Powerlifting ABC: A Complete Training Program for Powerlifting!

Say hello to our newest training program: Powerlifting ABC!

Powerlifting ABC is an 11 week long powerlifting program, divided into four weeks of preparatory training, four weeks of specialization, and three weeks of peaking – which culminates in a competition (or max attempts). The program is available in 3- and 4-day versions, where the volume increases with the number of training days.

It is a premium program, and it’s already waiting for you in the StrengthLog workout tracker app! Download it for free with the buttons below:

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About Powerlifting ABC

Powerlifting ABC is our longest training program to date, and the purpose of the program is to provide effective and thorough training for the intermediate-to-advanced powerlifter, looking to increase their total.

The program is divided into three training blocks, which you will be working your way through:

  • A) Preparation, 4 weeks
  • B) Specialization, 4 weeks
  • C) Peaking, 3 weeks

Together, these three blocks form an entire training cycle, reaching from “pre-season” to competition.

The three training blocks are independent, in the sense that you can jump right into whichever block you’d like. However, they are connected in the sense that the training load and volume of each block are suited to be done in succession. What does that mean? It means that the preparation block prepares you for the (pretty hard) specialization block, and that the peaking block is suited for the training you have been doing for the previous eight weeks. If you jump directly into the specialization or peaking block, without having gone through suitable preparatory training, you might run into problems or injuries, or simply get sub-optimal results.

A – Preparation Block

The preparation block starts off easy, to suit you who have recently competed, taken a deload, or simply are looking to get back into structured, effective training again. However, by no means is the prep block a vacation: the training becomes challenging in the second week already, and from there, it keeps climbing, preparing you for what’s to come.

The prep block contains a few more exercise variations than the two later blocks, such as front squats, close-grip bench press and deficit deadlifts (in the 4-day version). The training volume and training weights are rising throughout the entire prep block, and, generally, you will be doing somewhat more reps per set with lighter weights in this block, compared to the specialization block.

B – Specialization

In this block, you will benefit from the foundation and the training capacity that you built during the prep block, as the training becomes increasingly specialized at competing and putting up a big total. That means that you will start training with heavier weights, and with fewer reps per set. The exercise choices also become increasingly specialized for competition: front squats are replaced with pause squats, close-grip bench presses are replaced with more regular bench presses, and the deficit deadlifts are replaced with heavier rack pulls.

During the specialization block, the training volume keeps rising to new heights, made possible by the preparatory training you went through.

C – Peaking

Effective peaking in powerlifting consists of you practicing at lifting heavy singles, while reducing training volume enough to let your accumulated fatigue dissipate. In the three peaking weeks, the training volume decreases each week, and you get plenty of opportunities to practice heavy singles. Make the best use of these opportunities by practicing the signals (with the aid of a training partner), if you intend to compete.

The last workout of the third week is the competition day. When you start that workout (but not before), adjust the 1RMs you have entered, to your target weights for the competition. If you do that, you will get proper suggestions for warm-up weights, and also your three attempts in each lift. Note that you might have to adjust your attempts up or down as the competition unfolds, and you are getting more information about what shape you’re in.

As an alternative to using the last workout for your competition, you can use the free workout “Powerlifting Comp (warm-ups & attempts)”, which contains the same suggestions for warm-up and attempts.

Supplementary Training

In addition to the primary lifts, Powerlifting ABC contains half a dozen more exercises, intended to improve your performance in the competition lifts or provide supplementary training for otherwise less trained muscle groups. These exercises are kept the same throughout the entire training cycle, to avoid wasting time getting accustomed to new exercises, and also to make it easier for you to follow your progression in them.

Because progress you will, even in the supplementary exercises. We haven’t specified the weight in these exercises, only the number of sets and reps you should aim for. It will be up to you to choose weights that lets you get close to the recommended rep number. Then, each workout, you should try to increase the weight (or reps), so that by the end of the program, you will be far stronger in the supplementary exercises than you were when you started.

What If I’m Not Going to Compete?

Even if you’re not planning to compete, you can still of course use Powerlifting ABC to get stronger in the powerlifts. And, we still recommend that you train through each of the three blocks, including doing a “training competition” at the end of the program. At least if your goal is to get stronger. This is because no training is more specific to max strength than actually testing it. Besides, training through the three blocks will provide you with a wide array of training stimuli, with a sufficient volume of training for different qualities.

Can I Train a Block Several Times in a Row?

You can do anything you want. However, our recommendation is that you train the blocks in the order they’re written (A, B, C), and that you do not repeat a block two times in a row. Instead, move on to the next block in order, so that your training stimuli is developed and adjusted, and you avoid monotony.

I Have Already Done Prep Training on My Own, Can I Jump into Specialization?

You can do anything you want. But, the specialization block is written with the preparation block in mind, and is thus designed as a continuation of it. The 11 weeks of this program builds a momentum of increasing weight and specificity, which culminates in new levels of strength in the end. If your own preparation training differs a lot from the one that the specialization block is picking up from, there’s a risk that you perturb the momentum, and don’t get the same results.

Can I Jump Right into Peaking?

You can do anything you want. However, the peaking block is adapted to the preparation and specialization training that comes before it, and if you have trained in another manner when you enter the peaking block, you might not get the same results.

What is the Difference Between the 3- and 4-Day Versions?

In the 4-day version, an extra deadlift session is added, with deficit deadlifts during prep, and rack pulls during specialization and peaking. Also, romanian deadlifts and barbell rows are moved to this fourth workout, from workout #3, which shortens the length of the latter somewhat.

The deadlift training volume is thus bigger in the 4-day version than in the 3-day version. However, the training volume for the squat and bench press is the same between the two versions.

Rest between Sets

Rest for as long as you need between sets, to be able to complete the next set with good technique. This can mean that your rest between sets increases during the course of the program, as the sets in the main lifts become more and more challenging, and you continue to try to beat your previous performances in the supplementary exercises.

Training Days and Rest Days

Try to distribute the training days evenly throughout the week. Like this, for example:

3-Day Version

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

4-Day Version

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Workout 4
  • Sunday: Rest

Track Powerlifting ABC in StrengthLog

Want to give Powerlifting ABC a go?

It’s available exclusively in our workout app StrengthLog.

While this program requires a premium subscription, StrengthLog itself is entirely free. You can download it and use it as a workout tracker and general strength training app – and all basic functionality is free forever.

It even has a bunch of free programs and workouts. However, our more advanced programs (such as this one) are for premium users only.

Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.

Download StrengthLog for free with the buttons below:

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Hope you will like the program, and good luck with your training!

Click here to return to our list of training programs!

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Daniel Richter

Daniel has a decade of experience in powerlifting, is a certified personal trainer, and has a Master of Science degree in engineering. Besides competing in powerlifting himself, he coaches both beginners and international-level lifters. Daniel regularly shares tips about strength training on Instagram, and you can follow him here.