Powerlifting Workout for Beginners: The 3 Days of Strength

Does powerlifting interest you but you don’t know how to train? Bodybuilding splits and isolation workouts won’t get you stronger and better at the big 3 lifts: squat, bench, deadlifts.

Obviously the picture above isn’t of a beginner, but of a friend of mine Jimmie Pacifico. He has a Facebook page called Pacifico Power Systems you should check out!

Goal Of This Workout

This routine is going to give you a taste of what training to be a powerlifting feels like. Get all of the results without any of the complicated computations!

Diet and Nutrition Tips

I would recommend going on a slow bulk for this routine to get the most out of it. It is easier to cut some fat afterwards than trying to make strength gains on a calorie deficit.

If you keep your weight consistent and need some tips to add calories into your diet, here are some of the best and healthiest ways to do so:

  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Whole milk
  • Heavy cream
  • Cheese on everything
  • Protein shakes
  • Peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Extra dressing

These all add flavor and healthy fats to your diet. Personally, I prefer adding calories through this means instead of going to McDonalds and smashing a couple McDoubles.

You will feel better, have more energy, and your stomach will thank you.

Note: A little bit goes a long way, so be sure to know how many calories you are adding.

Recommended Supplements

Without a good diet, supplementation is mostly a waste of money. I will be the first to tell you to spend money on some good meats than a jug of protein.

For those who have their diets in check, here are the supplements I would use with this routine.


MTS Nutrition Clash

I personally like apple mango, but all flavors are good.

This is a great blend without too many stimulants.


MTS Machine Whey Protein: 5lbs

This is in my opinion the best tasting protein on the market. Period.

Great blend with no secrets, no amino spiking, and it is some of the best in the industry.

So far I’ve had Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, and Key Lime. All are A+.

MTS Nutrition Protein


MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel

Marc Lobliner has his sweetening on point with these supplements.

I’ve used mixed berry and grape and I love them both.


Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine

I have a review of Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine and it’s a tried and true supplement. It will help with performance and recovery. I highly recommend this.

Cardio and Conditioning Schedule

Conditioning is one of the most important things you can work on to improve your lifts, endurance, and stamina. Improving conditioning also improves life out of the gym.

This particular routine focuses a bit on conditioning, core strength, and mobility.

Once you start lifting relatively heavier weights, you’re going to start breaking form because of muscle weaknesses, lack of conditioning/muscle endurance and mobility issues; so lets address them here.

Warming Up

For your pre-workout warm up, start by walking for 3 minutes and follow-up with a 30 second balls-to-the-walls high intensity sprint. Finish off with 90 seconds of walking.

This “shock” is going to prime your body to train hard and helps get your core body temperature up.

Post Workout Conditioning

I’m not big on citing research materials and I sure as hell am not interested in doing the scientific leg work, but doing high intensity interval training will help improve your muscle and strength gains.

The Plan:

  • 5 minutes brisk walking
  • 30 seconds jogging
  • 30 seconds walking
  • 30 seconds sprinting
  • 30 seconds walking
  • 45 seconds sprinting
  • 1 minute walking
  • 1 minute jogging
  • 1 minute walking
  • 30 seconds full sprinting
  • 1.5 minutes walking slowly tapering down to finish

Cardio and Conditioning Tips

This sounds like some special formula but it isn’t; this is a template, if you don’t follow it exactly, you’re fine.

What I want to make you aware of is warming up and priming your body for high intensity training.

Don’t get stuck on the numbers, if you have poor conditioning, add longer walk (resting) periods and strive to recover faster.

Workout Schedule

  • Monday – Squat Day
  • Tuesday – OFF
  • Wednesday – Bench Day
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – Deadlift Day
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – OFF

You want to give yourself a day in between these workouts so your nervous system and body has time to recover.

This program is meant to be run at least 8 weeks. This is going to use linear progression and will focus on helping you get your form dialed in and adding 5 pounds to the bar every week.

Eric Lilliebridge Huge Squat

 Powerlifting Workout for Beginners: The 3 Days of Strength

Squat Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squats 5 5
Front Squats 3 8
Leg Extensions 3 12
Straight Leg Deadlifts 3 12
Planks 3 AMAP
Walking Lunges 2 20

Big Bench Press

Bench Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 5 5
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 3 8
Close Grip Bench Press 3 8
Barbell Rows 3 8
Curls 3 15
Side Bends 2 20

Jonathan Byrd

Deadlift Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts 5 5
Power Shrugs 4 8
1 Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 8
Pull-Ups 3 8
Military Press 3 8
Planks 3 AMAP

 Workout Tips

* – On Planks: AMAP means to hold the plank position for as long as possible.

Power Shrugs – For those of you who have never heard of power shrugs, use a power rack or an adjustable rack as if you would do regular shrugs. The trick to power shrugs are to pull and shrug them with as much power and force as possible. Use some body English and focus on getting a good contraction.

Slow and steady is the name of the game here. Being a beginner means you will see strength and muscle gains fast. Trust me, just because you feel like you can jump 20 pounds a week it doesn’t pay to do so right now.


Sharing is caring, and as always leave any comments or questions below!

8 thoughts on “Powerlifting Workout for Beginners: The 3 Days of Strength

  1. I like the look of this. I have been doing 5×5 for about 6 weeks without any breaks, going to run it for another month I may try this after a short break.

    1. Isolation exercises can be beneficial to any person when used with compound movements.

      Curls help build your rows, help stability in bench, and keeps your triceps from being so overdeveloped compared to your biceps from all of the pressing you do.

      You can get away with simply training each of the powerlifts, but adding in extra work that will help balance out your physique helps.


  2. I’ve been doing 5×5 for2 month but I want to start changing things up. I just don’t think my over all conditioning and core strength is good enough to support my powerlifts.
    This program looks like it might help but I’m worried about only doing the the one type of powerlift each week – can this program still help with increasing the weight a do (gradually)?

    1. This routine is great for building strength because the amount and selection of accessory lifts help build up the weaknesses in your body so that you can lift heavier weights.

      Getting stronger takes time. When I was new to the gym I would always test my strength instead of training it. For example, I would try to see what my new max was every month… it’s just not conducive to training if you are trying to make any progress. Stay on the grind and progress as much as you can – eventually you’re going to start hitting numbers that didn’t seem reachable.


  3. Love this layout! Can I add calves to this or even more ab Work? Or should I just stick with this…I’m a female just really wanting my strength back, but if a little size comes with it…whatever. If so, any calf or ab that would recommend?

    1. The heavy lifting builds muscle all over, burns calories, and elicits a healthy hormonal response to burn fat. You can add them in if you’d like, but if you do not add extra, you won’t have any lagging body parts.

      Try it out without adding anything, then add in some exercises and see how it goes.

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