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College Powerlifting Routine

by Gary F. Zeolla

This article is an interlude from Full Workout Logs: Starting 1/19/2015 - Routine B of Two by Two Training Plan - Weeks 7-11 of 11.

While filing away some tax stuff, I came across a copy of an article I wrote for Powerlifting USA magazine, way back in 1981. This was shortly after I won National Collegiates @ 114s. In the article, I outlined my training routine. I thought it would be interesting to compare it to what I am doing now.

Squats – [145/3, 255/5] 325/5, 345/4, 355/2
Partial Squats – 415/5, 505/4, 555/3
Rowers – 100/6, 110/5, 115/4

Bench Press – 200/5 x 3
Close Grip Bench Press – 150/5, 155/5, 160/2
Triceps Pushdowns – 70/6, 75/6, 80/4

Deadlifts – [145/5, 285/5] 345/5, 365/5, 385/3
Rack Pulls – 395/5, 415/5, 435/3
Leg Extensions – 120/6 x 3

Squats – [145/3, 255/5] 325/5, 345/4, 355/2
Low Squats – 195/5, 210/4, 225/3
Rowers – 100/6, 110/5, 115/4

Bench Press – 200 x 5 x 3
Lockouts – 235/5, 250/4, 265/3
Triceps Pushdowns – 70/6, 75/6, 80/4

Deadlifts – [145/5, 285/5] 345/5, 365/5, 385/3
Hack Squats – 325/5, 340/3, 355/3
Leg Extensions –120/6 x 3


The hack squats were done using a squat machine in the gym in Rec Hall at Penn State. But I remember later changing that to platform (deficit) deadlifts.

The main difference from back then to today is I was lifting 6x/week versus 4x/week today. That had me doing each powerlift 2x/week rather than 1x/ week today. But I was 20 then, and there is no way I could lift that often today. I especially would not be able to deadlift one day then squat the next.

I did actual benches twice a week back then, while today I do benches one day and bench assistance work the second day. I did upper back work on squat days back then, but on bench and bench assistance days today. I didn’t do any ab work back then (I’m not sure why). I also did very few warmup sets compared to quite a few today.

But otherwise, there are a lot of similarities. At both times, I am doing three exercises per workout for three sets each, using a drop reps approach (except for benches in college). I am training one powerlift each workout. In each of those workouts, I am doing the actual powerlift followed one look-alike lift, then one minor assistance exercise.

At both times, I am using two different look-alike lifts for each powerlift, except back then both were done each week with working each powerlift twice a week, while today I alternate the two look-alikes week by week with doing each powerlift once a week.

I found it interesting one of these look-alike lifts back then was a partial movement (all three being done in a power rack). I will have to give that some thought. I am not sure I why I did 5 x 3 for benches rather than a drop reps approach like for everything else.

I didn’t mention about doing singles in the article, but I know I did them, at least on the powerlifts. I think I would start at 5, 3, 1, then work up to 5, 4, 3 using the same weights, then increase and repeat. So what I wrote in the article was in the middle of that cycle. Now I start at 5, 3, 1, work up to 6, 4, 2, then increase and repeat.

So after all of these years, and without having this info before me, but with much experimentation, I have arrived at a similar routine as I did 34 years ago.


College Routine. Copyright 2015 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs: 2014 - Present

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