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Restarting Powerlifting Training


What can you do to restart your power lifting based training and build up a base again? I spent roughly 5 years training specifically for powerlifting/strongman and I ended up moving on a few years back. Now I’m thinking of coming back and I want to start by building a strong base again.

I ran 5/3/1 for a few years and one year on the cube method. Also enjoyed that, but these days I’m trying to start fresh and build up a base with compound training and adding in some accessory work. I never really neglected accessory work, always tried to get it in somehow


If I understand correctly, you’ve taken a few years off which is fine. I’d start by picking a weight that used to be pretty easy for you (one that you could get 5-10 reps with) and see how many you get for each main lift that you want to work on. From there, there are tons of rep max calculators online that will give you a number in the ballpark of your max.

If you squat 225x10, that puts your max at roughly 300, according to a calculator on bodybuilding.com. From there, I’d hop on 5/3/1 again using 300 as your max. That program is bulletproof.


No Russian programs?

Use linear progression, like 5x5 or similar. If you used to lift before then you should expect your strength to come back fast.


I agree with Chris. Something with 5’s as a base and move up accordingly.


I’m in a similar boat. 5/3/1 has been great. The first week is exactly what you need to get a feel for things. I would also say give yourself a running start, I did this by setting an 80% training max and running 5s pro sets instead of 5/3/1 sets.

I also considered the cube but I am not a fan of speed work and the combination of doing stuff fast and doing something close to max after a lay off seemed like a good way to get hurt.

I didn’t consider linear progression as it is not really my thing.


Fast progress isn’t your thing?


You’ll need to show me where I said that, @chris_ottawa

If you’re asking why linear progression isn’t for me, I usually see a strength gain in a particular rep range, a stall, deload and restall at about +/-10% of the first stall until I see a regression.


The guy who started this thread hasn’t been training for several years. Why should he not use the fastest progression possible? Whatever his 1rm or estimated 1rm is right now is irrelevant because he should be able to make progress much faster than someone who has been training consistently, so something like 5/3/1 or cube is a waste of time at this point.


I disagree that it is a waste of time for the reasons stated above.


OK, so why not do linear progression until you stall and then switch to a different approach? I you haven’t been training for a while then you should be able to progress at least as fast as a beginner, why would you choose to make slow progress instead? I just don’t get it.


I think you are interpreting my “I didn’t consider” statement as “the OP shouldn’t consider” but anyway…

Why I dont run LP until stalling then moving on is because I believe by the time you take the ramp up period, the stall, reset (I agree stall and move on is the best approach but most programs suggest a few stalls) and subsequent adjusting to a new program that you are a good chance of finding yourself behind where you could be if you picked a more sustainable model.

I don’t think anyone believes the OP will be competing in the next 3 months or so, so my questions:

  • where would OP be if he ran LP vs another program like 5/3/1 after 3 months?
  • what about 6 or 12 months?


I disagree.


That’s cool. I don’t know if you read through to my questions at the end, do you mind answering them? I’m interested in what others see as the kick start that LP gives over other models.

(@chris_ottawa - damn, sorry for the weird tag, I keep hitting the wrong reply button)


Are you referring to these questions?

It’s impossible to predict what sort of progress someone will make in a given time, but I see no compelling argument to not use a method that virtually guarantees fast gains. Once you can’t make linear progress then you have no choice but to do something else, but until then the question is this: Why do you not want to make the fastest progress possible?

For example, I started doing close grip incline bench about a month and a half ago. My first workout I got 185x8. On Monday I did 225x8. No, this isn’t a competition lift, but you can see that I am able to make fast progress simply because it is a relatively unfamiliar movement ( I haven’t done any sort of incline for several months) and it wouldn’t have made sense to set a training max based on my first workout and use that to calculate my weights for the training cycle because I am able to make extremely fast progress at the moment. The same obviously can’t be said for bench (or squat or DL) so the same rate of progression can’t be used for all lifts in my case.

I basically use linear progression, but in waves. For example, I squatted 415x5 this week. The plan for next week is 425, and depending on how that goes I will add 5-10 lbs. each week for 4-5 weeks and then deload and start over with heavier weights than I started with the last time. If I was going to peak then I wouldn’t lower the weight (or not as much) after deloading and just use it as a sort of autoregulated linear periodization. I have no meets planned anytime soon so I’m using “reactive deloads” where I don’t plan them but I just reduce intensity once I start to feel burnt out and have a couple shitty workouts in a row.


Yea, I tried to restart 5/3/1 but I used lets say 70% of my max a long time ago and it was heavy as fuck, I could only do it for 3 reps. So trying to find a way to bounce back.

Guess I have to find out where my current base/max is and go from there


I’d be interested in what virtually guarenteed looks like. Something like: most folks will be 10-20% stronger or lift at least 50lbs more on the deadlift than 5/3/1, give or take.

I don’t disagree that practising the movement is the best way to get better at it though. That’s how people have peaked for decades but it’s also why statements about fastest progression needs to come with a timeframe.

For example, a newb come in and pulled 205kg after 3 months at the gym I’ve been going to for the past bit. Block periodisation kinda deal with compounds, assistance and isolation work in various rep ranges. SS, for example, would likely have had him pull 170-180kg (+55kg training, accurate-ish 1RM estimate and say +20kg [15%] peak, assuming no stalls and a decent peak as SS gives you 1 day off as a peak) in that same time.

I also have zero doubt that at the 1 or 2 month mark SS would have had him doing a much bigger pull. So time frames matter.

I have my thoughts on why this is and why moving programs at 2 months fails for a bunch of people
(especially if they stick to 3 stalls/resets) but I was only a mediocre strongman and an even more mediocre powerlifter. And the standards today are WAY higher than 7ish years ago when I last graced a platform, especially with raw lifting.

I was also more keen on sharing my experience of 5/3/1 keeping me injury free and adding some poundage to my maxes after a long layoff than justifying why I didn’t choose LP for myself but I am happy to share my thoughts if you’re interested.

That said, I’ve seen @dt79 and @T3hPwnisher who are more accomplished than me (currently :stuck_out_tongue:) recently post about strength gain vs technique improvement so you may be better hitting them up/reading their stuff.


I think you need to be a little more specific about what you want for your “base.”

Are you just trying to get back to what you used to lift in the Power Lifts? Or do you also want the conditioning and explosiveness you need for Strongman?

How far off/how shitty are you now? Are you in shape/near contest weight? How much muscle mass did you lose?

Some generic linear 5x5 might get your static, Power Lifts lifts up faster, but it will not address some “base” stuff like conditioning, lifting overhead, regaining lost mass, etc.

The pyramid is only as tall as its base is wide. Don’t rush the foundation! If your base has really eroded, you may need to do a bunch of non maximal work.


Haha I know how humbling that is. You can use that 70% as your training max if your reps are solid otherwise just knock a bit more off.


Basing anything off old maxes is a bad idea. My advice would be to work up in sets of 5 until you find a weight that is challenging (but still allows you to lift without technical breakdown) and repeat that for a few sets. Next time add 5-10lbs. and repeat.


Just to clarify, I never said to do Starting Strength or Stronglifts, you can apply 5x5 (or linear progression with a different rep scheme) in many different ways that don’t have neglect assistance work. For the competition lift, 5x5 is pretty much ideal (maybe 3 sets is better if your work capacity or recovery sucks) because you will be working with lighter weights and staying away from failure. One of the main things you want to work on at this point is technique, and if you are going for 3rms or AMRAP sets then things are definitely going to break down and you will ingrain bad movement patterns. And yes, you can do high rep assistance work, preferably on less technical movements.