T Nation

New to PLing, Where Should I Start?


Hi everybody!

I have been working out for 8 months now and i found out i enjoy powerlifting over bodybuilding. So powerlifting is what i want to focus on in the gym. I don’t know what program would be best for me? Any advice would be verry appreciated :slight_smile:

Here are some of my stats:

Age 18yo
Weight 76 kg, 167.5 pounds
Height 180 cm, 5.9 ft
squat 1RM 135 kg, 297.6 pounds
bench 1RM 85 kg, 187.4 pounds
deadlift 1RM 165 kg, 363.8 pounds

Which Powerlifting Program Should I Follow?

Welcome to the world of weight training!

My question to you is: Do you plan on competing or do you just enjoy training for maximal strength?


Go to a powerlifting gym and talk to a coach.

I have come across a handful of people who have not made near instant improvements by doing this- be it form, training, attitude, application, knowledge, etc


I do not plan on competing, like you Said I Enjoy training for maximal strenght.


Would love to do that but weten live there is No powerlifting gym in the area


The simplest, especially for a beginner, would be best. Something straight forward. Hit the main lift, then assistance lift and a couple accessory exercises and that’s all you’ll need.

I’d suggest a 3x5 or 5x5 program. Also, at 5-9 167lbs, you’re gonna wanna eat a LOT more if you wanna get stronger.

Good luck.


Form over ego! I know from experience that this can be hard to do, especially in a commercial gym. It’s ok for your form to break down a little bit on the last rep of a 3RM attempt or so, but otherwise I would recommend to focus on learning the motor pattern of the lifts with less weight, but more volume to build the frame.

Else, as others suggest stick to 5x5 or so and eat a lot.


Thanks, Yes im thinking of using MyFitnessPal to track What in eating.

Would u Guys reccomend something like StrongLifts 5x5 / madcow 5/3/1 ?


I’ll expand on some what was already said.

  1. Technique - I can’t stress this enough. Find someone in your area who knows what they’re doing and have them teach you basic lifting technique. You might have to go to a meet and ask around. You will find powerlifters very helpful.

  2. Program - Start with something really simple like Starting Strength (stronglifts is a starting strength ripoff anyway). I would not recommend 5/3/1 for a beginner because a beginner does not have adequate technique to perform AMRAP (as many reps as possible) sets. Get the technique and basic strength down first.

  3. Diet - I’m assuming you’re drug free so I’ll direct my comments in that direction. At 5’-9" a competitive lifter who is fairly lean will be in the range of 230 - 250. Some guys can be as high as 275. Obviously you have to gain some weight. Don’t pound down crappy food just to get huuuge. Eat as clean as possible (single ingredient foods), keep the protein at or above 1g./lb of bodyweight, and run a calorie surplus of 500-1000 cal per day. Get Myfitnesspal - it works great. Keep the fat at about 30% of total calories and make up the rest in carbs (oats, white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit). For protein eat lean beef, eggs, tuna, chicken, whole milk, cheese, and greek yogurt.

  4. Rest and recovery - SLEEP as much as possible. Stay away from aerobics if you’re trying to grow.

  5. Finally - NEVER train to failure. After every set you should feel like you could do one or two more reps.

Where are you located? Let us know as some of us may be able to direct you to someone local to you.

Good luck.


Thanks guys! I know what to do :smiley:


Backos, so 230 makes sense, but dang 250-275 is a LOAD at 5’9". But for this sport it makes sense but even 250 lean, like 15% body fat is a monster.

As for failure, what’s the issue there? I don’t generally go to failure but it’s happened from time to time.


Haha…I’m 5-8 260 lol…


Skip stronglifts, but well worth running through the other main 5x5 templates- madcow, Bill Starr/texas method etc.

Also this article series has loads of great stuff…


Truth. I’m 5 9’ and a relatively muscular not fat smidge below 220 lbs and need another 20-40 pounds of lean mass.


The Texas method looks great! But it looks Low on assistance work?


The TM on its own is really just a concept of squeezing a microcycle into one week. Volumn Day, Light Day, Intensity Day. Stimulus/Recovery/Adaptation in one week.

Depending on where you look, people make all sorts of variation on this so you can make your own assistance work. If you are purely focusing on powerlifting (not building general strength and athleticism) I would suggest to remove Power Cleans with some back exercise. I am running TM myself at the moment and doing RDL instead of Power Cleans.


Thanks, ill look in to it!


I’m barely 5’-6-1/2 and currently weigh 230. In younger days, I weighed 211 and squatted 615. At that time the top 220’s in the ADFPA were squatting in the low-mid 800’s. Had I gone to 242, I would have squatted 700+ and been a bit more competitive. This sport favors the short/muscular/lean bodytype.

As far as failure goes, according to Coan and Karwoski (both coached by Gallagher), going to a slow grinding rep (RPE10) is the recovery equivalent of three extra reps. They also say that failing a rep can set you back a week or two, not to mention the confidence factor. They advocate a training style that stops each set at an RPE of 8 or 9. They also used CAT and when bar speed slowed too much the set was over. If you watch Coan’s training video where he did a 950 double, it looked like he could have done 4 reps. Yet he stopped at 2.

No one says that if you have an awesome day not to take some heavier weight, but its not a good idea to deviate from a program too often. If you do that, you have materially altered the program.




Rippetoe was a disciple of Bill Starr hence the inclusion of power cleans, and the 1:1 ratio of bench to overhead press in his programs.

I won’t make a blanket statement about the merits of the power cleans (George Hechter used them extensively), but they’re not necessary. Plus Rip’s assertion that DE deadlifts don’t make you powerful reflects his OL bias. DE deadlifts train the lifter to maximize the production of force. And yes, performed with evil intent, they work, especially pulling against bands.

As for the Press, you’ll just have to see if they work for you, plenty of lifters on both sides of the aisle on this one.