Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
May 18, 2024
Training For Strength
by Dennis B. Weis the Yukon Hercules

In bodybuilding, there are many approaches to the acquisition of Super Human Strength. One of the best ways I know of to develop deep-rooted strength is to plan your training around an upcoming powerlifting competition. You will not only gain tremendous strength from such a plan, but by demonstrating it as a competitor in a powerlifting meet, you will gain the attention of the spectators and they will realize that a bodybuilder’s physique isn’t necessarily just show (cosmetic physique).

For those of you bodybuilders who would like to dedicate your training to perhaps one powerlifting competition a year, I would like to share with you a very workable strength-training program which represents the most efficient use of actual elapsed training time and maximum recovery between workouts.

Strength and Power-Training Program


Conventional Deadlifts 1 x 10 (50%), 1 x 8 (70%), 1 x 3 (80%), 1 x 3 (90%), 3 x 3 (80%)

Rest 4 to 5 minutes between sets. Concentrate on form and pull and squeeze the shoulder blades back and together throughout the entire motion of each rep.

Barbell High Pulls 3 x 6 (60%)

Rest 3 minutes between sets; explode on the pull, to belt-high position, then lower rather slowly in negative fashion.

Vertical Dips on Parallel Bars 1 x 10 (30%), 1 x 6 (50%), 3 x 3 (80%) Rest 3 to 4 minutes between sets. Explode from the low dead stop positions.

Bodyweight Only Bar Dips 1 x Failure


(20 to 30 minutes) Do assorted midsection and neck work, your choice. Hanging Knee Ups, Lying Leg Thrusts, Crunches for the abs. For the neck, harness work, partner resistance exercises, and various bridges.


*Power ‘style’ Squats (to parallel). Use the same set, rep, and percentage schedule as described for the Deadlift exercise.

Squat Jumps with Bodyweight 1 set to Failure

Barbell Curls (slight cheat) 5 x 5. Rest 2 minutes between all sets.


Supine Barbell Bench Press
Again use the same set, rep, and percentage schedule as described for the Deadlift and Power ‘style’ Squat (to parallel) exercises.

Use the same set, rep, and percentage schedule as suggested for Vertical Dips on the Parallel Bars. On this exercise movement, use a fairly narrow grip. Do these with a curl grip (palms facing you) one workout, then with the hands pronated (palms facing away) the next, etc.

Saturday and Sunday:

Complete Rest!

Every third week...

...do your 1 x 3 (90%) training slot for the Deadlift, Power ‘style’ Squat (to parallel), and Supine Barbell Press in this manner: Do 1 set of 3 reps at 90% limit, then 1 set of 2 reps with 95% limit, then do 4 single attempts, resting 5 to 7 minutes between attempts, increasing the weight whenever possible by 5 pounds. Do this entire procedure only every third week!

Three weeks before the powerlifting competition, do only 2 sets of the Barbell High Pulls with 60%, 3 sets of 6 reps in the Power ‘style’ Squats (to parallel) with 50%. Continue doing the Squat Jumps with bodyweight only for 2 sets to failure. On the Barbell Curls (slight cheat), do 3 sets of 7 reps. On the Chinups/Pullups, do them for 4 sets of 6 reps. Also at this point (3 weeks before the contest), do your Deadlift, High Bar Back Squat and Supine Bench Press sequence (note the different from the one suggested every third week above) in this manner:

Training for Strength

1 set 20 reps (30%)
Rest 2 minutes
1 set 10 reps (50%)
Rest 2 minutes
1 set 8 reps (60%)
Rest 3 minutes
1 set 3 reps (70%)
Rest 5 minutes
1 set 3 reps (90%)
Rest 5 minutes
1 set 1 rep (95%)

Now do 3 more single attempts in 5-pound increments, with 5 minutes of rest between each of the attempts (hold 2 ½ pound barbell/dumbbell plates in each hand and “heft” them to show yourself that the additional weight is very light before adding them to the barbell for each single attempt; if you have an abundance of energy, do 1 to 3 more single attempts this way to break your record).

Rest 5 minutes
1 set 15 reps (15%)


Two days prior to the powerlifting competition, don’t do anything with the weights, and if your body weight is well within the class limit you plan to lift in, then eat quite a lot of potatoes (baked well-done, preferably) for a very high level of carbohydrate energy and increased potassium mineral content; this is a secret that the Russians use frequently.

Comments and Notations

Note: 50% of something is half, so when I say 50% of your current maximum single effort, and your best single is 500 pounds, 50% is 250 pounds, etc. Percentages are easy to compute in 100 and 10 pound increments: i.e., 80% is 8 of the 10 pounds, or 80 of 100 pounds, etc., and for proper warming up, and progressive neuro-muscular preparation, use a weight that corresponds to these percentages to avoid over-training in this sequence. You should want desperately to do more lifts after your workout is done...but don’t, since this reserve of energy at contest time, along with the adrenaline flow caused by competition, will allow you to express much more strength in your lifts!

On all the exercises within the regular Strength and Power Training Program, try to add 10 pounds per workout to each set – but if this is simply not possible, don’t settle for less than 5-pound increases. This complete training cycle can be followed 10 to 12 weeks prior to an upcoming powerlifting competition.

*Note: In the Power ‘style’ Squats (to parallel) Wednesday workout, there are 4 points to keep in mind:

1. Bar rests low across shoulders.
2. Torso is bent forward.
3. Feet are shoulder-width apart (or wider).
4. During the descent, buttocks go back and knees stay directly over ankles; lower leg remains perpendicular to floor.

Maximum strength gains from this brief but brutal program will be realized in 8-12 weeks prior to an upcoming powerlifting competition. When I used the above program my best lifts at a bodyweight of 212 pounds was as follows: Power "style" Squats (way below parallel) 500 pounds, Supine Barbell Bench Press; 300 pounds, and Conventional Deadlifts; 575 pounds. Each of these lifts were done for 3 sets of 3 reps, using 80% of a maximum single effort and most importantly with no lifting gear (suit, elbow or knee wrapes etc.). Stay flexed!!!

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