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Off Season PL Schedule (Opinions)


I’ve written a basic draft for a week of training, I do everything in my garage gym, I’m 17 and kinda new to this. Looking for some advice on what I could improve or fix to improve my off season training. I have qualifiers this weekend, and if all things go to plan (which is what they all say haha) I should be competing nationally later this year. So, I’m not sure if its offseason or not, but I want to spend some time fixing weaknesses, putting on some muscle, and maybe bring the body fat down and look a little pretty for once (I’m approx 20-25%, and I weigh about 92-93kg or 200 ish pounds.) Going for strength is going to be on the back burner a little, so it is less of an emphasis, but still happening.

Basically, goals are this:
(in order)

1.Get leaner. No love handles or anything similar (maybe get down to 15% or so)
2.Put on some mass on arms, chest etc. Haven’t done much bodybuilding recently, thought I’d have some fun with it.
3.Add some strength, but gently, not a focus.
4.Get generally fitter, endurance and stuff. Won’t be too difficult, I’m terrible with that sort of thing. GPP if you want to call it that.

The schedule:
(I’m following the 5/3/1 protocol/programme for the main lifts aka Squat, bench, deadlift and OHP)

Squat (5/3/1 protocol)
Pause squats (2 x 5 reps)

Split squats x 10
bw jumps x 5
(3 rounds)

2 sets of AMRAP push ups

Note: I have fairly big legs as is, I don’t feel like I need to add much more mass to this area.

20 minutes of cardio. Most likely tabata.

Bench press
(5/3/1 protocol)
Spoto press
(2x5 reps)
Dumbell bench
(3x5 reps)

Dumbell bench
(1x20 reps)
Barbell curls
(3x5 reps)

Kneeling landmine press x 10 reps
Chin up variation x 10
(3 rounds)

Close grip bw push ups
(2x AMRAP)

Notes: Upper chest and biceps are a weakness for me which I’d like to bring up.

Cardio for 20 minutes.

(5/3/1 protocol)
Pause deadlifts
(2x5 reps)

(5/3/1 protocol)

Barbell rows
(3x5 rows)

Dumbell Stiff legs x 5 reps
Dumbell row x 10 reps
(3 rounds)

Arnold press
(2-3 x 20 reps)

Pull up variation
(2x AMRAP)

Sat & Sun: Rest

I know my order for Friday seems to a bit disorganised, but any recommendations will be awesome.


As a teen just run through some proven templates and you’ll make great progress…


You’ll almost definitely do better using an actual 5/3/1 template compared to your setup. Any of the ones @RampantBadger posted will be great. Resist the temptation to ‘improve’ them because you won’t. Not yet.

With your goals, here’s something you need to be aware of: you will almost never add upper body mass while getting leaner. You will look bigger leaner, but when you’re leaning out the upper body is often the first to lose size. Also, getting leaner is almost entirely diet. Training will help you keep what muscle you have. From my experience, something with more volume will help this, but something with strength work will too. Of the program list I’d suggest Hardgainers.


I’ll have a look into it then. Might buy the 5/3/1 forever book once it comes out.

Out of curiosity, whats wrong with the template i wrote? I’m not saying its perfect, it’s far from it. But just so I know for the future, what would make a good template in your opinion?


Do something that has you doing each lift twice a week, or at least squat and bench. Nothing wrong with cardio, but stuff like tabata (if you do it the way it’s supposed to be done) is too intense and will affect your recovery. Better do low intensity steady state cardio or interval stuff like sprints or sled/prowler work.


There isn’t really anything terribly wrong with what you set out. The suggested programs are just better. The only thing in yours that really stood out to me was that a lot of the assistance was for low reps, which usually isn’t optimal.

Think of it like buying a kit car off someone. Which one would you want: the one built by a guy who’s built them for years, or the one built by someone for the first time? Both work, but one is going to be much more reliable.


I think doing “special” work like pause squats and Spoto presses during the off-season is pretty cool.


[quote=“MarkKO, post:6, topic:227392, full:true”]
There isn’t really anything terribly wrong with what you set out. The suggested programs are just better. The only thing in yours that really stood out to me was that a lot of the assistance was for low reps, which usually isn’t optimal. [/quote]
If your goal is to lose fat and/or gain muscle then you need higher volume than usual, hard to get that with low reps.

Push volume and eat maintenance calories to neither gain or lose body weight, within a month or two you should be leaner and more muscular.


[quote=“vermilionleech, post:4, topic:227392, full:true”]
Out of curiosity, whats wrong with the template i wrote?[/quote]

-too low frequency - only doing each lift 1x/week
-low reps on assistance work - particularly db bench for 5’s, just a bad idea
-low volume on main lifts - add down sets, can be for multiple low reps sets to work on technique like 5x3 sets for example


There is no offseason. If you train properly, you shouldn’t have an offseason. If you rotate things properly, you’ll always be building weaknesses and technique in the main lifts. The only exception to this is if you are a beginner. Recovery and consistency is always the key to getting stronger.


Ah okay. I spoke to Dave Beattie about accessory work and such. I was mostly regarding hypertrophy things such as biceps or abs (just to look pretty haha, but for strength purposes too). He said something like 15-20 reps for 2-3 sets is good to put on the right size in those places.

Personally, I’ve been lifting for 3 years or so, and this is my second year competing. And doing each lift once a week is working well for me. I did a competition Sunday, squatted 145kg (5kg comp PR), benched 90kg (My own bodyweight). Bitched out at 92.5 because I just didn’t prepare myself mentally like an idiot. But I know it happens. Brandon Lilly was there, I asked him for advice and he just went through it with me. By the end, I deadlifted 180kg (which is a 10kg comp PR).

What sort of rep range are we talking then? With the DB bench, I know they were low at 5 reps. But I have this small goal of being able to do like 20-30 reps at 30-40kg with dumbbells. Just for a bit of fun, and keep training interesting. And figured it’d help towards my powerlifting goals, and to me, it’s not overly stupid like some of the youtube or instagam videos.


[quote=“vermilionleech, post:11, topic:227392, full:true”]
doing each lift once a week is working well for me … benched 90kg (My own bodyweight[/quote]

Are you sure about that?


8-12 mostly, stuff like curls or face pulls are better for 10+ though.

Also, if you are going to do any kind of jumps you should do them earlier, not supersetted with anything, and maybe before squatting. the point is to maximize rate of force development and you can’t do that if you just finished all your heavy squatting and then did a set of split squats.


I’m seeing good progress, and I’m not gaining weight. My last competition was about 3 weeks ago, and my total was 390. Last comp I had a 415 total. I’m not saying thats the progress I should be seeing, but they are going up fairly decently.


I don’t understand, your total went down 25kg? Rephrase that.

Training each lift once a week works well for extremely advanced lifters like Eric Lilliebridge, or some of Josh Bryant’s guys who bench over 600 raw. You are missing out by not getting much technique practice more than anything, there have also been studies that found that training a muscle group less than twice a week is severely suboptimal for hypertrophy. Guys like Ronnie Coleman are the exception.


Ah, sorry. I mean as in the competition before last, I had a 390kg total. And last Sunday, which was the most recent competition. My total increased by 25kg, so my total was 415kg. I’m just saying that I’m seeing a steady increase with what I’m doing. And I don’t see why I should change that if I’m honest.

I went to a Brandon Lilly seminar the Saturday’s before the competition, and we went over technique and there wasn’t much criticism he gave me. Deadlift form was spot on, squats he had some recommendations, but more out of personal opinions. He said to have a wider stance, drop my pinky under the bar, lower the bar position. And said to use that position/technique during the competition to lessen the ROM for more weight.

I get what you mean with the frequency. More you do things the better you are when it comes to doing that task. I just feel that doing it once a week is working for me currently. And (correct me if I’m wrong) if I start to plateau, I could add more frequency with that lift to start seeing improvement again. I’ve been doing powerlifting for about 3 years now, and my form has improved a lot since I first started.


If you are making steady gains then your training can’t be that bad, but at your level you should be able to make fast progress and it looks like you bench is pretty far behind. When I first started training for powerlifting I was already benching twice a week (although one day was close grip and dumbbell bench) and I was making steady progress. I got into 5/3/1 and went with one of the basic templates that had me benching once a week and doing OHP and dips and stuff like that on another day, progress grinded to a halt on bench although my OHP, squat, and deadlift made some decent progress for a few months. I moved on to the RTS “generalized intermediate program” which had me benching 3-4x/week and added maybe 30lbs. to my bench in 2 months. I’m not saying that you necessarily need to bench that frequently (I’m currently bench 2x/week myself) but you could probably make much faster progress with a little bit more frequency.


I’m currently doing 5/3/1, I’ll admit I haven’t read the book. Currently I’m just doing squats (both regular and pause) and bench (both regular and pause), then some other accessories like lunges, dumbbell bench press, that sort of thing. Thursday, I do the deadlifts with pause. Then over head press. Then things like stiff legs and some accessory work.

When i was prepping for the qualifiers which happened last week. I was doing the above, but deadlifts were on wednesday and starting what would have been next weeks squat training on the friday instead of the monday. So i was training 3x a week instead of the 2x a week. So for example, id be doing 5/5/5 monday and wednesday, 3/3/3 on friday and the next monday. Just pushed myself to do as much work as i was capable of doing. Seemed to kinda work


So, hypothetically if i were to bench twice a week. How would i go about doing that with the 5/3/1 protocol? Or is that not possible, and ill have to find a different program?


Maybe you should buy some of the 5/3/1 books because there are many different templates. Otherwise just bench twice a week, include some variations like close grip, dumbbell press, etc.