Blaine Sumner Free Gorilla Squad Powerlifting Program

Introduction

Blaine is an American world champion powerlifter from Conifer, Colorado – he is an absolute tank of a man!!! He weights about 385 pounds or 175 kilograms, aged 32 and competes Raw and single-ply. If you haven’t watched any of his lifts before check out the YouTube videos below.

Blaine has been competing competitively since 2006 in drug free associations and federations; IPF, USAPL, and NAPF and dominated taking first place for 30 of the 51 recorded meets I found on openpowerlifting.com.

He’s gone head to head with the legend Ray Williams on many occasions which in itself is a daunting task and his biggest lifts are as follows:

  • Squat: 1,135 lbs (515 kg)
  • Bench: 1,003 lbs (455 kg)
  • Deadlift: 816 lbs (370 kg)
  • Total: 2,856 lbs (1,295 kg)

For me Blaine’s bench is what stands outs, its just monstrous! I had to double check I got the above meet record correct and it wasn’t 803 lbs!! But his squat is also incredibly impressive and just makes you want to give up powerlifting watching!

NOTE: I will just breakdown the Linear Periodization program and Frequency Freak program for the time being.

Linear Periodization Program Breakdown

Introduction

This is a great program for a lifter looking for a simple, classical, time-proven program to follow. My approach to the old school style of training with linear periodization.

Blaine Sumner

This is a fantastic program for a beginner-intermediate lifter, it goes back to basics, its a classic training program following a simple linear periodization structure. I would not recommend this program for an advanced or elite lifter, it won’t create sufficient strength adaptations, it does not has the intracity, frequency, intensity variation for an advanced – elite lifter.

The lifter squats one time per week raw with sleeves, bench presses raw twice a week and deadlifts raw once a week. I would have included a second raw squat lift each week, however, the lifter will perform weekly Front Squats and Good Morning’s as secondary exercises during the 12 week program.

Primary Exercises Breakdown

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3Day 4
Primary 1Raw Squat w/ SleevesRaw BenchRaw DeadliftRaw Bench
Primary Exercises

As mentioned above the primary exercises (commonly referred to as your main lifts) are to be performed raw, not equipped or geared. This means just knee sleeves, wrist wraps, squat shoes and belt. No lifting suits, knee or elbow wraps, or barbell straps.

I identified for the primary exercises four training blocks built within the program each lasting three-four weeks. Week 4,8 and 11 have a slight deload then week 12 you peak to hit a new PR which is 2% above your current one rep max.

Most of the programs intensity is within sub-maximal weight loads between 73-86% of 1RM with no frequent maximal effort training.

Block one I perceive as week 1-3 whereby you perform sets of 6-8 reps at 73% of 1RM and I would consider this the ‘Volume /Introductory block’. The lifter performs higher volume training sessions, higher reps per set, but at low sub-maximal intensity.

Block two I consider week 4-6 whereby the lifter will perform sets of reps (do yawl fives) at medium volume intensity between 72-79% of 1RM. This is the ‘Accumulation Block’ preparing the lifter for heavier intensity in the following training blocks working with higher sub-maximal intensity loads. Your not performing lower reps yet, but not higher rep sets – it’s bang in the middle!

Block three I consider week 7-9, week eight being a slight deload and during this block you perform sets of 3-4 reps in the 79-82% intensity range of the lifters 1RM.

Week 10-12 I consider to be the ‘Peaking Realization Block’ working with maximal to near maximal effort loads week 10-11 for sets of 2 reps. Then week 12 the lifter achieves a new PR that’s 2% above their current 1RM. However, If you feel that you performed that heavy single at an RPE of 7-9, then get performing heavy singles till you reach an RPE of 10.

Secondary Exercises Breakdown

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3Day 4
Secondary 1Front SquatClose Grip BenchRDLShoulders
Secondary 2Good MorningsSeated Military PressBarbell RowsBiceps
Secondary 3Leg ExtensionTricepsGHR/Reverse HyperTriceps
Secondary 4Leg CurlBicepsAbsBack
Secondary 5AbsTricepsxx
Linear Program Exercises

The selection of secondary exercises contain both variations of the primary lifts and hypertrophy isolation exercises. You perform 4-5 exercises each training session and they are based around the primary main lift.

You only perform secondary exercises from week 1-10, week 11-12 you don’t perform any secondary exercises just the primary exercises. This is because you are working with maximal loads and peaking to set a new PR thus all energy must be reversed for recovery from the primary lifts not secondary exercises.

Day one is leg and squat focused isolating the quads and glutes, day two is pressing focused for the bench press performing exercises that focus on the Delt’s, chest and triceps and one bicep exercise.

Day three secondary exercises are based around the deadlift performing RDL’s (Romanian deadlifts), Barbell Rows, Reverse Hypers and abs. These exercises are mostly posterior chain focused isolating the Lat’s, lower-mid back, hamstring’s and glutes.

Secondary Exercises Rep x Set Scheme

Frequency Freak Breakdown

Introduction

This is probably my favorite Gorilla Squad program from the spreadsheet!! It’s got higher frequency, greater exercise variation and incorporates a bands day which I LOVE. Every training session has it’s own goal focusing on the raw main lifts, variations and compound exercises to help with sticking points for the main lifts and strengthen muscle groups, then band tension to increase explosiveness for the main lifts.

Blaine says the following about this program:

A very high frequency program. Get really good – and really strong – at squatting, benching, and deadlifting.

Blaine Sumner

Exercises

DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3DAY 4
Raw Squat Raw Bench PressRaw DeadliftBanded Raw Squats
Close Grip Bench PressSnatch Grip DeadliftParallel Pin Squat Banded Raw Bench Press
RDL Pause Squats Switch Stance DeadliftBanded Raw Deadlift
Exercises Performed Per Day Table

I’ve split the exercises into three categories; the Primary A Main Lifts which you perform raw for the full 12 weeks. Followed by Primary B lifts which are compound movements and variations of the main lifts performed for 10 weeks. The Banded Resistance lifts which are the main lifts however you incorporate resistance bands training to improve athlete’s movement velocity, strength, and force production.

Primary A ExercisesPrimary B ExercisesBanded Resistance Exercises
Raw Squat Parallel Pin Squat Banded Raw Squats
Raw Bench PressSwitch Stance DeadliftBanded Raw Bench Press
Raw DeadliftSnatch Grip DeadliftBanded Raw Deadlift
 Pause Squats  
 Close Grip Bench Press 
 RDL  
Exercises Categorized

The goal of this program is high frequency, which means you train the main lifts or variations of the main lifts above the general norm. As seen in the table below there is A LOT of frequency but it’s sustainable for 10-12 weeks due to the fact that the below are mostly variations of the main lifts performed with lighter weight and less intensity.

Performing the Main lifts in their natural form 3-4 times per week for 12 weeks would be impossible, you would burn out your central nervous system and start experiencing a plateau in strength progress and gains.

Main Lift MovementsNo x P/wExercise Variations
Squat Movements4xRaw Squat/Pause Squats/Parallel Pin Squat/Banded Raw Squats 
Bench Press Movements3xClose Grip Bench Press/Raw Bench Press/Banded Raw Bench Press
Deadlift Movements3xRDL/Snatch Grip Deadlift/Switch Stance Deadlift/Banded Raw Deadlift
Exercises Based on Main Lift Movement

Program Blocks

Primary A Exercises

I have split the 12 weeks into three training blocks and you perform different Rep Schemes and percentages based on if it’s Primary A or B lifts. Firstly, let’s analyze the Primary A Exercises which are: Raw squat, Raw Bench and Raw Deadlift.

Before discussing each training block, I must state that this program uses a ‘Reverse Intensity Progression’ meaning the lifter start’s the training block at a higher percentage of one rep max and each training session the lifter reduces the intensity by 2-5% of your 1RM.

The first training block you perform 5 sets of 5 for four weeks, each training session the intensity is reduced starting week one at 78% of 1RM and week four 68% of 1RM.

Block two you perform 4 sets of 3 reps for four weeks starting at 84% of 1RM and finishing week eight at 75% of 1RM.

Block three is the peaking block lasting four weeks but this time you follow an undulated progression whereby each session the intensity increases and the volume and reps per set are reduced. Week 12 you hit a new PR which is 2% above the lifters current 1RM.

Primary B Exercises

The primary B exercises you perform for a total of 10 weeks and I’ve split the ten weeks into four training blocks.

Block one is volume focused performing 3-5 sets of 5 reps at lower sub-maximal intensity. Block two is 3-5 sets of 4 reps at a greater intensity than block one but reduced based volume. Block three you perform 3-5 sets of 3 reps at moderate-high intensity performing less volume than the previous blocks at a fixed percentage. Then finally block four the lifter performs 2-3 sets of 3 reps at the highest intensity achieved for all lifts during the 10 week period.

These Primary B exercises are based on the main lifts, however variation is created by changing the grip width, stance width, paused lifts and more. The lifter performs these Primary B exercises at lower intensity than the Primary A exercises.

In regards to the switch stance for the deadlift this means you perform the opposite of your competition deadlift. For example; I pull conventional, therefore on this day I would perform the Sumo Deadlift.

The same concept as primary A exercises applies, you perform the intensity in reverse starting at a higher intensity week one each training block then reducing the intensity by 2-5% each training session. However, the final two training block this does not apply, you perform straight sets of 3 reps at a fixed percentage as each block only lasts one week.

Resistance Banded Exercises

Day four is reversed for low intensity resistance band training for the main lifts, you perform doubles or triples for 5 sets. Day four has two blocks which is week 1-4 the lower intensity higher volume block then week 5-10 the higher intensity but lower volume block.

I would advise focusing on speed and explosive force production, use heavier bands for the bench press and deadlift and a lighter band for the squat. I don’t use my belt or sleeves when performing dynamic effort band training.

The reason is because the intensity is lower and band trainings goal is to increase tension for eccentric and/or concentric portions of the lift so that the lifter can be recruit musculature /motor neurons to provide greater levels of power to move weight. The goal here is improving the lifters movement velocity, strength, force production and power output.

Program Download

The spreadsheet contains five very well designed and thought out programs which are:

  1. Linear Periodization Program: 12 week program training three times per week.
  2. Frequency Freak Program: 12 week program training four times per week.
  3. Offseason Building Program: 12 week, four times per week.
  4. Equipped Cycle: 12 weeks, four times per week.
  5. Bench Only Program: 12 weeks, three times per week.

Blaine Sumner’s Big Lifts

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