Jon Cole – Weightlifting Legend 

In the world of strength, Jon Cole is a bonafide legend.  Born on April 1, 1943 in Chicago, IL, there is nothing foolish when it comes to Cole’s accomplishments in the realms of powerlifting, discus, shot put, strongman, and Olympic lifting. Like a story from an old Charles Atlas ad, Cole was 12 years old and weighed a meek 97 pounds when he bought his first weight set.  In no time at all, lifting became his passion and it was this passion that served as his platform into athletic success.  In high school, he set a national record in the discus, with a throw of 178 feet and 8 inches.  On a full ride to Arizona State, Cole’s athletic achievements continued in the shot put and discus and he was a two time NCAA All American in 1965 and 1966. After graduation from college, he continued to compete in Track and Field.  He also get into Olympic lifting and powerlifting.  But, he exhibited a classic physical cultural versatility with his athleticism.  For instance, at an AAU track meet in 1969, Cole did a 100 yard dash in 9.9 seconds (at a body weight of 258 pounds).  Three years later, he had his best competitive throws of 231 feet 7 inches in the discus and 71 feet 4 inches in the shot put. Competitive powerlifting in the late 1960s was done with little to no equipment.  With knee wraps as his only piece of equipment, Cole was the first man to officially total 2200 pounds and 2300 pounds.  He was also the first man to squat over 900 pounds.  At a bodyweight of 283 pounds, Jon Cole totaled 2364 on October 28, 1972. In competitive Olympic lifting, Cole put up impressive numbers as well. In 1972, he totaled 1,200 pounds.  Off the lifting platform, he was a formidable sight working the door for many years at the high end Jay Dee’s bar in Phoenix. Toward the end of his career, Cole competed in the inaugural World’s Strongest Man event in 1977.  Jon Cole remained active in the strength community for the remainder of his life.  He worked as a strength coach at ASU, serving a pivotal role in their football program’s prominence during the 1970s.  Cole also ran his training business and a health club in Scottsdale called “Jon Cole Systems.” To get a tangible sense of his training philosophy and workload, here is a two week training split from Jon Cole.  One thing to notice is that he shifts his relationship with time, Cole did not follow a weekly program but instead a bi-monthly routine. 

Jon Cole Tribute Video


Day 1 – Bench Press, medium heavy – 10, 8, 6, 5×5. Full Squat, medium heavy – 10, 8, 6, 5×5. Upright Rows – 5×8 adding weight with each set. Standing Barbell Curls – 5×8. Calf Raises – 6×20, 2 sets with toes out, 2 with toes in, 2 with toes straight.

Day 2 – Power Cleans – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Lying Triceps Presses – 5×8. Standing Barbell Curls – 5×8. Incline Presses, heavy – 10, 8, 5×3.

Day 3 – Bench Press – same as Day 1. Full Squats, heavy – 10, 8, 5×3. Arm work same as Day 1.


Day 4 (second week) Front Squat, medium heavy – 10, 8, 6, 5×3. Inclines, medium heavy – 10, 8, 5×5. Curls – 5×8. Lying Triceps Presses – 5×8. Calf Raises – 6×20.

Day 5 – Deadlifts, heavy – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Bench Press, heavy – 10, 8, 5×3. Standing Triceps Presses – 5×8. Barbell Curls – 5×8.

Day 6 – Full Squats, heavy – 10, 8, 6, 5×3. Inclines, medium – 10, 8, 5×5. Barbell Curls – 5×8. Upright Rows – 5×8. Lying Triceps – 5×8. Calf Raises – 6×20.

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