The Best Powerlifting Program for Beginners: PTW Novice Program!

 
 
 

    This book is now out of date. For the most current edition of the PowerliftingToWin Novice Program, please see ProgrammingToWin.

 
 
 
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Here's a sneak peak of the free Workout Calculator Spreadsheet.

Here’s a sneak peak of the free Workout Calculator Spreadsheet.

The Best Powerlifting Routine for Beginners

In the last three years, I’ve spent my fair share of time on internet strength training forums. One thing has become abundantly clear: at any given time, there are more novice trainees than anything else. And every last one of them desperately hungers for knowledge on proper training, nutrition, technique, and more.
 
Many of these novices get recommend programs such as Starting Strength or StrongLifts 5×5. Now, this is all well good except when these programs get recommended to powerlifting beginners. You see, powerlifting beginners have different needs than those that are addressed by the aforementioned popular programs. Because those programs were designed with general strength and/or hypertrophy goals in mind, the programs aren’t specific to the sport of powerlifting.
 
The programs contain all sorts of dubious errors including, but not limited to: utilizing a 1:1 overhead press to bench press workout ratio, tons of barbell rows or power cleans, and they often include 5 to 10 times more squatting than deadlifting.
 
Frankly, none of these practices make sense for a powerlifter; none of these practices are optimal for a rookie beginning his powerlifting journey. Of course, this begs the question, well what is the best routine for powerlifting novices?
 

The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program

Up until now, there has never been a program designed explicitly for those beginners and novices with an interest in powerlifting and the pursuit of maximal strength. To rectify this situation, and give powerlifting novices an alternative program actually designed specifically to help them meet their goals, PowerliftingToWin has constructed a full beginner’s routine for powerlifting. I am confident that you will find this program to be the single best option available for novices who want to improve their maximal strength. There is nothing else out there that can compete with the PowerliftingToWin Novice Program when it comes to specifically increasing maximal strength in the novice trainee.
 
The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program eBook

In this article, I’m going to avoid length explanations. However, rest assured, by snagging a copy of the PowerliftingToWin Novice Program eBook, you’ll receive fifteen pages of rock solid explanation and justification for each and every aspect of the program.
 
Without further ado, here is the program…

The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program: Phase One

Phase One: The “True Novice”
 
Mon, Wed, and Fri: (same workout all three days)
Squat: 2 sets of 3-6 reps
Paused Bench Press: 3 sets of 3-6 reps
Sumo Deadlift: 1 set of 3-6 reps
 
Sat:
General Physical Preparation Exercise #1: 7 minutes to do as many reps as possible
General Physical Preparation Exercise #2:7 minutes to do as many reps as possible
High-Intensity, Interval Training: 7 intervals of ~20sec with 100sec of rest between efforts
Mobility Work: 10 minutes

 
The Weight Progression Protocol:
 
Phase One:
Squat
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
6 Reps: +2.5lbs / 1.25kg
7-11 Reps: +5lbs / 2.5kg
12 Reps: +10lbs / 5kg
 
Bench Press
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
9 Reps: +2.5lbs / 1.25kg
10-17 Reps: +5lbs / 2.5kg
18 Reps: +10lbs / 5kg
 
Deadlift
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
3 Reps: +2.5lbs / 1.25kg
4-5 Reps: +5lbs / 2.5kg
6 Reps: +10lbs / 5kg
 
As you can see, Phase One calls for the same workout performed three days per week featuring the squat, bench, and deadlift across all three training days. For your work sets, you’ll be working in the three to six rep range. You’ll be required to get at least three reps each set.
 
Depending on how many total reps you got in the last workout, you’ll determine how much weight to add to the bar for the next session. To avoid these calculations, download a copy of the Workout Calculator Spreadsheet. With this program, you’re not stuck to “linear progression”; you determine your own rate of progress through both adding reps and weight at your own pace.
 
On Saturdays, you perform an overall athleticism enhancing, body-composition improving workout consisting of general physical preparation, conditioning, and mobility work.
 
For a more in-depth explanation of each of these topics, grab your free copy of the PowerliftingToWin Novice program eBook.

The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program: Phase Two

At some point, you’ll cease to be able to make progress using the Phase One protocol; you’ll “stall” out. “Stalling” is defined as any time that you can’t get at least your minimum three reps on each set for that workout. Many novice programs require that you try a failed weight three times; however, on the PowerliftingToWin Novice program, if you fail to get your minimum reps even one time, you are considered “stalled”.
 
When you stall, you’ll take 10% weight off the bar and switch over to Phase Two of the program:
 
Phase Two: The “Advanced Novice”
 
Mon and Fri: “Heavy Day”
Squat: 3 sets of 3 to 6 reps
Paused Bench: 5 sets of 3 to 6 reps
Sumo Deadlift: 2 sets of 3 to 6 reps

 
Wed: “Light Day”
3-Second Pause Squat: 2 sets of 3 to 6 reps
3-Second Pause Bench: 2 sets of 3 to 6 reps
 
Tue and Sat: GPP, Conditioning, Mobility
General Physical Preparation Exercise #1: 7 minutes to do as many reps as possible
General Physical Preparation Exercise #2:7 minutes to do as many reps as possible
High-Intensity, Interval Training: 7 intervals of ~20sec with 100sec of rest between efforts
Mobility Work: 10 minutes

 
The Progression Protocol:
Phase Two:

Squat
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
9 Reps: 1.25lbs / 0.5kg
10-17 Reps: 2.5lbs / 1.25kg
18 Reps: 5lbs / 2.5kg
 
Bench
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
15 reps: 1.25lbs / 0.5kg
16-29 Reps: 2.5lbs / 1.25kg
30 reps: 5lbs / 2.5kg
 
Deadlift
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add for next workout:
6 reps: 1.25lbs / 0.5kg
7-11 Reps: 2.5lbs / 1.25kg
12 Reps: 5lbs / 2.5kg
 
Wed “Light Day”
3-Count Paused Squat and 3-Count Paused Bench
Total Reps Completed / Weight to add next workout:
6 reps: +1.25lbs / 0.5kg
7-11 reps: +2.5lbs / 1.25kg
12 reps: +5lbs / 2.5kg
 
You’ll notice that the “advanced” novice phase features a few key differences:
 

  1. The jumps of weight are halved; you’ll need microplates to do this program.
  2.  




     

  3. Wednesday becomes a lighter day both in terms of volume and the exercises you use.
  4. The volume goes up on the “heavy” days on Monday and Friday.

All of these changes are implemented in order to keep you progressing as smoothly as possible for as long as you’re individually capable of. If you’re interested in the full explanation, reasoning, and science behind these programmatic changes, make sure to download a copy of the PowerliftingToWin Novice Program eBook.
 
And there you have it: PowerliftingToWin’s take on the best program for powerlifting beginners. If you have questions about this routine, or if you’d like to see the progress of other lifters using this program, please visit the PowerliftingToWin forums. Start up your own training log to track your progress!
 
If you’d like to see a full video review of the program, check this out:

The PowerliftingToWin eBook and Workout Calculator Spreadsheet

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The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program eBook

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Did You Enjoy The ProgrammingToWin Series?

If so, you’ll absolutely love our eBook ProgrammingToWin! The book contains over 100 pages of content, discusses each scientific principle of programming in-depth, provides six different full programs for novice and intermediate lifters, contains a spreadsheet that calculates the workouts for you, and, best of all, the book is available for as low as… $0.00! Get your copy now!

Table of Contents

Powerlifting Programs I: Scientific Principles of Powerlifting Programming
Powerlifting Programs II: Critical Training Variables
Powerlifting Programs III: Training Organization
Powerlifting Programs IV: Starting Strength
Powerlifting Programs V: StrongLifts 5×5
Powerlifting Programs VI: Jason Blaha’s 5×5 Novice Routine
Powerlifting Programs VII: Jonnie Candito’s Linear Program
Powerlifting Programs VIII: Sheiko’s Novice Routine
Powerlifting Programs IX: GreySkull Linear Progression
Powerlifting Programs X: The PowerliftingToWin Novice Program
Powerlifting Programs XI: Madcow’s 5×5
Powerlifting Programs XII: The Texas Method
Powerlifting Programs XIII: 5/3/1 and Beyond 5/3/1
Powerlifting Programs XIV: The Cube Method
Powerlifting Programs XV: The Juggernaut Method
Powerlifting Programs XVI: Westside Barbell Method
Powerlifting Programs XVII: Sheiko Routines
Powerlifting Programs XVIII: Smolov and Smolov Junior
Powerlifting Programs XIX: Paul Carter’s Base Building
Powerlifting Programs XX: The Lilliebridge Method
Powerlifting Programs XXI: Jonnie Candito’s 6 Week Strength Program
Powerlifting Programs XXII: The Bulgarian Method for Powerlifting
Powerlifting Programs XXIII: Brian Carroll’s 10/20/Life
Powerlifting Programs XXIV: Destroy the Opposition by Jamie Lewis
Powerlifting Programs XXV: The Coan/Philippi Deadlift Routine
Powerlifting Programs XXVI: Korte’s 3×3
Powerlifting Programs XXVII: RTS Generalized Intermediate Program