Linear Periodization for Novice Powerlifter

It’s easy to over complicate training plans for our clients. I’m a total program design dork, let’s get into the weeds! kind of strength coach.

But, for many applications, nothing works better than your traditional linear periodization for great progress. Turns out, there is a reason why this method is taught in every single certification manual that has ever been produced. 

I’m working with an athlete currently who wants to train for and compete in his first powerlifting meet. He is a novice lifter, does not have very good hip mobility, and needs massive improvement in ability to brace (core strength). 

While it can be tempting to fast track him to an advanced program of undulating periodization or any of the other incredible program design methods, he really just needs to gain some muscle mass, practice the movements of the big 3, and learn how to brace.

Roughly, this is my approach over the next 14-weeks:

Weeks 1-3: Hypertrophy. We need to get some muscle growth via time-under-tension. Conveniently, he also needs to spend a lot of time practicing perfect form with all three lifts. It works well at this point, to have him do a traditional high volume hypertrophy plan. Plenty of reps to practice burning in the proper bar path and spur muscle growth.

Weeks 4-8: Strength. We’ll stay in a very typical strength building rep range for all primary exercises, then keep with hypertrophy building on the accessories. *week 8 is a deload

Weeks 9-12: Maximum strength. After 8-weeks focused on building muscle and strength, this powerlifter should be well primed to get under some heavy weight. *week 12 is a deload

Week 13: Work up to some heavy doubles and singles

Week 14: Competition!

The goal in the first meet is to ALWAYS go 3 for 3 on every lift. The first meet is all about building confidence and love for the sport. 

Sarah Walls

A little about me: I've worked in pretty much every corner of the fitness industry for about 10 years. I've had the great fortune of spending most of this time working with gifted athletes at every level. I've also had the great opportunity of designing and conducting research projects, writing occasionally for various publications and blogs, competing in powerlifting, and just generally having a killer time pursuing my passions wherever they may take me. Now I own two businesses: one is an athletic performance training company that I started in 2007 at age 26 and the other is a software company startup that was launched in 2014. Paramount to all the awesomeness of my professional career, is my family. My kids are a thrill and my husband continues to be my most critical and important supporter.