Saturday, April 15, 2023

Powerlift Manual, Part Three -- Dennis Weis

Center: John Grimek, Dennis Weis.  

Anthony Ditillo


Powerlifters usually face the problem of bringing up a weak area of a certain lift to the level with the rest of the lift.

As mentioned earlier in the manual, assistance work can be followed in cycles No. 2 and 3. The sets and reps followed in cycle No. 2 in assistance work should follow a pattern of 3 sets of 8 reps generally.

In cycle No. 3 the sets and reps should change to 3 sets of 5. 

Now that we have discussed the set and rep scheme of the assistance movements, let's look into some sample schedules that will benefit the lifter's progress.

One vital point that should be mentioned is this: If you have more than one weak area or lift of, say, two movements (example: bench and squat), don't try and specialize on both lifts in the same cycle. Decide which lift is most important that you work, and work that lift on cycles 2 and 3. If you find that results are achieved on one weak lift in cycle No. 2, then you may follow up with some isolation movements in cycle No. 3 for the other weak lift.


Overall Squat Program: 

Front Squats

Burning Back Squat. In this squat you break just past parallel position and come up to where you are 1/4 of the way from the completed lockout. You immediately go back down to just past parallel and come back up to the position mentioned. 

Quarter Squats. Use a power rack for safety with this movement. 

Hack Squats

Froont Squat Dead Starts 

Take a barbell which is roughly 75-100 pounds under your best regular scwoot of reps for whichever cycle you are in at the time. With the barbell held at the chest under the chin, go into the lowest squat position, pause a moment, then drive hard and fast, that's it . . . hard and fast . . . to raise up to near standing position (legs not locked). Return immediately to the low "pause" position and repeat. Don't ever bounce at the bottom. Always try and add weight. 

Jumping Squats

Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Then squat down and jump up high. When you land, don't stop, but immediately lower into the deep squat position and repeat. 


Overall Bench Press Program

Behind the Neck Press. This is a great movement in any bench press program because it will strengthen the shoulder area and triceps. 

Close Grip Bench Press. Triceps work. 

Bent Arm Pullovers.

Bentover Rowing. Lats. 

In a general overall bench press program it is best to arrange the program so that the delts are worked first, the triceps second, the pecs third, and the lats fourth. These muscles are listed in the order of their importance for aiding and stabilizing the areas for successful bench pressing.

A couple of routines that you may try from time to time to develop the initial explosive drive off the chest are: 

Routine One - 

Bench Press With a Wide Grip. 12 second pause each rep. 12? Okay then. Let's say this is a misprunt, okay. 2 second pause. 

Dead Stop Benches in Power Rack. This position is achieved in this manner. Position bar in rack on pins about 4" above the chest. Drive weight from this point to lockout.

Routine Two - 

Bench Press. Light weight, just blast weight off chest with SPEED.    

Heavy Let Downs. Fight the weight slowly to chest. Use approximately 75-100 pounds over best single effort.

Bench Supports in Power Rack. No movement, just hold weight in bench lockout position for 10 seconds of required sets for the particular cycle you are on. 


Overall Deadlift Program:

Other than practicing the regular deadlift specialized work for this movement is best done in the power rack.

Overcoming a Weak Grip: 

Hold a very heavy barbell at the erect position for 60 seconds for the required sets of the particular cycle you are on. When 60 seconds is reached on all sets, add more weight to the bar so that a 30-second hold can be reached and work up in time to 60 seconds. 


If you decide to do power rack training exclusively for your assistance work in cycles No. 2 and 3, DON'T DO ANY OFTHE SUGGESTED ROUTINES ABOVE with the rack training. Also, do not work all 3 positions of a certain powerlift in the rack all in the same workout day.   

Use the position of the rack where you need the work. If you are not particularly weak in any one area, you may work the top area one workout day, then the middle on another day, and the bottom position on a third workout day. Remember to follow the set and rep patterns suggested at the beginning of the chapter on isolation movements. On the last rep of any position of these three powerlifts, hold the last rep of each set for a 12-second hold and no more.

Rack Training Position Breakdown For The Three Powerlifts


To work the bottom position of the squat, have the barbell placed so that you are in the bottom position. Now set the pins so that when you come up to parallel the bar will hit these pins. 

To work the middle position of the squat, have the barbell placed at the parallel position. Now set the pins so that when you come up from parallel, the bar will hit this pin placement at about 8 inches from squat lockout.

To work the lockout position of the squat, have the barbell placed at 8 inches from lockout in the rack. Now set the pins so that when you come up from this position you will hit the pins at 1 inch from complete lockout.

Bench Press

Dead Stop Position on Chest. Have the bar set at chest level. Set pins so that when you begin the movement, the bar will hit the pins 5 inches off chest. 

Sticking Point in Bench Press (middle). Have the bar set 6 inches off the chest. Set the pins so that when you begin the movement the bar will hit pins 5 inches from lockout of bench press.

Lockout Position of Bench Press. Have the bar set 5 inches from lockout. Set pins so that when you begin the movement the bar will hit pins 1 inch below lockout.


Explosive Pull Off Floor. Position bar on floor in rack. Have pins set so that when you pull the bar will hit pins 2 inches below knees. 

Middle Sticking Point. Position bar 1 inch below knees. Have pins set so that bar will hit them at 8 inches from lockout. 

Lockout Position. Set bar at 8 inches from lockout. Position pins so that bar will hit at 1 inch below completed deadlift lockout position.

On the four days per week that you are not working out on the cycles and assistance movements, perform 3 x 15 in a 60-degree situp with weight behind the head.


You now have10 days before the meet. You have finished cycle No. 4. Rest completely until about 4 days from the meet. Now you may take a weight that is 50% of your limit on each of the three powerlifts and do 2 sets of 5 reps. Do no more. All this does is maintain your lifting form.

Without going into detail on diet -- you should maintain a high protein diet during the last month of hard training. You should take vitamins thoughout the day every day during this last month for best results. Two days before the event, don't do anything with the weights. If your weight is well within the limits, eat quite a lot of potatoes (baked well done) for a very high level of energy; this is a trick the Russians use quite frequently.

On the evening before the contest lay out all your training gear -- such things as lifting belt, knee bands, sense of importance, rub, lifting shoes, warmup suit, lifting suit,j extra shoe laces, socks, T-shirt. 

For dinner the night before the meet have a nice steak and salad. Retire early; just before retiring have a glass of warm milk and honey. On the morning of the meet eat a good carbohydrate meal. Get to the meet site early enough so that you can mentally prepare for the meet in a calm manner. I am not going to mentijon anything about making weight for the meet, since you should have taken care of this matter over the months of preparatory training. 

Drink liquids constantly during the competition. Gatorade and orange juice during, alcohol after. 


1) Be sure that you are warmed up properly. 

2) Don't start with too high a poundage on your attempts. Your style and strength is not identical from day to day.

3) Be sure that your lifting style will suit the judging.  


This is a very tricky situation. Only experience helps. Keep an eye on tghe number of lifters and attempts before you are ready to start your first attempt. For example, if five lifters are going to start at 300-325 in the bench press and you are going to start sat 330, you can figure on about 10-15 attempts before you start. A good guideline is to take your last warmup when there are five or six attempts on the platform before your first attempt. 

A rule of thumb is to take your first attempt with a weight you have done for three reps in good style in training. Remember -- be sure to total.

Your attempts could look like this: 
1st attempt - 95% of your max single or 30 lbs. under.
2nd attempt - 100% of your max or 5-10 lbs. under.
3rd attempt - 102% of your max or 5-15 lbs. under. 

Now rest for one week after the meet and begin with cycle. No. 1. When you begin this cycle training again, set some new goals that will exceed the ones that you made in previous cycles. 

Above all elese, remember that constant training and training correctly are the answer for an improved total.

Enjoy Your Lifting!  




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