If a natural weightlifter wants to gain size, his goal should be to become stronger first and his weapons of choice are the big compound lifts and a powerbuilding routine.
Combining both bodybuilding and strength training in one workout will get you a functional and a powerful looking physique as a reward for your intense training.
Powerbuilding can be defined as a combination of hypertrophy and strength training methods, in which the goal is to get as big and strong as possible.
To accomplish this you should concentrate on several things: Compound exercises, heavy weights, lower number of repetitions AND probably the most important rule – weight progression.
1. Compound Exercises
Powerbuilding is all about achieving big numbers on the “big three”: Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Press. You can use all the other exercises that exist out there, lift as heavy as you can on them and pretend you’re a badass, but without the “BIG THREE” you can’t get a really powerful physique.
Of course you will also want to incorporate exercises like barbell and dumbbell rows, pull ups, chin ups, leg presses, shoulder presses and a few other compound exercises to get that “bodybuilder” look and give the muscles a different kind of stimulus.
2. Heavy weights
The second rule is that you have to use heavy weights. Heavy means that you’ll be using weights that are in the range 80 – 90 % of your 1RM.
Remember the form and range of motion is a very important thing you need to focus on – if the weight is heavy enough to break your form and restrain your range of motion then it’s TOO HEAVY.
Choose a weight that will let you perform clean repetitions in the prescribed rep ranges. (we’ll get to this in the next point)
3. Lower number of repetitions
Here is where hypertrophy and strength training really mix with each other. A powerbuilding routine incorporates number of repetitions, high enough to produce hypertrophy, but still low enough to produce strength gains too.
Rep ranges will vary between 3 and 8 reps for the main lifts and 6 – 10 for the accessory work.
4. Weight progression
The goal of powerbuilding is to become bigger and stronger obviously, so this means that you’ll have to increase the weights you lift over a period of time.
You should increase the weights by couple of pounds every week. This means that you shouldn’t lift to failure, there is no need as you are increasing the weights every workout.
The powerbuilding diet is not as strict as a bodybuilding diet. This should not be your excuse to start eating junk food. Try to eat above 1.3 g of protein per lb from lean meats (beef, chicken, fish, eggs nuts and seeds and supplements).
Try to reduce your high glycemic index carbs and get them from sources like brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes and brown bread. High GI carbs can be eaten right after an intense workout and be useful actually.
Try to eat couple of servings of veggies and fruits during the day also. (High GI fruits after the workout)
The Powerbuilding workout
only work sets are shown – do a warm up of a few sets first:
Deadlifts 2 x 5
abs 3 x 15-20 reps with a plate on your chest
Rows 2 x 4-8reps (do variations of barbel and dumbbell rows on alternate weeks )
Pull downs 3 to failure
Wide grip curls 2 x 8-12 reps
Hammer curls 2 x 8-12reps
Bench press 2 x 5 – 6
Dumbbell shoulder press or incline dumbbell press 2 x 8-12 reps
tricep push downs 2 x 12-20 reps (light)
Laterals 2 x 10reps light
Shoulder rear raises 2 x 10reps light
Abs 2×15-20 reps light
Squats 3 x 5-8
Leg press 2 x 8-10
Straight leg deadlifts or leg curls 4 x 8-10
Calves 3 x 12-15
Abs 2 x 15-20
That’s it, this workout is nothing fancy, it’s actually pretty simple. But sometimes the simplest things are the best ones.
Give this workout a try for 12 weeks, along with a sensible diet, and you’ll be surprised by its effectiveness!