T Nation

Powerlifting Coaching/Programming


At present, the best way for me to train through the week is Monday, Wednesday, Friday due to work. I also want to experiment on higher frequency programmes coming from x1 per lift, per week. Thinking of something like x2-3 squat, x2-3 bench, x1 deadlift. How would you guys set up a programme like?

Current numbers (in kilos):
Squat - 167.5 (competition), 165 (gym)
Bench - 110 (competition and gym)
Deadlift - 207.5 (competition), 200 (gym)


I like Askold Surovetsky’s programming. It has worked better for me than anything else, and I’ve used a wide variety of methodologies over the years. Surovetsky has coached a number of top Russian lifters, including at least one IPF world champ, and is a multiple world championship medalist himself in the masters divisions. His work isn’t well known in the States because he is an old man, doesn’t speak English, doesn’t maintain much of an online presence, and doesn’t seem to care to promulgate his methods widely. But he is held in very high regard in Russian powerlifting circles.

He generally advocates moderate squat and deadlift frequencies, (low by Russian standards), and higher bench frequency. I love his programming ideas because they check the necessary boxes for me…enough technique practice, no fluff, frequent exposure to heavy weights, and a pretty substantial volume of work with the main lifts. A good number of his templates have leaked onto the internet over the years, so you can probably find a few examples if you search.

A representative week of training for me will look like:

Squat up to 4x3x82-85%
Bench up to 4x3x82-85%
Lat and delt assistance for 3-4x6-10

Bench to 4x4x70-74%
Deadlift to 4x4x70-74%
Lat, biceps, rear delt assistance

Bench to 3x1x92-96%
Bench overload work >100% for 3x2
assistance for triceps and delts

Squat to 3x1x92-96%
assistance for lats and lower back

The following week I would pull twice and squat once. A lot of volume is logged working up to the top sets, so while this doesn’t look like much work on paper, the NBL/week is not low. This training can be done 3x/wk by combining the squat and bench (days 3 and 4) and maybe cutting out some assistance.

Again, not a well-known method in the U.S. right now, but I’ve yet to find anything that works as well for me. Steady progress for me after nearly a decade of lifting and competing.


Thanks for the reply, this would be similar to Westside in a sense. Being 90% or above often just ruins my body


Nothing like westside. You are doing the lifts week in and week out. As far as the 90% or above “ruining your body,” one way to look at that would be to avoid it. The other, and more productive way in my opinion, would be to remedy it, since the entirety of the sport is lifting 90%+ loads. The ability to do heavy lifts frequently and recover from doing it is a trainable quality. That’s by far the most valuable aspect of the system.

I’d urge you not to cower from frequent heavy lifting, because again, the ability to lift heavy weights with good technique is essentially the only skill powerlifting tests. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Of course you will feel smashed the first couple weeks if you’re not used to doing it; it’s a significant stressor. Once you adapt it’s like a switch flips. You treat heavy singles like you would any other set, go about your business, and your recovery improves.

A critical point to add is that you are using a training max (for me this is around 96% of a gym max and 92% of a competitive max,) so you should not be missing lifts, or needing to psych to make them. Moreover, most of Surovetsky’s systems build over the course of a cycle, so the first micro for the squat or dead might be 72/4x4, 60/5x5, 88/3x2, or similar, and build the intensity over the course of the cycle.

Rather than trying to convince you or anyone else to take this on, I just want to be clear on the nature of this kind of training so there are no misconceptions. It is hard work, and lifting heavy is generally harder than lifting light. That said, as a powerlifter, lifting heavy is the only thing you have to be good at, so my opinion is that you should get used to it.


Training at 90%+ works, but some people do better with lower percentages and higher volume. If it’s fear that is holding you back then you need to get over it or get into a different sport. Sheiko has discussed how he rarely programs lifts over 80% (unless board press, block pulls, etc.) for most lifters because it isn’t always necessary and there is a increased risk of injury, but there was a sample of one of Yuri Fedorenko’s training cycles that included a lot of singles with 90%. Mike Tuchscherer uses lots of singles at 90%+ but he recently mentioned that one of his lifters - and a high level lifter at that - did not respond well to heavy singles.

It’s a perfectly valid method of training (I do it starting about 8 weeks out from a meet) but it doesn’t work so well for everyone. It doesn’t hurt to try, and if it doesn’t significantly improve your lifts then at least you will get used to the feeling of maximal weights.


I will take max singles over sets of 10 any day


Sure. I mean it in the sense of playing the clarinet is generally harder than playing the kazoo.


I think he means more along the lines of squatting 405 for 20 versus 600 for 1. They’re both hard in their own respects, but the 20 set will leave you more exhausted after.


Being that 90+ is tough for you, I’d opt for doubles and triples at 85 and below. Keep the top sets at 1-3 sets depending on the weight you use per workout. I’d probably go 3x bp 2x squat 1x pull.

The main factor is listening to your body when doing something like this. You’ll burn out really fast if you don’t know your body yet. Recovery is limited with this so be smart about it.


This is the learning curve with me running 5/3/1 for so long but it’s just not getting my squat where I need it to be to qualify for nationals this year so while I have the time to experiment, I’m going to. Being so far out (November is my next meet)


If you like 531, consider running his 2.0 program that is HF 6 days/week. It’s in the Beyond book.


As mentioned, I only have three days to train so want to up frequency in the main lifts to compensate


If you don’t want to go into the complete unknown and sort of stuck with 5/3/1:

Squat assistance

Bench assistance

Assistance for weakest lift


How would you run reps/sets/%s on this? Seems pretty much what I’d need to be fair!



This is how I’d run it if I were to do it.

Squat - 5/3/1 reps, FSL if you want 3x5-8
Bench - 5s week reps
Squat assistance - two exercises, 50 total reps each

DL - 5/3/1 reps, no FSL or 3/5/1
Press - 5/3/1 reps, FSL if you want 3x5-8
Bench assistance - two exercises, probably best focusing on back work like rows/chins, etc

Bench - 5/3/1 reps, FSL if you want 3x5-8
Squat - 5s week reps
Assistance for weakest lift - two exercises, maybe three if you want to do more upper body pulling

EDIT: or you could run Full Body, Full Boring. That’s every lift three times a week.

Over 50s, How Often Do You Train?

Oh I see, I thought you wanted to run a high frequency program. Most of the time HF programs are typically 5-6x/week training.

Try Sheiko then. That program would probably fit what you want to do. You’d probably have to tweak for your needs, but it’s based on a three day a week program performing the lifts multiple times.


I agree!