5 Day Powerlifting Program – Bench, Deadlift and Squat Routine

photo - Man performs the bench press at a powerlifting competition.

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Our 5 day powerlifting program is built around the 3 major powerlifting exercises: squats, deadlifts and the bench press. The routine is geared to powerlifters, who aim to maximize the amount of weight lifted in each lift.

Why train 5 days per week?

For most powerlifters, the 3 day powerlifting program is a good routine to follow. It focuses on the 3 lifts (bench press, squats and deadlift), dedicating a day of the routine to each lift. This simple structure provides plenty of rest between workouts, and may make it easier for beginner powerlifters or those who have limited time to train.

However, for advanced powerlifters, training 3 days per week might not provide enough training volume. You might find you hit a plateau and you may find it difficult to keep progressing.

Training 5 days per week provides greater overall training volume, which can lead to increased strength gains. It also allows you more time for accessory work, without compromising on time for the key powerlifting exercises.

Powerlifting vs PHAT

The 5 day PHAT workout is another popular routine that combines both powerlifting and bodybuilding workout styles. The first two days are the “Power Days” where you focus on heavy weight lifting with low reps. These days build your power and strength. The remaining three days are the “Hypertrophy Days” where you focus on lower weight with higher reps.

Because PHAT combines bodybuilding training, it dilutes some of the focus on powerlifting. This makes it less effective if you are specifically focused on your powerlifting performance.

Structure of the 5 day powerlifting program

You’ll be doing bench press, squats and deadlifts twice each during the week, although the intensity of each exercise varies through the routine.

There are three max effort days – one for each of the powerlifting exercises. On these days, you’ll be doing bench press, squats or deadlifts using a heavy load (up to 85% of your 1RM) and a small number of reps (2-3 reps on max effort days and 3-5 reps on other days).

Here’s how the program breaks down over 5 days:

  • Monday – Bench (max effort)
  • Tuesday – Squats (max effort)
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – Deadlifts
  • Friday – Bench
  • Saturday – Deadlifts (max effort) and squats
  • Sunday – Rest day

The Workout

Monday – Bench

Training with max effort

The 5 day powerlifting program contains 2 dedicated bench days. This first day is the max effort bench press, which is why we start with 2-3 reps at 85% of your one rep max (1RM). We follow this with a slightly lighter load (75% of your 1RM), which gives the routine sufficient volume for muscle growth.

Important – Ensure you always have a spotter present for the bench press, particularly since you’ll be lifting heavy weights near you max lift capacity.

When it comes to bench day, don’t shy away from adding multiple variations of the bench press to your workout. In addition to the heavier and lighter traditional bench press, we’ve included a close grip and dumbbell bench press. You’ll do an incline (dumbbell) bench press later in the week, but you can tweak the routine if you prefer.

Once your benching is out the way, we’ve got chest dips and tricep extensions. Chest dips are an excellent compound movement that engages your chest, triceps and shoulders. Finally, we’ve included tricep extensions as an isolation exercise, but you can also include pushdowns if you like.

Tuesday – Squats

Squat variations

The squat is another core powerlifting exercise. The squat primarily works muscles in your lower body, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. It is a high-intensity and high-volume exercise, making it an excellent choice for powerlifters whose goal is to improve strength and power.

After the traditional (back barbell) squat, the hack squats provides a slightly difference stimulus to your lower body. This variation shifts the emphasis onto your quads. You can also think about including other squat variations into your routine – particularly the front squat and sumo squat.

Wednesday – Rest day

illustration - Man resting

Thursday – Deadlift

Traditional vs sumo deadlift

The routine assumes you train to lift the conventional deadlift. If you instead primarily lift with the sumo deadlift in meets, swap the traditional deadlift for the sumo variation, and vice-versa. Make the same change for the Deadlift and squats day later in the routine.

Although this day in the routine is the deadlift day, it is not your max effort day for deadlifts. That’s why we’re only lifting at 70% and 60% of your 1RM. You will train with maximum effort later in the routine.

Friday – Bench

Saturday – Deadlift and squats

Sunday – Rest day

Woman rests on a sofa