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Help with Hypertrophy for Powerlifting


I’m planning on doing my next meet in 6 months and want to do 8-10 weeks of hypertrophy training but still with a focus on maintaining strength before starting a peaking program.

Anyone done something like this before and got any tips, my main questions are on rep ranges, number of exercises per session and number days per week?

Currently I’m thinking of a 5 day split (legs, chest/tri, back, shoulders/arms, abs/ speed lifting) with 5-6 exercises each and rep ranges of 5-12.

Appreciate any help.


Your split sounds like a bodybuilding program, stop thinking about body parts and start thinking about squat, bench and deadlift. You can do one main squat day, one main deadlift day, a squat/deadlift or lower body accessory day, and two bench days. Or three bench days. If you want to maintain strength then keep some work on the competition lifts at 80%+, other than that sets of 6-12 are good for compound movements, you can do higher reps for accessory work. How many exercises and sets is totally individual, I have no way of knowing how much volume you can handle. Start with less, add more each week until you can’t add any more.


Appreciate the response, as you mention I think i will include some 70-80% lifts but use variations of the competition lifts for these, as part of the reason i’m doing this is to have a break from my comp lifts.


Why not train your comp lifts in the 8 to 10 range for one really hard top set and follow that with some back off sets and high rep assistance? That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing and my strength and size have both increased.


Yeah I think that would pretty much work for what I’m aiming at. I’ve heard some guys having good results from switching to variations for some time and as I have 6 months to next meet figured it would be a good time to give it a shot.
Also I injured my hamstring a couple of months ago so switched in front squats and sumo pulls and I’ve been enjoying them so wanted to keep them in for a bit… Hopefully it works out


I’ve always been sceptical about how well variations transfer. Personally I haven’t found them to work well beyond being used as assistance. I guess it’s very much down to the individual though. I also think it is more likely that variations transfer better for people who are very, very good at their comp lifts. Since I don’t fit in that category, they don’t work as well for me.


You don’t need a break from the comp lifts. Maybe do most of your volume with variations, but if you completely stop doing the comp lifts then you can expect your technique to really suck when you get back to them. There are some lifters like Chad Wesley Smith, Dan Green, or Fred Hatfield who don’t do the competition lifts for a few months out of the year but they have a lot more experience and better technique so they can get away with it.


I hear you on that.

This is what I’m going to be starting with and i’ll see how if goes for a few weeks, I’ve included some speed bench and pulls on one day to help with technique and will rotate bench in after 4 weeks.


Why not just up the volume of your main work? If you’re just looking for overall muscle mass, the powerlifts fit the bill. Granted they may or may not give you most balanced physique. Then just use assistance to fill in the gaps and work on weaknesses and for pre/re-hab.

Is it because the main lifts are hurting your joints. Are you just getting a little tired of the main lifts and wanna do something different? Do you have some glaring weaknesses or imbalances?

If so, I’d do this instead. I’m thinking it would just be best to reduce volume, frequency, and/or intensity of the main lifts and use that energy you spare there for your assistance work.

What your doing is pretty drastic and I don’t think it’s a good idea unless you’ve developed some really serious imbalances over a period of years. And again, I’d only do this if your comfortable with the main lifts.

There are some big name PLers who in off season would do high bar squats instead of their stronger low bar, but that usually had more to do with sparing their shoulders and back than anything.


Try a ‘powerbuilding’ approach like this…


@Fletch1986 Yeah its a bit of all 3 reasons tbh. I get some hip and shoulder pain from back squats and benching which is why i’m focusing more on front squats and DB pressing. Also since my hamstring injury i’ve enjoyed doing some variation lifts - haven’t focused on these for a while so have seen a big increase since i last did them (about 18 months ago). And then my back & hamstrings are strong (relative to other muscles) so think i’ll benefit from more emphasis on quads and glutes from front squats and sumo pulls.

I don’t think its too drastic, still focusing on movements with the aim of improving my comp lifts, plus it’s only for 7 weeks before i start a peaking cycle using comp lifts. I’ve done the first couple of workouts and it felt pretty good so am planning on sticking with it, although if it feels like the volume is too much i’ll drop to 4 days a week.

@RampantBadger Have you had any success with something like that? lt’s different to anything i’ve seen before.


There’s been some times where I’ve felt burnt out in my head and body from training exclusively for strength. And I am including alternating between accumulation and intensity blocks. When this happened I would do more ‘athletic’ and ‘fitness’ type goals or do more BB style work. I totally get that.

When I went back to the strength training, my lifts weren’t any better but I would have a better athletic or muscular base to help spur progress some FWIW.

Anyway, good luck. Let us know about the results!


Ed coan trained like a bodybuilder 4 months out year , in basic exercises, rows , shoulder presses.
Same with Kaz check out his Kaz quest books , his off season bench assistance, was nuts then he just tapered down before meets.


I would suggest a 531 template that focuses on mass for a couple of months. Then start progressing into more of a strength focus. Wendler’s 531 for PL has everything in there you need for exactly what you’re asking.


@Fletch1986 thanks man, I’m planning on setting up a log once I start my peaking cycle, figured it wasn’t worth starting while I’m just doing higher vol stuff.

@strongmanjoe I may not have set it up completely as I should have but that is essentially what I’m going for, old school strength and size program.

@osu122975 I have used 531 in the past and think it’s a good program but not really what I’m looking for right now.


I think a mistake I’ve made in the past is to peak too frequently, just running 12 week programs one after the other.
Generally I think more lifters would benefit from spending more time doing “power building” type training, peaking to a max 2-3 times a year, especially if they are willing to gain some mass.


Yeah works well, when I first came across this site 10 years ago was like the go-to approach before 5/3/1 came out.
Alpha/Brian Alsruhe(check his logs -prob most impressive guy on this site) credits a lot of his long term gains to the Waterbury 10x3 approach