Powerlifting is a strength sport based around three main lifts -- the squat, bench press and dead lift. In a powerlifting competition, you will have three attempts at each lift. Your heaviest weight for each is added together to give you a total and the winner is the person one who has the heaviest total. To compete at a high standard in powerlifting, you must be dedicated and work hard on a specific program. Several tried and tested routines exist which will improve your powerlifting performance.
5/3/1 is a routine that former powerlifter Jim Wendler devised. It revolves around four main exercises -- squats, bench presses, dead lifts and overhead presses -- each done weekly. The idea is to do as many reps as possible at 75 percent of your one-repetition maximum weight in week one, 85 percent in the second week and 95 percent the third week. On week four, you train with light weights before resuming on week one again but adding 5 lbs. to all lifts. To increase muscle mass at the same time, Wendler recommends his "Boring But Big" assistance exercises -- high-volume, low-intensity work using chinups, lunges and dips.
Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell Gym in Columbus, Ohio, wrote the Westside program. This involves two upper body and two lower body days, based on either dynamic exercises such as speed bench presses and speed pulls or max effort work, where you work up to a one-repetition maximum in a dead lift, squat or bench press variation. A slightly simpler version of this for beginner lifters is Joe DeFranco's Westside program, which requires two days for upper body training per week and one for the lower body. You work up to five repetition maximums, instead of single reps, which should cause less neural fatigue.
The Korte training system differs from many other powerlifting routines, as it requires you to perform just the squat, dead lift and bench press, with no assistance work at all. You train three times per week and perform all three lifts in each session. The program is divided into two phases. Phase one is four weeks and is high volume but low to moderate intensity, with a focus on technique and speed. Phase two is also four weeks and you do a lot less overall work but increase the intensity of your lifting. By week eight, you should have set new personal bests on each lift.
Sheiko powerlifting programs are known for being extremely high volume, with workouts sometimes taking up to three hours. The best Sheiko program for beginner power-lifters is Sheiko #29. You perform two main lifts in each session, along with one or two assistance exercises and the program lasts four weeks, with each week getting progressively tougher. During the four weeks, you will not lift heavier than 90 percent of your one-rep maximum, meaning this program will not leave you feeling too fatigued and is an excellent introduction into heavier, more demanding powerlifting routines.