Powerlifting Workout Program – S.T.E.P. Method for Beginners

UPPER BODY / LOWER BODY SPLIT

There are several ways to use this program to begin training for strength, increased muscle mass, and technical proficiency.

First, is choosing the days and exercises you are going to do for the next four weeks. Consider your lifestyle and stress factors so that you can recover optimally between workouts.

The way I have run the program is a 4-day a week upper/ lower body split or a full-body Shieko style (see below for this); both can work. If four days a week doesn’t work then you will have to focus on what needs the most improvement and prioritize recovery.

There are primary lifts that include compound movements that are similar to the competition lift you want to improve (squat, bench press, and deadlift). Choose what will help to improve those lifts for the next four weeks. (1 primary, 1 assistance, and 2-3 supplemental exercises)

Next, pick your assistance lifts. These will help to strengthen your weak areas in the primary lifts by getting in extra volume and helping to develop muscle.

Finally, you will follow-up with 2-3 supplemental exercises to get blood into the muscles. This will help to work the supporting muscle groups that may need extra attention (shoulders, back, biceps, abs); 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps with light to moderate weight.

Here is the layout for this 4-week program.

Primary Lifts

  1. Week 1 – 80% 6×3
  2. Week 2 – 85% 5×3
  3. Week 3 – 90% 4×2
  4. Week 4 – 95% 3×2

Assistance Lifts

  1. Week 1 – 70% 7×4
  2. Week 2 – 75% 6×4
  3. Week 3 – 80% 5×3
  4. Week 4 – 85% 4×3

Equipped

  1. Week 1 – 80% 3×3
  2. Week 2 – 85% 3×2
  3. Week 3 – 90% 2×2
  4. Week 4 – 95% 2×1

Day 1 – Primary Squat/ Deadlift Assistance

Squat Variations:

  • High Bar/ Low Bar
  • SSB Squat
  • Pause Squat
  • Cambered Squat
  • Box Squat
  • Equipped

Deadlift Assistance Variations:

  • Conventional/ Sumo
  • Blocks, Mats, or Pin
  • Deficit
  • Stiff-legged
  • Romanian
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Good Mornings

Day 2 – Primary Bench Press/ Bench Press Assistance

Bench Press Variations:

  • Pause
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • Low Pin Press
  • Floor Press
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Equipped

Bench Press Assistance Variations:

  • Boards
  • Slingshot
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • JM Press
  • Floor Press
  • Feet-up
  • Dumbbells

Day 3 – Primary Deadlift/ Squat Assistance

Deadlift Variations:

  • Conventional/ Sumo
  • Deficit
  • Mats, Blocks, or Pin
  • Stiff-legged
  • Good Mornings
  • Equipped

Squat Assistance Variations:

  • High/ Low Bar
  • Pause Squat
  • Tempo
  • Pin
  • Box Squat
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Front Squat
  • SSB Squat
  • Hatfield Squat
  • Cambered

Day 4 – Shoulder Press/ Bench Press Assistance

Shoulder Press Variations:

  • Standing/ Seated
  • Pin
  • Dumbbells

Bench Press Assistance Variations:

  • Boards
  • Slingshot
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • JM Press
  • Floor Press
  • Feet-up
  • Dumbbells

Supplemental Exercises

  • Lateral Raises
  • Rear Delts
  • Lats
  • Biceps Curls
  • Triceps Pressdowns/ Extensions
  • Leg Curls
  • Belt Squat
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Sled Pulls
  • Abs

FULL-BODY WORKOUT

With this style of programming you will be doing lower and upper body in the same workout. This style can be a little more demanding because of the lack of full recovery between training sessions, but it can be done. Full-body may be a good choice if you want to increase your pressing volume.

Same as above, choose your lifts based on what you need to most improve on. These will be set for the next four weeks, so choose wisely. (1 primary, 1 assistance, and 2-3 supplemental exercises)

Here is the layout for this 4-week program.

Primary Lifts

  1. Week 1 – 80% 6×3
  2. Week 2 – 85% 5×3
  3. Week 3 – 90% 4×2
  4. Week 4 – 95% 3×2

Assistance Lifts

  1. Week 1 – 70% 7×4
  2. Week 2 – 75% 6×4
  3. Week 3 – 80% 5×3
  4. Week 4 – 85% 4×3

Equipped

  1. Week 1 – 80% 3×3
  2. Week 2 – 85% 3×2
  3. Week 3 – 90% 2×2
  4. Week 4 – 95% 2×1

Day 1 – Primary Squat/ Bench Press Assistance

Squat Variations:

  • High Bar/ Low Bar
  • Front Squat
  • SSB Squat
  • Pause Squat
  • Cambered Squat
  • Box Squat
  • Hatfield Squat
  • Equipped

Bench Press Assistance Variations:

  • Boards
  • Slingshot
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • JM Press
  • Floor Press
  • Feet-up
  • Dumbbells

Day 2 – Primary Bench Press/ Deadlift Assistance

Bench Press Variations:

  • Pause
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • Low Pin Press
  • Floor Press
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Equipped

Deadlift Assistance Variations:

  • Conventional/ Sumo
  • Blocks, Mats, or Pin
  • Deficit
  • Stiff-legged
  • Romanian
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Good Mornings

Day 3 – Squat Assistance/ Bench Press Assistance

Squat Assistance Variations:

  • High/ Low Bar
  • Pause Squat
  • Tempo
  • Pin
  • Box Squat
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Front Squat
  • SSB Squat
  • Hatfield Squat
  • Cambered

Bench Press Assistance Variations:

  • Boards
  • Slingshot
  • Accomadating Resistance (bands or chains)
  • Close, Moderate, Wide Grips
  • JM Press
  • Floor Press
  • Feet-up
  • Dumbbells

Day 4 – Primary Deadlift/ Shoulder Press

Deadlift Variations:

  • Conventional/ Sumo
  • Deficit
  • Mats, Blocks, or Pin
  • Stiff-legged
  • Good Mornings
  • Equipped

Shoulder Press Variations:

  • Standing/ Seated
  • Pin
  • Dumbbells

Supplemental Exercises

  • Lateral Raises
  • Rear Delts
  • Lats
  • Biceps Curls
  • Triceps Pressdowns/ Extensions
  • Leg Curls
  • Belt Squat
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Sled Pulls
  • Abs

You Never Know Unless You Try!

This is not in my opinion an end-all-be-all strength training program; it is a weekly progressive approach to learning the lifts through increased exposures allowing for technical improvements. Through the process you will find that the repetitive nature of the weekly progression will build you up to possibly achieve increases in your primary lifts.

The only negative to this program is the consideration of over-use injury or boredom of sticking with the same lifts for a set period. So, if this is a concern check out my article 16 Weeks of Conjugate Powerlifting Training – What I Learnedthis will help you explore another option that may be a better approach to long-term strength training.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. –Jim Ryin

All the Best,

Marcus

Marcus@totalfitnut.com

Totalfitnut.com

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