T Nation

Powerlifting Chick


I posted the following in the Vixen forum & it was suggested I try here as well...

Well, I've got my first competition under my belt so to speak :smiley:
I set new PR's in all lifts, and qualified for the Canadian Nat'ls in April '06.
With low-buck equipment and no bench shirt, after only 4 mos. of training I put up a 220 squat, 110 bench & 264 dead.
So now I'm wondering, what kind of increases are reasonable in 3-4 mos.??? If I want to be in the middle of the pack (according to '05 Nats standings), I'd have to put 66 lbs on my squat, 33 on bench (start training with a shirt right away??) and 82 on the deadlift. Are those gains even reasonable? I'm 5'8", 143.5 lbs training M/W/F - squats & bench 2x/wk incorporating DE & ME plus assistance work (mostly compound stuff for shoulders, back & tri's).


I'd have to put 66 lbs on my squat, 33 on bench (start training with a shirt right away??) and 82 on the deadlift.

Squat: Google Smolov, it can give you up to 100 lbs. on squat supposedly. I am doing it right now.

Bench: do a search on T-Nation for 1-6; it is a Poliquin thing. I've been doing it for 5 weeks(week 3 was a back-off week) and took my bench from 265(I probably could have maxed at about 275, but don't know) to 315, a best ever PR for me.

Deadlift: maybe someone else can give you help there, I don't know too much. Another option would be to look at Westside's stuff, if you are not already.


Read all the Westside Barbell Stuff on this site and Elitefts until your eyes go dry.

Train hard,



Hello there,
In case people are busy, I'll give you two referrals. Beefcake and Malinda are two wonderful, helpful people in the community. I'm currently lifting at 105lbs for swimming and learning about Westside methods. Others will have more experience than I.

Again, good luck and please check out the meet videos in this section.



If you are just starting out, Westside may not be the best at this point. You can stand to improve a lot just by getting better technique. I.e focusing on the 3 competition lifts. The smolov squat routing is great, however, the volume is very high.

I think you can make such improvements but I think you should focus your training around the 3 powerlifts.



Never too early to start Westside. That was my introduction to powerlifting, and I'd never look back.

For the squat- low box squats. I use a 14 inch for speed, and used approximately a 11 inch box. That really killed my hips. this means my squat will get bigger.

speed squat- keep it light. 50-55%. Keep working on the form. I found this helped. Take a couple of free squats when you feel like it. Don't be afraid to work up to a max after your speed work from the below parallel box.

high box squats- this will get you prepped to handle 100-110% weights. I found this helped with my confidence, and forced me to handle big weights. You will also learn to watch technique with heavy wt, something you don't always get with speed work.

below knee pin pulls (with and without bands): again, this helped with my dead training. I did very few speed deads, and only a handful of band assisted pulls. Heavy pin pulls with a band around the bar helped me JACK up my dead (took it from below 400 to 515 in less than a year).

GMs: i did lots of wide and close stance. Worked up to heavy maxes all the time, now doing 3RMs.

Stiff Legged Deads: lots of these. i did them alternately with Dimel Deads. Went for the deeeep stretch in the hams during the SLD, and Dimels I focused on popping the hips with speed.

How i jacked my bench up:

since august i've added nearly 30lbs to my bench (this includes time off due to injury, post competition time off, inconsistant training sched).

I have a max out/rep wave. I'll do max out on 2 board, 3b, and floor press (this takes about 6 weeks)then i do a rep wave - 3x3 wave in the above for three weeks. Lots of 4 board presses after DE day, and i will work up after my speed work.

doing military presses, lots of Pull ups and CSRs. Some extensions/press down supersets seem to help with hypertrophy as supp. work after my bench movement. Shoulder health is a big issue for me, so i tend to do a TON of face pulls (to warm up).

As well, I watched the EFS bench and squat index. Jim's stuff about how to bench really helped me get strong.

i hope that you might take something out of this.

good luck my fellow Canadian!


If I can offer you one piece of advice, it is to find a group of powerlifters, and lift with them.

There is nothing like working around a bunch of strong people to get strong.

I'll shoot you a PM...


Seriously, don't listen to these people that say you should start Westside immediately. People go apeshit over Westside Barbell as if it is the ULTIMATE powerlifting methodology and all the other ones flat out don't work. This simply is not true. Westside is an excellent system that works well for many people.

However, it is not appropriate for you if you are a beginner. My friend and I have had this discussion a billion times. There's no reason to jump into something as complex as Westside when you would benefit more from something much more basic. What I'm getting at is that you NEED time under the bar working on the actual powerlifts. If you're a beginner, your form sucks and you need to spend most of your workout time developing it.

There is a book you can find on Amazon.com or elitefts.com called "Starting Strength". It's got a routine in it where you train Squats, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Deadlifts, and Power Cleans. THESE ARE THE BASIC MOVEMENTS YOU NEED TO WORK TO MASTER AS A BEGINNER, not the "cambered bar, chain supported good mornings with bands." Don't make it complex until it needs to be complex.

Also, whoever said to train with other powerlifters is totally right. You need to find someone who can critique your form so you get it right from the start.


Bulletproof you nailed it right on the head.

Look at all of the Boris Sheiko Russian routines. The Russian athletes squat, bench, and deadlift and do multiple variations of those lifts many times per week.

How do olympic lifters train? They train the clean and jerk, snatch, overhead squat, etc. multiple times per week. Essentially, the competition lifts + their variants. How come powerlifters aren't supposed to do that?

I had great results on my last cycle doing all three lifts 3 times per week with a 4th day for other lifts (military, chins, rows, triceps, etc.).

I personally know a lifter that trained Westside for 10+ years and made incredible gains. Trained in a very simple non-Westside way and made more gains put 200 pounds on his total. He went to IPF worlds and got 2nd. Westside is not the end all be all.



While I wouldn't recommend going balls out and trying to train Westside as a beginer and on your own, I certainly wouldn't say not to train Westside either. Is it the ONLY way to train...no, but it WORKS so why not try it. I think there is a middle ground to be had here.

As Wendler has said over and over Westside isn't something that you have to follow to a T. It gives you an outline and it is up to you to modify it to what works for you no matter what level you are at. A simplified version of WS focused on the core lifts and some basic accessory work would be great for a beginer.

The best advice anyone can give is to do some research before begining any program and get some real feedback on your plans before you get started.


I agree with the ok, Westside is great for all levels. Cause it makes you stronger and faster. Once you get to a point where you are not making gains with straight weight then you can go to chains or bands.


The things we can learn from Westside include:

1.) Using different types of training modalities (max effort, dynamic effort, and repetivive effort) are useful tools to build strength.

2.) Training your weaknesses will help your overall strength.

3.) Bands and chains helps change the characteristic force vs. velocity curve at different points are a great tool for building strength.

The things we can learn from Olympic lifting and the Russian routines (Sheiko/Smolov) include:

1.) To do well at competition lifts, you must do them often.

2.) Train your contest lifts at a variety of percentages (similar to the different types of 'effort').

I think Ericka has a great suggestion, using the core lifts with the Westside method.



I love this thread!! Original intent was to help Miss T but I'm getting helped as well.

There are great insights about other types including Westside templates. There's value in all methods if applied properly to my own endeavors. Thank you for everyone's contribution!I hope to one day reap the benefits learning from experienced lifters.


Thats what I was thinking.


A modified Westside routine that uses repitition method instead of dynamic method (e.g. Westside For Skinny Bastards + extra leg day) would be great for beginners.


I think Dave Tate had his wife work her core almost exclusively with reverse hypers and lifts of that nature when she was a beginner and she put close to 100 lbs. on her squat. Obviously she had a relatively weak core, but train your weaknesses and your torso and your lifts should shoot up. I train with some very strong women and it's always fun to be able to say you train with a girl who could out squat every guy at school.


let me tell you how starting the basic westside program from my very first powerlifting work out single handely destroyed me...lets see and you can ask jim wendler this...i started out a fat soft 210 pounds could barely sq 275 and coudld barely bench a lil over 225 had a whooping deadlift of 300 when i first went to my first EFS seminar about 3 years ago I left that seminar for one year followed the basic westside program with straight weight then transferd into bands and chains...

a little over 2 years later i squated 805, benched 500, and dl 700....why getting my body weight up to a solid 280 pounds.....if you dont beelive me there is a pic of me after a 800 pound squat right here on T-Mag in Eric Cressey's Leverages article.....im living proof if you start out on the basic westside program you will get fucking strong....of course as i have gotten stronger i have made minor personal changes....but i would not give up those first 2 years on that basic westside template for aanything...rb


Wow - thanks for all the advice and ideas everyone! My coach (who also competes) is a Masters women's nat'l record holder so I'm definitely in good company :smiley:

The 1st program I did with her had 1 speed & 1 heavy squat per week, same with bench and one heavy deads day. Then a change-up to 5x5 & 3x3 leading up to the competition.
I'm on my own til mid-late Jan so that'll give me time to try other programs and the ideas suggested! I can't wait til this recovery week is over!! Thanks again!


Damn, thats definitely all I needed to hear.