Weight Training, Routines and More

The Iron Game

About Me

I live in Northeast Ohio, along Lake Erie with my wife, Jill and our dog, BG and cat-Taddy.  Our oldest, Greg just graduated from Case Western Reserve with a Master of Science Field of Study: Anesthesiology and our youngest Aaron, graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Criminal Justice and has moved away.  We truly have an empty nest!

I began weight training at age 13. Being an aspiring football player, I was told that this single activity, lifting weights, would prepare one to play at the varsity level in high school, which was my goal. At this young age I had difficulty bench pressing 75 lb. for 3 sets of 10 reps. I fell in love with the feeling you get from working out (the endorphin rush.) Back then we used wooden benches made in shop class and worked out 3 times a week doing all exercises for 3 sets of 10 reps per set. I did not see an Olympic bar until the end of my junior year of high school.

As I proceeded through high school, I decided I wanted to pursue a college education. Being from a working class family, I knew I would have to find a way to fund my college education myself. I discovered that my college education could be taken care of if I were able to get a full athletic scholarship for football. So began my quest to achieve this new goal and weight training would be one of the most important ways for me to reach this level.

I was not born with the body to play college football so I had to build it and I was committed to doing that by consistently working out 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. From my freshman to my junior years, for example, I was able to take my bench from 75 lb. to 330 lb. During my senior year, I changed this routine, by increasing the number of sets, and reducing the number of reps per set, I also went to working out 4 days per week and I was able to make improvements to a point where I maxed out at 365 lb. in the bench.


During my years at Ohio State we won four Big Ten Titles and played in four consecutive Rose Bowl Games. If it wasn’t for my dedication, which borderlined on an obsession, in the weight room, developing the strength to play at this level, I would not have been able to play for The Ohio State Buckeyes. After graduation I continued with weight training and reached the following personal best lifts for a single rep max at the age of 34.

1. Bench Press – 515 lb. (No bench shirt/raw.)
2. Sit down behind the neck press – 385 lb.
3. Incline Bench Press – 465 lb.
4. Bent Over Row – 325 lb.
5. Dead Lift – 700 lb.
6. Shrugs in Power Rack – 700 lb. (Sets of 6 reps.)

All of these personal records were done at a body weight of 235 lb. and all done absolutely drug free. Fast forward to today, I don’t go anywhere as heavy, but focus on volume-high level of sets. My current routines are absolutely brutal, and off the wall, for example, I`ve done the following, see below, yes at the age of 55. Why, because I absolutely love the challenge! On occasion enthusiasm takes presidence over common sense. I am not in anyway suggesting, or recommending that you do the following.
My current personal volume records:

1. Dead Lift – 325 lb. (67 sets of 4 reps per set.)
2. One Arm Dumbbell Rows – using a 140 lb. (42 sets, that is 21 per arm, of 6 reps per set.)
3. Dead Lift – 275 lb. (For 30 consecutive reps-no straps) This is absolutely brutal!!
4. Squat – 225 lb. (20 sets of 10 reps.)
5. One rep pull in a Power Rack – with bar set at one inch above the knee caps of 1,000 lb. and held in an upright locked position for 13 seconds. The bar had 10 45`s, a 25 and a 2.5 on each side, plus the bar which is 45 lb.

I have never competed in a bodybuilding or power lifting contest, all of the above were performed just for the love of The Iron Game. I am not boastful of the above accomplishments, but rather am humbled by them. I will go to my grave carrying a gym bag, straps, chalk, and a belt! I tell people, you want to work out? You better bring three things: A belt, straps,(I`ll supply the chalk), and a HELLUVA lot of heart !

The things that are really important, you cannot weigh, measure or quantify, such as heart, desire, commitment, effort and focus, giving everything that you’ve got and then some. TRAIN WITH PASSION!


Gary Lillvis

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