The University of Pennsylvania Boasts Brains and Brawn

The Penn Quakers are more than book smart. They’re educated about the iron, too.


With an acceptance rate of 9.9%, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is one of the nation’s most selective schools. For the few who are smart enough to get in, there’s ample opportunity to broaden their bodies as well as their minds. The prestigious campus houses a 120,000-square-foot fitness center with four floors of studios and equipment, a pool, basketball courts, and more.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Penn organizes hiking, climbing, snow sports, and paddleboarding trips. Students can find nutrition data for all campus dining options online. The school also hosts the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track meet in the U.S. Penn’s men’s track and field is a top Ivy League contender, and most of the team, (throwers, sprinters, and mid-Brains & Brawndistance runners) do cleans, squats, snatches, and deadlifts regularly.

“We stick with the bread-and-butter lifts,” says Stephen Brindle, associate strength and conditioning coach. “We train the throwers with more volume for absolute strength compared with the sprinters with whom we’re more concerned about speed on the bar.”

A thrower might deadlift 5 sets of 3 reps at 80% 1RM while a sprinter does 4 sets of 1 rep at 75%. Brindle hammers freshmen on form.

“We give them different reps and exercises from the other athletes to emphasize technique,” Brindle says. “That’s what really sets us apart.”

Penn’s track and field team trains in the varsity weight room, which has 30 Sorinex weightlifting racks and two tracks.

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