Powerlifting Programming For Beginners

So, you want to be a powerlifter? Good choice, but you don't know where to start? That's okay, here is a comprehensive guide to Powerlifting Programming For Beginners...


As you are a beginner its best to train 3x - 4x a week. Using a workout "A/B" setup. but what does that mean? Essentially it will look something like this...






This may look primitive but actually, this is pretty much all a beginner needs for their first 6 months. We are often told online that we need tonnes of work on every aspect of your body but for beginners this is not the case. If you train every other day you will be.

-Bench pressing 3-4x per week

-Squatting 1-2x per week

-Deadlifting  1-2x per week

So there's plenty of opportunity for you to learn the lifts and to build them up.


There is no need to go super crazy with your volume for good reasons. If your always changing your sets and reps your not going to truly tell if you are getting stronger. For example if your lowering your sets and reps to go heavier every session then your not actually improving your just giving yourself an easier time.

Instead, keep the sets and reps the same and make sure to just get them ticked off no more no less. The example provided is a very good sets and reps suggestion for newbies. If you are going to make some tweaks keep them the same and build upon them.


Here's the good stuff, its not complicated, its simply progressive overload in its simplest form. If you have completed workout "A" and you did Squats 4x4 (100kg) then next session you'll do Squats 4x4 (102.5kg). The same goes for bench and deadlifts. however your smaller movements like Tricep extensions should be progressed in weight as of when as its not possible to progress in that manner session to session on smaller exercises. The goal is to keep completing your sets and reps first before moving up weight, DO NOT increase the weight if you were unable to complete the given sets and reps. Instead do this...


If you've hit that wall which you inevitably will, then its time to reset. Say you failed to complete workout "A" Squats, the next time you do workout "A" reduce weight on Squats by 10% or take 10KG off and then start the progression climb once again. There is no need to deload your other lifts just because one has failed either.

Finding the weights to start

My biggest suggestion here is to start off far easier than you'd like. Start your new programme with weights that give you a good 4 reps left in the tank. See a lot of people start programmes too heavy which doesn't allow their bodies to fully adapt to the stimulus in time, don't be that guy.

Adding Exercises

Over time you'll want to add another lift in or two which is fine! As long as they are accessory movements I.e. single joint movements. My advice would be if you are going to swap some accessories, keep them for a minimum of 4 weeks before swapping them out. Changing them all the time doesn't allow your body to get familiar and master a small group of movements, remember your a beginner, master a small handful of lifts then explore new ones later.

When is it time to move on?

After 6 months maybe you may find everything has come to a halt. Okay so lets run through the checklist, if you have covered al of these and still are nor progressing then it may be time.

-adequate calorie intake

-adequate sleep and stress management


-following the programme properly

If you have met these and still no progress its time to move on to more fancy programming.


Is this just Starting Strength?

No. A lot more generous, however these are basic principles of starting strength. See one thing Mark Rippetoe got right was just simplicity. The newbie needs to learn a small handful of lifts, learn how to struggle, how to progressively overload and how to follow a programme for later on down the line. Where I trail off is in regards to rep ranges and changes in accessories and the removal of OHP for more powerlifting purposes.


Thanks for reading!


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