friends introduced him to powerlifting. He competed in a meet and thought it was awesome.

His weightlifting prowess caught the high school football coaches’ attention.

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“Despite being a skinny 15-year-old kid, I was pretty strong,” Dan says. “So they convinced me to play. While I loved football, being 5-foot-6 and slow as molasses doesn’t make for a college football career.”

That didn’t stop Dan from going above and beyond when it came to football. He wanted to become better — elite, even. So it’s no wonder that he found elitefts through Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. As a teenager who wanted a football program that was stricter than the one his coach ran, 5/3/1 was exactly what he was looking for: something simple and effective.

Around then, he also found Dave Tate’s writings on Between Jim and Dave, Dan found plenty of credible, reliable information he could count on. And that kept him coming back to the site.


After graduating high school, Dan went on to attend college in Terre Haute, Indiana, at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. But he had a last-minute change of plans:

Part way through my junior year of college, I had a "quarter life crisis" and was completely fed up with engineering school. I didn’t want to do it anymore and acted on emotion rather than logic. I left Rose-Hulman to study exercise science and ended up out at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro on the recommendation of an exercise science professor at Indiana State University.

So Dan packed his bags for UNC-G — a “fine school and nice campus.” However, there were three challenges Dan faced there:

  1. UNCG was a bit of a commuter school. The few friends I made were never around on weekends. My roommate went home on Thursday evenings and didn’t come back until Monday afternoons. Socially this was difficult.
  2. I can be a little introverted, so I sucked at making new friends anyways. I was super lonely and felt like I had no one.
  3. I was in a dark head space. I was acting on a lot of strong emotions and was definitely in a depressed state with no one local to talk to about it (at least that’s what I thought).

Luckily, he found a place that helped him work through these challenges: East Coast Barbell. It was the first powerlifting gym he’d ever trained at — plus, Chris Mason, a then-elitefts team member, ran the joint.

East Coast Barbell and its lifters became a home away from home for Dan:

Chris, Mike, Joe, Jasmine, Cheryl, Scott all took me in as one of their own. They were completely unbiased and had no idea what I was going through at the time. That place became a safe place for me, one where I could clear my head and start to find logic rather than acting on emotion. They became my friend group and were the people I depended on.

These lifters helped him get to a better place and eventually helped Dan realize that he needed to go back to Rose-Hulman and finish his mechanical engineering degree. And he did.

He thanks Cheryl in particular for helping him. “She supported me unconditionally and wanted me to succeed,” he says. “She was a bit of a mother figure for me and I love her for it.”

Leaving East Coast Barbell was a bittersweet moment, as it closed its doors right before Dan moved back to Indiana. But he still had his key. Before the place was emptied out, Dan said one final, painful goodbye.

I sat in the middle of the floor and I thanked those four walls for the experiences that I had there. I miss that place and those people. They helped me more than they could ever know.

Dan carries the memory of East Coast Barbell close to his heart, no matter where he is. “I still have my key to that gym. It’s hanging on a nail in my current gym and will continue to travel with me, wherever I go."

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Since then, he’s kept in touch with Chris.

After graduating from Rose-Hulman, Dan landed a job at Cook Medical in Bloomington, Indiana, and then moved on to Stryker Instruments in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He still works there and has been in Michigan for a little over six years.

In that time, he’s continued to train. He’s worked closely with elitefts alumn Brian Carroll and elitefts coach Casey Williams.

Dan Dalenberg Brian Carroll

Dan says Brian made him the lifter that he is today, after first connecting with him in late 2010.

“I could write a whole series of articles about my relationship with Brian and what I have learned from him,” Dan says. “I would not be lifting at the level that (I) am and relatively injury-free without his help. Brian taught me an immense (amount) about powerlifting, and I am forever indebted to him for that.”

Casey is his current coach. They met for the first time competing against one another at RUM 8, where Casey won by a huge margin. “I was obsessing over my own training, and writing it myself was stressing me out,” Dan explains. “I wanted to have something to just execute to, so I got in touch with Casey earlier this year.”

When he’s not training, Dan is working on getting a Master’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University. “I started it to remove glass ceiling for myself,” he says. With that degree, he could work more with Stryker’s corporate business development group, and it could make a huge impact on the business. He admits there isn’t much else he does — he just makes time for what is important to him:

I wouldn’t call myself balanced, not at all. I strive to be present and make sure that the limited time I have for different people, relationships, and activities is extremely high quality. I’m also very protective of my time. I work, study, lift and spend time with Chelsea (my wife). That’s it. Nothing else to compete with my time, I have no issues saying “no” to stuff so that I can protect those top-4 priorities.

Though with his new position as a Team elitefts athlete, his top-4 priorities might become a top-5 list. Given that a Google search of Dan’s name brings up quite a few blog posts and articles he’s written for several publications, that shouldn’t be an issue for him.

As for his training logs, Dan says that it won’t be the same as what people have read in the past. For starters, he hasn’t written much for roughly a year.

I haven’t written much in about a year. That past year has been one of big-time change and growth me, dropping two weight classes, going back to raw and playing bodybuilder for a while. I’m excited to share what I have learned through the experience and expand beyond what I have written in the past.

To see what Dan is currently writing, check out his training log.

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