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Power up! With our top tips on powerlifting.

Power up! With our top tips on powerlifting.

Weight training has recently become one of the most popular forms of exercise amongst gym goers. Whatever your goal, weight lifting can help fast track your results, but unfortunately people often forget some key principles and find after great results in the early days, results start to slow and boredom sets in.


Powerlifting is a fantastic way to train with weights allowing you to add variety to your sessions and kick starting your results. Remove the misconceptions you might have and read through the following article to get your training refreshed and revitalised… This article will focus on a single type of routine which is a variant of the generic 5x5 routine that has proven time and again to make people stronger and more powerful. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to hurt but stick with it and you certainly won’t regret it! We will assume you know your one rep max (1RM) across the squat, bench press and deadlift. If not, take a day for each, warm up and work to find your true 1RM with decent form. Note these numbers down as they are the basis for the start of your training program. For the sake of this article we will take hypothetical 1RM to explain how the program works; 160kg squat, 100kg bench press and 190kg deadlift.


A Session Squat A Session Bench Press A Session Deadlifts B Session Bench Press
B Session Deadlifts Shoulder Accessory B Session Squat Shoulder Accessory
Leg Accessory Tricep Accessory Back Accessory Tricep Accessory



In this program you are going to be training a total of 4 times per week, training squat, bench press and deadlift twice in that time using an A session and a B session.


You’re A sessions are based around 70% of your 1RM, so using our example the first sessions will start at 112.5kg for squat, 70kg for bench press and 132.5kg for deadlift. With these weights, after warming up, you will perform 5 sets of 5 reps. Every week on your A session you will attempt to add 2.5kg and hit 5 sets of 5 reps. At some point though you might only hit a 5 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 4. At this point the following week you remain at the same weight as the week before but perform 4 sets of 4 reps. Again start adding 2.5kg a week aiming for 4x4, as before at some point you will struggle again so drop to 3x3 and so on until you hit 1x1 which should be a massive new personal best 1RM! These are you’re A sessions, the bread and butter of the program, based on proven overload principles; as intensity increases, volume decreases.


Your B sessions are different. To begin with they will feel tough, perhaps tougher than the A sessions but will evolve into speed and technique work. For your B sessions you should take 80% of your current 1RM, so in our example it will be 127.5kg squat, 80kg bench press and 152.5kg deadlift. Again, you will thoroughly warm up then perform 8 sets of 2 reps, focus on perfect form and powering through the movement as fast as possible. To begin with it will feel tough but after a while you will blitz through the 8 sets with power and ease and you can bet that weight is no longer 80% of your max any longer! The extra technique and speed work is vital to the program and will reinforce the motor patterns needed to lift the bigger weights you are after.


Okay so we have covered all our main movements here and now we move on to accessory lifts which involve specific exercises to support the main 3 lifts, correct ing any imbalances or weaknesses. You’ll be performing one leg accessory movement, one tricep accessory movement, one back accessory movement and one shoulder movement. This may not seem a lot but all your focus and energy needs to be directed at your main A and B sessions. For the leg accessory I highly recommend a single leg lift like Lunges or Weighted Step Ups. For the upper back you can’t beat Pull Ups or Lat Pulldowns. For shoulder work nothing beats barbell Strict Presses or a Military Press. Lastly, but by no means least, you need a tricep movement, top choice would be Close Grip Bench Presses. Which ever exercises you select aim to get 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps and progress weights up as and when you can.


So, above you have the basis of an extremely effective powerlifting training program which will help add crucial variety to your weight training and hopefully illicit some serious progression. Stick with it, approach sessions with enthusiasm and you won’t regret it!


 By Dave Hawlins

Powerlifter and Protein Dynamix Forum Representative on  
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