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Powerlifting Program for Novices: Boost Your Big Lifts

You’ve been working hard to build muscle and ramp up strength and now you’re ready to tackle a powerlifting program to really accelerate the big lifts. 

It’s easy to think you’ve completed the gym. The biceps are looking a little thicker, abs are looking sharp under your stringer vest and you’re looking all-round swole.

But guess what? You ain’t big time yet bro. Because your big lifts are an embarrassment. Your bench rep max look like numbers posted by a granny. And why aren’t you squatting 250 yet bro?

Come on. If you’re gonna talk the talk you need to walk the walk.

You need a novice powerlifting program designed to ramp up your bench press, squat and deadlift… and take your strength work to a whole new level.

The Brodown: Article Preview

  • All about the novice powerlifting program
  • Exercise selection for gaining strength
  • Progressing your lifts
  • Sample program for novice powerlifters

Novice Powerlifting Program

If your goal is to get swole and the game is to train insane with the big three, you’re in the right place bro.

The goal here is to stop thinking about those aesthetics for just one minute and start to concentrate on developing freak strength. The kind of raw power that’s usually assigned for superheroes bro… or maybe those crack heads you see on the news that can beat off 4 police and a tazer to the chest.

Now don’t get us wrong. You’ll still build huge slabs of functional, forceful muscle on a novice powerlifting workout program, but the target is more to do with getting the number up on those big three lifts:

  • Bench press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift

these lifts are transferable to sport performance, general fitness, power production and health. They’re the core lifts and movement patterns in pretty much everything you do.

And that’s why they’re the center piece here.

What’s the program all about?

We’re aiming to enhance skill, force development, mindset and fuarking brute power.

This novice powerlifting program will help improve functional strength, make you a better athlete and get the heads turning in the gym as you crank out rep after rep of bar bending triple weights.

And hey, if it leads you to taking part in your first ever powerlifting competition that’s awesome. Just remember to give a special shout out to SpotMeBro at your gold medal acceptance speech.

This novice powerlifting program is designed for those with a decent amount of lifting experience who maybe want to specialize in competitive powerlifting… or just increase numbers on bench, squat and deadlift to improve other areas of athleticism.

How’s the program work?

This novice powerlifting program is split over 3 days, with an optional accessory day thrown in for when the need to hit the gym yet again grabs you by the balls.

Each workout emphasizes one of the big lifts, with a number of related movements thrown in to bump up strength and overall training volume.

The added accessory workout helps to increase total weekly volume and target ancillary lifts and optimize development of crazy muscle mass.

The idea is to have a day off after each workout where you can in order to optimize recovery and avoid early overreaching. There’s nothing wrong with having two back-to-back workouts, but just make sure you get your days off in when you can.

Bodybuilder powerlifting program

Breaking It Down: Powerlifting Program Guidelines

No other sport tests your strength and mental resolve as much as powerlifting does.

Training to look good on the beach and attract girls with huge arms and a six pack is pretty easy. You just need to train hard and diet harder.

But powerlifting is a sport. A skill that requires hours and hours of dedication and mastery.

You need to be motivated as hell because you don’t have the luxury of hundreds of different exercises to keep your tiny mind occupied. In this powerlifting program you’re using the big three lifts on the regular, with only a few accessory lifts in each program.

If you’re not truly focused on the goal you’ll soon lose the will. You have to live it, love it and breathe it. Powerlifting training can soon feel stale if you don’t bring your A game motivation to get you through.

Go hard or go home

Powerlifting is about skillful, high-quality movement. This ain’t bodybuilding where the goal is to annihilate your muscle fibers into a quivering mess.

It’s about intelligence and productivity bro.

You’ll notice that for your core lifts on each day, volume is fairly low. This gives you licence to lift heavy and put as much effort in as you can before fatigue completely exhausts you. The lifts built in around it though are higher in set quantity, giving you licence to really build up the volume.

The program is 6 weeks long.

Your goal is to lift as heavy as you can and add weight each week. After 6 weeks on this program you’ll be much stronger but due a deload. And when you come back you’ll be upgraded to a more intermediate program that can boost results even faster.

But you have to earn the right to be there.

The % 1RMs (one rep maxes) are an indication of how heavy the loads are that you’re using. You don’t have to use them if it gets too complicated, they’re just a guide. Instead you can use the rep range as a gauge of how heavy you should be lifting. But where you can, try to be objective.

#Day 1: Squat emphasis

Squat powerlifting

This workout is based around improving your squat. Not only will you be getting under the bar for some eye-popping back squats, but you’ll be repping out front squats too. Just to make sure you squeeze every last drop of gains from those quads.

The rest of the workout centers around priming other muscles for the remaining two workouts by adding in presses and pulls for good measure.

#Day 2: Bench press progression

Powerlifting bench press

On your next workout you’ll be getting all warm and cozy with the bench as you hit some heavy presses and supplement them with dumbbells too.

To maximize strength in your pecs and triceps we’ve thrown in some direct pectoral work on incline press and some tasty EZ bar skullcrushers just to finish off your arms.

#Day 3: Deadlift day

deadlift being performed by power lifter training grip muscles

On your third and (for some of you) the final workout of the week you’ll be gripping and ripping as you deadlift for dear life.

You’ll be working some heavy and hard deadlifts and then supplementing that with some upper back work to really widen that back out and give you a strong, dominating physique.

#Day 4: Optional workout – accessory lifts

You might find that, with a will of steel and unbreakable motivation you’re ready for a fourth workout. Hey, don’t worry if not – chances are you’ll already be lying in the fetal position, crying for your momma just in three workouts alone.

But if you’re one crazy-ass muthaf*cker and want to take your training to the next level you can throw in this accessory workout.

Targetting all major muscle groups with high volume lifting, the goal here is to ramp up the hypertrophy stimulus and grow some meaty, strong muscle mass.

The Program

It’s worth noting that this is a novice program to powerlifting. At this stage you should be pretty confident in the gym and already have your bro card firmly placed in your back pocket. This isn’t a workout schedule for noobs.

There are many ways to approach powerlifting training. Individuality is key to good programming. And as a novice it’s better to err on the side of caution. It doesn’t make you a pussy; it makes you an intelligent dude that understands training.

Here’s your program for the next 6 weeks…

First Workout: Day 1 – Squat emphasis

ExerciseSetsrepsLoad (% 1RM)
Back squat37-875-80%
Front Squat35-680-85%
DB Romanian deadlift48-1270-75%
Overhead press 45-680-85%
Seated row48-1270-75%

Second Workout: Day 2: Bench emphasis

ExerciseSetsrepsLoad (% 1RM)
Bench press37-875-80%
DB incline bench press35-680-85%
Rack pulls35-680-85%
Leg press37-875-80%
Lat pulldown48-1270-75%
Tricep EZ bar skullcrusher48-1270-75%

Third Workout: Day 3: Deadlift emphasis

ExerciseSetsrepsLoad (% 1RM)
DB single arm row35-680-85%
DB shrug35-680-85%
DB seal row48-1270-75%
Close grip bench press35-680-85%

Fourth Workout: Optional day 4: Accessory / hypertrophy emphasis

ExerciseSetsrepsLoad (% 1RM)
DB chest flyes38-1270-75%
Leg extension38-1270-75%
Arnold press38-1270-75%
DB floor press38-1270-75%
Standing calf raise38-1270-75%
Straight arm pulldown38-1270-75%
Lying leg curl38-1270-75%


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