The Best 3-Day Powerlifting Program

Powerlifting is all about your bench, squat and deadlift. This simple routine dedicates one day per week to each exercise. Plus plenty of accessory exercises.

Suitable for beginners 3 days per week

More and more people choosing to enter powerlifting meets and competitions
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Powerlifting is currently one of the most popular forms of training in the entire world, with more and more people choosing to train with a powerlifting program and enter powerlifting meets and competitions now, than ever before. Perhaps it’s because strongman has grown in popularity, or maybe it’s just because people are looking for new ways of testing their strength and pushing their bodies to the absolute limit each and every single week.

Whatever the reasons may be, powerlifting is now incredibly popular, and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon. When it comes to powerlifting however, the goal for many people, is to enter a meet or competition relatively local to them, win it hopefully, or place as well as possible, and then move on to the contest, becoming bigger and stronger every single time they enter a new contest.

When it comes to powerlifting however, the training is very, very different to bodybuilding, because the goals and targets are different. With bodybuilding, aesthetics are the primary focus, as the idea is to get your body looking as great as it possibly can look.

Because of that, it doesn’t matter how much weight a bodybuilder can lift, as long as he looks great when he steps on stage.

On the flipside, when it comes to powerlifting, powerlifters don’t actually care what they look like, as they aren’t posing on stage, they’re there to lift weight.

If you’re relatively new to powerlifting, or simply want a new workout routine to follow, here’s a look at the best 3-day powerlifting program you could possibly wish for.

Quad sets

When we talk about quad sets, we aren’t actually talking about the quadriceps muscle at all, we are instead talking about 4 heavy working sets.

Just note, that all of the workouts listed below, will all begin with 4 heavy working sets for the very first exercise, whereas after that, reps, weights, and exercises, will vary greatly.

When you start with your first quad set, you should select a weight that allows you to comfortably perform 4 sets of 4 reps. Overtime obviously, things will become easier, and when the final 4th set feels too easy, you should add 5 pounds in weight, and continue this trend every time. If 5 pounds is too heavy, try 2.5 instead.

Weights used

For all of your other exercises, the same weight should be used for each set, so there will be no pyramiding up or down in these instances, and certainly no super-setting. Once you are able to easily perform all of the reps which are listed below, then you can add slightly more weight, and take things from there.

Planning your weekly routine

This powerlifting program is a 3 day split, so, obviously, you will be training for just 3 days each week. When powerlifting, you train with three exercises in mind: Bench press, squats, and deadlifts. Needless to say, the routine listed below, is designed to work on each of these lifts. If possible, structure your training as follows:

  • Monday – Bench day
  • Tuesday – Rest day
  • Wednesday – Deadlift day
  • Thursday – Rest day
  • Friday – Squat day
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – Rest day

The 3 Day Powerlifting Program

Monday – Bench day

Do bench press first

The bench press is one of the three core powerlifting exercises (alongside squats and deadlifts), and so it’s the most important exercise on your bench day. Flat bench press is a compound exercise for your upper body, targeting your pectoral muscles, as well as your deltoids (shoulders) and triceps. It’s important to do this exercise first, since you’ll be lifting 4 heavy sets. Your muscles will not be fatigued from other exercises, allowing you to put maximum energy in your lifts.

Man performs the bench press, one of the three powerlifting exercises

As well as bench presses however, you also perform exercises that strengthen stability muscles, and muscles which will assist you with the lift in general. For example, when you perform bench presses, your triceps and deltoids are also recruited and assist you with the lift, so strengthening those muscles will help you to bench more by default. This is why there are chest, triceps, and deltoid exercises included in this workout.

Tuesday – Rest day

Wednesday – Deadlift day

Focus on deadlifting with heavy weight, low reps

The deadlift works your entire posterior chain, including your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. The exercise also engages your core, traps, quads and forearms. 4 sets of 4 reps means you are focusing on lifting heavy weights with low reps, which is ideal for building strength and power, rather than endurance or hypertrophy.

photo - Man performs a deadlift, one of three powerlifting exercises

Deadlifts not only rely on a strong back, they also rely on great grip strength, and strong bicep strength as well. As you can see, the workout listed works the back, the biceps, and has exercises, such as power shrugs, which are designed to enhance your grip strength.

Thursday – Rest day

Friday – Squat day

Start with a squat warm up set

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. The initial set of 20 reps at a lower weight serves as a warm-up set, preparing your muscles for the heavier weight.

photo - Man performs the barbell squat, one of the three powerlifting exercises

When squatting, you need all of the major muscle groups in your legs to become as strong and as durable as possible, which is why there are so many different leg exercises listed below, with each one targeting a slightly different muscle group in the leg.

Diet tips for powerlifters

Some powerlifters, or rather, some wannabe powerlifters, will use their training as an excuse to binge eat and pig out on whichever foods they like. Yes, whilst powerlifting and training like one, you are going to have to consume far more calories than the average person, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to stuff your face full of junk.

You eat for performance, and the quality of the food going into your body, will reflect on the quality of your performances in the gym. Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated and get your electrolytes, and ensure you get plenty of high quality protein.

Avoid processed junk and instead consume fresh and healthy produce. Ensure your fats come from clean and healthy sources, make sure you watch your sugar intake and focus on mainly complex carbs instead of simple ones, and above all else, make sure you get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. The odd cheat meal now and then is fine, just make sure that 90% of your diet, is super clean and super healthy.