"Stronger Is Better": Gale Gillingham, the Weight-Trained Green Bay Packer All-Pro

J Strength Cond Res. 2020 May;34(5):1201-1212. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003600.


Shurley, JP. "Stronger is better": Gale Gillingham, the weight-trained Green Bay Packer all-pro. J Strength Cond Res 34(5): 1201-1212, 2020-In the 1960s, many sport coaches advised their athletes not to lift weights, with some going so far as to threaten to dismiss or punish any who were caught engaging in such training. Their advice or threats were well intentioned as both were prompted by fears that weight training would make an athlete less flexible, slower, and less coordinated, known more colloquially as "muscle bound." Nonetheless, some athletes took up barbells despite that conventional wisdom and helped play a vital role in dispelling the notion that weight training would hamper athletic performance. Gale Gillingham was one of those athletes. He began weight training as an adolescent and continued to train throughout his career in intercollegiate and professional football. The size, strength, and speed he developed through long-term strength training enabled him to become an all-conference player in college, first-round draft pick in the National Football League, and a 6-time All-Pro offensive lineman. In addition to his dedication to regular training, Gillingham was innovative in the way he lifted, incorporating very high intensity and partial lifts as regular components of his workouts. Despite his many accolades, Gillingham has not received the attention he deserves for his pioneering role in demonstrating the utility of long-term strength training to enhance athletic performance. This article seeks to correct that oversight and discusses his career, training, and contributions to the field of strength and conditioning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bays
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Universities