Jan 1, 2013

My name is Blaine Sumner AKA “The Vanilla Gorilla”. I was born in Colorado, moved to Wyoming after college and currently live in Oklahoma. I attended Conifer High School in Conifer, CO followed by the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO where I earned my degree in Petroleum Engineering. I currently work as a Petroleum Engineer during the day and Powerlifter by night. I played 4 sports growing up: football, wrestling, lacrosse, and track & field. I also wrestled year round. I think all this gave me a great athletic base for Powerlifting. I began lifting in high school with the football team and the iron bug hit me about my sophomore year when I really began seeing gains and enjoyed the grind. I went into high school at 6’0” 145 lbs. and left high school at 6’2” 255 lbs. I bulked up to 330 lbs. playing football at Mines and am currently around 360 lbs. I have always been an IPF/USAPL lifter and my best raw numbers are 881/473/733 and best geared numbers are 1,003/689/733. I currently hold the IPF World Record for Raw Squat and Total as well as winning the 2012 IPF Classic World Cup.

I got into lifting because of football but knew I needed to get even bigger and stronger for college ball. My dad used to compete and we looked into some local PL gyms around Denver which led me to the Rocky Mountain Lifting Club owned by Dan & Jen Gaudreau who probably have 15 World Championships between them. This is where I got my Powerlifing start. I love lifting because it gives me something competitive to do since I no longer play football. And it is a lifestyle – I don’t know what I would do with myself if all I did was work.

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Being Drug Free means the world to me. I take pride in the fact that I have accomplished what I have being Drug Free. Especially for a competitive person, it is hard seeing the numbers other people put up in different organizations and get more credit, when you wonder “what I could hit if I took this or that”. When lifters outside our organization take chemicals, it is one thing; but when people inside the IPF try to cheat, it boils my blood.

Want to Squat like Blaine?  Read his Iron Authority Exclusive Squatting Big Article.

Free Downloadable Squatting Big! Poster. BLAINE SUMNER POSTER

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Training, programming, and periodization to me are an art and a passion. I love researching, experimenting, and engineering my training. Like most high level lifters, my training has evolved so much I do not know what to call it. Maybe the “Gorilla Method”. But to sum it up – I work in 4 week blocks. First 3 weeks getting progressively heavier then 4th week is a deload. I train with lots of reps, and lots of sets. I do my main lift which very much resembles the competition lifts, and then focus on one accessory which I treat as importantly as my main lift; then my special exercises. For the squat it is good mornings, for the bench it is dead benches, and for the pull it is Zercher lockouts. I don’t do speed work and I will do some sort of accommodating resistance every 4 out of 16 weeks. I’ve come to realize over the years my college education has carried over into lifting. I treat training, programming, and technique just like engineering. It seems very simple to me but I guess it is ingrained. I identify a problem whether it is a weakness, sticking point, training glitch, or technique – then I break it down to the most basic parts and put it back together in a more efficient way. I think about the exercises as movements, not working a certain muscle group.


I am certainly most proud of my 881 lb. raw squat in international competition. My bench and deadlift always lag even though I train them with equal purpose as I do my squat. I know there are a lot of big raw squatters out there but I take pride in the fact that my 881 lb. was walked out, below parallel and passed by IPF judges, no wraps, and drug free. Before the IPF Classic World Cup in June, 2012 in Sweden – I was on track to go over 900 and cracked 914 as a training max. But on my 2nd squat I tore my hip labrum after squatting excessively deep and am currently trying to get back to squatting although it may be awhile.

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Powerlifting has been a great sport to me and I plan to compete for a long time. I do not want to end on a negative note – this is intended to be objective. Our sport is so fractured it makes me wonder about our future. I do not want to say any organization is better than another; but I am proud of the fact I can say I have the World Record for my 881 lb. raw squat and winning the 2012 IPF Classic World Cup. And if somebody asks me I have pride in saying I hold these. But if a friend or co-worker asks, and I tell them – a simple Google search for “squat world record” would probably reveal 100+ “World Records”. I take pride in the fact that if somebody holds an IPF World Record – the lift was performed to the utmost legitimacy, at an international competition, and passed a drug test. There are so many organizations and divisions out there now; there is a “World Championship” almost every weekend. And these events seem to take place at the same location, every year, with between 0-5 international lifters, and no standards for World Records. It is controversial but it needs to be said. The responsibility has to lie with the lifters to change this. There will always be upset former state chairs that will branch out and start their own federation and gain a following because they advertise “World Records” and “World Championships” so the average Joe can attend and win these. I know I would be ashamed if I attended one of these events and put up a total and told people of my “World Records” when that total would place you 3rd at USAPL Women’s Nationals and you are a male. I am not trying to come across as the USAPL is the only or best organization, but it is the most competitive in terms of number of members and the most professionally run from what I have seen. And I do hope one day we get into the Olympics as a sport. If I had magical powers – there would be only 2 federations. Both would have only Raw & Single Ply; one would be tested and the other not. That would create they kind of legitimacy this sport needs.


I would love to thank my sponsors Pete & Derek at Titan Support Systems as well as Dan “Sharky” at Con-Cret. These are the most loyal, supportive, well run companies in this industry.

Train like a Gorilla! Be egoless in your training, be aggressive in your training, and don’t look for cheats and shortcuts.

-Blaine Sumner

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One comment

  1. Thanks for posting your final thoughts. Excellent summary of the exact reason that I compete in the IPF/USAPL. You truly earn every lift that you get, and the fidelity of the drug testing is extremely high.

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