Powerlifting Workouts

Muscle and Brawn Basic Powerlifting Cycle

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Many people who make the conversion from regular gym-goer to amateur powerlifter quickly realise that without a specific program they’re not going to shine in this sport.

Powerlifting requires you to be in peak physical fitness on the day of the competition if you want to succeed. This means you need to be following a solid powerlifting cycle.

In this article we’re going to give you a basic powerlifting cycle, a periodized program that you can follow to help you smash through any strength plateau.

Meso, Micro, and Macrocycles

The first thing that you need to understand is the different types of powerlifting cycles, being:

  • Microcycle
  • Mesocycle
  • Macrocycle

Microcycle: A microcycle is a one week program.

Mesocycle: Often, people think that mesocycles are basically training months, but they can be as short as two weeks or as long as twelve weeks. Usually they last between four and eight weeks though. A mesocycle is a period of time where you target a specific skill or goal.

Macrocycle: A macrocycle encompasses the entire training program and can last anywhere from twelve weeks to several years! If you were an Olympic athlete, then your macrocycle would last for four years (provided you prioritised it over other competitions). For powerlifting, the average macrocycle is sixteen weeks which is the length of time between competitions.

Conjugate, Linear, and Undulating

There are three types of periodization that powerlifters use, and often most programs combine the three. But this article is titled “Basic Powerlifting Cycle”, thus we’re going to keep things as simple as possible.

Conjugate: The idea behind conjugate periodization is that you are hitting the three main exercises (bench, deadlift, and squat) from as many different angles as possible. Constantly changing the exercise slightly. One week you are performing a flat bench press with medium grip, the next week you are performing a close grip incline bench press. Get the idea? Each microcycle would be different.

Linear: The exercises stay the same in each microcycle, but you would look to increase the intensity either through increasing the reps or through increasing the load. The volume can also increase.

Undulating: The exercises stay the same in each microcycle, but the reps and load are constantly changing in each session. However, the overall volume would stay the same.

Competition Advice

If you’re looking to peak for a competition, then you’ll need your program to be at least linear, otherwise your ability to lift heavier weights will not be enhanced.

Perhaps the most underrated part of a basic powerlifting cycle is the pre-competition week, with many amateur lifters making the mistake of treating it like a regular week. Wrong! If you continue to increase intensity during the last couple of weeks before a competition you will fail to perform your best at that competition.

With about four weeks to go before your competition you want to be peaking in terms of intensity. The next week you want to reduce volume by halving the number of sets performed per exercise, but you can maintain or even increase the resistance used. Thus lifting a heavier weight but for half the reps.

With two weeks to go you’ll want to reduce the resistance, reduce the volume, and cut down on the number of exercises you perform (concentrating on the main exercises). Then in the final week you want to cut down on the resistance even more so that it is half what you were lifting in the previous week.

This will help you to reduce fatigue as much as possible without impacting your fitness or preparedness for the competition.

Muscle & Brawn Basic Powerlifting Program

The following program is tailored to simply help you increase your strength, not a specific guide to use when leading up to a competition.

Day 1: SQUAT

Squats – CYCLE
Speed Squats – 8 sets x 2 reps
Good Mornings – 3 sets
Stiff Leg Deadlifts – 3 sets
Abs – 2 sets

Day 2: BENCH

Bench Press – CYCLE
Overhead BB Press – 3 sets
Closegrip Bench Press – 2 sets
T-Bar Rows – 3 sets

Day 3: DEADLIFT

Deadlift – CYCLE
Speed Deadlifts – 8 sets x 2 reps
Good Mornings – 3 sets
Romanian Deadlifts – 3 sets
Abs – 2 sets

Day 4: BENCH

Speed Bench Press – 8 sets x 3 reps
2-Board Press – 3 sets
Overhead DB Press – 3 sets
Triceps Extension – 2 sets
T-Bar Rows – 3 sets

CYCLES

Week 1: 50 60 70 = 5 sets
Week 2: 55 65 75 = 6 sets
Week 3: 60 70 80 = 7 sets
Week 4: 55 65 75 = 6 sets
Week 5: 60 70 80 = 7 sets
Week 6: 65 75 85 = 8 sets
Week 7: 60 70 80 = 7 sets
Week 8: 65 75 85 = 8 sets
Week 9: 70 80 90 = 8 sets
Week 10: 65 75 85 = 8 sets
Week 11: 70 80 90 = 8 sets
Week 12: 75 85 95 = 9 sets

REPS

50% = 1 set x 5 reps
55% = 1 set x 5 reps
60% = 2 sets x 4 reps
65% = 2 sets x 4 reps
70% = 2 sets x 4 reps
75% = 3 sets x 4 reps
80% = 3 sets x 3 reps
85% = 3 sets x 3 reps
90% = 2 sets x 2 reps
95% = 2 sets x 2 reps

SHORTER CYCLE

CYCLES

Week 1: 50 60 70 = 5 sets
Week 2: 55 65 75 = 6 sets
Week 3: 60 70 80 = 7 sets
Week 4: 65 75 85 = 8 sets
Week 5: 70 80 90 = 7 sets
Week 6: 70 80 95 = 8 sets

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the primary content manager for Muscle and Brawn.

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15 Comments
  • alessandro Nov 12,2014 at 3:07 am

    I don’t understand, why when increase load increase volume too? it isn’t in accourd with training principie.

  • Bataz Aug 29,2013 at 9:42 am

    What do you recommend for deload week?

  • Bataz Aug 19,2013 at 11:54 am

    Can I ask who wrote the routine?

    • Mick Madden Aug 19,2013 at 2:39 pm

      I did. I used it as an intermediate lifter to bring up my lifts for about 6 months.

      • Bataz Aug 20,2013 at 1:48 am

        Ok thanks mick

  • chad Jul 31,2013 at 10:18 am

    sooo……. after the lifts with the cycle and it says, speed squats for 8 sets of 2 reps……. what weight do you use????? and then good mornings 3 sets of what weight and how many reps??? thank you for your time

  • Ben Sloan Jul 20,2013 at 2:27 am

    For the speed sets concerning bench press and squats what is the recommended weight that I should use? Heavy/light?

  • Ajinkya Joshi Jan 28,2010 at 6:26 am

    I Just Love Muscle and Brawn, My Favorite Site!!!

  • Aaron Nov 15,2009 at 4:51 pm

    What would be the recommended sets and reps for auxillary lifts?

  • […] Basic Powerlifting Routine […]

  • Robert Oct 12,2009 at 2:45 am

    Would it be ok to add bench lockouts in anywhere? On the heavy or speed day…if so in place of what exercise?

  • Steve Shaw Oct 11,2009 at 9:07 pm

    No strict rest periods, but don’t over due it. get back under the bar when ready. For the other work, just try and use 6-10 rep range and progress each workout without going to failure.

  • Robert Oct 11,2009 at 8:54 pm

    What about rest time for each?
    Also how many reps and what weight should I be aiming for with the other exercises…ex day one goodmorning and stiff legged deads?

  • Steve Shaw Oct 11,2009 at 2:09 pm

    Yes, 50 = 50% 1RM

    Week 1: 50 60 70 = 5 sets

    50% = 1 set x 5 reps
    60% = 2 sets x 4 reps
    70% = 2 sets x 4 reps

  • Kent Oct 11,2009 at 3:10 am

    Need further explanation on the routine please. ie. For squat cycle, wk 1 , 50 would be 1 set 50% of 1RM for 5 reps. Is this correct?

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