Powerlifting Workout Routine for Novice Competitors

Powerlifting is not bodybuilding. One of the most common misconceptions is that bodybuilding and powerlifting are one in the same. While both may focus on extensive training to reach a specific outcome, it is the method of training and the desired result that sets these two weight lifting methodologies apart.


  • Bodybuilders maximize muscular hypertrophy to increase the size of the muscle. 
  • Powerlifters focus on maximum exhaustion to achieve higher levels of pure strength. 

  • Bodybuilders will typically use a set to repetition ratio of 2 to 5 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions. 
  • Powerlifters will perform many sets of low repetitions (1 to 5 per set). 
Volume Used 

  • Bodybuilders will utilize 60% to 75% of their one-repetition maximum. 
  • Powerlifters use 85% to 100% of their 1RM.

  • Bodybuilders will go through complete bulking and cutting phases in order to achieve maximum muscle while minimizing body fat. 
  • Powerlifters have no need for a cutting phase as the focus is on strength and not the attainment of muscle for aesthetic purposes. Powerlifters will go through a series of maximal strength phases. 


  • Bodybuilders have a purely aesthetic focus surrounding the size and shape of the muscle. There is no functional purpose to the competition. 
  • Powerlifters go through a series of three compound movements: squat, deadlift, and bench press. The competition is purely functional and awards those who show the greatest amounts of raw strength. 

With that said, let’s jump right into a training program that is ideal for beginning powerlifters.


Muscle Pairing: 

  • Full Body 

Training Frequency: 

  • The focus of this program is to build up strength by training with compound movements at four times per week. 

Workout Length: 

  • Your workouts should last between 60 and 75 minutes. 


  • 85% to 100% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) 


  • 1 / 0 / 2 / 2 Seconds in the following positions: lifting the weight / at the top of the movement / lowering the weight / demonstration of a complete muscle stretch 

Rest Period: 

  • 2 to 4 minutes 


You will alternate these two workouts from week to week. For example: 

Week 1: 

Monday: Workout 1 

Wednesday: Workout 2 

Friday: Workout 1 

Week 2: 

Monday: Workout 2 

Wednesday: Workout 1 

Friday: Workout 2 

Workout 1 

  • Use 85% to 90% 1RM 
  • Squat: 5 x 5 
  • Deadlift: 5 x 5 
  • Bench: 5 x 5 

Workout 2 

  • Use 90% to 100% 1RM 
  • Power Clean: 6 x 1-3 
  • Squat: 6 x 1-4 
  • Overhead Press: 6 x 1-4 


By following this workout, you will begin to build a very effective foundation of strength. As you constantly strive to add more weight throughout these 6 to 8 weeks, you will be preparing yourself for more advanced powerlifting training. If you are a novice powerlifting competitor or looking to get started in competitions then you want to check out the 2 X 4: Maximum Strength Training Program to get that competitive advantage others wont have. We have heard from many of our powerlifting readers that the book was essential in helping them compete. CLICK HERE to Get the 2 X 4: Maximum Strength Training Program.  

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