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training program

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Pro Powerlifter

Building muscle is all good and fine, but if you really want to be strong, you have to learn a whole new training philosophy.

Here’s how to hit the gym like a powerlifter and see results in no time!

Powerlifting should be considered an art. Why? It takes precise timing and plenty of experience to move heavy loads like the pros do. Their training and diet are just as monitored as that of bodybuilders, but with different intentions of course.

You do not necessarily have to be training to become a pro powerlifter in order to use this type of training program. If you seek strength, power and answers on how to gain muscle mass, then a powerlifting program may be right for you.

Let’s take a look into what powerlifters commonly do for their  strength training workouts and nutrition programs. You will come to find it is more for the advanced fitness enthusiast. Even still, you have to start somewhere.

We’ll help show you the way.

This Is What Sets a Powerlifter and Bodybuilder Apart

Most people don’t understand the difference. That’s why you often find people using the categories interchangeably. But, there is quite a difference between a powerlifter and a bodybuilder.

Bodybuilders focus on their physique and how it looks. They are strong and have low body fat percentages to allow better muscle definition. There’s only one way on how to measure body fat. And, they do so with good reason. They make sure they know how to lose fat and gain muscle

After all, their competitions consist of flexing their muscles. They are judged on whose physique is better.

A person not competing is still focusing on the same concept. That would be low body fat percentages, lean muscle development and anything else revolving around making their bodies physically appealing.

Powerlifters are different.


They are not focused on how their physique looks unless it is their own personal goal to have a certain look. Their main focus is on doing one rep. And, that rep is heavy.

How heavy?

They lift a lot more than the average person would ever think to try. Powerlifters win if they can lift more than anybody else in their lift category and weight class.

People who are not competing are usually more concerned about super strength and moving heavy loads to increase the size of their muscles. Most people would have to enjoy doing exercises with heavier loads and longer rest breaks between sets.

Muscle definition is not really an issue. With that said, it may be a good plan to add in fasted cardio from time to time if you want better definition.

This Is The Powerlifter Diet

Powerlifters rely on doing low rep sets with heavy to super heavy load settings. This allows them to develop pure strength and power. The time used for each set is very short and requires a lot of energy.

Glycogen is stored glucose primarily found in your muscle cells and liver. It is received through carbs.

You will rarely see a powerlifter following a low-carb or no-carb diet. Those seeking to lose weight should not follow the same nutritional info that is used for a powerlifter’s goal.


They eat lots of calories that are received from all three macronutrients (protein, carbs and dietary fats).

The reasons are simple. It supports muscle repair, recovery and muscle growth. In other words, you need protein to put on muscle mass and to reduce muscle soreness as well. Every cell in your body needs protein. This macronutrient is essential for life to exist, and a low protein diet would be very unwise to follow.

Carbs, as mentioned, are needed for fast energy storages to assist with maximum strength and power input. But, not all carbs are going to be good for you. Simple carbs are basically sugar filled foods that you benefit from for short periods.

They are proven to boost your body fat and cause many health issues. Instead, you should consider eating plenty of complex carbs. You should also consider consuming some starchy carbs as well.

Dietary fibers are great for your body. They are unable to be broken down and stripped of nutrients within your body. Dietary fats allow hormone production that increases their levels. They also protect your organs, as well as help to lower your blood pressure. These fats are great for your body. But, they do have a bad reputation because people believe they will cause heart disease instead of prevent it from taking place.

Powerlifter Form

Heavier Loads Are Your Friends

Powerlifting requires the movement of heavy loads regardless of if you are training for a competition or not. You have to learn how to do the exercise the right way in order to allow for more weight to be used.

Don’t forget that! And, don’t skip this step. Start with your load settings at moderate. Then switch over to heavy loads once you have your form down to a science.

The generic powerlifters training program is going to be either all heavy to super heavy lifts. This would mean one to five reps per set. It could also mean a couple of isolation lifts are thrown into the program. Both methods are fine and target fast twitch muscle fibers properly.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are the ones used for short bursts of strength and run out of energy quite quickly when compared to slow twitch muscle fibers.

These fibers are the ones that a powerlifter must focus on if the desire is to do heavy loaded resistance training more effectively.

Proper Form Is Essential For Your Training And Safety

This can’t be overstated. Proper form means that you can effectively move the weight from point A to point B without causing injury. This allows you to not only stay safe, but also increase the likelihood of boosts in your power and muscle growth. Normally it will take some time to get proper form down.


The reason is that everything depends on your body and how you are able to move and contract muscles.

For example, some people have longer arms than the average person. When this long armed person lies down to do the barbell bench press, the issue becomes clear that hand placement is most likely not their pinky around the ring.

Instead, those with longer arms have to widen their grip slightly in order to do the exercise the right way. This is their proper form for the exercise.

This means that you have to learn the movements by actually trying them out with lower weight settings until your mind retains the correct way of what to do. When you have a heavy load ready to lift, you most certainly want the experience to move that weight accordingly. Ease into powerlifting.


You probably have many more years ahead of you to lift heavy loads. Time is on your side.

This Is a Glance At a Powerlifter Training Program

You don’t have to be a genuine powerlifter to enjoy the program. This program allows for and encourages strength and power increases. With that said, you probably want to gain a little experience with common compound lifts.


You will be doing them with heavy load settings.

The following training week is taking what a personally normally does each week, but changing it to strong lifts and adding in an arm training day as well.

Tuesday would be for legs. Shoulders would be worked on Wednesday. Back would be done on Thursday. Friday would be for arms. The weekend is yours! That means rest!

This Is Monday

All exercises should be done with heavy load settings. Progressively increase the load amount slightly after each set. Take a 2-minute rest between sets. A spotter may be needed. Use your judgment. If you think you might need one, get one.

Exercise Sets Reps

Flat Barbell Bench Press 5 5

Reverse Grip Barbell Bench Press 5 5

Lying Dumbbell Pullover 5 8

Single Arm Dumbbell Press 5 5

Incline Dumbbell Chest Flye 5 8

This Is Tuesday

Just as you did on Monday, you should do all exercises with heavy load settings. Increase the load amount that you use slightly after each set. Take a couple of minutes rest between sets. A spotter may be a good choice.

Exercise Sets Reps

Barbell Back Squat 5 5

Barbell Bulgarian Spilt Squat 5 5

Leg Press 5 8

Stiff Legged Deadlift 5 5

Barbell Calf Raise 5 8

This Is Wednesday

You know the drill. You should be using heavy load settings. Boost the load amount slightly after each set. Take a 2-minute rest between sets. If you think you need a spotter, you likely should get one.

Exercise Sets Reps

Overhead Barbell Shoulder Press 5 5

Barbell Shrug 5 5

Close Grip Upright Row 5 8

Seated Arnold Shoulder Press 5 8

Weighted Dip 5 8

This Is Thursday

Once again, all exercises should be done with heavy load settings. Progressively increase the load amount slightly after each set. Take a 2-minute rest between sets. A spotter may be needed.

Exercise Sets Reps

Conventional Deadlift 5 5

Bent Over Barbell Row 5 5

Farmer Carry 5 Walk 15 seconds

Weighted Pull-Up 5 8

Single Arm Dumbbell Row 5 8

This Is Friday

We break from the load settings pattern on this day. You should do all exercises with moderate load settings. Increase the load amount slightly after each set. Take a 2-minute rest between sets. You may want to use a spotter.

Exercise Sets Reps

Close Hand Bench Press 5 8

Barbell Biceps Curl 5 8

Overhead Triceps Extension 5 8

Preacher Curl 5 8

Decline Dumbbell Extension 5 8

Reverse Curl 5 8

Saturday and Sunday are both for rest.

Repeat this training week for up to four weeks. See how your body reacts. You can then switch out exercises with other similar ones.

For example, a triceps exercise should be replaced with one that targets your triceps.

Powerlifter Male

A Dynamic Warm-Up Is a Good Option

Dynamic stretches are when you do movements that are constantly causing your muscles and joints to move.

This is good for you because you are putting your joints through their full range of motion and getting them used to the tension prior to slamming heavy loads on them.

Your muscles benefit from this type of warm up because blood flow is increased. This allows more energy to start getting ready for use.

Then it also helps release protein and hormones, as well making it a rather effective workout as opposed to one without dynamic stretches. Your knees, hips and shoulders are the main parts that need most of the stretching attention.

Don’t Forget Progressive Overloading

Progressive overloading means you are adding more weight to your exercises after each rep. You should remember to do this starting in the second week. The first week you can remain on the same load settings if you wish.

Doing so will get you some practice and allow your muscles to prepare for the weeks of training ahead. But, when using progressive overloading, you have to be sure that you are not upping the weight by too much after each set.

Muscle failure is almost guaranteed by the last set of your workout. It may come sooner. Be sure to have a spotter present if you are progressively overloading your exercise. Start off by just going up either 5 or 10 pounds after each movement.

BUILD Protein


In the end a powerlifter’s ability to move heavy loads every week is quite impressive. The workout provided for you has the ability to prepare your body for better power movements if you wish to explore Olympic style powerlifts.

Lift heavy and properly. Eat plenty of nutrients to support your energy and muscle growth. By the end you should be much stronger than before!


– By Brian Pankau, CPT



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compound lifts

Want results? You have to master the basics! Compound moves build the best bodies.

Here’s how to make them work for you! Compound lifts are often a topic of discussion.

Yet, so many people still use isolation training for the majority of their workout. The point of strength training workouts is to develop muscle strength, power, definition and/or size.

Regardless of the training program being chosen, compound lifts are capable of being inserted into everything. Let’s take a look at this type of exercise and what benefits may await you.

What Are Compound Lifts?

All across the internet this term is used. Still, not too many actually give enough info about compound lifts. That changes here! A compound lift is also referred to as being a big lift or core lift.

Basically what is being stated is that the compound lift will be the strongest exercise being performed with top training priority. That means all energy is concentrated on a compound movement. The energy left after this is then depleted with isolation lifts.

Compound movements are ones that use multiple muscle groups and joints to perform an exercise. The muscles in your body work to encourage contraction, balance and energy. This allows you to target multiple muscle groups that increase strength and power. In short, the compound lift is like a full body workout and an awesome strength training workouts for beginners.

Isolation lifts are when you target a particular muscle region.

Some fitness pros have stated that in order to have big arms, you must gain 10 pounds of weight.

This is just a theory, but it does make pretty good sense. Your body must grow as a whole in order for you to get the body type you want.

Compound training requires resistance. That resistance can be from your bodyweight or some type of equipment involving free weights to progressively change your resistance levels.

Compound Lifts Revolve Around Push and Pull Exercises

Push and pull exercises require multiple joints and muscle groups to move the resistance. Hence the reason compound based moves revolve around these two categories of training.

There are lots of examples of compound lifts. These include deadlift variants, squat variants, pull-ups (no barbell required), dip (no barbell required), lunges, bent over rows, overhead press and chest press variants. You can always find fitness videos to show you how to do deadlifts, squats, etc.

These are the primary exercises you will use for compound training. They all work similar muscle groups, but more emphasis is placed on varying muscle regions. For example, squats focus more on your quads. Meanwhile, deadlifts focus more on spinal erectors.

The barbell is great for these lifts.


The reason is because you are forcing your muscles to work together during resistance movement. But, if you have only dumbbells available it is okay.

You just have to make sure that you are moving the dumbbells at the same time unless you are focusing on offset and unilateral training.

Compound Lifts Are The Foundation For All Exercises

You have probably heard it time and again because it’s true. Proper form allows you to prevent injuries and receive benefits from training. Compound exercises were not only created to change your body structure, but also to help you develop proper form.

Think about it for a second. Almost all exercises require your spine to be in the neutral position. Of course, this is where all vertebrae are vertically straight with each other.

Each compound exercise uses the neutral spine position to allow core muscle activation for stabilization and max energy output. You properly learn to move the weight safely and effectively, while also learning how to properly breathe and create the most beneficial workout possible.

Proper breathing patterns are not only crucial for energy output, but they are also needed to prevent blacking out. Black outs after a strenuous lift are common for powerlifters. The reason is obvious. There is a heavy load being moved. But, the average person should not be blacking out during training.


Safety concerns. The whole load could drop on your body. That could be devastating. Once dizziness and black spots start to appear, stop what you’re doing. Rack the weight right away. Go take a seat with your body sitting upright. Regroup and recover.

Breathing is natural, but can be hard for a lot of people when it comes to coordinating it with exercise movements. You just have to not think about it. There is a right way to be breathing during compound lifting.


Grasp your bar and inhale deeply and slowly with your stomach. Do not breathe in with your chest. Of course, this is when you roll your shoulders back.

Stomach breathing is properly using your core muscle known as the diaphragm. Exhale slowly as you lift the load and move the weight for contraction. Inhale again as you lower the load down and repeat for every rep.

Simply put, inhale before and after rep. Exhale during the rep. Once you have the squat, deadlift, chest press and overhead press down, you can then move on to all the other exercises since you would have the basic fundamentals of movement and posture perfected.

compound lifts and circuit training

All Load Types Can Be Used To Fit Your Training Program

The common belief is that compound lifts are only good for you with heavy load settings. Wrong! This is a false assumption that should be changed. Compound movements can be used for circuit training with lighter loads and muscle building with moderate loads.

It’s true that heavy weight settings are beneficial.

Doing 5x5s non-stop could be bad for your joints with all the heavy loads being used. A lot of bodybuilders from Arnold’s days have even stated that they wish they lowered the weight and increased the reps more often. A good workout to check out is The Arnold Workout

Keep this in mind when you choose any exercise for training. It is not the amount of weight being used necessarily. It is the type of training program that best fits the chosen load to be used.

The compound training program that will be given shortly is not being stated as the only training you should be doing. You are just taking a break from isolation training.

With that being said, you could of course just stick to the compound training if you wish. Isolation exercises are still good for targeting areas where you may be lacking in strength or size. Of course, taking a break from them is good from time to time.

Doing so will help you get your focus back on the big lifts that truly matter.

Rest And Recovery Are Important For A Compound Lifts Workout

Big lifts require a lot of energy since you are using a large number of muscles to boost your maximum power and strength output. With that being said, you need at least 24 hours of rest between each training day since you will be doing a full body workout.

This guarantees full recovery that allows your muscles to heal and grow. You will most likely still feel sore, but just not as much once the next training day arrives.

Proper nutrition planning is essential for recovery. When you do not have enough nutrients within you, your body suffers terribly. Muscle soreness is going to be high and fatigue will be long lasting.


The reason is because your muscles are injured and crying for nutrients to repair and recover. Don’t forget that! It’s a mistake made by a lot of people. You need to eat the right amount of nutrients that fit with your training and muscle building diet.

Protein is your primary concern when it comes to muscle repair and growth. This nutrient is essential for your body to live and function properly. That is especially the case when it comes to fitness training. Carb cycling is also quite important.


They give your body instant access to use nutrients for energy. Fats then become the secondary energy source once your carb storage has been depleted.

This Is The Compound Lifts Training Program

You will be doing a three-day per week workout program. This will last a whole month. You will use only moderate weight settings for the first three weeks of training. After that, you will do heavy load training in the final week.

Here is what your training program will look like:

Monday you do compound lifts.

Tuesday is for rest.

Wednesday you do compound lifts.

Thursday is another rest day.

Friday you again do compound lifts.

Saturday and Sunday are both for rest.

Weeks 1-3 is for Moderate Load Training

Moderate load training is using moderate load settings. You can progressively increase the settings after each set is done. The last set may or may not cause failure. But you should be close to fatigue by the end of the workout with the exercises given.

Notice that it does not take a lot of exercises within a training day to get the job done. You will train for three days each week. On those days, you’ll be doing four different exercises. You should be resting for the remaining four days of the week.

Here’s a more in-depth look:

Monday Exercise Sets Reps

Barbell squat 5 8-10

Barbell flat bench press 5 8-10

Bent over rows 5 8-10

Bodyweight dips 5 15

Tuesday is for rest.

Wednesday Exercise Sets Reps

Conventional deadlifts 5 8-10

Leg press 5 8-10

Overhead barbell shoulder press 5 8-10

Barbell lunges 5 8-10

Thursday is for rest.

Friday Exercise Sets Reps

Stiff leg deadlifts 5 8-10

Front squats 5 8-10

Incline barbell bench press 5 8-10

Bodyweight pull-ups 5 15

Saturday and Sunday are both for rest.

compound lifts in the gym

Week 4 Is For Heavy Load Training.

Heavy load training should be done with a spotter to prevent injury. But, if no spotter is present, then you should just slightly increase the load amount beyond your moderate load setting.

During this week, you will be doing four exercises on each of your four training days. Of course, you will rest on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Here’s a more in-depth look:

Monday Exercise Sets Reps

Barbell squat 5 5

Barbell flat bench press 5 5

Bent over rows 5 5

Weighted dips 5 10

Tuesday is for rest.

Wednesday Exercise Sets Reps

Conventional deadlifts 5 5

Leg press 5 5

Overhead barbell shoulder press 5 5

Barbell lunges 5 5

Thursday is for rest.

Friday Exercise Sets Reps

Stiff leg deadlifts 5 5

Front squats 5 5

Incline barbell bench press 5 5

Weighted pull-ups 5 10

Saturday and Sunday are both for rest.

Stretching Is Key With Compound Lifts.

Make good use of the rest days. Be sure to stretch and keep your muscles on the right course to recovery. This is the only way to allow for muscle growth and strength increases. You could also do this training program using lighter load settings (12 to 15 reps per set) in the first three weeks.

In the final week you can perform with moderate load settings.

Stretching is mentioned because this allows your muscles to keep from tightening up and actually prevents the soreness. Using dynamic stretches prior to training for a warm up is good.


Simple, it gets your joints ready for the strenuous exercises to come. This is not a requirement, but it may be a good thing to do. Static stretches are better performed after your training program.


If you ever had any doubts about compound moves being great for your body, they should be erased by now. These simple moves are the basics you need. Train smarter and hit more muscles per rep.

Make sure you aren’t sacrificing form to get through your workout. Compound moves are precise. If you do them right, results will follow.


– By Brian Pankau, CPT

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