The GZCL method is a popular strength training program that is flexible and customizable, favored by powerlifters and strength athletes. Created by powerlifter Cody Lefever (/u/gzcl), GZCL training principles have made many effective training programs.
At the core of the GZCL methodology are concepts like:
- Using a training max instead of a true 1RM
- Organizing training into tiers – T1, T2, and T3
- Including heavy compound lifts as T1 lifts
- Using supplementary lifts as T2 lifts
- Including higher rep accessory lifts as T3 lifts
- Building programs in 3-6 week cycles
- Utilizing AMRAP sets and linear progression
To make using the GZCL method more straightforward, spreadsheets were created to simplify the process of structuring training. These spreadsheets can calculate weights, track progress, and laid out entire GZCL programs so users don’t have to program workouts themselves.
Some of the most well-known GZCL spreadsheets include:
These spreadsheets have contributed enormously to the popularity and effectiveness of GZCL training. No matter your skill level, there’s a GZCL spreadsheet to assist you in creating a structured and effective workout plan.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about the various GZCL spreadsheets. You’ll learn about:
- The philosophy behind GZCL training
- How to choose the right spreadsheet
- Modifying and customizing the programs
- Tracking your training safely and effectively
- Getting the most out of your GZCL programming
Image from GZCL app.
If you want to improve your strength training, keep reading to learn how GZCL spreadsheets can change your workouts!
If you are only trying to increase one specific lift, try Smolov Jr.
Nutrition for GZCL Success
To get the most out of your GZCL programming, you need to fuel your body properly for optimal performance and recovery. Here are some key dietary strategies to support your strength gains:
Calorie Surplus for Growth
To build muscle effectively, you need to consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis. Aim for a surplus of around 300-500 calories above your maintenance level.
Track your weight weekly and adjust as needed to find the sweet spot for steady muscle growth.
Sufficient Protein Intake
Protein provides the amino acids your muscles need to repair and grow after training. Aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
Good protein sources include lean meats, eggs, dairy, soy, and protein powders.
Carbs fuel your workouts and aid recovery. Focus on nutrient-dense, minimally processed sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.
Time carb intake around workouts for an extra performance boost.
Don’t neglect healthy fats – they support hormone function, joint health, vitamin absorption, and overall calories. Nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish are great options. 20-30% of total calories from fat is a good target.
Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids before, during, and after training to stay hydrated. Dehydration hampers performance and muscle growth.
Strategic Nutrient Timing
Time protein shakes, carbs, creatine, and other supplements around your workout to maximize results. For example, whey and creatine pre-workout, carbs/protein post-workout to refuel.
There’s room for occasional treats like a cheat meal or glass of wine when following a GZCL program. Just get right back on track at the next meal while keeping your overall diet aligned.
Follow these nutrition tips to unlock your body’s full potential and take your strength gains to new levels!
Key Components of GZCL Spreadsheets
Let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of GZCL training – the key components that make these spreadsheets tick! I’ll walk you through the most important elements so you can understand what’s going on under the hood.
Training Max (TM)
The foundation of any good GZCL program is your training max or TM. This is not your actual 1RM max lift – that would be brutal! Instead, your TM is usually around 90% of your real max. So if your tested 1RM on bench is 200lbs, your TM would be around 180lbs.
Using a TM helps avoid burning out but still lets you lift heavy weights safely and effectively.
Lift Categories: T1, T2, and T3
GZCL organizes lifts into 3 categories or tiers:
- T1 – the big important lifts like squats, benches, and deadlifts.
- T2 – supplementary lifts that support T1 lifts. Stuff like front squats, deficit deads, etc.
- T3 – accessories for extra muscle and strength. Bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg raises.
Lifting heavy on the big T1 compounds builds overall strength. T2 lifts target weaknesses. T3 lifts add muscle and protect from imbalances.
Many GZCL programs use linear progression on the main lifts. This means you’re adding weight each workout. Typically it’s:
- 5lbs per workout on upper body T1
- 10lbs per workout on lower body T1
So if you squat 135lbs today, next squat day you’ll shoot for 145lbs. Linear progression allows for quick strength gains.
Eventually, you’ll plateau, then switch to increasing your progress every other workout or changing your programming. But enjoy the rapid gains while they last!
One of the coolest things about GZCL programs is you can customize them to fit your needs.
Don’t like certain lifts? Swap ’em out! Have specific goals? Adjust volume and intensity. There’s flexibility to tailor your training.
Customization lets you:
- Substitute T1/T2/T3 lifts
- Change rep ranges
- Increase or reduce the overall volume
- Modulate workout frequency
This makes the programs adaptable for newbies, intermediates, and advanced lifters.
Let’s move on to exploring some of the most popular GZCL spreadsheet programs.
Major GZCL Spreadsheet Programs
Let’s explore some of the most popular spreadsheet programs so you can pick the right one for your goals!
GZCLP is the perfect starting point for newbie gains. It’s like GZCL with training wheels – keeping things simple while you build confidence and proficiency.
This linear progression program focuses on the core lifts:
- Overhead Press
You’ll lift 3 or 4 days each week, with most lifts progressing every workout by adding:
- 5lbs upper body T1
- 10lbs lower body T1
GZCLP is great for:
- Beginners – the perfect way to learn proper form and get used to training.
- Weightlifting newbies – practice technique without getting overwhelmed.
- Restarting training – get your strength back after time off.
The quick progression and focus on compounds will get those strength gains popping fast. And with only 3-4 days a week, it’s great for busy schedules.
Jacked & Tan 2.0
Time to get jacked and tan with this muscle-building favorite! J&T 2.0 combines size and strength training for an aesthetic physique.
The focus is on:
- T1 strength progression
- Higher volume T2 and T3 work
- Added hypertrophy focus
You’ll train 4 days per week. T1 compounds progress weekly, while T2/T3 lifts get pumped for dat juicy volume.
J&T 2.0 is ideal for:
- Intermediates – ready to graduate from newbie programs.
- Bulking – pack on mass with sufficient volume.
- Aesthetics – balanced physique and muscle development.
Get your swole on with J&T 2.0!
The Rippler will get you peeled for powerlifting meets. This program improves your 1RM maxes through a targeted peaking approach.
You’ll work in 3-week waves that strategically progress to peak strength right when needed:
- 3 weeks out – higher volume, lighter intensity
- 2 weeks out – moderate volume, heavier weights
- 1 week out – lower volume, heavy intensity
The Rippler is perfect for:
- Powerlifters – optimal meet prep and peaking.
- Plateau busting – break through strength stall points.
- New 1RM PRs – hit big PRs in your squat, bench, and deadlift.
Wave goodbye to plateaus and PR your way to new heights!
Feel like customizing your own program? Then General Gainz is for you! This flexible framework makes it easy to tailor your own training.
General Gainz uses:
- Auto-regulation – adjust sets, reps, and intensity based on daily recovery.
- Freedom – choose your lifts, volumes, and intensities for each workout.
- Intuition – listen to your body and train accordingly.
This program works best for:
- Advanced lifters – who want ultimate control of their training.
- Customization – tailor everything to your liking.
- Auto-regulation – no rigid programming, adjust based on feel.
Take the reins and steer your own training with General Gainz!
Not for the faint of heart, UHF (Ultra High Frequency) is an intense program for advanced lifters. You’ll hit each lift 2-4x per week with very high volume.
Be prepared for:
- 4-6 training days each week
- Heavy top sets plus back-off sets
- Tonnage focused on main lifts
- High fatigue and recovery needs
UHF is ideal for:
- Advanced strength levels – strong foundation needed to recover.
- High work capacity – handling heavy volume is a must.
- Peaking phases – quick strength boosts before meets.
Climb to new heights with the high frequency power of UHF!
There you have it – the 5 most popular GZCL spreadsheets summarized! From beginner to advanced, these programs offer something for everyone. Pick the one aligned with your current goals and start dominating those weights!
Now let’s talk about how to use these spreadsheets for success.
Using and Modifying the Spreadsheets
Alright, time to get hands-on with these spreadsheets! I’ll walk you through setting up, tracking your workouts, and customizing your program.
First, download the spreadsheet for your chosen program from the links above. You’ll need to save your own copy rather than just opening it.
Next, plug in your stats:
- Current maxes for main lifts
- Training maxes (90% of 1RM)
- Starting weights
The spreadsheet will use those details to populate your first few weeks of training.
Pro tip: Start lighter than your maxes while you learn proper form. Especially for squats and deadlifts!
Tracking Your Training
As you do each workout, log your sets/reps/weights completed. This lets the spreadsheet automatically update your lifts and progression for next time.
For example, if your program prescribes:
- T1 Bench – 4×3 @ 80% TM
And your TM is 180lbs, 80% would be 144lbs. If you hit the 4 sets of 3, next workout it may increase to 85%. The spreadsheet will recalculate for you!
Logging each session keeps things progressing smoothly. Don’t skip this step!
Customizing Your Program
Once you’ve got the hang of things, consider customizing your program to match your goals and preferences.
You can tweak:
- Exercises – swap out lifts you dislike.
- Volume – add/reduce total sets.
- Intensity – increase/decrease weight.
- Frequency – change training days per week.
Start small with customization and see how your body responds. More isn’t always better!
Troubleshooting and Progressing
Have you hit a wall and can’t increase the weight from one workout to the next? Repeat the weight until you can complete all prescribed reps.
Don’t rush progression – it’s not a race. Patience and consistency will pay off in the long run.
Pros and Cons of GZCL
Before committing to GZCL, let’s weigh the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.
Pros of GZCL Training
Effective Muscle and Strength Building
GZCL programs are great for gaining muscle and strength because they focus on compound lifts, progressive overload, and varied rep ranges. Most people see excellent results in these areas.
Customizable and Flexible
With the ability to tweak exercises, volume, intensity, and frequency, GZCL programs can be customized significantly. This flexibility is useful for honing in on specific goals.
Works for a Range of Abilities
From GZCLP for beginners to UHF for advanced lifters, there’s a GZCL program suited for anyone from newbie to elite. These programs can take your strength to the next level regardless of starting point.
Uses Autoregulation and Listening to Your Body
Many GZCL programs like General Gainz encourage auto-regulation, where you adjust daily based on energy levels and recovery. This helps avoid overtraining.
Cons of GZCL Training
Requires Consistent Tracking
To progress optimally, you need to track each workout carefully. This can be tedious if you’re not diligent with tracking weights lifted, reps hit, etc.
Not Ideal for Endurance Athletes
The focus on lower reps and heavy strength training isn’t well suited for endurance sports. GZCL likely won’t improve your marathon time!
Potential for Overuse Injuries
Doing the main lifts frequently can increase the risk of injuries if proper form and recovery are not prioritized. It is important to pay attention to the execution of the lifts and allow sufficient time for recovery.
Significant Time Commitment
GZCL programs require 4-6 training sessions per week for 45+ minutes each. You need to make lifting a high priority to follow and progress properly.
There you have it – a balanced take on GZCL’s pros and cons. What matters most is picking the right program that aligns with your goals and lifestyle. With proper expectations set, GZCL can deliver awesome results!
Now let’s look at some sample GZCL workouts.
Sample GZCL Workouts
Here are some example routines from popular GZCL programs to help you understand how these workouts are organized.
Here’s how a typical 3-day GZCLP workout may look:
- T1 Squat – 5×3
- T2 Bench Press – 3×10
- T3 Lat Pulldown – 2×15
- T1 Overhead Press – 5×3
- T2 Deadlift – 3×10
- T3 Dumbbell Row – 2×15
- T1 Bench Press – 5×3
- T2 Squat – 3×10
- T3 Cable Tricep Pushdown – 2×15
Simple and effective! You focus on the main lifts each workout. You also up weaknesses with T2 and get additional volume on small muscles with T3.
Jacked & Tan 2.0
A Jacked & Tan session may look like:
- T1 Squat – Ramping up to 3RM + 2×2
- T2 Front Squat – 3×8
- T2 Chest Supported Row – 3 MRS
- T3 Leg Extension – 3 MRS
- T1 Bench Press – Ramping up to 3RM + 2×2
- T2 Close Grip Bench Press – 3×8
- T2 Lat Pulldown – 3 MRS
- T3 Cable Tricep Pushdown – 3 MRS
More T2 volume and MRS sets boost muscle growth. You progress weekly on the T1 but maintain intensity on T2/T3.
Check out this Jacked and Tan 2.0 review. It gives some great insight for beginner lifters.
Here’s a peaking Rippler workout:
Week 3 Out
- T1 Squat – 4×5 @ 75%
- T2 Leg Press – 3×12
- T3 Leg Extension – 2×20
Week 2 Out
- T1 Squat – 1×5 @ 85%, 2×3 @ 90%
- T2 Deficit Deadlift – 5×5
- T3 Leg Curl – 2×15
Week 1 Out
- T1 Squat – 1×3 @ 93%, 1×2 @ 95%, 1×1 @ 97%
- T2 Safety Bar Squat – 5×3
- T3 Calf Raise – 1×30
Volume decreases as the intensity ramps up for a perfect peak!
These are just some examples of how GZCL workouts are organized. The spreadsheets provide all the details for you to start training effectively.
Let’s wrap this up!
Wrap-Up and Additional Resources
We’ve covered a ton of ground on GZCL training and spreadsheets. Let’s recap the key points:
- GZCL is an effective strength training methodology popular with powerlifters.
- Spreadsheets simplify GZCL programming by calculating weights, tracking workouts, and laying out entire routines.
- Programs like GZCLP, Jacked & Tan 2.0, The Rippler, and UHF cater to different abilities and goals.
- Using a training max, categorizing T1/T2/T3 lifts, including linear progression, and allowing customization are core GZCL principles.
- Logging your workouts enables the spreadsheets to progress your lifting sessions automatically.
- Feel free to customize programs by tweaking exercises, volumes, intensities, and frequency based on your preferences.
- Patience and consistency will help you see great results over time following the GZCL methodology.
I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive introduction to effectively using GZCL spreadsheets for powerlifting success!
Here are some additional resources in case you want to nerd out and dive deeper:
- Original GZCL blog for posts from Cody directly.
- GZCL subreddit to browse tons of user experiences and tips.
- Lift Vault GZCL resources for spreadsheets and program write-ups.
Now get out there, choose a GZCL program, and start lifting smarter, recovering better, and smashing PRs with these amazing spreadsheets! You got this.