The Great Ape Program


The root of this program is specificity, specificity, specificity! This program will have you practicing the competition movements more than you ever have. The beauty of this variation on the Vanilla Gorilla program is the simplicity. Training is 4 times per week and every day is Squat, Bench, Deadlift or very close variations to the competition movements. There are only Priority #1 and Priority #2 movements to make the specificity even higher.

There are still elements of linear progression and heavy singles. The singles protocol is the same as the Vanilla Gorilla program but the major variance comes in the Priority #2 movements. Due to the heavier loading and higher specificity, the volume drops slightly. Instead of 5 working sets, there are 3 working sets and reps begin at 5s, then 3s, then 2s.

There are no programmed Wildcard movements but it is always encouraged to do abs a few times a week. Extra work is possible if the athlete feels like it but this program is extremely challenging. A major advantage of this program is the simplicity of the gym it requires. All that is needed is a bar, plates, and a rack. The most confident I have ever felt going into a meet was after a 12 week cycle of the Great Ape. I practiced the lifts so frequently and was so incredibly in touch with where my strength was that my motor patterns could have been performed in my sleep. On the specific program page, I like to use the 4th day as a ‘speed’ day using Priority #1 lifts against bands. These are meant to be relatively light and you should never come close to grinding a lift here.

Summary of the Great Ape Program:

  • 12 Weeks
  • 4X/Week training
  • 4X Squat, 4X Bench, 4X Deadlift each week
  • Priority #1 is all 3 sets X 1 rep
  • Priority #2 is linear progression with 3 sets progressing from 5 reps to 2 reps
  • Small deload every 4th week

Macrocycle: Competition or Off-Season Phase

Mesocycle:Competition in 12 Weeks or building work capacity


  • 4 Weeks of Strength-Power phase (lots of 5s)
  • 4 Weeks of a small Volume Taper and Intensity Transition
  • 4 Weeks of another small Volume Taper, Intensity Ramp, and Competition Taper

As a powerlifter it is CRUCIAL to practice the competition specific movements with heavy weight, exactly as you would in competition. Because of this, the first three sessions of every week begin with three singles in a competition specific movement. The fourth day is also another competition practice with Priority #1 lifts across the board.
As with all of the Gorilla programs, never go to failure.

Openers are to be hit approximately one week out from the competition.

Last warm ups are to be hit early during the week of the competition.

You will likely hit more competition movements during this cycle than you ever have. Therefore you should enter the meet with the utmost confidence.

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