Having previously discussed physical culture icon, Peary Rader on this site, it seems only fitting to look at some of Anthony Ditillo’s proven workout routines. Ditillo wrote for Rader’s Ironman magazine for nearly two decades covering everything from diet advice to competition specialisation. Although now deceased, Ditillo’s legacy lives on in the thousands of strength coaches he inspired, including the controversial Charles Poliquin.
Although Ditillo wrote numerous workouts during his career, we have decided to look at some of his more popular works for strength athletes, those looking to bulk up and those just wanting to look better naked. Regardless of your training preference, you’ll be sure to find something to suit you here.
Anthony Ditillo’s Strength Routines
This workout must be completed at a minimum twice a week (say Monday and Thursday) or three times a week depending on your ability to recover. Needless to say, training hard is a prerequisite here!
Squat – One set of 10 reps, as a warmup, followed by five sets of five reps using all the weight possible for each set.
Deadlift – Same as Squat.
Bench Press – Same as Squat.
Bentover Row – Same as Squat.
Routine No. 2.
Although you only perform two movements in each workout session, you’ll be handling a lot of heavy weight which will get your strength up and your muscles growing.
Squat – 1×10; 1×8; 1×6; 1×4; 1×2 and then 5 sets of 3-5 reps using all the weight possible.
Bench Press – Same as squat.
Deadlift – same sets and reps as Monday.
Bentover Row – same sets and reps as Monday.
Routine No. 3.
Ditillo recommended this workout for underweight trainees seeking to build strength. Do three times a week and steadily increase the weight. This program is remarkably similar to the strong lifts 5 x 5 programming many of us began on as muscle fanatics.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
Squat – 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps using all the weight possible.
Bench Press – same as Squat.
Deadlift – same as Squat.
Bentover Row – same as Squat.
Anthony Ditillo’s Bulking Routines
Routine No. 1
It should go without saying but nevertheless, if you are using a bulking program, make sure to eat enough protein and slightly increase your calories. No need to dream bulk, roughly 250 calories more than usual should suffice in the initial stages.
Squat – 1 set of 10 for a warmup, and then 8-10 sets of 3 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle for each set.
Bench Press – 2 sets of 10 for a warmup and then 3 sets of 5 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle.
Bentover Row – 2 sets of 10 for a warmup and then 3 sets of 5 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle.
Deadlift – 1 set of 10 for a warmup, and then 8-10 sets of 3 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle for each set.
Bench Press – 2 sets of 10 reps, and then 3 sets of 5 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle.
Bentover Row – 2 sets of 10 reps, and then 3 sets of 5 reps using all the weight you can possibly handle.
Routine No. 2
Although this routine you focus’s on the three basic power lifts the heavy weights will ensure both muscular power and muscular size. This is a really fun program to run for a few weeks after a long time on a traditional bodybuilding split as it breaks the monotony of high reps and allows you to feel like a caveman (or woman!).
Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
Bench Press – 5 sets of 2-4 reps
Bench Press – 2 sets of 10 reps
Full Squat – 5 sets of 2-4 reps
Full Squat – 2 sets of 10 reps
Deadlift – 5 sets of 2-4 reps
Deadlift – 2 sets of 10 reps
Routine No. 3
This routine is not for the faint of heart but nevertheless high rep squats and deadlifts have proven over and over that they are effective in adding muscle. Make sure you have a sufficient degree of strength before trying your hand at this program. Furthermore don’t be stupid and throw form out the window.
Full Squat – 1 set of 20 reps using a weight which is 50lbs. greater than bodyweight. Take 5 deep breaths between each rep.
Deadlift – 1 set of 20 reps using a weight which is 50 lbs. greater than bodyweight. Take 5 deep breaths between each rep.
Heavy Bent Arm Pullover – 5 sets of 5-7 reps, maximum weight
Full Squat – 5 sets of 5-7 reps
Deadlift – 5 sets of 5-7 reps
Bench Press – 10 singles with 90% of your 1 rep limit
Half Squat – 5 sets of 3-5 reps. A half squat means your upper thighs are parallel to the ground.
High Deadlift – 5 sets of 3-5 reps
Seated Press – 10 singles with 90% of your 1 rep limit
The Intermediate Mass Program aka. the look better Naked Routine
The repetitions here are kept low to allow you lift the heaviest weights possible. Use the first two sets as warmup sets before going all out on sets three to five.
Rest no longer than 60 seconds per set and when sets three, four and five can be done fairly easily, add ten pounds to your upper body movements and twenty pounds to the lower body movements. Aim to complete within ninety minutes.
Monday & Friday (heavy days)
Press Behind Neck – 5 sets of 5-7 reps.
Bentover Barbell Row – 5 sets of 8-10 reps.
Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Lying Triceps Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Half Squat – 5 sets of 8-10 reps.
On your off days, do four or five sets of calf raises and light abdominal work.
Wednesday (medium day)
Dips – 4-5 bodyweight sets doing all the reps you can.
Chins – the same as dips.
Full Squats – 2 sets of 20 reps as described.
Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 2 sets of 10-15 reps using light to medium weight.
Ditillo lived in Elizabeth NJ, not far from me in Kenilworth, but we never met. 🙁
Peace ~ Bear
Hi Bear, thanks so much for stopping by. It’s a small world isn’t it? I think we all have those stories. I used to workout with a powerlifting champion who sadly passed away before I found out who he was. I would have harassed him for more advice had I known!
Looking forward to reading this on the weekend. Saved a program of his recently from T-Nation that I wanted to try in the future.
Lovely stuff thanks for dropping by. I’m a big fan of dipping into his routines after months of high volume work. Always nice to go back to basics!
This sounds like a pretty intense routine, but I’m eager to try it 🙂
Brilliant, glad you like them. Ditillo’s routines were rarely easy, but they are effective. Do let us know how you get on! 🙂