T Nation

Brand New Powerlifter


Hey guys, I've been reading this website for ages now, but only signed up today! I was wondering if anyone good give me any help or advice. I only started powerlifting training 15 months ago, and really only taken it serious in the last 4 months. But I don't feel as though I'm progressing as much as I should/could.

I ran a cycle of the CUBE method, and finished it about 3 weeks ago. I found that my 1RM squat went up 15kg! but not a lot happened to my bench or deadlift... I've read tonnes of articles on Westside and the conjugate method - and I believe in the science and bio mechanics, but it think it's a bit too advanced for a beginner like myself. So I've just begun my first wave of Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 and I'm enjoying it so far.

Any help/advice or words of encouragement are really appreciated!
Thanks for your time!

I,m 6,2", around 106 kg (230-235 lbs)

SQUAT = 190 kg (418 lbs)
BENCH = 125 kg (275 lbs)
DEADLIFT = 220 kg (484 lbs)


Remember, This is a marathon, not a sprint. Stick with it, powerlifting is a great sport.



Be critical of your form and strict from day one.

Research (look at other lifters, especially people who may have similar leverages or lifting technique), EXPERIMENT (in your room, after you finish your workout -- WHENEVER), and determine the form you want to gravitate towards. Work on hitting that as perfectly as you can every rep.

Start finding some key areas you can mobilize and a few key exercises that work well with you. I really recommend Kelly Starlett's book.

And I'm not talking about butt wink or elbow tuck. I mean being able to mentally visualize your lift and know how you want to execute it and then carrying it out.


Its great to see new powerlifters out there.

The advice i can give is this.

Motivate yourself. Use correct form.
Find and fix weak points.
Stay on track.
With wendler 531 actually use 90% of your 1 rm to start ive seen many lifters start with their true max and fail miserably
Video tape yourself your form with lighter weight should stay exactly the same with heavier weights.

Always video your max effort lifts on the 5 the 3 and the 1 days.
What this allows you to do is see if you have any form breakdowns at max attempt or max effort + attempts.
You can then fix a potential form break down or other issue.

Best of luck to you. Train smart and stay healthy.



Are you training raw or geared? It has a big difference on what your priorities should be. For example, conjugate system doesn't work very well for raw lifters in my opinion.


I am fairly new to powerlifting as well and yet to have competed. Awesome to see guys come here. My advice is don't listen to what he said or what she said about great assistant movements. Figure out for yourself. For example. I never really knew what to do for ham strings in the deadlift. Everyone was telling my doing good mornings would help a lot. I did good mornings for a cycle of 5/3/1 got nothing from them. Instead I did stiff legged deads and GHR which are both awesome exercises. I think the SLD is a little under rated. That next cycle I went from a 385 deadlift to 425. Just do what works for you even if it is absolutly stupid ,and you look like a moron what ever gets them gains is what is important.


Thanks for the help so far guys.
I'm a raw lifter, I'm not too keen on geared lifting (although I have never tried it myself), but I do have great respect for the geared lifters.

I found that good mornings did help my squat, but I neglected doing SLD throughout my last cycle. I also found board pressing didn't do much for my bench either. I guess i'm still finding my feet, and you've got to try all these different exercises until you find what works for you.

I tried sumo deadlifting last night (I've never done it as a main movement before - only as assistance) and I set a new 2 rep PR, so I was happy with that! I just noticed I had trouble locking out my 3rd rep, so I think that my a glute weakness?

I also have a problem developing my triceps (i'm not blaming it on genetics)... I can't really find any exercises that hit them that well... any ideas?

Thanks again.


Also, would you do good mornings on a leg day and SLD on a back day? or vice versa? or does it not matter? lol


Pick one and do it on deadlift day either sld or gms

On squat day just do some Glute Ham Raises if you dont have a machine do them ghetto style on the lat pull down (youtube) that<<

Regarding board presses theyre more for lockout strength which usually is not what a raw lifter has trouble with.

Add in some paused benches as assistance make sure to hit atleast 3 sets of 5 with atleast a 2 second pause.

Triceps- Dont go crazy here.. Do close grip bench-weighted dips-Do some skull crushers if you want to hell even do some pushdowns

Example Bench day- after your main sets reps...do close grip bench weighted tricep dips and pushdowns

On OHP day do the same but instead of push downs add skull crushers

Just dont go nuts and try to turn these into max effort lifts

3 sets of 10-12 is all you need they should be challenging but remember they are assistance


I agree with jkon

a few other things:
never underestimate the power of SLD, my deadlift skyrocketed when i hit these hard.
dont forget about your quads, raw lifters need way more quad strength than geared lifters
on close grip bench, try pause benching
only thing jkon did not mention for triceps that i like are heavy skull crushers but using dumbells turned vertically, takes pressure off elbows.


Send us in some vids bro we could help you alot better. You said brand new powerlifter? Your numbers are pretty impressive for being new lol. But upload some vids on youtube and post the link here. Im on almost everyday also this forum has very knowledgeable people far more knowledgeable than me. Post them vids


Yeah I got that dumbbell extension idea from Ryan Kennelly's "Road to the Arnold" lol. I haven't hit SLD


Yeah I found that those Dumbbell extensions hit my triceps well, so I'll do them a lot more often. I've neglected SLD's for so long its unreal, but it's squat night tonight so I'll definitely throw them in... probably 5/3/1 squats, front squats, SLD. I'll try and get some videos up on here.

Haha yeah... by 'brand new' I meant that I'm still wet behind the ears. I've been lifting weights for a few years, but that was bodybuilding more than anything else. I only really found powerlifting 15/16 months ago, but I've been serious about it for a year now. There isn't a powerlifting team/group where I live, and I can't get to one because of the hours I work. So everything that I have learnt is self taught, and since I'm on here everyday too - I thought I'd ask for any advice that experienced lifters could pass on - and I'll return the favour anyway I can.


When I started getting into wanting to move heavier weights, and subsequently powerlifting, I started having problems with my knees, due to how tight I would get after lifting. I would do nothing about it and, sure enough, I was getting hurt a lot, which set me back all the time. I started hitting a foam roller after every single workout and taking ice baths after deadlifting and squatting days and that has had a tremendous impact on my performance and I haven't been injured since, which lets me keep progressing with no setbacks. I hope this helps!


Cheers Brian, I bought a foam roller about a year ago, but I must have only used it a handful of times.. silly I know. I tend to neglect and 'put off' the work that needs to be done outside the gym e.g stretching, foam rolling etc. But you're right, we should all do as much as possible to prevent and avoid injury. Thanks!


Hey J where abouts are you? maybe there's a powerlifter or two near by you just dont know it yet.


I found the following to be very helpful assistance movements for bench:

Paused bench, Illegal Wides, and Cambered Bar BP (if you have access to that barbell) are all great for the raw lifter. All help with developing power off the chest.

For triceps, Close-Grip BP, JM Press, Tate Press and Extensions (BB/DB/Swiss Bar, and especially kettleball) were all great. CG BP will actually help with your power off the chest in addition to developing triceps. The JM Press is just an awesome assistance movement (google "Dave Tate JM Press" if unfamiliar with the movement). Tate presses or extensions can be done pretty much every day and are great for developing the triceps for bench. Those should be higher reps (think sets in the 8-15 range). The CG BP and JM Press could be done for both higher reps, or in the lower rep range at higher intensities for building strength (5-8 reps, either for sets or working up to a rep max)

As UF notes above, you need to find out what works for you. So try them out, keep a log, and pick the ones that seem to be giving you the most benefit.