Updated: Jun 21
4-Day Sample Powerlifting Template (Beginner-Intermediate)
Today’s blog is intended to shed some light on the programming side of how we coach our beginner and intermediate powerlifters. This program has a primary focus on building the squat, bench and deadlift, however it is organized in a manner where any lift can be replaced with a lift that is similar and appropriate to each individual (incase the main barbell lifts do not work for you for any reason)
Below is 4-day/week template that I have used since 2015, and an approach that yielded a lot of success for our beginner and intermediate lifters. This programming style has added well over 50-100lbs to many lifters squats and deadlifts. Those kinds of results are not as typical in more advanced lifters, however great jumps in strength are not uncommon if some technical improvements and weaknesses are addressed.
Below the actual training template, is a 4 week sample loading protocol that I pulled from a 12 week program. I refer to this style of programming as “linear auto-regulation”. I use this approach often with our beginners and intermediates who have a goal to improve the main barbell lifts, but not a lot of formal experience or coaching.
I feel this approach is a superior way to manage new lifters for a few reasons:
The linear progression build up in the main lifts slowly progresses in total load used from week to week (in this example, you will see that I actually use 2 week increments and do not include a deload phase, like I would in a more advanced program)
The “regulation” part of linear regulation, simply means that by not using predetermined percentages (such as 80% x 3 x 5), I am able to let the lifter work up to the best set they can with good technique for that lift each week. This allow them to automatically adjust for good or bad training sessions, while they still figure out technical cues and get more used to slowly putting heavier loads in their hands.
This approach still ensures we hit daily maxes for each individual, which is good for their head space to see numbers rise week-week without totally beating themselves up or being discouraged with perhaps not hitting their prescribed percentages.
We accumulate a solid amount of volume in the early weeks, before moving to absolute strength percentages in the final 4-6 weeks. This sets the lifters up for more success in those later weeks and builds confidence, since the loads are slow steady jumps.
As you will see, this program is set up to be simple to read and understand. It is split into a 4 day upper/lower approach. Each session has a primary focus on strength as well as weak point work and hypertrophy rep ranges to strengthen the areas that will help you move bigger weight. As you get more experienced, these supplemental exercises should be focused more towards your own individual weaknesses, but this program and template is a phenomenal start and guideline for anyone trying to get more organized and on track in their strength training.
Here are the first 2 weeks of the program, as well as the sample weekly loading protocol chart for the main lifts:
POWERLIFTING- INTERMEDIATE WEEKS 1-2
A. Back squat *Follow weekly protocol
B. Pause deadlift (3 sec just below knee) 5 x 3 (all sets @ approx. 70-85%)
C1. Side plank w/ band row 2 x 20/side
C2. Reverse hyper 2 x 10 heavy + 1 x 20
A. Bench press *Follow weekly protocol
B. DB floor press (palms in) 4 x 10
C1. 1 Arm DB rows 3 x 10/side
C2. 1/2 kneeling face pulls 3 x 15-20
D. Shoulder plate rotations 30-50 each way
A. Pause squat (5 second on 1st rep) 3RM + 2 x 3 @ -10% of top 3RM
B. Deadlift *Follow weekly protocol
C. Split squat 3 x 8/leg
D. GHR or Band good mornings 3 x Max / 50 total reps
A. Standing strict press or push press 5 x 5
B. Close grip bench press 3RM + 1 x max reps (no pause)
C. DB incline bench press 3 x 5-8, then 1 x 10+ for max reps
D1. DB Farmers walks 2 x Max in 60 sec
D2. Weighted side plank 2 x 30 sec/side
E. Push ups Max reps in 2 minutes
(Sample) WEEKLY LOADING PROGRESSIONS
WEEK TOTAL VOLUME TOP WORK SETS
Week 1 20 total reps WUT 5RM + 3 x 5 @ -10%
Week 2 20 total reps WUT 5RM + 3 x 5 @ -10%
Week 3 16 total reps WUT 4RM + 3 x 4 @ -10%
Week 4 16 total reps WUT 4RM + 3 x 4 @ -10%
*ALL FINAL SETS ARE COMPLETED FOR MAX REPS
I recommend you print up this sample 2 week program and give this style a try. You can likely even keep the accessory work the same for 4 weeks and still make progress in your early stages of training.
If you enjoy it and feel you want to learn more, feel free to contact me and get hooked up with our online coaching team!
The template above is taken from a 12 week linear auto-regulation template. As you can see, the load prescription stays the same for 2 weeks at a time, allowing a slightly slower build up in total load and allowing the lifter to see their numbers go up each week. The final 4 weeks of this template takes a different approach, since I peak those who are ready to handle larger percentages in the final weeks with weekly load increases, rather than bi-weekly.
Keep training simple, and get strong!