Powerlifting: How many days a week
Start out with three days a week and move forward to five days once you improve and get more ambitious.
What is your why
Before we go into the details of how many days a week should you train for powerlifting, let me ask you a couple of questions:
Why do you want to powerlift?
Why do you want to change your body?
What happens when you do?
What happens if you don’t?
These questions matter for your personal goals. Research shows that individuals who write down their goals and reflect on them are more likely to achieve their goals. When was the last time you did this? Most people are not deliberate about where and how they spent their time. This is why they work in a job where they trade the time they do not know how to spent productively to someone else for money. Many people go about their lives like this:
What do I want
How do I get it
Why do I want it
This will get you into trouble. What you want changes hundreds of times a day depending on what you see, hear, smell and taste. If you make this the center of attention you will chase rabbits at once and catch none. You will spread your resources thin and scatter your time between too many activities.
Do you want that fat dripping burger? Of course. Do you want to get drunk with your friends on the weekend? Yes, it’s fun and social and I might even get a one night stand out if it which makes me feel less lonely and crap about myself. Will this fulfill your full potential? Probably not. Will this make you proud? Unlikely.
Something interesting happens when you flip the running order of these questions on their head:
Why do you want something
How do you get it
What needs to be done
This way the most meaningful desires and goals take center stage. Your thoughts and actions will become more connected to a purpose. Success will follow. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow. Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle will change your life.
It all starts with changing your daily habits. The best way to do this is by keeping a journal. I have been using the self journal from best for two years now. My marriage has significantly improved and my salary has increased.
What is your goal
To know how many days a week you need to train it is important to know your goals. The bigger and stronger you want to get over a shorter period of time the more you need to train. There are generally two main goals in powerlifting:
These goals are not mutually exclusive. Getting bigger also will make you stronger. The tactics to achieve these two goals are slightly different.
To get bigger you will eat a lot and usually train more often at lower intensities. The main focus of is getting a pump into your muscles and blow yourself up.
Getting stronger in powerlifting terms means lifting more weight at the same bodyweight or lifting the same amount of weight at lower body weight. The main focus here is intensity rather than volume in your training and to keep your diet tight.
Powerlifting is the sport of the total. Your total is the sum of three lifts. These lifts are the bench press, squat, and deadlift. For each lift, you get three attempts to establish the most amount of weight lifted. The best attempt for each lift will get summed into your total. Based on your total you will be ranked against your competitors. It is mandatory to have a qualifying attempt for each lift to make it to not get disqualified.
A big difference to lifting in the gym is that you will be judged. Three referees observe your lifts from different angles. They decide whether you performed according to the rules of your federation. Two out of three have to agree for your attempt to qualify.
The main focus of powerlifting is your total. As there are three lifts to cover it makes sense to at least train three times a week to cover all bases.
1 day a week
If you can only commit one day a week to powerlifting you might as well drop it altogether. If you can only pay attention to your body once a week you might want to have a look at your schedule. Shuffle something around, scratch one or two unnecessary activities. Your body and mind will thank you.
2 days a week
Two days a week is a good schedule for someone who already takes care of fitness with another routine and wants to add strength. This is a good approach for martial artists, football players, and rugby stars. You already have a busy schedule and adding two extra sessions will already be hard.
3 days a week
Three days a week is ideal for beginners who fully focus on strength. Most beginner templates are geared to three sessions a week. Good examples are Stronglifts 5x5 and Starting Strength.
4 days a week
4 days a week either stretches out a three-day program or adds a little extra for ambitious beginners. Intermediates also might change from three days a week to four days a week. A good program in this category is Wendler 531.
5 days a week
Five days a week is a solid schedule which many professional powerlifters are on. This is for the really committed among you who want to far with their training.
6 days a week
Six days a week either stretches out a five-day program or adds an additional day to specifically address weaknesses of the individual lifter. Some would argue that this split does not allow for enough recovery as you cannot rest after the heavy days.
7 days a week
Some say this made all the difference for them. Most trainers discourage it as it is not maintainable in the long run.
Powerlifting: how many days a week
Most likely you will train between three to five days a week depending on your commitment. Start with three and work your way up to five.