lifter uses 6 week powerlifting program to prepare for heavy squats during a meet

If you are looking for a 6 week powerlifting program, you need one that produces results in a short period of time without all of the unnecessary fluff.

Because of this, you will need to use a linear program that pushes your body just a little harder each week, with the ultimate outcome of a new personal best on each lift at the end of the 42-day time period.

During the first couple of weeks, you may even feel that you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. This is normal—don’t attempt to raise the intensity on any of the lifts. Things will become very challenging fast once you hit the third and fourth week.

When you are finished, it is also recommended that you complete a short Bulgarian training cycle of 14 days to maximize your neuromuscular adaptations (your body’s ability to efficiently produce the electric stimulation required for a strong, forceful muscle contraction) and hit a huge new max.

6 Week Powerlifting Program Outline

The 6 week powerlifting program includes a mixture of hypertrophy and strength work to make sure you build muscle while your strength increases. Towards the end of the cycle, however, volume is decreased to begin preparing you for maximal strength output.

This is an excellent program to use while in the off-season or pre-season for an upcoming meet or strength event. It is most suited to intermediate and advanced lifters—if you have been lifting for less than 1-2 years it is recommended that you stick with the beginner program (and tailor it to specifically meet your 6-week time requirement).

You will perform all three lifts each week:

  • Squats are done twice
  • Bench press is done twice
  • Deadlifts are done once

When selecting your main movements, you can swap out the suggested movements to fix specific weak points you may be having—but only on one day per week. For example, if you decide to substitute front squats for back squats one day, you still have to complete back squats on the second squatting day.

  • Squat
    • Weakness in the hole
      • Paused squats
      • Pin squats
    • Knee cave
      • Wide stance squats
      • Wide stance paused squats
    • Hips rising before the knees extend
      • Front squats
      • Narrow stance squats
    • Bench Press
      • Weakness off the chest
        • Paused bench press
        • Wide-grip paused bench press
      • Middle area or lockout
        • Spoto press
        • Pin press
      • Deadlift
        • Weakness off of the floor
          • Deficit deadlifts (stand on 45-pound plate or short box)
          • Snatch-grip deadlifts
          • Opposite deadlifts (choose the stance you wouldn’t normally do: conventional vs. sumo)
        • Weakness around the knees
          • Rack pulls below the knees
          • Block pulls (you can use rubber 45-pound plates to form the block if you don’t have one)
          • Paused deadlifts below the knee
        • Weak lockout
          • Rack pulls below or above the knees
          • Block pulls
          • Paused opposite deadlifts

6 Week Powerlifting Program

As mentioned above, each of the main movements are performed twice per week with the exception of the deadlifts which are performed only once. Additionally, the percentages refer to ratio of your one-rep-max (1RM).

For example, if you can squat 300 pounds, 70% of your 1RM would be 210 pounds (.7 x 300).

For deadlifts, no percentages are provided as it can be a very volatile lift when you are doing it every single week—some deadlift days go amazingly well and others seem to go terrible. However, you should track the RPE and record it in your training journal to ensure you are progressing.

Finally, the individual training days are labeled as sets x repetitions.

Week 1:

  • Day 1: 5×3 at 75%
  • Day 2: 5×5 at 70%
  • Deadlifts: 10×3

Week 2:

  • Day 1: 5×3 at 77.5%
  • Day 2: 5×5 at 72.5%
  • Deadlifts: 10×2

Week 3:

  • Day 1: 5×3 at 80%
  • Day 2: 5×5 at 75%
  • Deadlifts: 10×1

Week 4:

  • Day 1: 5×3 at 82.5%
  • Day 2: 5×5 at 77.5%
  • Deadlifts: 10×3

Week 5:

  • Day 1: 5×3 at 85%, plus a max-rep set (do as many reps as you can)
  • Day 2: 5×5 at 80%
  • Deadlifts: 10×2

Week 6:

  • Day 1: 3×3 at 87.5%
  • Day 2: 3×5 at 82.5%
  • Deadlifts: 10×1

As you can see, in the last week of the program the volume drops. This will allow you to begin recovering from the training fatigue your body as accumulated by that point.

For the accessory exercises, you should use the RPE strategy discussed earlier to progress in every single lift. You should be writing down every single number in a training journal; when you get ready to hit your accessory lifts, you can take a look at the previous week to make sure you do either more sets, more repetitions, or more weight.

For a list of accessory exercises, you should stick with the 8 week powerlifting program  accessory exercises as they provide an excellent starting point for your first training cycle. If one of them causes pain, however, definitely swap it out for another exercise. By changing up the movements, you will take advantage of conjugate periodization (switching up the style of stimulus your body is exposed to in order to cause constant adaptations).

If you aren’t in off-season training and are actually prepping for a meet and want to absolutely maximize your results, there is one final step.

After the 6 week powerlifting program, it is recommended that you take a one week deload and then enter the two-week Bulgarian training cycle mentioned earlier.

This will send your strength gains into overdrive as you adapt to heavy weights in final preparation to hit a new personal record.