Choosing the Right Program

Over the years of lifting I have followed several different programs; some provided great results while others were more or less a waste of time. If you talk to different powerlifters, personal trainers, bodybuilders and sport specific athletes you will get a wide range of what they personally believe the best workout is. I am no different, as I too recommend what has worked for me. With that said, it’s key to find the workout which makes YOU bigger and stronger, not anyone else.

With weight training you have to remember each person’s body is different. When choosing a program, you have to do so based on what your goals are. I’m not saying only powerlifters should do my workout because it can also provide many things to bodybuilders or people who solely weight train to be healthy.

As a powerlifter my main focus in whatever workout I’m following is getting stronger. I’m not going to be doing sets with high reps or tons of assistance work to “feel” my muscle. Instead I’ll be doing high volume, low reps and my assistance work will only be done to get my main lifts stronger. Of course I won’t be training maximally all the time, but optimally so my strength levels increase while not frying my central nervous system.

When doing a powerlifting workout one can expect it to be based heavily on multi-joint lifts. These lifts include the squat, bench press and deadlift and allow you to build the most muscle and strength, which is everyone’s goal. You’ll even hear some people use the term power building, a hybrid of powerlifting and bodybuilding which some top level bodybuilders are now using to build thicker, more dense muscles.

There are many top powerlifting methods and templates out there. The most popular are:

  • Westside Barbell method
  • Sheiko programs
  • Reactive Training Systems
  • 5/3/1 program

Feel free to Google each one of these and read about them. They each bring something a little different to the table; however all have the same goal, which is to become stronger.

The way I have been training for the past couple of years and has worked for me is based on the Sheiko programs. Bill McDonough, the owner of Speed Through Power based in Saint Louis, modified two of the Sheiko templates to suit our needs. What I mean by ‘suit our needs’ is that through trial and error, we discovered the original Sheiko program to be too much volume for some of us, primarily the heavier lifters. We found that we couldn’t quite recover from the extreme volume of these workouts, which is insane to say the least. So he cut out some of the fillers and kept the majority of the core lifts, coming up with something that has been extremely successful for me. I have constantly hit new PR’s in every meet that I have competed in the last three years, which means this program is still working for me.

Our workout breaks down into two parts, a four-week prep program and a five week competition program, which makes my typical training cycle prior to a meet nine weeks. During the off time I repeat the four-week program and deload prior to starting my nine-week cycle. These workouts are percentage based and focus on actually performing the core lifts (squat, bench & deadlift). The assistance work we do is to make those lifts stronger and include working our back, triceps, core and hamstrings.

Over the course of my next few blog articles, I’ll be breaking down and explaining my personal workout strategy and schedule. I’ll be going through my four-week prep workout and five-week competition schedule. If your goal is to build thick muscle, get stronger, improve your core and work capacity, my program can serve as a plan for you, but feel free to look into any of the above mentioned workouts as well. If you have any questions please feel free to email at and I’ll try to answer your question the best I can. Please remember though, what works for me might not work for you. My hope is that even if you chose not to fully try it you’ll learn something you can incorporate into your own workouts.