What powerlifting program should I do
A great powerlifting program to do is powerlifting AI. The only downside is that it costs a little money. This article also goes into some free options I have done in my time.
What is your why
Before we go into the details of what powerlifting program you should do, let me ask you a couple of questions:
Why do you want to powerlift?
Why do you want to change your physique?
What happens when you do?
What happens if you don’t?
These questions will make all the difference between your success and failure. Research shows that people who write down and reflect on their goals are more likely to achieve them. So what are you doing reading this blog? Sit down, plan your goals with purpose and execute. Many people go about their lives like this:
What do I want
How do I get it
Why do I want it
This is a good way to lose track and get confused. What you want changes hundreds of times a day depending on who you are with, where you are and what you do. If you make this the center point of your life you will in a hundred directions and arrive nowhere. Your resources will be spread thin and your time scattered between too many activities. Something interesting happens when you flip the running order of these questions:
Why do you want something
How do you get it
What needs to be done
This way your innermost desires will be in focus. Your life will get more purpose and your thinking will become more cohesive. Your thoughts and actions will become more connected and success will be the result. If you want to know more about 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.
A good place to start is to keep a journal and structure your goals and days. I found that the self journal is the best to accomplish this. Since I use it my salary has increased by 30% and have managed to create a happier life with my wife. Took us two years but it worked.
Linear and waved progression
There are two types of lifting programs for powerlifting. The first category uses linear progression and the second waved progression. Linear progression is more suited to beginners while waves progression is better for intermediate to elite athletes.
Linear progression simply means that you increase the weight from workout session to workout session each time until you starting to fail to complete the exercises. This is especially well suited to beginners. Beginners gain a lot of strength by simply getting the movement patterns correct and getting their nervous system accustomed to training. The two most famous programs with linear progression are Stronglifts 5x5 and Starting Strength.
After one to two years on linear progression, it is often time to switch to a waves program. The biggest change from linear progression is that you will have scheduled deloads. This means that the program already factors in that you accumulate fatigue and need to regenerate. Based on the progression to higher weights it is too risky to let you fail to identify a need for a deload. Instead, the progression of weight comes in waves. This pattern gets more and more complex the more experienced you get.
Standardized waved programs are Wendler 531 and the Juggernaut Method. There are more programs like it. Whenever you see a program that has a deload Programmes in every three to four weeks you are looking at a waved program. At this stage, you might want to get something customized to yourself as the predefined rigid templates will always leave some gains on the table for the individual.
If you want the full details on Stronglifts read my extensive review Stronglifts 5x5 review on this blog.
Stronglifts 5x5 works with sets of 5 across. You will train three times a week. The squat is scheduled every day. Apart from the squat, you will train the bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and barbell row. Stronglifts is a very popular program among beginners. This is mainly due to the easy instructions and well-made app to track your progress.
Stronglifts is also a little more popular in Europe as in the US as it originated there by Mehdi who started it from Belgium.
Starting Strength is very similar to Stronglifts and popular among Strength coaches in the US. The man behind the program is Mark Rippetoe.
You will also train three times a week and use linear progression. The exercise selection is slightly different to Stronglifts the barbell row is swapped for the clean. This makes this program a little more focused on sports performance than powerlifting.
Starting Strength is a little more popular in the states based on its origin. The instructions are harder to follow as Mark Rippetoe can get quite technical. If you want to train with a little slant towards sports performance and enter the world of professional strength reading right from the start, then sink your teeth into starting Strength.
If you want to know more about Wendler 531 you can read my review of the Wendler 531 program on my blog.
Wendler 531 is an intermediate program that follows the waved progression. Each cycle is four weeks long. It steps up from a week of sets of 5 to 3 to work up to a 90% single. The fourth week is a deload to reset and repeat the process the next month with higher weights.
Wendler 531 is a great program if you do not want to invest money in a personal trainer. The right time is when you feel like you are not progressing anymore on a linear program.
If you want to know more about Smolov you can read my detailed review of the Smolov program on this blog.
Smolov is not really a powerlifting program. It is a squatting program. All you do for three months is squat. It is a great test of manlihood and will push your squat to heights. Still, you are inflating your numbers and probably won’t keep the gains when you go back to a powerlifting program.
Smolov is only for experienced lifters who want to test themselves. If you get through this you can say on any other program “well I got through Smolov so I can get through this”.
Smolov Jr is the first month of the Smolov program. Like this, it is also not really a powerlifting program as you will only be doing one lift. The Smolov Jr program is a great bridge when you get injured. Most minor injuries heal up in about month. Through this time you might not be able to do one of the lifts. This is the time to pull Smolov Jr and focus on improving one of the lifts.
Smolov Jr is often used to improve the bench press. I was able to establish my all time best bench at 150kg on the program. This number was inflated and reverted back to 140 very soon after I did it.
The juggernaut method is also a waved program with a three-month cycle. It is similar to Wendler 531 in its structure. The big difference is that it adds sets of tens.
A phase with sets of tens helps with building muscle as the sweet spot for hypertrophy is between 8 to 12 per set. I also like to refer to the Juggernaut method as a hybrid between German Volume Training and Wendler 531 which is sweet. However, also Juggernaut is not really a powerlifting program.
Juggernaut Training Systems has evolved and has come up with a program that is half automated and still personal. If you have 20$ a month to spare I think this is the program you should go on.
It is geared towards powerlifting, costs less than a personal trainer and adapts to your personal needs. This is as good as it gets for as little investment as possible.
What powerlifting program should I do
All of these programs I mentioned are related to powerlifting and strength. They will make you stronger if you follow them. Some will be faster some will be slower. The only real powerlifting program is the one tailored to you by an experienced coach or the one you write for yourself after years of experience. The Powerlifting A.I. program gets you as close as possible for a reasonable investment.