powerbuilding program

12 Week Powerbuilding Program Plus Benefits, Tips & FAQs

June 18, 2021

Powerbuilding put simply is a workout program that is an amalgamation of two training styles; powerlifting and bodybuilding. This hybrid training method might not be a completely new concept but it has been gaining steam over the past decade. Powerbuilding workout routines should lead to an increase in muscle size and overall strength.

In this post we’ll try to touch on all aspects of powerbuilding including:

  • What is powerbuilding?
  • Who is powerbuilding for?
  • 12 week sample powerbuilding program
  • Benefits of powerbuilding
  • Powerbuilding Tips
  • Powerbuilding FAQs

Let’s dig into it now, so you still have time to get your powerbuilding program started today..

powerbuilding workout

What is powerbuilding?

The best of both worlds, powerbuilding combines the concepts of powerlifting and bodybuilding. If done properly, powerbuilding programs will pack on muscle mass and strength. Powerlifting and bodybuilding have different training protocols, diets and end targets. Historically, powerlifters train for maximizing strength or power in specific lifts while bodybuilders train to maximize hypertrophy(increasse muscle size). Therefore, powerbuilders can be thought of as bodybuilders who want gain the power to match their muscles or powerlifters looking to improve their overall musculature aesthetics to match their strength.

Related: How to Progressive Overload for Strength and Hypertrophy?

What is powerlifting?

Powerlifting is exactly what is sounds like, lifting weights to become more powerful. Powerlifting is a sport where athletes compete for their one rep max (1RM) in three main lifts.

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press

Most competitions allow competitors three attempts to hit their maximum lifted weight. The competitions have age and weight classes and the winner of each class is the one who has the highest powerlifting total.

Powerlifting training generally entails focusing on the big lifts working with weights ranging from 80-95% of their 1RM in a rep range of 1-5 and a set range from 3-6. The techniques powerlifters use center around recruiting as much musculature as possible so that the coordination between muscles produce more combined strength. They also try to reduce the range of motion that the barbell has to travel, such as an arched back when doing bench presses. Lastly, powerlifters focus on form and technique to avoid injuries while lifting such heavy weights.

Related: How to Build Muscular Strength?

What is bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is also a sport or style of training where people look to “build” or add muscle to their body. Bodybuilding is the focus on the aesthetics of the body with less regard for actual strength or power that those muscles produce. The quintessential term in bodybuilding might very well be “muscle hypertrophy” or the enlargement of muscles. To increase muscle size the training must include:

  • Mechanical Tension
  • Metabolic Stress
  • More Volume

Mechanical tension refers to lifting a relatively heavy weight through a full range of motion for a certain amount of time. The time under tension (TUT) on muscles results in more mechanical tension which should help muscle grow.

Metabolic stress can be thought of as the process of the constant pumping of blood into active muscles. This “pump or burn” is produced by blood filling your muscles which results in micro tears of the muscle fibers and the accrual of metabolites which are believed to stimulate anabolic signaling aiding in muscle growth.

More volume is perhaps the most important factor in promoting hypertrophy. This is why you’ll find bodybuilders generally using weights of 75-80% of 1RM with a rep range of 8-12 and sets of 3-4, although this can vary.

Another major difference is that bodybuilders perform a wide variety of exercises unlike powerlifters who only stick to a handful. To sculpt their muscles properly bodybuilders will perform many isolation and single joint exercises at a variety of angles. Bodybuilders also employ training methods such as drop sets, compound sets, forced reps and training to failure.

Related: How are Strength and Hypertrophy Training Different?

12 Week Peak Powerbuilding Workout Program

We created a sample powerbuilding program that is spread over 5 workouts throughout the week. You should have two days off per week to allow your body ample time to recover fromm the stress put on your body. As you will see the major lifts on the power days have the rep and sets as:

  • Weeks 1-4: 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weeks 5-8: 6 sets x 4 reps
  • Weeks 9-12: 7 sets x 3 reps

Note: Feel free to switch up the accessory lifts if you don't have access to certain equipment or if you want to target certain muscles more or less than we have. Just make sure to keep the major lifts in your powerbuilding program. As always, get a 5-10 minute dynamic warm up in before you begin your workout followed by a 5-10 minute cool down.

WEEKS 1 to 4: Monday = Upper Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Flat Bench Press

5

5

Up to 2.5 mins

Bent-Over Row

5

5

Up to 2 min

Decline DB Bench Press

3

6-8

Up to 1.5 mins

Lat Pull Down

3

6-8

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Military Press

5

5

Up to 2 mins

Skullcrushers

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

Alt. Hammer Curls

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

Pallof Press

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 1 to 4: Tuesdays = Lower Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Squat

5

5

Up to 3 mins

Deadlift

5

5

Up to 3 mins

Front Squat

3

6

Up to 2.5 mins

Leg Press

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Split Squats

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Calf Raise

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

Cable Crunches

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

 WEDNESDAY- OFF

WEEKS 1 to 4: Thursdays = Shoulders, Chest, Triceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Incline DB Press

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Decline DB Press

5

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Pec Deck

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Arnold Press

3

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Lateral Raise  & Rear Delt Lateral Raise (Superset)

3

8-12

Up to 2 min

Triceps Pressdown

3

8-10

Up to 1 min

Overhead Triceps Extensions

2

AMRAP

Up to 1 min

Hanging Leg Raises

3

10

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 1- 4: Fridays = Lower Body Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Hack Squats

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Single Leg DB Stiff Legged Deadlift

3

10-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Leg Curl & Leg Extension (Superset)

3

12-15

Up to 2.5 mins

Back Extensions (weighted)

4

10

Up to 1 min

Seated Calf Raises

3

15-20

Up to 1 min

Cable Woodchoppers

3

12-15

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 1-4: Saturdays = Back, Biceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

T Bar Row

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Cable Row

3

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

4

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Trap Raises & Cable Face Pulls (Superset)

3

8-10

Up to 2 mins

Preacher Curls & Incline DB Curls (Superset)

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

Weighted Plank

3

30 seconds

Up to 1 min

SUNDAY-OFF

WEEKS 5-8:  Monday = Upper Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Flat Bench Press

6

4

Up to 2.5 mins

Bent-Over Row

6

4

Up to 2 min

Decline DB Bench Press

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Lat Pull Down

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Military Press

6

4

Up to 2 mins

Skullcrushers

4

8-12

Up to 1 min

Alt. Hammer Curls

4

8-12

Up to 1 min

Pallof Press

3

8-12

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 5-8: Tuesday = Lower Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Squat

6

4

Up to 3 mins

Deadlift

6

4

Up to 3 mins

Front Squat

4

5

Up to 2.5 mins

Leg Press

3

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Split Squats

3

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Calf Raise

3

12-15

Up to 1 min

Cable Crunches

3

15-20

Up to 1 min

WEDNESDAY- OFF

WEEKS 5-8: Thursday = Shoulders, Chest, Triceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Incline DB Press

4

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Decline DB Press

4

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Pec Deck

4

12-15

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Arnold Press

3

12-15

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Lateral Raise  & Rear Delt Lateral Raise (Superset)

3

10-15

Up to 2 min

Triceps Pressdown

3

10-15

Up to 1 min

Overhead Triceps Extensions

2

AMRAP

Up to 1 min

Hanging Leg Raises

3

12

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 5-8: Friday = Lower Body Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Hack Squats

4

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Single Leg DB Stiff Leg Deadlift

3

12-15

Up to 1.5 mins

Leg Curl & Leg Extension (Superset)

4

10-12

Up to 2.5 mins

Back Extensions (weighted)

4

12-15

Up to 1 min

Seated Calf Raises

4

15-20

Up to 1 min

Cable Woodchoppers (both sides)

3

15-20

Up to 1 min

WEEKS 5-8: Saturday = Back, Biceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

T Bar Row

4

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Cable Row

3

10-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

4

10-12

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Trap Raises & Cable Face Pulls (Superset)

3

12-15

Up to 2 mins

Preacher Curls & Incline DB Curls (Superset)

3

12-15

Up to 1 min

Weighted Plank

3

1 minute

Up to 1 min

SUNDAY-OFF

WEEKS 9-12: Monday = Upper Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Flat Bench Press

7

3

Up to 2.5 mins

Bent-Over Row

7

3

Up to 2 min

Decline DB Bench Press

4

6

Up to 1.5 mins

Lat Pull Down

4

8

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Military Press

7

3

Up to 2 mins

Skullcrushers & Hammer Curls (Superset)

4

8

Up to 1 min

Pallof Press

3

12-15

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 9-12: Tuesdays = Lower Power Day

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Squat

7

3

Up to 3 mins

Deadlift

7

3

Up to 3 mins

Front Squat

4

5

Up to 2.5 mins

Leg Press

3

10-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Split Squats

4

8

Up to 1.5 mins

Standing Calf Raise

4

8

Up to 1 min

Cable Crunches

3

15-20

Up to 1 min

 WEDNESDAY- OFF

WEEKS 9-12: Thursdays = Shoulders, Chest, Triceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Incline DB Press

4

8

Up to 1.5 mins

Decline DB Press

4

8

Up to 1.5 mins

Pec Deck

2

15

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Arnold Press

2

12-15

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Lateral Raise & Rear Delt Lateral Raise (Superset)

2

8

Up to 2 min

Triceps Pressdown

3

10-15

Up to 1 min

Overhead Triceps Extensions

2

AMRAP

Up to 1 min

Hanging Leg Raises

3

15-20

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 9-12:  Fridays = Lower Body Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

Hack Squats

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Single Leg DB Stiff Legged Deadlift

3

10-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Leg Curl & Leg Extension (Superset)

3

12-15

Up to 2.5 mins

Barbell Good Morning (weighted)

2

10

Up to 1 min

Leg Press Calf Raises

(Toes forward, Inward outward)

3

30 total

Up to 1 min

Cable Woodchoppers

4

12-15

Up to 1 min

 

WEEKS 9-12: Saturday = Back, Biceps Hypertrophy

Exercise

Set

Rep

Rest

T Bar Row

3

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

Seated Cable Row

3

8-10

Up to 1.5 mins

Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

4

8-12

Up to 1.5 mins

DB Trap Raises & Cable Face Pulls (Superset)

3

8-10

Up to 2 mins

Preacher Curls & Incline DB Curls (Superset)

2

8

Up to 1 min

Weighted Plank

3

1.5 minutes

Up to 1 min

 SUNDAY - OFF

best powerbuilding program

Benefits of Powerbuilding

Powerbuilding programs offer numerous benefits thus their popularity continues to grow. These days you might see powerbuilding being talked about on Reddit forums or other social media platforms with before and after transformations. The core benefits of powerbuilding is to improve strength and body composition. Let’s take a look at some other benefits powerbuilding has to offer.

  • Strength Matching Muscles: As touched on before powerbuilding is a well-rounded training protocol because it should lead to both muscle size gains as well as strength gains. All too often the jacked people you see walking around have the muscles but the strength doesn’t match the size.
  • Variety: Powerbuilding workouts aren’t boring routines because you have days focusing on different lifts, both compound and isolation movements with varying set and rep ranges.
  • Efficiency: One of the major selling points of Powerbuilding is that you’re combining two workout modalities into one program. Instead of doing a bulking program for a few months then moving to a cutting program, Powerbuilding can allow you to put on size and strength without the extra fat (*if following a good nutrition plan).
  • Split Training: Many powerbuilding programs are built around splits where you will be training upper and lower body muscles twice a week. With split training you can reach a good volume for all major muscles without over-training.
  • Personal Preferences: By getting a taste of both the powerlifting style of training and the bodybuilding style many people report that they are able to identify more with one of these methods. This comes down to personal preference of course but powerbuilding gives you a chance to dip your toes into both worlds at the same time.
  • Freedom to Choose: The low reps and sets for most compound movements in powerbuilding routines are due to the load and the intensity. This gives you the chance to add more volume to isolation or accessory movements as you see fit. There is a feeling of more freedom because of this whereas other workout programs you have to stay within defined parameters of exercises, sets and reps.

Related: Why you Should train Each Muscle Group Twice Weekly

Tips for Powerbuilding to Maximize Strength and Muscle Gains

In order to get the most of any powerbuilding program you should follow some rough guidelines to make sure all your time and effort isn’t being wasted

  1. Make sure you know the fundamentals of the big compound lifts so you can perform them with proper form and technique. On your power days you should be pushing yourself to the absolute limit.
  2. You can get creative with your exercises by switching up the variations time to time. However, the power days must be comprised of some variation of bench press, squat or deadlifts.
  3. Eating enough clean calories is essential to gain as much strength and muscle mass as possible during your powerbuilding program. You must get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You might also want to consider carb loading on your power days to help fuel your more taxing workouts.
  4. Track your progression. You should be adding weight to your lifts on power days as the weeks go on. Shoot for an added five pounds on upper body lifts per week and 10 pounds on lower body lifts. If you can’t add weight to your lifts then try to increase total training volume or time under tension.
  5. Consider mixing in special sets on hypertrophy days including supersets, drop sets, forced reps, partial reps or reps to failure.
  6. If possible, try to train with a partner for your first powerbuilding program so you can push each other to the max in a safe way. This also helps to track progress, hold each other accountable and promote healthy competition.

powerbuilding routine

Reps and Sets for Powerbuilding

Briefly touched on above, let’s have a look at the end goal then work backwards.

  • Reps and Sets for Muscle Gain: Usually in the range of 8-12 rep range with 14-20 sets per week per major muscle group. In this area we are generally speaking about accessory lifts so you can mix things up a bit to cater to your personal needs or to address imbalances/weak areas.
  • Reps and Sets for Endurance: Rep and set ranges for muscle endurance can have a large range anywhere for 10-20 reps or even to failure (AMRAP). In powerbuidling routines, muscle endurance exercises will be limited to accessory lifts. Usually sets can range from 1-4.
  • Reps and Set or Strength Gain: Weights between 80-95% of your 1RM for 1-5 reps with sets ranging from 3-8.

Related: How Many Sets and Reps Should I do per Muscle Group?

Warmup for Powerbuilding Workout

Preceding all workouts, warmups are a must. It’s an integral part of a workout session to get the blood flowing and the joints loosened up. This holds particularly true for powerbuilding programs where you will be lifting some heavy weights.

We always recommend a dynamic warmup consisting of full body dynamic stretching exercises while specifically targeting the muscles you will be working the hardest. You should also do some light reps of the targeted exercise, slowly progressing up in weight.

POWERBUILDING FAQs

How to create a powerbuilding program?

In order to create a powerbuilding program you should first understand that you must include the big lifts in your program including:

You should also include a variety of accessory lifts throughout the training program. There isn’t a set format to create a powerbuilding program apart from the need for the big compound lifts at low rep range and accessory or other compound lifts at mid rep range. 

You can split up the program based on upper/lower body or push/pull/legs or even by the main lifts i.e. deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press day etc. We lean towards powerbuilding programs that hit all the major muscle groups twice weekly.

Who is Powerbuilding Good for?

Powerbuilding can be good for just about everyone who wants to gain strength and muscle. The following groups of people could benefit from a powerbuilding training program.

  • Powerlifters and Bodybuilders: Powerlifters can use powerbuilding after their competitions in the offseason to retain strength while also improving body composition. Bodybuilders can use powerbuilding workouts a few months before their bodybuilding competition then transition into more of a cutting sculpting routine to get ready for their show.
  • Athletes: Powerbuilding programs can be great for athletes of all sports during the offseason to gain lean mass and strength. Then when the season is approaching, they can transition to more sport specific training methods.
  • Everyone else: Powerbuilding provides a well-balanced training regimen for people who want to gain muscle and strength while improving their overall fitness foundation. Powerbuilding programs are the perfect choice for those who often get bored or lose motivation because they're always performing workouts based on 3 sets of 10 reps for every exercise.

Note: A word of caution to beginners, is that in order to complete a powerbuilding routine properly you must have good form and technique of the bigger compound lifts including squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press.

Who has the best powerbuilding program?

There isn’t an exact answer to this question as workout programs and their results depend on a multitude of factors. What might work for one person might not work well for the next. Fitness is a lifelong journey where you have to find your own way. Here are 10 popular powerbuilding workout programs you can find online:

    1. Hepburn Method
    2. Phatburn Powerbuilding program
    3. Sheikburn Powerbuilding Program
    4. Bill Starr Power Program
    5. Extended Russian Power Program
    6. Prime 4 Week Powerbuilding Program
    7. Metallicadpa 6 Day Ppl Program (Reddit PPL)
    8. Brograins Powerbuilding Program
    9. Phul (Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower) Workout Routine
    10. Phat (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) Powerbuilding Program

      What is the difference between powerlifting and powerbuilding?

      The difference between powerlifting and powerbuilding is that powerlifting is centered around three big lifts, squats, deadlifts and bench press whereas powerbuilding consists of these exercises plus a bunch of accessory lifts. In powerlifting the reps are fewer and the weights are heavier in the name of one pursuit, to get stronger. In powerbuilding there is a mix between power compound lifts with lower rep schemes and mid-rep range lifts covering both compound and accessory exercises to increase muscle size.

      Related: The Best Powerlifting Workout Program

      Is powerbuilding good for athletes?

      Yes, powerbuilding is great for athletes whose sports require strength and a high fitness ability. Running a powerbuilding program during the offseason can help athletes get stronger and possibly enhance their performance in some activities. Athletes can then transition to more sport specific training closer to their season.

      How many days a week can I powerbuild?

      Most powerbuilding programs are 4 or more days per week with at least one day of rest. The frequency of your workout should be based on a few factors including your end goals, schedule, fitness level, recovery ability and personal preference. Powerbuilding workout programs are often comprised of splits where you will hit major muscle groups twice weekly. Whatever frequency your powerbuilding program is make sure you get adequate rest so that your muscles can recover before putting them through the ringer again.

      Can you build muscle with powerbuilding?

      Yes, powerbuilding is one of the best ways you can build muscle. The lower rep scheme with heavier weights translates to more strength. The mid rep range of 8-12 is perfect for hypertrophy or muscle size increase. Therefore the combination of the two makes powerbuilding one of the best training routines to build muscle with real strength.

      powerbuilding split

      CONCLUSION

      A quick search on Google Trends shows that powerbuilding is a breakout search term. As more people are exposed to powerbuilding and its benefits we believe more people will be hopping on this freight train; it's showing no signs of slowing down. Powerbuilding workout programs are challenging yet rewarding. Powerbuilding programs are the way to go for those who have the dedication to improving their aesthetics while getting freakishly stronger. Don’t just take our word for it, start our 12 week powerbuilding workout program today.

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