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I said I was going to post a rundown on various powerlifting programs and I am getting to it, but life and internet collide occasionally.
To start with, I will give a rundown on powerlifting itself.

True modern powerlifting is a competition based on the big three lifts, the squat, the bench-press and the deadlift. The goal is to lift the maximum amount of weight in each lift, and those lifts combined in a total, to win competitions (and thats the whole point of lifting, to actually compete, not be uncle bob benching 300kg in his basement)
Of course, there are various rules to follow to achieve the lifts, such as squat depth, pause in bench and locking out in deadlift. These all vary between federations and I am not going into depth here.
Most PL federations allow lifters to wear equipemtn (im not going into the good/bad aspects, nor the raw aspects, nor the federation bashing as i dont care !)
Basiclaly these are comprised of a squat suit, a bench shirt a deadlift suit and leg wraps. While these may provide some additional safety in lifting large weights (depatable as there is no real research on the subject) they primarily aid in lifting more weights, with various amounts being added to the max for a 'raw' weight. A suit and legwraps would add in about 40-50kg for my maximum squat, bench shirt will add 10-30+kg and a deadlift suit adds little to nothing. I lift in the IPF but there are plenty of others in the states. They allow other pieces of equipment lift deadlift bars (thinner and more whippy) and a piece of equipment called a monolift, which allows a lifter not to walk the squat out (see

At the IPF website listed above, there is a rule book, which provides a vast amount of information on requirements, weight classes, and how competitions are meant to be run.

in terms of how to train to be a powerlifter, I will go into details with the different 'styles' around at the moment, but I will provide the overall basics now with a quote from Lyle McDonald
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]At the same time, all effective PL routines do share a few commonalities.

1. practice on the actual powerlifts
2. some focus on progression, that is adding weight to the bar over time
3. using specific assitance work (ok, not Korte) to bring up weak points. So if triceps are limiting in the bench, you bring up bench press strength. If low back is limiting you in the DL, you work on low back strength.

The rest is a lot of details.

For those interested in a history of Powerlifting, especially the developemnt in america, there is a history site currently being put together

american powerlifting evolution

there is also a facinating website containing vast quantites of powerliftng (and the occasional bbing) videos available at
describing westside is relatively difficult, as its not just one thing (just as HST is not the one set program).
The basics are basically instead of performing standard linear periodization (like the coan routine I will put up later) you perform what is known as conjugate periodization, which combines various aspects into the one program (within the same time frame). So basically within any week period, you are training for speed (power), limit strength and hypertrophy.
They still adhere to the basics of powerlifting (lyles quote) in they practice the lifts, try to increase the weight on the bar over time,and also perform specific exercises to train the weak points.
This last matter is the best and most difficult aspect of westside, and is supposedly easier once someone has attended the seminars (im too far away for that).
Louie also provides a framework for technique, but it should be noted that the technique is suited towards those who squat from a monorack, use squatsuit, bench shirt etc, and may need to be altered to suit a different situation.
Identifying weakpoints, and selecting suitable exercises to correct these weak points is the major difficulty, and in my experience, getting 'carry over' from the assistance to the main lift is the most challanging (more so for bench in my application)
A basic program is available from Dave tates Elite fitness (an excellent resource) under the articles section (Eight keys) and it gives the run down of approximately this
1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day bench
Speed days involve taking a moderate weight (50-60% 1rm) and doing multiple sets of low reps at maximum velocity. Westside also add bands/chains to overload aspects of the lift to allow speed development (at the top of each lift, the muscles deaccelerate the bar, so using bands overloads this section so the trainer has to keep pushing when htey would normally slow down). This iwll provide an effect similar to ballistic moves and plyometric moves.
The heavy (or maximum effort) days are when you go heavy (1-5reps) in an assistant exercise until you nearly fail (they word it as maximally strain under the weight, if you dont, increase it and do another set). For bench you can do a multitude of different exercises working whatever is the weakpoint (board presses, pin presses, incline closegrip, closegrips, band presses, chain presses, foam presses, carpet presses you get the picture) and squat includes variants of squats (chains, bands etc) or good mornings (normal, wide, arched, concentric only, Safety bar GMs, blah blah blah) variants of DLs are also involved. The lifts are changed every week (or 3) to 'prevent' CNS degredation.
It can be an excellent program if followed perfectly, but there are a number of points that may be difficult to perfect if you do not have 'supervision'
1) CNS cant tell the difference between GMs or squats, its just a neural loading. So even with swapping exercises you may overdo something. You can get around this by deloading for a week or so.
2) Carry over. Box squats and board presses are all well and good, but you can alter your technique away from what you would normally do without them, to get bigger numbers while using them. I compete in a federation that has limits to how low you can place the bar during bench. If your doing a three board press, if you lower the bar over your abs it will allow you to increase the 3board weight, but this may not carry over to the actual bench weight (different groove/SAID)
This is improved with correct coaching, but is difficult when you are the only one playing with new exercises.
Things i like
1) addresses weakness's
2) heavy weights are fun
3) speed work is good :)
I train my squat/DL this way, as it is working (the main awnser - i also dont use bands/chains) and I dont go well on higher rep linear programs anymore as my spine doesnt like taking weights close to failure.
LOL "The bee's knees", huh, Scott? ;) Thanks for the article Aaron, I added that link to favorites. I might even "Build my own rack" if the wife lets me. :)
Metal Militia
THe Metal Militia boys are bench specialists and are currently amongst the top in hte field.
THey specificially know how to work the benchshirts and get the absolute MAXIMUM from them.
Basically the training is 2days per week
One Raw day where you go up to a 3rm, and try to improve. From there you can do lower board work. Other exercises may include tricep, back and trap work (or on another day)
On the second day (can be saturday to replicate the 'normal' meet day). Basically this includes Closegrip bench up to around a 3rm, followed by HEAVY (sometimes up to a single) wearing the bench shirt) after that, you do high board work, including 6,5,4board. THis is followed by rack lockout work. This day is extremely high volume, can take 2hrs to complete (natties will have to reduce the volume, especially to start with)
Of course, this program is specialised to the 'equiped' lifter, especially double denim 'low cut' shirt wearers, but like any program, allows a lot of float to alter the program to suit weakpoints and different levels of equipment (raw will require more low board etc worlk)
The program is relatively simple, but works (BIG TIME :)) as long as you work to your weaknesses.
They address to the extreme the main problem with the 'base' progra that westside have presented. Not enough work in the bench shirt. Sure you may be perfoming the lifts, or similar, BUT benching in a shirt, and getting the MAXIMUM out of it takes time and a lot of practice. Novices using westside had better practice in their shirts.
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Aaron_F @ Feb. 02 2004,1:56)]1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day bench
Not correct.

It is

1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day squat (deadlift too)
[b said:
Quote[/b] (PLer99 @ Mar. 31 2005,10:27)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Aaron_F @ Feb. 02 2004,1:56)]1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day bench
Not correct.
It is
1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day squat (deadlift too)

Here lies the issue
you quoted something that was posted a year ago.
The westside 'system' is rather fluid and changes frequently, especially since that the is no "single program". Most current Westside lifters (the ones that train at westside) do not deadlift 2x weekly. You only have to look at Mike Ruggiera's log at elite to see this. THey very much do what they feel like on the day.
For example alone, the entire 9 week "eight keys" program from Dave Tates involved deadlifts 6x. Three were partial lifts, 2 speed workouts and the final session involved a 1rm test for deadlift.

Other variants of westside include doing a bunch of singles after a ME squat workout, or a DE squat workout. Or do variable different efforts.
Other styles include doing a heavy squat workout, and heavy pull workout on the one day, and do no other work.

So Incorrect...... not in the slightest
Bill Starr Program
basic version

Squats-5x5(Do four progressively heavier sets of 5 with the 5th set being your 5RM. ie 300=PR level, do 135x5, 205x5, 245x5, 275x5 and 300x5)
Deadlifts-5x5(Do the same)
Bench Press-5x5(Do the same)
Incline DB Press-2x12-20

Light Squats or Lunges-4x8 each leg
Good Mornings-3x8-12
Shoulder Press-5x5 or Dips-4xmax until you get 12 each time. then add weight.

Squats-warmup to a 3 reps with 5 more lbs than you used on Monday. On the following monday use this weight for your 5th set.
Bent Over Row-5x5
Incline Bench-5x5
Tricep Extensions-2x12-20
Here's another example of the 5x5, as per Bill Starr:

The Bill Starr Power Routine

When I was a freshman in college, Bill Starr gave me this routine to follow. It was designed for off-season football and general strength training. In the first 16 weeks I was on it, I added about 35 pounds of bodyweight, and took my total from a paltry 600 to over 950. Of course, I was also on the dorm’s prepaid meal plan, and ate like it was going out of style. Plus, I only had four classes that semester, so I spent lots of time sleeping.

Monday – Heavy Day
Squat – 5 sets of 5
Bench – 5 sets of 5
Powercleans – 5 sets of 5
2 sets of weighted hypers
4 sets of weighted Sit-ups

Wednesday – Light Day
Squat – 4 sets of 5
Incline Bench – 4 sets of 5
High Pulls – 4 sets of 5
Sit-ups – 3 sets

Friday - Medium
Squat – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple, back-off
Bench – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple, back-off
Powercleans – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple
Weighted Dips – 3 sets of 5-8
Triceps and Biceps – 3 sets of 8 each

Key Features:

* On Monday, the weight for each lift is increased on each set of 5, from a light warm-up to an all out set of 5. For squats, something like 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x5, 315x5. The weight should be increased evenly from your first to last set. If you are working up to bigger weights, say above 500, you can add a sixth set of 5 just to avoid making large jumps between sets. I’ll explain how to choose the top weight in a second…

* On light day, Squat the first 3 sets of 5 just as you did on Monday, and then do a fourth set of 5 with the weight used on the third set. An extra fifth set at this same weight can be added. Incline bench is done using the same scheme, working up to 2-3 sets of 5, but with about 70-80% of the weight flat bench, to accommodate the leverage difference of the incline. High Pulls are done by feel, but usually pretty heavy.

* On Friday, the first four sets are the same as they were on Monday. The fifth set, done for three reps, should be a jump of about 2.5% over what you did for your fifth set on Monday. As you become more experienced with the system, you can experiment with the weight you use on this triple. This should NOT be a PR triple attempt every week. In fact, the goal is to come back the following Monday and get the same weight for 5 reps that you got for 3 reps the Friday before. To avoid missing reps, pick weights carefully. Take it easy the first few weeks, and don’t over do it. After the big triple, drop back to the weight you used for your 3rd set and try to get eight reps.

* Deadlifts, or Speed Deadlifts can be substituted with Powercleans if you so desire. Powercleans are pretty popular among football players for working on explosiveness. They are not as specific for the powerlifter, but they can add strength to your traps and shoulders as well as thicken up your back. They can also improve speed-strength.

* I always trained with three to five guys on a single bar. The rest time between sets was helpful for making an all out assault on that top set. I also used no gear except a belt, which we used only for squats and powercleans. Some guys used grip straps on powercleans or high pulls when attempting heavy 5’s and 3’s.

* The dips, bi’s and tri’s are what Bill called “Beach Work,” in that they tend to have a bigger cosmetic effect than squats or deads. The scheme for these varied by need and based on what I thought my weaknesses were. I went very heavy on the dips, for sets of 5, to help build up my triceps. Other guys did closegrips, or even added in some rowing movements for the lats. No matter what you pick, try and move quickly though this stuff, like one minute rests max.


* Some research shows that full body workouts tend to stimulate more hormone production than isolation workouts.

* Focus on the big three can help with developing good exercise technique for the beginner, and the weekly goal setting from Friday to Monday helps keep you motivated.

* The program is relatively simple, and easy to follow. If you can figure out how to pick your weights, then this can be a very effective program. By starting out with less than max poundage, you can work on form, and build good habits as you increase the weight. You also choose weight week-to-week by feel, instead of calculating reps and sets way in advance.


* Not a lot of exercise variety.

* Some people find training the Big three more than once per week to be too taxing, but the total volume is actually not that high because there is not much focus on assistance exercises.

* This method is good for muscle growth and strength, but may not be as effective if you are trying to lose weight, or maintain a weight class.

Recommended for:

* Beginners that are still learning how to squat and bench effectively. If you are new to free weights or to lifting in general, this is a good way to spend a lot of time with real iron learning the basics, because you can start off slowly and train each core lift more frequently.

* Lifters trying to gain both size and strength, who want to add to their core of muscle mass. If you stick with this for more than 12 weeks, you will make muscle gains if you keep up with food and rest.
<div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Quote (Aaron_F @ Feb. 02 2004,1:56)
1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day bench

Not correct.

It is

1 speed bench day
1 speed squat day (deadlift too)
1 heavy day bench
1 heavy day squat (deadlift too) </div>

I think there WAS an error here!
Excellent thread Aaron! Might I add in this charted workout I'm using now (at 75%) very successfully?

He also has a bench program, you just have to adjust the weights:
I haven't tried that one yet.

A primer for technique I found interesting that Ricky wrote:

If you'd rather just have your stuff in here, just have this post deleted then, I'll understand.
It takes a book to describe, but basically teaches you to train in a numerous set of ways, to a daily heavy weight that is adjusted for percieved exertion