T Nation

Training After a Powerlifting Meet


I just finished my first powerlifting meet, squatted 440, benched 245, and dead lifted 460 which ended me up with a 1,145 total. This was a wonderful experience. But what can i do now? What program should I run? I was gonna do something like this.

Beltless Squats 3x6
Conventional Deadlifts 2x6
Leg extension 3x12
Lying Leg curls 3x12
Plank 3x 1 min

Paused cambered bar bench 3x8
Barbell Row 3x8
Standing Dumbbell Press 3x12
Chinups/Lat pulldowns 3x12
Skullcrusher 3x12
facepull 3x12
hammer curls 3x12

Beltless Paused Safety bar squat 4x4
Sumo block pulls (work up to a heavy single)
Leg press 3x12
Lying leg curl 3x12
Hanging leg raise 3x15

Dumbbell Bench Press 3x10
cable row 3x12
side lateral raise 3x12
lat pulldown 3x10
Tricep pushdown 3x12
Preacher curls 3x12
Standing calf raise 3x12


Take some time off. Maybe 5-7 days. You’ve worked your ass off truing for a meet and then killed it on the platform. I know how the itch feels and you just wanna get back in the gym and get ready of your next meet. But don’t blow your load. Let your central nervous system rest for a bit and then run whatever program you want. The one you have laid out looks great. But if you’ve been making progress on your previous program, why reinvent the wheel? Unless you’re plataueing or simply bored with your current program, save the changes until you need the diversity.
It’s awesome to see you’ve been loving powerlifting and getting involved in meets. Keep it up.


I’ve never competed, so I don’t know how valid my opinion is, but you aren’t doing a regular bench in the program outlined nor are you doing a PL squat (assuming you use a belt in the meet). Didn’t look too closely into the program but I would think that practicing your competition lifts would probably be wise.


I usually start training lightly a few days after a meet (probably just a couple of training days that week, mostly BB stuff. No DL, no squats), then a week later get back into my regular groove.

My main question is how you intend on progressing that list of exercises. I’ve seen worse, and I think your lower body days could actually be quite good with a few tweaks, but IMO your upper body days will shortchange you a bunch simply because you’re not comp benching at all.

For raw lifters who aren’t already significantly strong and experienced I think a good template for any training day runs:

Comp lift working up to a top set
Comp lift back off sets
Assistance for comp lift
Back/back of legs (or both at the same time eg good morning)
Back or traps

That means you end up doing at most five, more likely three to four exercises a session. As a result, you can really go to town on each one. In terms of personal preference, I think some kind of free squat should be done twice a week, once as a DL assistance and bench should probably be twice a week unless you’re a very good bencher.


Isn’t the whole point after a meet to train with variations of the competition lifts. (ex. Cambered bar bench instead of competition bench) on upper body days I would increase 2.5 every week with the use of micro plates. While on dumbbell bench press I would use a 5 pound heavier dumbbell every 3 weeks.


Not that I was aware of. If you train Westside, you’ll do more variations than comp lifts but if you don’t you’ll probably spend most of your time on the comp lifts and only occasionally use variations. Generally, if you want to get better at the comp lifts, do the comp lifts.

If you just want to use variations by all means do that, but be aware that this is not often the best way to go.

With your increments, I guess 2.5 lbs a week would work, but for upper body lifts it’s more than you might think. Working with percentages of a training max often works very, very well. So, you could go 5x85% one week, 3x90% the next, etc. Much like 531, and then cycle back with a higher TM every few weeks.


What would you personally change?


I’d probably just work based on a training max. Your sets and reps per week are pretty much up to you - personally I’ve had my best results working up to an all out set and then doing back off sets. Because I’m doing 531 my top sets are 85/90/95 per cent by week with a deload every fourth week. That’s a good way to go, but you could do pretty much whatever you like as long as the progression is reasonable.

One other way to go would be to work up to a top set leaving two good reps in the tank and then dropping 22-44 lbs and doing your back off sets. That negates the need for a TM and means you work within your capacity that day.

The key is volume of comp lifts, I think. Volume=progress.

Assistance is far less important, and doesn’t even need programming beyond doing it regularly. Some assistance exercises are better than others, of course, although a lot of that is personal preference. For example, I prefer rowing with dumbbells rather than barbells or machines because they work better for me. I know other people who do very well using machines for their rows.


What you are going to do after a meet depends largely on what your plans are for the next few months and what you need to accomplish in the long term. Do you have another meet coming up soon? If so, then keep things more specific. If not, then now is a good time to focus on hypertrophy, meaning lighter weights and higher reps. Not just to build muscle, but also to give yourself a break from the heavy weights you were lifting leading up to your meet.

Unless you have years and years of powerlifting experience and flawless technique it is probably not a good idea to drop the comp. lifts. They don’t have to be the main priority all the time, but do them still. For the moment you can get most of your volume from close variations.


i wanna cut down to 220, which is about 15 pounds. then i wanna prep for a meet in the summer at 242 so i will slowly bulk up to 242 again. I want to squat 530, bench 300, and deadlift 560


The cutting down is 100% diet. I like Paul Carter’s approach best:

With those specific weights in mind, and given your current total your best bet is getting on a proven program. I would virtually guarantee that what you set out would not get you there. It’s not that it’s terrible, it’s just not going to work as well as some of the existent programs out there. What program you choose is up to you. Cube might work well, so might a 5/3/1 variation. So might Juggernaut. Whichever you pick, don’t try to improve on it. Follow it as written.


you think i can run grey skull? are there any good templates to run with it? Also can i do something with the variations?


I think you can run any program you like. Whether or not it will be optimal for you, or be optimal for achieving your goal total is another matter. The same applies to variations.

I know it’s probably not quite the answer you wanted. Greyskull is a good program. It isn’t really a PL program, but from what I know of it you would probably get some decent progress on the comp lifts out of it. Hell, 5/3/1 isn’t a PL program and I posted my best total after seven months on it. Anything that has you hitting your squat once or twice a week, bench once or twice and DL once or twice should be fine. Ideally you’ll squat and bench twice, for 531 that just means benching as a press assistance and squatting as DL assistance. Not sure how you’d work it into Greyskull.

If I was going to pick a program in your case, I’d go with Cube. You get to use bench and DL variations, there is a bodybuilding day and it’s a dyed in the wool PL program.

The variations are another matter. They’re fun. They do, to an extent, target weak points. They’re useful if you’re hurt. Apart from that, though, they just aren’t quite as good as the comp lifts for getting better at the comp lifts. I think for equipped lifters and very advanced lifters it is a different story. For us, not so much. If you’re set on incorporating variations into your training I could only recommend paused squats and bench; paused front squats (amazing DL builder); and snatch grip DL. Honourable mention goes to cambered safety bar squats, but they probably only are worthwhile if you tend to fall forward when squatting.


MarKKO is giving you some good advice. If you don’t know how to effectively design your own program then your options are to either hire a coach or follow an existing program. Personally, I think that increasing frequency might help you. I did 5/3/1 a while back and my bench went nowhere (I was only actually benching once a week, squat and deadlift did well with that frequency though) and when I switched to a program that had me benching 3-4x/week my bench really took off. Just something to consider. Judging by your numbers from the meet it looks like you need to add some upper body mass, volume is the key to that. If I was you I would do Sheiko’s 4 day program that you can download for free on his site, unless you have an aversion to full body training.

From where you are and considering that you want to lose 15lbs. of fat it is unlikely that you will hit the numbers you want this summer, unless you are taking some special vitamins. I’m not trying to be an asshole, I don’t squat 530 or deadlift 560 yet myself. You would be lucky to maintain strength while cutting that much weight. Also, don’t bulk too fast or you will mostly gain fat. Aim to gain 0.5-1lbs per week when bulking, and bulking for more than about 3 months straight is also likely to cause you to start gaining fat instead of muscle. So basically your nutrition plan would look something like cutting for at least 8 weeks (aim to lose 2lbs./week) and then bulk for 12-15 weeks, switch to caloric maintenance for a month, then back to bulking.