T Nation

Powerlifting Program Critique


i play football and powerlift, im 16 years old 5'10 195 pounds. my friends uncle is a state champion powerlifter and he gave me this program, what do you all think about it. before this i have been doing a squat day, a bench day, and a deadlift day with light work on each day. THis is the program that he gave me.


1) Deadlifts: 4 inch box, as many sets as it takes to work up to a max single for 3 weeks, low box, narrow leg stance squats the next 3 weeks, rack pulls for a max single, 3 weeks
2) Pin Good Mornings: 3 sets of 8
3) Power Cleans: 5 sets 3 reps
4) Bent over rows: 3 sets of 8
5) Shrugs: 3 sets of 8
6) Side bends: 3 sets of 10
7) Pull Throughs: 3 sets of 8 to 10
8) Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 8
9) Leg Curls 3 sets of 8


1) Floor press: Medium grip to a max single, 1 set of 5 with competition grip 3 weeks, then alternate lockouts and board presses for next three weeks each
2) Incline Press: close grip up to max single, 1 drop set of 5 same grip
3) Close grip bench: 3 sets 8 reps, 4th of 5 reps
4) Dips: 3 sets of 8
5) Dumbbell Extensions: off floor, 3 sets of 8
6) Tricep Pushdowns: 3 sets of 8
7) Lat Pull downs: 3 sets of 8
8) Hyperextensions: 3 sets of 8


1) Box Squats: 8 doubles
2) Leg Press: 4 sets heavy of 3
3) Squat Good Mornings: 3 sets of 5, heavy
4) Glute ham: 3 sets of 8
5) Lunges: 3 sets of 8
6) Barbell Curls: 3 sets 8
7) Wrist Curls: 3 sets 8
8) Hammer curls: 3 sets of 8


1) Bench Press: Close grip, Med. Grip, Wide Grip, 6 sets of 3, one week with chains
2) Power Clean and Press: 3 sets of 3
3) DB Bench: 3 sets of 8, one week on bench, one week on floor
4) Plate Raise: 3 sets of 8
5) 1 Arm Tricep Extension: 3 sets of 8
6) Tricep Pushdowns: 3 sets of 8
7) Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 8
8) Low Cable Rows: 3 sets of 8

Every workout day, do the following for Abs (abs are crucial for just about everything in powerlifting):
Reverse crunch: 3 sets 20 reps
Squirm: 3 sets 20 reps
Straight leg Crunch: 3 sets 20 reps
Low back raises: 3 sets 20 reps

Do all four exercises in one giant set, 3 times (hence, 3 sets). Make sure you hold each reps for a 4-count and squeeze.

what do you all think about this program, my friends uncle bench 450 squated 750 and deadlifted 600 something at 185lbs

my stats are bench 225 squat 350 deadlift 375

thanks for the advice


If you can make progress on this program I'd be fairly impressed. Maybe you have the work capacity for it, but it sounds like wayyy too much volume.


It would be too much volume if on all the assistance exercises you are killing yourself. Usually powerlifters strictly avoid failure on their assistance reps so it is not as harsh as it seems. It is still a lot of volume but I don't think it is unreasonable as long as you have enough unload weeks.


I would lose the high rep abs and add more resistance (weight). If you can handle the work load, great, but it does look like a lot.


Ordinarily I too would argue that this program has no periodization, not enough heavy work, and too much assistance...

However, and it is a big however: You are 16 and just starting out. With that in mind a defined period of increased volume and assistance may be a good idea to build up overall strength and may yield some resistance to injury.

Just be sure to work in enough heavy lifting to keep youself interested, and set a time period to re-evaluate how well or poorly it is working.


This is way too much volume for a beginning or intermediate lifter. If I were you, I'd check out the articles on elitefts.com and westside-barbell.com. These will set you in the right direction if you really apply yourself.



I think that is probably one of the worst beginner routines I have ever read.

If you do that, particularly without supervision and feedback on your form, I predict you will be injured in less than 2 months.

I am almost certain what you were doing previously is much better than this.


I agree that it is too much volume. There is an article on elitefts.com by Bob Youngs about when he started lifting at Westside Barbell Louie had him doing then main exercise and then 2 supplemental movements and then 3 after a while and so on until he was doing the same amount of work that everyone else was doing.


i think you could probably handle it if you drop some of the assistance exersises and avoid failure. it is alot so i also suggest you use some recovery techniques. CT has an article on them


I probably should be more specific in my response.

As follows.

  1. Not nearly enough time for a relative newb spent free squatting and pulling from the floor.

  2. Pulls from a deficit at your stage in the game are unnecessary and perhaps even problematic, IMHO.

You need to get as strong as possible on traditional DL variations; conventional, sumo, RDL's, stiff legs, pin pulls below the knee, etc.

  1. Pin Good mornings and "heavy" squat good mornings shouldn't even be considered at this point.

The potential for back injury due to rounding and general shitty form during these exercises is too high given your current experience and strength level. Not to be a nervous Nelly, but to me, that sounds like an SI or low back injury waiting to happen. Particularly if you are off doing these things on your own with limited supervision/feedback.

In particular, as written, you are not cycling any of this accesory work out for recovery, and trying to do power cleans after what you have listed is going to fry you. Not to mention given your level of fatigue at that point, form is going to be an afterthought.

  1. That volume of ab work 4 times a week is going to make it really hard for you to recover from all the volume in front of it.

It is really easy to underestimate how much high volume ab training affects your overall ability to recover. This volume should be ramped and cycled.

  1. W.E.C. was correct in his statement that the routine is not periodized enough and the volume of accesory work is too high.

You need more stucture at this point. Additionally, accesory work needs to be individualized and reasonably well thought out. We typically start a lifter with some standard, non-complicated accesory work but then based on their performance in the core lifts, individualize it as the program progresses.

The truth of the matter is I am struggling with progress in squat and pin good mornings, pulling from a deficit, and no real emphasis on the core competition lifts as being a key component in a training program for you at this point.

It sounds like your friends uncle is a solid lifter, but I don't think he has whipped up a recipe for excellence for you at this stage in the game.



...and when the wind blows...

...if you listen carefully...

...you'll hear it whisper...



this is pretty much westside... i would check out westside for beginners on the elite fitness website and go from there. you want to ease into that much volume.


Try something like this since you're beginning:

Workout A

3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift

Workout B

3x5 Squat
3x5 Military Press
3x5 Power Clean

Warm up using several sets before doing the 3 work sets (or 1 for the deadlift). If you're using 175, for example, it would look like this:

Warm up sets

2x5xbar (sets x reps x weight)

Work sets


You alternate workout A and B, 3 non-consecutive days per week. So you might do:

Week 1


Workout A


Workout B


Workout A

Week 2


Workout B


Workout A


Workout B

Add weight to the bar whenever possible. If you're very new to lifting weights, or if most of your lifting has focused on curls and other isolation movements, you'll probably be able to add some weight each workout. Maybe 5-10 lbs each time in the squat and deadlift, and about 5 lbs in the other three lifts. Eventually you won't be able to sustain such progress, and you'll have to get microplates so you can increase by smaller increments.



The program you presented is very good, but, it's not for you. It's a program for a seasoned powerlifter with a good work capacity. Take a look what Bob Young did when starting Westside, when he alredy had a 580 lbs squat:


It was much, much less volume then in your program.

This would be a very good approach for a beginner/intermediate. You could also use two different types of squats (back and front, for instance) or go for a heavy 1x5 on Workout B, instead of sets with same weight.

Additionaly, I would suggest using somewhat ligther weights first few workouts. So, if you think you can do 200lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps, start with 180 and increase by 5-10lbs .

After a while, you won't be able to do 3x5, but say you do 225 for 5,4 and 3 reps. When that happens, stay with that weight, trying to add reps to 2nd and 3rd set. When you get all 3 sets of 5 reps, add weight again.

If you start feeling tired and unable to add even a rep between two workouts, take a few days off by skipping 1-2 workouts. When you return to gym, again use lighter weights. So, if you took a break with a max of 235lbs x 5, start with 190-200lbs.

Hope this helps.


you're a football player right? search westside for skinny bastards on this site or on joe Defranco's site. this is a westside approach for an athlete. good luck, work hard, but work smart. all this volume and so little back work will kill you.