Muscle and Brawn Basic Powerlifting Cycle

Updated June 11, 2020

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


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


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


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



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

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