The Vanilla Gorilla Program


This is the program that has been my bread and butter for years. It can be used for raw, equipped, or a combination of both. However, this program is my absolute go-to for preparing for a raw meet. It is simple, easy to understand, and extremely challenging while. You will be rewarded with immense strength improvement and technical efficiency. This is always the first program I use with new clients and training partners. It is my tried and true raw strength machine.

When I first began trialing programs on myself in 2004, there seemed to be a multitude of philosophies. I quickly learned that I loved linear progression which is what most of the original great American strength athletes used. As my strength career progressed, I realized the value in training with a higher frequency, especially for a powerlifter whose goal it is to become very good at three lifts. Lifting with a higher frequency (and proper form) develops muscle memory and an efficient neural firing adaptation. What came of trying to combine a linear progression program with a European higher frequency philosophy was the birth of my Vanilla Gorilla program.

Summary of the Vanilla Gorilla Program:

  • 12 Weeks
  • 4X/Week training
  • 3X Squat, 4X Bench, 3X Deadlift each week
  • Priority #1 is all 3 sets X 1 rep
  • Priority #2 is linear progression with 5 Sets progressing from 5 reps to 2 reps
  • Priority #3 is linear progression with 3 Sets progressing from 10 reps to 3 reps
  • Small deload every 4th week

Macrocycle: Competition Phase

Mesocycle: Competition in 12 Weeks


  • 4 Weeks of Hypertrophy and Volume Acclimation
  • 4 Weeks of a small Volume Taper and Intensity Transition
  • 4 Weeks of a large 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.

Never go to failure. Even though singles are being performed, the heaviest weight handled in training is 3 X 1 + 1 which is equivalent to a second attempt in a meet.

If you recall from the ‘Picking Attempts’ section earlier in the book, an opener is something you can do for 3 reps (90%-ish), a second attempt is something you can do for 2 reps (95%-ish), and a third attempt is a max effort lift of 100%. So 1 X 1 + 2 should be the equivalent of an opener – something you just did for one rep but could have done 2 more times. 1 X 1 + 1 should be equivalent to a second attempt – something you did for one rep and could have done one more.

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.

The combination of the volume taper in the final 3 weeks and the rest during Week 12 give an incredible supercompensation response after a challenging training cycle that will make you feel like the great primate on the platform!

Ready To Run Bundle Savings