T Nation

Starting Powerlifting


I have decided to start powerlifting. I've been switching around bb routines for the last six months and I just don't enjoy it as much as I used to. I used to do poorly designed bb routines but my bench press was tested weekly and I have come to realize that the most fun I've ever had lifting was those weekly sessions where I would work up to a one rep max. But once my progress stopped due to poor training last year I stopped testing my max's.

The problem is I don't know a whole lot about powerlifting but instead of waiting and learning I'm just gonna start now and learn what I need to along the way.

To keep me strongly motivated to push myelf hard I plan on entering a provincial powerlifting competition a year from now.

In this thread I'll update my training progress and post pics or videos so that my form can be judged and I won't develop improper tendencies.

I weigh 210 pounds and my best lifts to date are..
I've never tested my squat because I'm unsure of my form. But I did squat 230 for 8 reps.

I want to enter a comp a year from now at 190-200 pounds with about 12% bf. I'm going to use the standard template article by Jim Wendler to develop my first program. After the first week I'll post what I did so I can find out if my program is effective.

A question I have is, judging from my current numbers and my proposed size for competition, what would be some realistic but hard numbers that I should aim for. I plan on training raw and without juicing.

I really can't wait to start.



I would say a 1200 lb three lift total would be a good place to start at around 200-210 pounds.

I don't know where that will place you but you would end up with somehting like...

300 benchpress
400 squat
500 deadlift

those goals are not too hard to accomplish.

I only competed in highschool so I'm not too terribly educated on the subject.


Thanks for the response. Those squat and deadlift numbers look good but I expect a higher bench press.


Hey man, I compete in powerlifting in Ontario, but we would both be members of the CPU (canadian powerlifting union). Visit the CPU site at www.powerlifting.ca to see national records and start reading the forum there. There's links on that site for all of the provincial sites as well. If you've got some money to spend I have a guy in Alberta that writes my programs for me. If you're interested or just want any general information about powerlifting in Canada give me a shout.


Make sure you get someone who's competed before and knows the federation to make sure your squats are to legal depth. You will look like a total donk if you partial squat in competition.


I'm in the same boat as you. I decided to get the competitve juices flowing and start some powerlifting. The best thing you can do is ask around until you can find a small group of people in your area that do the same. I found a group. They put together small meets and even get together ever month or two on a Saturday for a big workout session. I did a small push/pull a couple weeks ago and am now prepping for my first full meet in April.

I went to all the different sites and read everything I could on "beginning powerlifting". I like to think I'm a pretty bright guy, but the simplest, easiest workout for me to start with was Starr/Pendlay's 5X5. It's very basic, easy to use. It also has a spreadsheet that you plug in your numbers and it computes all of your workouts for 9 weeks. PM me for more info, if you like.


Thanks a lot. I went to that site and it was really interesting. AS far as programs go it seem to me that there is more than enough info on the net.


Should I be training with a mixed grip when I pull? I saw a bunch of pics of powerlifters using a mixed grip in competition.


Eh, grip is more of a preference but i guess I could see the benefits in switching around during off-training.

Training with mixed stances/styles is something more appropriate.
Instead of doing box squats one day do full olympic squats, and so on.


I went around to different strength/powerlifting sites and scrubbed every article I could find on powerlifting, powerlifter training, recovery, GPP, etc. It all kept coming back to the conjugated method and hypertrophy and sled dragging (LOTS of sled work) and recovery.

Tate's tool box article on here is great, so is the Eight KEys article on here. Just look up everything by Dave Tate on T-Nation, and then go to his site and check out all of that too. I found that it's a total blast to do this kind of lifting.

It takes a good bit of discipline to not get carried away in all that fun and go too far after I've done what I planned for a session. I also learned the hard way to give myself a break if I'm feeling too fun down on a given day. I also found myself with an insane appetite, wiping out fairly large amounts of food.

I did print out every article I could find, from Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, etc and put them in a binder. I go read an article fairly often, which helps keep me from attempting something retarded. One thing that is working well for me is wearing out my sled while my power rack is in transit. I've noticed major gains already, which is going to be a major help in preventing injuries and getting me better prepared to really bust my ass during my sessions.

There are a good number of powerlifters on this site, and they are all pretty well schooled in what works well so track them down and hit them up for advice. And don't let someone else write your programs for you. That is sort of counterproductive. Just start out with the basic Westside template, and figure out from there what works for you and what doesn't.

There is more than enough info from Westside, EliteFTS, and T-Nation to guide you in learning what is best for your training needs and incorporating it into YOUR program. Good luck dude. PM me if you have questions or need pointed in some direction.


I find that training with a double overhand grip is great for building grip strengh, as well as not putting twist on the spine and causing an imbalance. Mostly I just believe that if you can't hang onto the load this way, you really shouldn't be lifting it.

Once in a great while I'll get curious and try an inverted grip just for the hell of it and see what I can pull. Generally I find better results just sticking to the overhand grip. The inverted just seems odd-feeling. What about the rest of you? Same thing, or is inverted working well?


Thanks a lot man. I've been reading a lot of Dave Tate and Jim Wendler articles and they are awesome. The eight keys articles are great.


I got another question. When do you test your one rep max in the three lifts. Do you just cycle them in for max effort exercises one in a while?


Yes you would just cycle them in as a maax effort exercise.


Hey there, I'm 27 in the National Guard, and I want to put on some size and some strength. Now, I am 170lbs roughly, and have never done powerlifting before. If anyone out there has some good tips, and an example training split/program for me, I would love the information. I plan on doing this with little to no supplementation, other than perhaps a mass gainer, or simple protein powder.

If any of you has the notion to help me out, please email me, or leave something on here for me, I would appreciate it to no end, thanks.


You should probably start with some progressive overload and repetition work.

After you notice some plateauing, go for some conjugate westside methods. Don't be afraid to take a workout off if you are still recovering from a previous day.

EC's suggested ME intensity:

high, medium, very high, light for a 4 week period respectively.

Since you aren't juicing, your body would start to regress if you went 90% every week even with the conjugate method.

I'd say some quality exercises would be:

low/parallel box squats, reverse band DLs, rack lockouts, rack squats, unilateral movements, GHRs, and some reverse hypers.

If you want to get the most out of your gear, whatever gear you may choose, wear it TIGHT as hell.

Make sure get some suit slippers, and some deadlift slippers.

550+ deadlift would be a good [competitive] goal to set.


Ok, here goes:

I started competing in the APF about two yrs ago. Here are my suggestions:
As much as I love Westside (I do Westside templates), do not start off using it. You will make faster gains at your level with a high volume program such as sheiko, smolov, or even some ed coan type periodization work. Nevertheless, read all the EliteFitness articles, all the Westside articles, all the Metal Militia articles.

This knowledge will come in handy. Make a binder with articles - reread them. Take them to the doctors office, read them on the shitter, read them over and over. Check out the Q & A powerlifting section at www.elitefts.com
Also, I would suggest having a knowledgable person to consult with before buying gear. Realize you may gain/lose weight between now and the competition.

As a last thought, google is your friend. Google everything you don't understand. When I first started, I was overwhelmed. The language is compltetely different from BBing articles - thats ok, relax and it will come with time. If you can, get as partner with their head screwed on straight.

As you learn more, ask specific questions. Anyways, gotta go to bed - I have a deadlift workout tomorrow! Good luck and KEEP READING. It will come with time, just like your strength.


Since you aren't juicing, your body would start to regress if you went 90% every week even with the conjugate method.

If someone doesn't juice they can't do ME work over 90% every week? Please tell me if I misunderstood, if I did, I'm sorry, if I didn't, you are grossly mistaken.


I completely agree with the above. IMO Beginning lifters can get away with high volume programs, even the likes of smolov, since they are so poorly wired. The important thing is to get the lift form NAILED (preferably have an experienced PL'er show you the proper set-up and technique) and then get reps under your belt. A lot of reps. I don't see the point of doing 3-b presses for your tri's if you even don't know how to do a regular bench press properly and thus DON'T KNOW if the tri's are a weakness of yours in the first place.

After you get efficient with the main lifts (I'm not saying you shouldn't do any assistance work of course, add in GM's and front squats etc., but the main lifts should be where you really focus on) and learn your weaknesses, then move on to westside templates. Oh, and this can take more than a year or two...


Just a couple ideas for you:

A. Find a competition and send in an entry form right away. The sooner you have a set date to compete in on your calender, the sooner you will get serious. Eric Cressey gave me this advice and really, I made more progress in the 3-4 months before the comp than I had in the previous year.

B. The sooner you compete, the sooner you'll know what worked and what didn't as far as your training. The meet itself is a learning experience and I know personally, I had a couple AAU judges giving me advice between events.

C. Check out this thread: http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=986305

D. I signed up for the 198 weight class, but with the serious training I ended up at 220. Listen to your body when you start training hard. If it feels it needs to grow to handle the weights, don't be afraid to go up that weight class (within reason). Just my opinion there though.

Good luck.