T Nation

Powerlifting to Bodybuilding


I have been training like a powerlifter(no competitions) for
the past 2 years or so and want to make the transition over
to bodybuilding since I don't have a problem dieting and want
to be more aesthetically pleasing. I attached an image to show
why I want to get into bodybuilding because after all these
years of training I'm sitting at a relatively low body weight compared
to my above average strength and I feel that I look like crap.

I did a search "powerlifting to bodybuilding" and was not able
to find the answers that I needed. This came the closest.

What I am looking for is a clear cut no room for ambiguity program to follow.
Going through the articles in the search that I did I read Dave Tate's article
about his experiences as a young bodybuilder and college. He suggested
to do a program that hits each body-part twice a week. I would have no problem
doing that since I can workout 6 days a week and I have a gym within a one minute
walk from where I live.

Some background information about my general level of strength/fitness.
I am 5'8 185 lbs and I have no idea what by bodyfat is I would guess somewhere
between 13-15%. I have been doing 5/3/1 program for the past month and have logged
the following numbers recently. Squat: 320X12......Deadlift: 370x7 (No straps)
Bench: 260 x 4...and for shoulders I can dumbbell military press 95's X 7 with
good form no spot..........I know numbers are irrelevant in bodybuilding
but wanted to give an idea that my strength levels are well above average.

I would like to follow a program tailored specifically to suit my needs which are
basically no ambiguity, not overly complicated and hits each bodypart twice a week.

Open to advice/suggestions. Thanks.


you couldn't find a program on that thread??



I just want to inform you that you're not "well above average". Plenty of people who have never attempted to powerlift have higher numbers than you and wouldn't consider themselves "well above average" in terms of strength.

When one starts to perceive themselves as beyond the ordinary (when it's clearly not the case) they delude themselves into thinking that anything made for the average Joe will not work for them.

The very thread you listed has routines that would work for anyone who's just started working out, to beyond people of your level of strength. The idea is that you take the program as a whole, and as time goes on you gradually modify it to work around any injuries, add more volume to any particular areas and to compensate for your own body's leverages.


I really don't know enough about bodybuilding to be able to modify any program.
It would be ideal to find an established program kind of like how 5/3/1 is for powerlifting.
I have not been through the bodybuilding pages on here enough to know if such
a thing exists or to know how to modify any existing program intelligently.

The main one listed on the thread is a 5 day split 1x a week frequency.

The push/pull/legs routine has each bodypart twice a week which is what I am looking
for but it lacks periodization, requires a training partner for a spot on all the ME sets.

One of the reasons I want to stop training like a powerlifter
is that I am tired of smashing buffets and taking a dump every few hours out of fear that if
I don't I'll stop getting stronger. If I were to go to failure on each exercise six days a week I would still have to eat like I'm eating now.

If after searching some more I don't find any suitable established 6 days a week each body part twice a week programs I will have to basically create a similar version of the heavy/ light rotating 4 day split on this page http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/dave_tates_iron_evolution_phase_2_bodybuilding_1
or I will have to modify and create a push/pull/legs routine tailored to my needs.

And as far as me saying that my strength levels are well above average I don't really care to argue with you about whether that is clearly the case or not. Any trainer that you go to will assesses you and ask you what your goals are before starting you on a program.


You're stronger than the average gym rat, perhaps not stronger than the average powerlifter but who gives a shit, this isn't important.

vertical pull, vertical push, squat based lower body session, horizontal pull, horizontal push, deadlift based lower body session should work fine. Tailor it to your needs, you should have an idea of what you're doing by now.

Get a shitload stronger for reps on everything, eat a lot (sorry), profit.


Just read KingBeef's "do this routine instead of that" (or whatever it's called). That should give you all you need to know to design a good split.

Honestly though, for standard BBing purposes designing a good split is stupid easy. There's only a few things to really worry about (not training chest when your shoulders are still beat up, making sure you're not overtraining the lower back, etc.).


bodybuilder template 2/3 down



And you think that there is some magical bodybuilding routine where you can eat like some sorority girl, make little to no strength progress and somehow magically gain significant amounts of muscle?
Preferably drug free on top of everything else?

And finally... At your strength levels and with bodybuilding goals, periodization is the last thing you need to worry about.


try changing your routine if you are fed up with your current one.


5/3/1 with BB template is a really good suggestion.
I read that interview article before I started 5/3/1 and followed
something very similar to that assistance template but at this point
I don't really want to powerbuild but would rather focus on one thing
and do it really well.(bodybuilding with the goal of becoming aesthetically pleasing)
I don't want to be that guy that wants to lose body fat get stronger gain weight
and grow his manhood two inches all in one month.

You're right on with the eating. I still have to eat crazy amounts of clean food if I want
to get results.

"At your strength levels and with bodybuilding goals, periodization is the last thing you need to worry about."
is of particular interest to me. Could someone elaborate on that please? Im not really sure why that is? Im assuming the reasoning for that is something along the lines of periodization is good because it gets you stronger and I don't really need to worry about strength but more so on hypertrophy through isolation training high reps and high volume?

What is it that I really need to worry about or consider at this point?

Finally since I made the original post I kind of have been just messing around at the gym for the past 3 workouts until I decide on something to follow doing stuff like 4 sets of 15 1 minute breaks, drop sets, running the rack, rest pauses, and cardio. I felt like I had some really good workouts and it's the first time in a long time that my triceps are sore.


I'll answer your questions in detail later, but first, we need to determine something here:

What EXACTLY is your current goal?

"bodybuilding" is interpreted differently by different people when they say that that's what they want to do... Some just want to get lean (or "gain definition" which is of course just getting lean... Leads to underwhelming results if there is not at least a basic level of muscle mass present)... The standard definition of bodybuilding here for a guy your size/experience though would be to get to a good size (whatever you may think that is) and then diet down to some 10% (or less if you want to step on stage).
If the latter is the case for you, then you may currently be misinformed as to how bodybuilding training is done for that purpose.

Secondly: Do you use pro-hormones and/or steroids?
That changes the game in some very important ways (esp ways to progress etc), and will influence the advice I'll give you.
If you don't want to answer that question (understandable), then my advice will be tailored to a drug free trainee between 16-30 as usual.


Try a upper/lower body split

train each body part twice a week with a different exercise and do about 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps on each, this is just a suggestion, their is many types of routines you could do. This is a pretty standard type of program, some might say theres is better etc, I'm just throwin this at ya to see if it suits you, I think their is somthen similar in the "do this not that" thread, this is similar to what I been doing the last few weeks, but I do a 5,3,1 on the main compounds.

Mon (Upper)
bench press
bb rows
seated db shoulder press
tricep press downs
chin ups

Tues (lower)
Stiff leg deadlifts
leg extensions
standing calf raises

Wed off

Thurs (upper)
Incline bench press
wide grip chin ups
standing shoulder press
db curls

Fri (lower) but add deadlifts anyway
front squat
leg press
hamy curls
seated calf raises


Really dude? I shit every 2-3 hours, and I eat like a bodybuilder.


What I mean by having a goal of bodybuilding with the goal of being aesthetically pleasing
is that I want to gain some size from now until about January or February or so and than
go on a slow steady cut so that I can be sub 10% by summer. If I get really shredded now I'd
be in the high 160's low 170's which isn't really impressive especially considering I would not have all the muscle seperation cuts due to me having focused on heavy compounds for so long.

I don't have a clear picture in my head of how bodybuilding training is done for that purpose.

Never used prohormones/steroids and don't plan on it either.
I've never took creatine or anything beyond protein/energy drinks/complex carbohydrate powders/ZMA.
I'm not against them or anything just never really felt the need to.

Your advice is greatly needed and appreciated.


I hope you're talking about January or February of 2013.