In the previous article I discussed what exactly powerbuilding is and how it differentiates from bodybuilding and powerlifting, if you haven’t read that yet I highly encourage it before diving into part two.
In part 2 I will be discussing how to schedule your program and how to eat when you’re powerbuilding training.
Scheduling Your Powerbuilding Training
The best way, and most effective way, to schedule this program is in a three days on, one day off cycle, and most importantly as a legs/push/pull/rest and repeat style. This frequency will maximize your muscle and strength gains while preventing overtraining (if you keep your workouts to about an hour in length).
All your workouts will start with a compound lift because your muscles will be fresh and you’ll be able to move the most amount of weight. The reason why legs, push, then pull (in that order) is what I recommend involves how you will be spreading out your upper and lower body days. Starting with legs (quads and hamstrings) after a rest day will make sure that you aren’t overly sore from a previous day of lifting and can move the most weight.
Next will be push day (chest, shoulders and triceps), allowing your legs to rest while you work out your upper body. Lastly will be your pull day (back and biceps), when you will be doing your deadlifts, which you want the most amount of energy for. Ensuring you have an entire rest day for your legs between squats and deadlifts is important to prevent injuries and allow you to lift the most amount of weight for both exercises.
Powerlifting Rep Ranges
The rep ranges for your powerlifting movements will also always be constant, with the five sets of five reps.
You can use as many warm up sets as you’d like to get to your working weight, and also do a lighter cool down set by dropping the weight around 30% and doing eight to ten reps. The first three days of the week will be considered “strength days”, as your hypertrophy movements should be towards the 6-10 rep range, hitting your muscles hard.
Squat and bench will stay the same and you will be deadlifting on your strength pull day. Once you come back for the second round of the week after your day of rest from deadlifts, the next three days will be considered “hypertrophy days”.
Again squats and bench will be the same with the 5 x 5 and adding five pounds per workout, but your hypertrophy work should be more in the 10-15 rep range. These hypertrophy days will give your joints and ligaments less overall volume and stress, ensuring you don’t burn out on the program too quickly. The other difference on your hypertrophy pull day is you won’t be deadlifting. A good substitute would be bent over barbell rows to work your back effectively without the fatigue deadlifting twice a week would cause.
Powerlifting typical schedule:
- Monday: Legs strength,
- Tuesday: Push strength,
- Wednesday: Pull strength (with deadlifts),
- Thursday: Rest and recovery,
- Friday: Legs hypertrophy,
- Saturday: Push hypertrophy,
- Sunday: Pull hypertrophy (without deadlifts),
- Monday: Rest and recovery,
- Tuesday: Legs Strength & repeat.
Nutrition on a Powerbuilding Program
Nutrition is equally (maybe more) important as training for anybody trying to get bigger and stronger without gaining more fat than muscle. Learning how to count calories accurately and consistently is a completely different article, but assuming if you are reading this you know how to count calories, to gain the most amount of muscle and strength without putting on excess body fat is around a 500 calorie surplus.
This is the average for most individuals, some can gain weight on less of a surplus, and other need a much larger surplus, but 500 is the average for close to three fourths of the population. Macronutrient ratios are also quite important to help you maximize muscle gain. One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is the safe amount for any male who is looking to gain muscle mass (while 0.6-0.8 is sufficient for women). For example a 200 pound male should be eating around 200 grams of protein in a given day. Carbs will be much higher, sometimes even double what you protein intake is. It’s not uncommon for a 200 pound man to eat 400 grams of carbs on a gaining diet.
The last macronutrient, fat, will be closer to half what your protein intake is, so a 200 pound male will eat about 100 grams of fat a day. All of these number are subject to vary on your personal preference and diet, but are a good starting point to help you figure out what you need.
Something that is becoming more and more popular in this era of lifting is the eating style of “if it fits your macros”. If gaining the maximum amount of muscle and least amount of fat is what you are striving for, this style of eating isn’t for you. What most professional powerbuilders aim to do is gain the least amount of fat in their off season so when they drop their body fat and lean back down for the summer it’ll be an easier and faster process.
Yes “dirty bulking” is still very effective at making you stronger, but it will add much more fat to your frame than you’d like. A much better way to eat healthy while still allowing yourself to indulge the foods you enjoy is called “flexible dieting”, or the “80/20 diet”. It is as simple as dedicating 80% of your diet to healthy, complex carbs, unsaturated fats and complete proteins. While letting yourself indulge in the unhealthy foods you enjoy for the other 20%. By doing this you can be certain you are getting enough nutrients and clean energy to fuel you for the day, but not cutting out pleasure foods entirely which could lead to an eventual binge.
As somebody who has tried all the diets out there, I personally felt about a hundred times better when most of my carbs came from low GI, complex carbs, and my fats came from natural sources such avocado, coconut, and nuts/seeds. When I was getting most of my carbs from French fries and pop tarts, I had little to no energy in the gym. I felt sluggish, bloated, and worst of all I was constantly clogged up, something no lifter wants when they are trying to max out on their squat.
To sum up what your nutrition should look like when trying to maximize muscle and strength gains and minimize fat loss:
✓ Be in a consistent 500 calorie surplus
✓ Quantify your macros/count your calories
✓ Eat clean most of the time
✓ Never look back at your smaller, weaker self.
Wrapping it All Up
Hopefully if you read this far all the information I laid out has made sense and is easily understood. The point of this article is to open bodybuilders and powerlifters to a different style of training or nutrition that they haven’t tried or even thought about.
The important differences between powerbuilding and other styles of training include: an even mix of heavy compound lifting and hypertrophy isolation exercises, hitting every muscle group twice a week to maximize gains when most bodybuilding routines hits every muscle group once a week, and eating clean, nutrient dense food while still allowing yourself to enjoy the delicious foods that are forbidden with most strict diets.
Hopefully this has inspired you to try something new and always remember, it’s always good to look strong, but it helps if you can back up what you look like you can lift…