The Andy Bolton Powerlifting Program!


Andy Bolton is an absolute legend in the world of powerlifting. He was the first man to deadlift over 1,000 pounds and has set countless powerlifting world records throughout his career. Here are Andy’s best ever lifts:

  • Squat: 1,213 pounds
  • Bench press: 771 pounds
  • Deadlift: 1,008 pounds

Here is a great video of Andy deadlifting 1,008 pounds in competition:

Talk about incredible!

Andy Bolton used an unusual training program to become one of the strongest men in the world. Almost everything he did in his training went against conventional thinking. Sometimes you just have to break all the rules if you want to be a world champion!

Andy trained three days per week using the following powerlifting-style training split:

The Andy Bolton Training Split

  • Monday: Squat / Deadlift
  • Wednesday: Bench Press
  • Thursday: Assistance Work

Andy trains both the squat and the deadlift each week on Monday. Unlike a lot of powerlifters he performs both of these exercises on the same training day. He performs all of his heavy squats, rest a little bit and then performs all of his heavy deadlifts.

Andy performs very little assistance work for the squat and deadlift on this day. Instead he saves all of his heavy assistance work for Thursday.

On Wednesday Andy trains the bench press. Andy got his best results using a modified Metal Militia bench press routine where he focuses almost exclusively on different variations of the competition lift. He uses a combination of raw bench presses, shirted bench presses, board presses and reverse band presses to build a huge bench press.

Finally on Thursday Andy performs all of his assistance work including exercises for his legs, back and biceps. Let’s take a closer look at each of these training days.

Andy Bolton’s Squat / Deadlift Day

Monday is Andy’s most important day of the week. Any serious powerlifter will tell you that a huge powerlifting total is made with heavy squats and deadlifts. Andy Bolton’s squat and deadlift day was incredibly simple: all he did was squat and deadlift! Here is his exact routine:

Squat / Deadlift Day Overview

  • Squat: 1-3 heavy sets
  • Squat: 3-5 speed sets
  • Deadlift: 1-3 heavy sets
  • Deadlift: 3-5 speed sets
  • Go home!

Andy performed all of his assistance work on Thursday so there was no need to go crazy with it on his squat / deadlift day. Most of Andy’s squat and deadlift workouts featured 1 or 2 heavy sets per exercise and a whole bunch of speed sets.

Andy figured out early in his powerlifting career that speed sets or “compensatory acceleration training” was the best way for him to get stronger. Take a look at the following equation:

  • Force = Mass x Velocity

The principle of compensatory acceleration training says that you can produce maximum force by lifting a submaximal weight as explosively as possible.

For example if you are lifting around 60-80% of your 1-rep max but you are accelerating the barbell as fast as possible then you will be able to produce maximum force and really overload all of the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Here is a video of Andy Bolton performing speed deadlifts with 770 pounds:

Talk about a fast deadlift!

Andy used speed sets to train both his squat and his deadlift. He found they were the best way for him to get stronger without overtraining his body.

Most of the time Andy used 9-12 week training cycles to peak his strength leading up to his powerlifting meets. When he was not training for a competition he lifted somewhat lighter weights and just tried to maintain a good baseline level of strength before his next meet prep cycle.

Here is the exact training cycle that Andy Bolton used to squat over 1,200 pounds and deadlift over 1,000 pounds in competition:

Andy Bolton 9 Week Squat / Deadlift Program

  • Week 1: 8 x 3 @ 60%
  • Week 2: 8 x 3 @ 65%
  • Week 3: 5 x 3 @ 70%
  • Week 4: 1 x 3 @ 75%, Speed Deadlift 4×3 @ 55-70%
  • Week 5: 1 x 2 @ 80%, Speed Deadlift 4×3 @ 55-70%
  • Week 6: 1 x 2 @ 85%, Speed Deadlift 3×3 @ 55-70%
  • Week 7: 1 x 1 @ 90%, No Volume Work
  • Week 8: 3 x 3 @ 60% (Deload)
  • Week 9: Competition week! Break your old personal records!

Andy performed every single set during this 9-week peaking program as explosively as possible. It did not matter if it was his first week training at 60% or week 7 training at 90%: Andy performed all of his sets in compensatory acceleration style!

If you are going to copy Andy’s program then you really have to be honest with yourself. Do you have the balls to perform every single set as explosively as possible?

The Andy Bolton squat / deadlift program isn’t for everyone. You have to really get after it on every single set! If this describes you then I highly recommend you try this squat / deadlift peaking cycle out for yourself.

If it’s good enough for Andy and his 1,000 pound deadlift then it is good enough for you too!

Andy Bolton’s Bench Press Training

Andy Bolton struggled in the bench press for a very long time. Most powerlifters have one lift that they are weak at and for Andy it was the bench press. Eventually Andy started experimenting with a new type of bench press program.

The results speak for themselves: in 2011 Andy put up a huge 754 pound “equipped” bench press in competition! Six months before this he couldn’t even bench press 700 pounds! That is a massive improvement in such a short period of time for a world-class powerlifter.

Andy’s secret bench press program was based on the Metal Militia bench press program. Andy performs 4 major exercises in his bench press program:

Andy Bolton’s bench press exercises

  • The raw bench press
  • The shirted bench press
  • The 3-5 board bench press
  • The reverse band bench press

That’s it! For each workout Andy works up to a heavy set of 1-3 reps on each of these exercises. The order of the exercises changes from one workout to the next. However, these 4 movements are always staples in his routine.

Andy doesn’t waste his time on triceps extensions, dumbbell presses or any other chest / shoulder / triceps assistance work. For him these exercises are a waste of time! They just eat into his recovery ability without actually helping him get stronger on the bench press.

Andy does finish his bench press workouts with some light rear delt work, Halbert raises, and rotator cuff work to keep his shoulders healthy.

Here is the exact 12-week bench press training cycle that Andy used to put over 50 pounds on his bench press in 6 months. Check it out:

Bench Press: Weeks 1-3

  • Raw bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • 3-board bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Reverse strong band bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Shirted bench press, work up to a 3-rep max

Bench Press: Weeks 4-6

  • Raw bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • 4-board bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Shirted bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Reverse strong band bench press, work up to a 3-rep max

Bench Press: Weeks 7-9

  • Raw bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Shirted bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • 5-board bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Reverse strong band bench press, work up to a 3-rep max

Bench Press: Weeks 10-12

  • Raw bench press, perform 1 rep at 85-90% of your 1-rep max
  • Shirted bench press, work up to a 1-2 rep max
  • 5-board bench press, work up to a 3-rep max
  • Reverse strong band bench press, work up to a 3-rep max

As you can see Andy uses the same exercises every single workout but changes the order of them. Andy competed as an “equipped” powerlifter so he was allowed to use a bench press shirt in competition.

Bench press shirts make the bench press easier at the bottom of the movement but much harder at the top. This explains why most of his exercises train the lockout portion of the bench press rather than the bottom of the movement.

If you are an equipped bench presser then this program may work awesome for you. If you are a raw bench presser then you may want to borrow some of Andy’s ideas or his overall training philosophy and find a way to make it work for you.

Andy Bolton’s Assistance Exercise Day

On Thursday Andy Bolton performs all of his powerlifting assistance exercises. Andy breaks his assistance day into three parts:

  • Part 1: Lower Body Assistance Exercises
  • Part 2: Upper Back Assistance Exercises
  • Part 3: Bicep Assistance Exercises

Andy liked to use multiple assistance exercises for each of these muscle groups so his assistance day workout was very long. For Andy this worked out perfectly because he had a full 3 days off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before his next heavy squat / deadlift workout.

This is definitely an interesting way to structure your training. If you are squatting and deadlifting huge weights and need more time to recover between workouts then it may work great for you.

Here are the exact exercises that Andy used on his Thursday workout during the peak of his powerlifting career:

Part 1: Lower Body Assistance Exercises

  • Leg extension, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg press, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated calf raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg curl, 5 sets of 8-18 reps
  • Dumbbell side bend (very heavy), 5 sets of 12 reps

Part 2: Upper Back Assistance Exercises

  • Machine row, 6-7 sets of 10 reps
  • Dumbbell row (heavy), 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Cable pulldown, 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Shrugs, 3-5 sets of 10 reps

Part 3: Bicep Assistance Exercises

  • Seated DB hammer curl, 5 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Ez-bar curl, 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Andy performed a total of 11 exercises on this training day. That would be way too much to recover from for the average trainee but then again Andy Bolton is anything but average!

I hope you found this overview of Andy Bolton’s training program helpful. If you are an intermediate or advanced powerlifter then Andy’s program may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.

If you are looking for more ideas on how to structure your next powerlifting program then check out the following articles available right here on Revolutionary Program Design:

I am sure these articles will help you on your quest for super-human strength.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen

I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they never imagined possible.

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