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Powerlifting Set Progression

Written on May 17, 2007 at 2:09 pm, by Eric Cressey

I have been following your high, medium, super high and deload weeks concept that you outlined in your Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual (which is awesome btw) and I was wondering if the way i am implementing it for powerlifting is ok.

On the high weeks i usually do 4 sets of anywhere between 6-8 reps for my second exercise, on medium weeks i drop it down to 3 sets, on super high weeks i go up to 5 and then on deload weeks i go down to 2 sets.

would it be a better idea to say do 4 sets of 6-8 on high week, 3 on medium week and do something like 3 sets of 6-8 along with 1-2 sets of 15-20 either same exercise i am doing or different. Do you think that is to much volume?

Thanks for the kind words. You’re on the right track with fluctuating the number of sets you do from week to week. I also like to vary the loading on the first assistance exercise depending on the day (we’ll use lower body days in a Westside-influenced template as an example).

DE Squat: First assistance might be a deadlift variation – sets of 3-6
ME Squat: First assistance might be a heavy single-leg, rack pull, front squat, GHR, etc – sets of 6-10

Example of first assistance movements over the course of a month:

Week 1 (high):

DE Squat: 4×3
ME Squat: 4×6

Week 2 (medium):
DE Squat: 3×3
ME Squat: 3×6

Week 3 (very high):
DE Squat: 5×3
ME Squat: 5×6

Week 4 (deload):
DE Squat: 2×3 (with 5RM)
ME Squat: 3×6

Eric Cressey

2 Responses to “Powerlifting Set Progression”

  1. Stephen Says:


    What are your thoughts on following a traditional westside program for raw powerlifters, and is there any reason in particular your strength programs differ to a westside one despite they’re success in powerlifing?



  2. Eric Cressey Says:


    Definitely still a lot of advantages.  I like the template, as it’s versatile enough to be modified to accomodate a lot of differen goals.  You’d obviously free squat more than you box squat, too.

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