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How To: High Frequency and Intensity Training for Powerlifting


Editors Comment: Not too long ago, Broz uploaded the now famous squat videos that quickly spread through the strength community. Shortly following, he came out and talked about his methods, explaining how himself and his lifters trained. Although the routine was originally used by weightlifters, many powerlifters attempted to emulate the ultra high frequency training. For most powerlifters, the fun was short lived and the program was tough to adapt. Damien Pezzuti wasn’t one of those powerlifters. He was able to make the methods work, and work very well. Here’s his layout on how he did just that.


The 5 – Day High Frequency, High Intensity Powerlifting Program

Overview: As you will see, you’ll be training the Squat and Bench Press on Monday through Friday. The Deadlift will be performed once a week on Friday after you Squat and Bench Press. The reasoning is because the Deadlift is the most taxing of the three lifts and is best performed on your final training session, which will then give you the weekend off to recover.

Monday – Friday: Squat + Bench up to a 1-5r “training max.”

Friday: Deadlift up to a 1-5r “training max” or 10 – 12 sets of Speed Deadlifts.

Adding a 6th Training Day: Everything in the original template stays the same except for the deadlift. Instead of deadlifting on the 5th (Friday) session you would now deadlift on the 6th (Saturday) session.

The Important Details

Training Max: This is not like a competition maximum. I do not recommend grinding out 1-5r training maxes every session. The goal should be to handle a heavy weight for a good, solid rep or reps. In my opinion you should have at least 1-2 reps “in the tank” so to speak. That said, training is always based on how you’re feeling, and if you’re feeling really good on a day by all means go for an all-time best or PR.

Back-Off Work: If you work up to a multiple (3-5r) training max I do not recommend any additional back-off work. If you work up to a 1r training max I recommend you perform one back-off set for some extra volume. Examples of back-off sets (%’s taken off training max): 90% x 1-2; 85% x 3; 80% x 3-5; 70-75% x 5-8; 60-65% x 8-10; 50-55% x 10-12.

Again, these are just examples to give you an idea. Come up with your own unique ideas for back-off work.

[pullquote]You just go to the gym and lift whatever you’re capable of. I never deload.[/pullquote]

Assistance & Substituting Exercises

I am not a big believer in the use of assistance exercises. I’ve never found it necessary to expend energy on doing isolation work. With that being said, I do recommend underhand band pull-aparts and/or some type of internal/external rotations for shoulder health. These can be done at home or the gym.

You can sub in the Front Squat for Back Squat on days you’d like. For the Bench Press you could sub in Close Grip Bench, Incline Bench, or Floor Press. For the Deadlift you could sub in Deficit Deadlifts or some type of partial ROM Deadlift movement. Again, these are just examples and by no means is it absolutely necessary to sub in exercises. I advise not to sub in exercises once you get closer (3-4 weeks) to a meet.

Squatting & Benching 2x a session

Obviously I don’t recommend you start out doing this, but this is a way to increase training load over time without increasing the number of days you spend in the gym. And honestly, it really doesn’t increase your total time in the gym that much. The reason is because your body is already warm from the 1st Squat and Bench Press sessions you performed. Thus, you can start your 2nd Squat and Bench Press sessions at much heavier weight. No need for warm up sets with the bar or 135lbs. I personally have done this in the past with very positive results. Sometimes I would even be stronger in my 2nd sessions. I attribute this to the 1st sessions essentially “priming” my body and CNS.

If you eventually choose to do this I recommend not performing any back-off work. This is also where you can get a little creative, too. There is nothing wrong with doing some CAT/”speed” work during these 2nd sessions. You’re not obligated to work up to a top set with this 2nd session. Just keep the volume relatively low during these CAT/”speed” sessions. Something like 5-8×2 in the squat and 5-7×3 in the bench.

You can mix it up, too. Maybe one day you Squat 2x and Bench Press 1x; then you have a day where you Bench Press 2x and Squat 1x. If you choose to Bench Press 2x but only Squat 1x in a session then start the session with the Bench Press. Example: Bench Press-Squat-Bench Press.

Damien Pezzuti Legs

Optional Weekend Recovery/Technique Work

Perform a total of 75-100 reps with either an empty barbell or no more than 95lbs. Perform these in sets of 5-10 reps. Do not rush through these reps. Perform these reps slow and under control. Squat and Bench Press only. Again, this is just optional. That said, it’s always good to do something even if it’s just a brisk 15-20 minute walk.

Monday Session: I recommend that you play it safe and be conservative with your attempts on Monday. Why? Because it will have been two days since you last were under heavy weights. The muscles recover at a much faster rate than the tendons do. Take longer warming up and make smaller jumps in weight.

[pullquote] I owe a lot to this style of training and the Bulgarian method as a whole. I would have never hit some of the numbers I have without it.[/pullquote]

Working up to Max: Other than the Monday session, which I explained above, I recommend that you work fast and take big jumps leading up to your top set of the day. I advise no more than triples once you start adding weight to the bar. Anything above 5 reps is just wasting energy in my opinion.

Friday Deadlift: You can do Speed Deadlifts instead of maxing out on the Deadlift every Friday session. That is totally up to you. You can also alternate weeks of Speed Deadlifts and maxing out on the Deadlift. I understand that the Deadlift is the most difficult exercise to recover from so I feel it was important to add this option in.

Peaking for Competition

PLEASE NOTE: all credit for this peaking plan goes to John Broz, who is the single biggest influence on the way I train and how I think about training. Prior to my Bench Press meet in early April this year I was fortunate to exchange a few emails with Coach Broz, who was kind enough to give me a basic, general peaking plan. We all know that peaking isn’t an exact science and can be very unpredictable. Often lifters leave their best performances in the gym. With that being said, this plan worked absolutely fantastic for me. I brought my strongest performance to the platform.

Here is the exact plan I used from Coach Broz: “last max 5 days out without any additional volume
4 days out: w/u to 60-70%
3 days out: same
2 days: openers
1 day out 70%

reduced volume for those days. you should almost feel guilty that you are not training more and actually be a bit nervous like you should be doing more work.”

I personally would like to add that this plan is for the Squat and Bench Press. I recommend having your final max Deadlift 10-14 days out. You would not Deadlift again until meet day. Please understand that this is just a basic, general peaking plan. What worked for me may not work for you and vice versa. That said, this definitely gives you an idea of what to do.

Final Thoughts

These sessions should take no longer than 45-60 minutes with the possible exception being the Friday session where you will also be performing the Deadlift. Get in, get after it and go home!

(Be sure to check out Damien’s training log for more information and insight on this style of training.)

  1. Nice, love your approach.

    1. Eric Talmant

      Looks like I need to finally come out with an article on this type of training. I have been doing it for powerlifting for many years now and I have two of the biggest lifts ever done in raw powerlifting. My 512 squat at 148 and my 655 deadlift at 165 are still huge lifts on the all time raw lists. I don’t agree with either Broz or the author here. I think they have both missed the boat when you are taking about adapting Bulgarian training for the sport of powerlifting–respectively. I will ask my training crew how they feel about me finally writing an article on how we do it.

      1. We would absolutely like to know your thoughts about it Eric!

        1. Eric Talmant

          I put up a post on my Facebook about Sheiko training (of which I am well known for knowing about but not what I currently do or have been doing since spring 2010) and the internet keyboard warriors came out in force. You know…I am 39 years old and I have two of the biggest raw lifts ever done. A 512 raw squat (without knee wraps) at 148 done under strict judging at RUM 4 and a 655 raw deadlift at 165. I have helped hundreds of lifters all over the world for free. I have never charged anyone that I helped. I have answered thousands of emails. I’m tired of internet criticism. I will have to respectfully decine, Ronn. Thanks for the offer though.

        2. Maybe you can find a better home on Lift! Little more respectful environment in our forums/logs, I think.

        3. Eric Talmant

          Perhaps in the future I will write an article on it. I believe that the way that we train is an incredible system. One of my students just deadlifted 312 @ 114 for a federation national record. Her very first powerlifting meet was in May of this year. My other students are making great progress as well.

        4. Any chance you’d be willing to email someone the gist of how you’re currently running your programming? I’d know a lot of people would be very appreciative.

        5. Eric Talmant

          Perhaps in the future I will do that Mike.

    2. Will this help me lose fat? I’m at 15% body fat, I want to look shredded and still get stronger. I’m 18 any advice?

      1. 15% body fat is pretty good level. For a natural, male powerlifter it’s pretty close to ideal actually. If the goal is fat loss, while doing your best to maintain muscle (you most likely won’t get stronger while in a caloric deficit, but if you’re completely new to training, it might happen, primarily due to neural adaptations to lifting) , you probably want to be looking at a bodybuilder cutting routine instead of a powerlifting routine. Most powerlifting routines don’t work well in a caloric deficit environment. My general advice with regard to weight training on a deficit is to keep volume low but intensity relatively high. Multiply your current weight by about 16-17, this is approximately your maintenance calorie level (there are more detailed calculators online but this is a quick and dirty method I like) (this number assumes you will be training both weights and cardio, it’s closer to 15 for most sedentary individuals). Subtract 500 from this number, that amount of calories should put you on track to lose about a pound per week. Keep protein high (at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, but 1.5 is not unheard of on a deficit) and weight intensity high (go up to at least 85% of your 1rm on every cycle (not necessarily every session, depends on the program)) this limits muscle loss (though it will happen if you’re not untrained). Test bodyfat levels after each week. If they are going up, you’re eating too much, lower calories by about 300 per day, if it’s going down, then things are going well. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, just some general rules. Good luck.

  2. Damien’s my hero. Going to be bookmarking this one for the future, finally a proven way of putting this all together all on one screen. Thanks!

  3. Justenc165

    This is also how I train.ive trained like this for almost 6 months.your body adapts after a couple weeks and maxing become like clockwork.he is spot on with everything in his article.all my aches,pains,injuries disappeared also.

    1. Nice! What kind of progress have you made training this way, so far?

  4. Justenc165

    Brandon,my training lifts;front squat 250 to 380,zombie squat 185 to 335,back squat 500 to 535 with some left.this past weekend i hit a 510 raw squat(sleeves)at rps raw nationals at previous meet pr was 490.i still had a good 15lbs left in me.

    1. Wow huge squat, those are some great gains!


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