Tag: Powerlifting

Advanced Powerlifting Program

Advanced Powerlifting Program

12-Week Peaking Program for Powerlifters

This is a 12-week advanced powerlifting program for peaking! So, the focus will be on peaking for your next powerlifting competition or meet! That means more sets, fewer reps, and a lot of heavy weight. But, if you can get through it, this 12-week peaking program will make you brutally strong, guaranteed!

12-Week Advanced Powerlifting Program The Thunder God (Thor), aka Reid England, putting the hammer down on a 430 pound squat! That’s a 2X Bodyweight Squat!

This Advanced Powerlifting Program is based on the Legendary Mathias Method Strength System


FACT: Your lifts suck and you know it!

If this is you, then you need to read this…

If you can’t squat 500+ lbs, bench press 400+ lbs, AND deadlift 600+ lbs RAW, then your lifts suck! It’s ok. We were all there at one point. You just need to work on your lifts before you focus on a program with this much volume. This 12-week advanced powerlifting program is great if you have a strong squat, bench press, and deadlift. However, if you are just starting out you need to build a Base Of Strength and improve your lifts first.

If you want your lifts to not suck, then you need to get our:

squat bench press deadlift powerlifting program

These one-of-a-kind squat, bench press and deadlift guides include 12-week powerlifting programs for each lift. Plus, they teach you everything you need to know about how the strongest powerlifters in the world train their lifts for maximal gain! 

First, build your lifts, then build your total!


About this Advanced Powerlifting Program

Powerlifting is a competitive strength sport that takes years of hard work and consistent dedication to become proficient at.

Lifters must constantly be working on their lifting technique and maintain that technique the best they can through the high-intensity workouts they endure. These workouts can often last hours depending on your strength level.

As you get stronger it takes more time to warm-up to your working weights and you have to constantly be adding more work through increasing the weight, sets and/or reps performed. Your workouts will often be 6-10 sets of few reps with the same weight to accumulate volume and strength over time. Numerous sets with few reps are the best way to gain maximal strength because you are practicing your setup and technique with intense weights, numerous times during a workout.

It’s All Focused on Meet Day!

Your set-up, how you perform each lift, along with everything else in this advanced 12-week powerlifting program, is focused upon obtaining the most strength for week 12. Week 12 is your competition or peak week and there should be no lifting done during the last 2-3 days leading up to your competition day. Do your training early in the week with little accessory work so that you are fully recovered before the meet.

This 12-week advanced powerlifting program will guide you through the exact work you need to do leading up to your next powerlifting competition.

Advanced Powerlifting Program Details

This is a 3-4 day per week advanced Powerlifting Program. You will have one main power lift for each of your 3 main workout days. These main lifts are the focus of your training and need to be done without variation. As in, don’t do box squats instead of squats. Do the lifts as written. 

Workout 4 is an optional day for accessory lifts. For example, if you have a weak muscle group, then come in and train it. Use moderate intensity and volume. Do not overdo it. Save some for your main work.

Be sure to practice your lifts exactly how they are supposed to be performed in the competition. That means practicing holding deadlifts at the top and pausing bench presses as you get closer to the competition.

Intensity Sets

Also, on your main lifts, you can do an overload set to better prepare yourself for the competition. This is one set that is either an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) done with the same working weight or a daily max

Only do this if your main work was not enough and you are feeling good!

For the daily max, work up to a weight that is difficult to do for that day, but you are still able to maintain reasonable technique. Your intensity set should never be done to failure because this teaches improper technique which will decrease your maximal strength potential.

Stay focused, train hard and get stronger!

Optimal Weekly Training Schedule

  • Day 1 – Workout-1: Squat Training
  • Day 2 – Rest
  • Day 3 – Workout-2: Bench Press Training
  • Day 4 – Rest
  • Day 5 – Workout-3: Deadlift Training
  • Day 6 – Workout-4: Accessory Work (optional)
  • Day 7 – Rest

Advanced Powerlifting Program Lifting Chart

Workout 1 – Squat

Workout 2 – Bench Press

Workout 3 – Deadlift

Week Sets Reps % Max Week Sets Reps % Max Week Sets Reps % Max
1 5 5 70% 1 5 5 70% 1 5 5 70%
2 5 5 73% 2 5 5 73% 2 5 5 75%
3 5 5 75% 3 5 5 75% 3 6 4 77%
4 6 4 77% 4 6 4 77% 4 8 3 80%
5 8 3 80% 5 8 3 80% 5 7 3 83%
6 7 3 83% 6 7 3 83% 6 6 3 85%
7 6 3 85% 7 6 3 85% 7 8 2 87%
8 8 2 87% 8 8 2 87% 8 5-10 1 90%
9 5-10 1 90% 9 5-10 1 90% 9 5 2 93%
10 5 2 93% 10 5 2 93% 10 3-5 1 95%
11 3-5 1 95% 11 3-5 1 95% 11 4 5 60%
12 5 3 50% 12 5 3 50% 12
Deadlift 5 1 50%

More Advanced Powerlifting Programs

Are you looking to build up one specific lift? Check out our Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift specific Powerlifting Programs:

  1. Squat Program

  2. Bench Press Program

  3. Deadlift Program

Get all 3 Powerlifting Programs!


Workout 1: Squat Training

500 squat

Warm-Up & Technique Work:

Pause Squat (<50%) 3 x 5

Main Lift:

Squats See Table

*Overload Set 1 x AMRAP or Daily Max

Accessory Work:

Leg Press 3-5 x 10-15

Glute-Ham Raises or Leg Curls 3-5 x 6-10

Dumbbell Curls 4 x 8-10

Weighted Plank 3 x 60-90 sec.

Mobility Work 10+ min.

*Done after your main work is complete, only on high-intensity days, and never to failure.


Workout 2: Bench Press Training

315 lb bench press

Warm-Up & Technique Work:

Pause Closegrip Bench Press (<50%) 3 x 5-10

Main Lifts:

Pause Bench Press See Table

*Overload Set 1 x AMRAP or Daily Max

Accessory Work:

Dumbbell Press 4-5 x 6-8

Military Press 3-5 x 3-8

Triceps Press Downs 5-10 x 6-10

Face Pulls 5 x 8-10

Mobility Work 10+ min.

*Done after your main work is complete, only on high-intensity days, and never to failure.


Workout 3: Deadlift Training

 

Warm-Up & Technique Work:

Conventional Deadlift (<50%) 3 x 5

Main Lift:

Deadlift See Table

*Overload Set 1 x AMRAP or Daily Max

Accessory Work:

Dumbbell Rows 4 x 6-8

Lat Pull-Downs 5 x 10-15

Hammer Curls 3 x 10-15

Side Planks or **Grip Holds 3 x 45 sec.

Mobility Work 10+ min.

 

**Hold the center (smooth part) of a deadlift barbell, or weighted bar, at your side for as long as you can to build up your grip. It is best to do this on days when you do lighter deadlifts.


Workout 4: Accessory Work (optional)

Warm-Up & Technique Work:

Shrugs 3 x 10

Closegrip Bench Press (<50%) 3 x 5-10

Main Lift:

Military Press 5 x 5

Accessory Work:

Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x 10-15

Push-Ups or Dips 3 x Failure

Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 x 10-15

Reverse Flyes 3 x 10-20

Lateral Raises 3 x 10-15

***Rotary Cuff Work – x 100 total

Side Bends 3 x 10-20

Weighted Crunches 5 x 10

Mobility Work 10+ min.

 

***Do slow, controlled motions with a cable that works on the rotation of your humerus (upper arm bone). See examples HERE.

 


Let us know if you liked this 12-week advanced powerlifting program! Also, check out our other strength programs like our Powerlifting for Mass: Hypertrophy Program and our Powerlifting Power: Dynamic Training Program!

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20 Gym Etiquette Rules Everyone Needs To Know

Gym Etiquette Rules Everyone Needs To Know

Gym etiquette. It is a must-have for all gym-goers. Whether you workout anywhere from 24-Hour Fitness to your local CrossFit or an Old-School Powerlifting Gym, these are the things you need to know. Simply follow these basic gym etiquette rules, or risk getting kicked out and losing your gym membership. Or worse, becoming the local gym idiot! 

If you disagree with any of these gym etiquette rules or have some to add, comment below! 

Also, if you have any funny gym fail stories to tell, please leave them here.


What is Gym Etiquette?

Gym etiquette is how you conduct yourself in a gym style environment. Whether others are around or not, it is important you conduct yourself in a respectful manner. For this to occur, gyms have their own set of gym rules. However, there is more to it than just following the rules set in place for you to keep your membership.

In the following, we will go over all the proper gym etiquette you need in order to avoid becoming the local gym idiot.

Note: Every gym has their own set of rules and guidelines to follow. So make sure to check in with them to avoid the Lunk Alarm or any unnecessary fees.


Top 5 Gym Rules

Gym Etiquette Rule #1: Pay your dues!

This is by far Gym Etiquette Rule #1! Both financially and respectfully, you need to pay your dues. Nobody likes a cheapskate or a cocky amateur that think they know it all. Nobody cares how many magazines you’ve read, celebrities you’ve met, or videos you’ve watched. Stay up to date on your fees and learn from those with more experience, even if they are younger than you.

Overall, just don’t be an A$$! Be kind, humble and respectful to everyone at all training levels. Make sure to encourage others and make friends.

Remember, there is ALWAYS someone bigger, stronger, and better looking than you. Failure to comply to this standard Gym Etiquette Rule #1 can easily result in the termination of your gym membership! Or you getting physically thrown out of the gym by 1+ angry gym members!

Gym Etiquette Rule #2: RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS!!!

The most disrespectful, discourteous, and infuriating thing you can do in a gym is leave your weights out, or put them away wrong. Whether it be dumbbells, plates, kettlebells, or other gym equipment, put everything back the way it is supposed to be. Even if that is not how you found it!

We are pretty sure your mom doesn’t follow you around at the gym, so you are gonna have to take some responsibility and clean up after yourself. Otherwise, you will lose the respect of everyone around you and become the real gym idiot that everyone hates!

Gym Etiquette Rule #3: ALWAYS ask, don’t just assume.

When you assume things you simply make an “a$$” our of “u” and “me”. If anyone is nearby, or could possibly be using something, always ask before you take it. Even if you need to wait a minute to see if anyone comes back to it.

Taking things is just rude, even if you “didn’t know”. If you ask, you always know.

Remember, everyone shares everything at the gym, the same as it is in kindergarten. If you want something, then check around before taking it. Then there are no unnecessary arguments or angry looks.

Gym Etiquette Rule #4: Don’t hog the equipment.

When it comes to using the equipment, get in and get out. Don’t sit there on a machine or bench scrolling through Instagram for 5 minutes between every set. People are always waiting from a distance.

Be courteous of other people’s time, and follow social media on your own time. And if you have 5+ sets to do, you better not just be standing around at the squat rack talking to your gym bros. Always be working, or getting ready for the next set.

If you are doing a superset, be quick about it and never use more than 2-3 machines or stations at once, unless the gym is empty. Everyone has stuff to do too.

Gym Etiquette Rule #5: Respect personal space!

Look, but don’t touch. Big arms, ripped abs, and huge legs are all admirable. However, just because we like when people notice, doesn’t mean that you have the right to come up and touch what we have built.

If you want to feel, ASK! No acceptions! Whether you are young and hot or old and creepy, stay out of our personal space unless invited in.


Top 10 Gym Etiquette Rules

Gym Etiquette Rule #6: Don’t smell.

Whether you smell good or bad, the gym is not the place to give it away. You should come in not smelling like anything, good or bad. Bad smells only get worse, and good smells are too fragrant for others around you not to be distracted. It is fine if you start to stink after you have been sweating for a while but come in fresh, not freaky.

Also, if you smell like you just came out of a hotbox of smoke in your car, people are going to hate you. Whether you think you don’t smell like smoke or not, you do, and everyone knows it. It is your right to do as you wish, however, everyone at the gym is sharing air. If you ruin their air, you can expect a lot of dirty looks and even a canceled gym membership.

Gym Etiquette Rule #7: NO SINGING!

It is not Karaoke night! And we don’t care if it is your favorite song. Save your croaky voice for passing the time in traffic. When you’re in the gym, focus on your work.

P.S. If you can sing while working out, then you are not really working very hard. Just sayin’.

Gym Etiquette Rule #8: Scream as much as you want, but have a reason!

Being loud when getting psyched up and working hard is fine. However, if you do it for no reason, then you are just being a gym idiot.

To keep it simple, if you are doing something cool, then you are fine. If not, then stay quiet.

Gym Etiquette Rule #9: Wipe down your equipment. No excuses.

This is a mojor health risk if you forget, so don’t! Besides, “I forgot” is not a reasonable excuse for anyone old enough to workout in a gym.

Whether you sweat a lot or not, it is your courteous duty that you wipe down your equipment EVERY SINGLE TIME after you are finished using it. DON’T FORGET!

Gym Etiquette Rule #10: Don’t hit on other members!

The gym is a great place to hook up…before and after your workout though! It is NEVER a good idea to interrupt someone else’s workout. Especially if you are interested in more than a friendship!

Interact, but do not interrupt. If there is a connection, talk after. If not, they’re not interested. It is a HUGE turn off to interrupt someone’s workout. So be patient and take action when it is the appropriate time.


Top 20 Rules

Gym Etiquette Rule #11: Ask before you give help!

First, it is not social hour at your local country club, so keep your pointless talk to yourself. If you can’t say what you are going to say in under a minute, then save it for later. People go to the gym to better themselves and are all on a time crunch. Be respectful of their time and save the chat about the weather for the inevitable awkward silences in your life. 

Secondly, NEVER walk up to someone to give them tips about how they “should” be doing things. That is extremely disrespectful, as it shows you think they have no idea what they are doing. If you have a suggestion, then ask if they would like to hear it. Don’t just start spewing out advice that they may not even want. Usually if they want advice, they’ll ask.

Gym Etiquette Rule #12: Wear appropriate gym attire!

It is not a strip club (male or female). So fully cover up all inappropriate areas. Ladies, side boob and see-through are too much, but a reasonable sports bra and short shorts are fine. Men, a speedo is for the pool, and your package is not made to be scrunched up into spandex.

Also, it’s not the 70s. Be comfortable, but not distracting. Taking your shirt off is fine, but don’t be loud about it. Public Indecency is a crime.

Of course, don’t track in dirt and mud from outside. If your shoes are dirty, take them off before you walk around.

Gym Etiquette Rule #13: No lockerroom nudity!

Cover yourself up in the locker room (and on the floor, obviously). There is always that one old guy in the locker room that is way too confident in his own skin, and there’s nothing we can do about that. Just don’t be that guy or gal! Keep it covered, and keep it appropriate.

Also, remember it is not social hour in there either.

Gym Etiquette Rule #14: No PDA (Public Display of Affection)!

We know that couples that workout together, stay together. However, the gym is not the place to show off your everlasting love and affection for each other. Nobody wants to see, hear, or have to workout around your makeout sessions every 2 minutes. So, stay on task, so you can get home sooner, and do what you need to do there.

Gym Etiquette Rule #15: Don’t stand in the way!

Whether you are in the walkway, at the water fountain or in front of the dumbbell rack, don’t be in the way. Make sure there is always plenty of space for people to move around you and get to what they need.

This also includes standing between benches, in or near squat racks or machines, and walking slow. Keep out of the way and no one will mind.

Gym Etiquette Rule #16: Glance, but don’t stare.

We get it. We’re hot, but that doesn’t mean we want everyone staring. Don’t be the creepy guy or gal that stares down every hotty in the gym. Everyone likes to be noticed for their hard work but don’t overdo it. Admire, and compliment if necessary, then look away.

Gym Etiquette Rule #17: Don’t laugh at anyone that is trying!

It is always okay to laugh with someone, but it is NEVER okay to laugh at someone, when at the gym. Yes, gym fails and gym fail stories are popular and funny. However, most of those people just don’t know what they are doing. So think of how you would want someone to help you if you were them. Then go from there.

Gym Etiquette Rule #18: Don’t be a gym idiot!

Don’t use bands, chains, or other equipment you don’t understand unless you know what you are doing! If you want to know why read these funny gym fail stories. If you need help, just ask.

Also, if you need a spotter, then get one. You shouldn’t make others around you concerned for your safety to where they feel the need to keep an eye on you like a child.

It is okay to ask for help, but not okay to put yourself and others at risk. Be smart, and be safe. 

If you need a help on how to get started, get one of our strength programs or learn more about the Mathias Method Strength System!

Gym Etiquette Rule #19: Don’t keep asking for free advice.

If you need a personal trainer, then get one! And pay them. You shouldn’t go around bothering other people’s workouts for every little thing. You need to figure some things out on your own and if you need a lot of help, then pay someone to help you.

It is okay to ask for tips, but not for every exercise that you do. Even in the gym, nothing is really free. Respect other people’s time and value.

Gym Etiquette Rule #20: No sleeping, eating or lounging!

The gym floor is not a lounge, so don’t use it as one. If your gym doesn’t have a place to sit and hang out, then there is probably a reason. As in, they don’t want you to hang out there forever.

Eat, sleep and wait in your car, not on the unused machines or benches. You are just going to be in the way. 


Important Reminders

It is also important to mention that things like curling in the squat rack or just using equipment for the wrong purpose are obvious no no’s. Just don’t do it.

Things like how you lift and the music you listen too are not on this list, because those things generally do not affect others.

Overall, these are the basic gym etiquette rules everyone needs to follow. However, make sure to check in with your gym’s rules so that you never get the Lunk Alarm set off on you, or have to pay fines for things you didn’t know.

Remember, if you disagree with any of these, or have some to add, comment below!

Steroids and PEDs in Strength Sports + My Thoughts

My Thoughts on Steroids and PEDs

First, Anabolic Steroids are one of many Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) used throughout sports and competition today. It is believed that they are almost required for Mr. Olympia IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Competitions and are known as “part of the sport” in powerlifting. Then, of course, there is always something about steroids occurring in the Olympics and sports such as Professional Baseball, Football, and most physical sports and competition. This article will go over my thoughts on the use of drugs, steroids, PEDs and even supplements for both professional athletes and normal gym bros. 

Know that no drugs or supplements are necessary to make the Mathias Method Strength System or any of our Strength Programs effective.

Note: Anabolic Steroids and most PEDs are illegal in the United States without a doctor’s perscription.


What are PEDs?

PEDs, or Performance Enhancing Drugs, are drugs used to help increase performance in any given sport. The most common PEDs are:

  • Anabolic Steroids – Used to increase strength, muscle growth, and recovery. The effects mimic those of increased Testosterone, but tenfold.
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH) – Increases growth throughout the body, but mainly used for increasing muscle mass.
  • Testosterone – Used to increase the effects of natural testosterone to build muscle, increase strength, and burn body fat.
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) – Used by men to increase free testosterone if their bodies don’t make enough naturally.
  • Erythropoietin (EPO) – Used by endurance athletes increase oxygen uptake by increasing red blood cell count.
  • Stimulants – Anything that greatly increases performance to where your performance will noticeably decrease without it.

There are always more being created and used, but these are the most common in use today.

If I forgot some, or you know of any others, tell me about it in the comments below and I will add them to the list.


Steroids in Strength Sports

Before we get too deep into this though, let’s get one thing straight…Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Strongman, and even professional arm wrestling, are in fact “sports”. They may not seem as athletic as Football or Olympic style sports, but they are still competition among athletes.

These sports that rely heavily on a competitor’s strength to win are known as Strength Sports. If you disagree, let me know in the comments below.

With that being said, anything that relies heavily on an athlete’s strength or muscle mass is likely going to have some steroid or PED use. This is because there are so many athletes that are trying to be the best, and to be the best, means to do whatever it takes. Even if it means taking drugs to defeat the competition. The question is, is it cheating?

In the 2008 documentary, Bigger, Stronger, Faster by Chris Bell, which dives deep into the world of steroid use in all forms of competition, Chris asks:

“Is it really cheating, if everyone is doing it?”

I will get into my answer in a minute, but let me know what you think in the comments below. 

The thing is, not everyone is doing it. Many professionals choose to stay drug free. However, how many of them are known as the best? And should would they even be held in higher reguards if they defeated those taking PEDs? Everyone has their own opinion on this, but I want to know yours.


How I Feel About Steroids, PEDs, and Supplement Use

I understand why people use them, but they are not for me.

For Others

My feelings towards others using anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs are of understanding. I do not always agree with the reasons of why people take drugs to better themselves, but I understand the mindset of being the best.

First off, if you are just a regular gym bro that wants to look good by taking a bunch of supplements and drugs, then you are just being lazy. If you do not have a legitimate reason of why you are putting your health at risk just to look good for others, then you are simply being dumb. Sadly, this is about 90%+ of the people that use anabolic steroids today, as stated in Bigger, Stronger, Faster.

However, if you are an elite athlete that is working towards being the “Best In The World” at whatever sport you are competing in, then I understand your mindset. I understand the “do whatever it takes to be the best” mindset, and I respect those people. Again, I do not agree with it, but I do understand why and do not judge because of it.

Steroids Limit You

Still, one quote that always comes to mind whenever I think of people using steroids was said by Dave Tate of EliteFTS. He said, “If you need to take steroids in high school to get to college, then you will never make it to the NFL. And if you need to take steroids in college to get to the NFL, then you won’t last.” So, it is only after you have become elite on your own that steroids and other drugs can even help you to become world class.

This means you need to accomplish something on your own before you can even earn the right to take steroids or PEDs to become the best at something. If you take them too soon, then you are simply limiting yourself, because you can never go back. If you take them even once, you will likely never reach that same strength level again without them again.

So be wise and accomplish something first!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

If You’re Thinking About Taking PEDs

If you ever were thinking of taking steroids or PEDs, you absolutely MUST consult with your doctor first. There is nothing in the law that says you can’t talk about them. So, just like any other drug, you need to talk to a doctor first so that your health can be monitored.

There is A LOT people don’t know about steroids without first-hand experience, and unfortunately, some of those people learned with their lives. So don’t be that person. Be smart and just ask so you understand all the risks and know what to do if something goes wrong. Who knows, they may even write you a prescription!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

For me

My thoughts on the use of Anabolic Steroids and PEDs is simple…I understand why people use them, but they are not for me. In fact, it is the same feeling I have towards the use of most supplements. I do not want them, nor do I feel that I need them to reach my goals

I did not get into Powerlifting to become the greatest powerlifter ever because to do that I would need to dedicate my life to the sport and do whatever it takes to be the best. That includes the use of performance enhancing drugs and that is a line I am not willing to cross.

I got into Powerlifting with my own goals in mind, but there are other things I life I want to do more. Powerlifting is just a passion for me, but not the reason I get up in the morning. So I do it for fun and love helping others join the sport as well. 

Another reason is, being natural is cool to me. I’ve always loved to see what people can do without the use of any “assistance” in the form of drugs or “this great new supplement at GNC”. Natural RAW Powerlifting is cool to me. That is why I like so that is what I pursue.

So to put it clearly, on the subject of Anabolic Steroids and PEDs, I never have and never will use them, but I do not judge those that do.

Leave your comments on the subject below!

My Complete Supplement List

  • 100% Whey Protein Powder – I get the cheap stuff and only use it for creamer in my coffee with almond milk or at night when I need a chocolate fix. So basically, I like the taste, but don’t use it as a meal.
  • Multivitamin – I eat a balanced diet, but I still think it’s a good idea to have a base of vitamins and minerals.
  • Fish Oil – I take it on and off for my heart health. 
  • Creatine – I had half a serving by accident one time, and got mad when I found it was in the protein powder I bought. It is not a PED by any means, but just not what I wanted without knowing it.
  • Coffee – Who doesn’t love coffee?!

That’s it! I have never had anything else to my knowledge and never want too. I am not against other supplements, they are just not for me.

Author – Ryan J. Mathias

Powerlifting Meet Openers and Attempt Selection Strategy

The Best Powerlifting Meet Openers and Attempt Selection Strategy To Win

Are you struggling to choose your attempts for your next or first powerlifting meet? Or do you just want to know the best way to max out in the gym? Then read on my strong friends and get ready for a new PR plan! This article is all about how to choose the best Powerlifting Meet Openers and Attempt Strategy to win!

USPA Powerlifting Openers and Attempt Selection

How To Choose Your Lifts Wisely

Recently I was able to attend a small charity powerlifting meet held at Ironworks Gym. At this meet, there were some strong lifters, as well as those just testing their strength just for fun. It was a great powerlifting meet and everyone had a lot of fun, but I noticed that very few of the lifters knew how to choose their openers and attempts.

They would complete their first lift and then take suggestions from anyone around as to what they should attempt next. Very few of them had a plan and as stated by Legendary Powerlifter and Coach Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell…

“If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail.”

– Louie Simmons, Westside Barbell

Get a plan for success in your next Powerlifting Meet with our proven Powerlifting Programs!

So, this article on how to choose the best openers and attempts is for those of you that need a plan for success in your next Powerlifting Meet. My Powerlifting Team of Strength Warriors and I have all used it to make sure we never bomb out of a meet and always hit a PR by the end.

So, get ready to take notes and let’s begin…

Article Overview:


What is Powerlifting?

“Powerlifting is a sport in which the goal is to become as strong as possible in your chosen division for all three lifts.”

First, powerlifting is a strength sport in which the goal is to become as strong as possible in your weight class and division for all three lifts; the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.

In powerlifting, you get three attempts to lift the most weight for each lift. The heaviest completed weight for each lift is added to your accumulative total for that day. However, to complete a lift you not only have to lift the weight but must do so with proper technique

Every Powerlifting Federation has its own set of rules and regulations on how to perform each lift. So check your Federation Rules before you start training in order to practice the proper technique.

Learn proper lifting technique for the: 

The Goal of Powerlifting:

“…you cannot win a powerlifting competition just by simply being strong.”

Next, the goal in powerlifting is to obtain the highest total [weight lifted] that you can. So, you cannot be weak in any of the three lifts. You must be at least proficient in all three lifts so that you can have the greatest chance of obtaining a competitive total against other lifters in your division.

With that being said, you cannot win a powerlifting competition just by simply being strong. You must have a strategy that makes you stronger than other competitors. That is why attempt selection is so important for all lifters. You have to be smart and strong to win.

“You must have a strategy that makes you stronger than other competitors.”

The Goal of the Lifter:

Finally, though winning is nice, the goal of any lifter should be to lift the most weight they can on competition day. To lift the most weight, and get the highest score you can, you must complete each lift. The more lifts you miss, the more weight you leave on the platform.

Beginners should always aim to go 9 for 9, or completing all 3 attempts in each of the 3 lifts. This will help beginners stay conservative in their attempt selection and give the highest chance for obtaining a high total.

More advanced lifters should also aim to go 9 for 9, but getting at least 6 for 9 is still okay. This is because as an advanced competitor you are going to have hard competition, whether that is against others or yourself. So advanced lifters need to aim high on their third attempts and push their limitations. These are the lifts that will define the elite from the competitive.

What is more important for advanced lifters is too beat the competition. Sometimes you will win, and sometimes you will lose, but that is competition. You have to compete and test your boundaries. So do what you can, but go for glory and don’t hold back!

To put it simply, if they go for 225 kilos (496 lbs), you better go for 227.5 kilos (501 lbs)!

Have A Smart Attempt Selection Strategy

Your strength levels will determine how much you can lift on that given day, but your attempt selection is crucial in obtaining the highest total.

Remember, once you have chosen your attempt, you cannot go back down in weight, so you must stay smart. If you do an attempt that is easy, yet jump too high on the next attempt and cannot do that weight, there will be pounds/kilos left on the platform that could have been added to your total.

So your strategy should be to stay reasonable on your first two attempts before going for absolute maximums on your final attempt.

1 Rep Maximum vs Projected Maximum:

Before we get into the percentages of each attempt, let’s go over the differences between a maximum and a projected maximum. The difference between a 1 rep maximum or personal record (PR) and a projected maximum is simple.

  • 1 Rep Maximum = The max weight you have done recently, using proper competition style form.
  • Projected Maximum = Your best estimation of the most you can do based on training and your experiences. Usually, about 5-10% more than your true max when you started a proper 12-Week Powerlifting Program.

However, for a maximum to count though, it must be performed under the same rules and regulations as the competition you will be in. For example, you may have a standard bench press PR of 300lbs but in competition, you must pause on your chest. This pause can take away from your gym lift maximum bench press because it has longer time under tension and you must press from a static position. With this in mind, it is a better estimate for you to use your pause bench press PR while keeping your hips down and following all the rules of competition as your maximum.

Also, you should practice the competition style lift often in your training, so that you build strength with that technique. It is still important to overload with a standard bench press technique, but always be practicing your sport as if you are in competition as well.

Projected Maximum

Most powerlifting programs base all training percentages on your current true maximum. From a proper 12-Week Powerlifting Program you can expect about a 5-10% increase. For example, if you start with a squat program with a 500-pound max, you can estimate a 525-550lb projected maximum after 12 weeks. This estimation is used only on competition day for choosing your three attempts.

The projected maximum should only be used by advanced lifters with years of experience and multiple competitions under their belt. Advanced lifters know their limitations and are much better at estimating their gains from the training they have done over the course of multiple years.

Beginners and moderately experienced lifters should not use this because their gains may still be somewhat inconsistent. This may lead too over projecting your abilities which can lead to missed lifts in competition.

Be Honest

Another thing to consider is that just because you lifted a particular weight one day in the gym while you were feeling good, does not mean you will be able to reach that same weight on competition day. The goal should always be to hit new PR’s during a competition, but there are numerous variables that can affect whether it is a good or bad day for any of the lifts you are doing.

Overall, when selecting weight attempts, just be honest with yourself and think reasonably towards your abilities. It is better to estimate too low and surprise yourself in competition rather than aim too high and miss lifts, possibly losing you the competition.

“…just because you lifted a particular weight one day in the gym while you were feeling good, that does not mean you will be able to reach that same weight on competition day.”

Powerlifting Meet Attempt Selection

Powerlifting Meet Attempt Selection Strategy: Openers (1st Attempts)

First, know that attempt selection is different for a beginner versus an elite lifter. For example, your opener will vary greatly depending on your powerlifting competition experience. However, every lifter should always choose a weight that they have a high probability of completing for each attempt.

For beginners, your first attempt should be a weight that you can do for 2-3 reps, even on a bad day. This is about 90-95% of your true 1 rep maximum.

For elite powerlifters or those with experience, the first attempt should be something that you know you can do. This is also about 90-95%, but of your projected maximum. Consider it a final warm-up lift before you attempt your 100% max on the second attempt.

Powerlifting Meet Attempt Selection Strategy: Second Attempts

Next, your second attempt depends on how your first attempt felt. If it was easy, take a reasonably large jump of 5-7%. If it was hard, to take a small jump of just 3-5% or less than 10 kilos.

This attempt should be around a 3-7% jump to reach 95-100% of your maximum. If you are a beginner, be conservative and wait to hit the big weight on your third attempt. You still NEED to hit this weight, so don’t jump too high yet.

For more experienced lifters, your second attempt should be your projected maximum for the day. The reason you need to go for this weight on your second attempt is so that you have two attempts at it if needed. If you get red lighted or even just fail the lift for some reason, you can go for it again on your third attempt. 

This weight is around or just over 100% of your maximum. It is the weight that simply must be done in your mind. It is why you showed up that day. So go out there and get it!

Powerlifting Meet Attempt Selection Strategy: Third Attempts

Finally, your third attempt dependents on your second attempt. No matter how the second attempt went, the next weight you choose should be something you know you can do.

For beginners, this is usually between 100-105% of your current 1 Rep Maximum. 

Again, it needs to be a weight you know you can do. Usually, it is a weight you have done before. Of course, we all want to hit a new PR, but it is more important you get the lift, rather than set a PR in your first powerlifting meet.

Just make sure that the jump to the third attempt is less than the jump taken between the first and second attempts. This will help you avoid missing your third attempt, as your body is more likely able to handle a smaller weight jump.

By taking a bigger jump up in weight compared to your third attempt you risk overstressing your body with too great of a stimulus that it may not be prepared for. Decrease your jumps from each warm up and attempts will better prepare your body for the weight to come.

For Advanced Powerlifters

For elite lifters, this should be just around or above your absolute projected maximum. Often this is 100-110% of your old 1 Rep Max and should be a PR lift.

This is the all-out lift that makes champions. So, go out and surprise yourself!

 

Powerlifting Max Mindset:

In the sport of powerlifting, you must have a strong and competitive mindset to succeed. You must believe in yourself more than anyone else. You must have full confidence in every attempt that you do. If there is any doubt in your mind then you have already failed the lift.

It takes extreme focus and determination to push your body to the limit as you move with perfect form.

Knowing this, it is difficult for a competitor to select their attempts while in competition. You may know best what your body is capable of, but you must stay confident in your abilities. This is often detrimental for lifters that choose their attempts because they often overshoot their abilities while being confident. So it is recommended that you have someone choose your attempts for you.

This can be anyone. They do not have to know your abilities or even what powerlifting is about. They simply must know your goals for the day and have a plan set in place that you have already given to them prior.

The day all depends on each lift as it is completed but if you give them some options to choose from or consult with them between lifts it will allow you to stay more focused on the lift rather than the weight.

Overall, just never go into a competition alone. Always bring back up. I mean, someone has to hold the camera…right?

“You must believe in yourself more than anyone else.”

Mathias Method Strength Family

Summary of How To Pick Openers and Attempts:

For Beginners:

  • Try to go 9 for 9! Don’t miss any lifts!
  • Open with about 90% of a max weight you have done before (with competition technique) or something you can triple on your worst day.
  • Base your second attempt on how your opener felt. If it was hard, only bump it up a little. If it was easy, go for about 95% or a weight you can double.
  • Base your third and final attempt on how your second attempt felt. If it was hard, only move up a little. If it was easy, choose a weight you are highly confident you can do. Remember, it’s not about a PR. It’s about what you can lift that day.
  • Of course, always redo any attempts you miss whether they be due to technical errors or failed lifts.

For Advanced Powerlifters:

  • Also, try to go 9 for 9! Do what you can that day and only truly push your final attempts.
  • Open with your final warm-up weight to your second attempt. This is usually 90-95% of your projected maximum.
  • Base your second attempt on how your opener felt. If it was hard, only bump it up a little. If it was easy, go for the weight you came to do. This should be 100% of your projected maximum.
  • Base your third and final attempt on how your second attempt felt. If it was hard, only move up a little. If it was easy, go for a PR and show the world what you are made of!
  • Always redo any failed lifts.
  • For missed lifts due to technical errors, use your honest judgment as to whether you can correct it or not before moving up in weight.

Powerlifting Meet Attempt Selection Strategy: Conclusion

Overall, powerlifting is a great sport for anyone that wants to get stronger and test their abilities. Powerlifting will make you better at any sport you do. It takes focus, hard work, dedication, self-confidence, and a very strong mindset to compete in.

I recommend everyone that strength trains compete at least once because it will force you to have good technique and give you a goal to strive towards in your strength journey. Just remember to make a plan for choosing your attempts and never go in it alone.

Always have some support and make some new friends at every meet. It will all help you grow as a person and may motivate you to continue your growth.

So make a plan, stay focused, and execute it with perfection. You are now more informed and better prepared to estimate your best weights at your next powerlifting meet. So go dominate and keep getting stronger my friends!

Strength to you, 

Ryan J. Mathias

Owner and Creator of MathiasMethod.com

More Articles!

Powerlifting for Men

Powerlifting For Men

500 squat

Powerlifting for men is different than powerlifting for women. This is because women are generally able to handle more workloads relative to their one rep maximum, versus men. Men are genetically stronger so they can handle heavier weights, but cannot do as much work compared to women who do strength training.

This means that women can handle more work and frequency of training, while men require less work and need more time to recover from weight training. At the same intensity relative to their one rep maximum, women can, and should, do more repetitions, while men cannot, and should not.

When programming a powerlifting workout for men there should be more sets and fewer repetitions. When programming a powerlifting workout for women there should be fewer lets and more repetitions.

For example, for a squat workout, men should do 8 sets of 3 reps using 80% of their one rep max, while women should do more like 6 sets of 5 reps at the same intensity. The workout for men would total 24 reps while for women it would total 30 reps.

The main difference between powerlifting for men, versus powerlifting for women, is men get big and bulky with strength training while women get slim and sexy, or more toned. This is due to hormonal differences. Men naturally have a lot more free testosterone than women which makes any sort of new muscle stimulus lead to growth. For women, the same stimulus still leads to growth, but at a much slower rate. So women tend to just burn fat with weight training workouts instead of growing.

Of course, with strength training, women can become stronger than men. It just takes longer due to slow growth rates.

Example Powerlifting Workout For Men

This is an example powerlifting workout for men based on the Mathias Method Strength System.

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Create Your Own Workout Program

Squat Workout For Men

Warm-Up & Technique Work:

Weighted Chin-Ups                                                               – x 25 total

Box Jumps                                                                             3-5 x 3

Pause Squat (<50%)                                                             3 x 5

Main Lifts:

Squat                                                                                        8 x 3 at 80%

*Overload Set                                                                         1 x Daily Max

Deadlift                                                                                    4 x 6 at 60%

Accessory Work:

Dumbbell Rows                                                                      4 x 6-8

Dumbell Curls                                                                        4 x 8-10

Side Planks                                                                            3 x 45 sec.

Mobility Work                                                                        10+ min.


To learn everything you need to know about strength training and powerlifting for men, get our complete Mathias Mathias Method Strength System Guide!

How to Powerlift for Men

As you can see, powerlifting for men is pretty simple. However, how you do your workouts is just as important, if not more so, than what you do. It is all in the details because the details can make or break a lifter.

In the following, we will go over the specifics for each part of the Mathias Method Strength System and how they pertain to weight training for men…