Powerlifting Exercises

Unlike the vast majority of gym-goers who are obsessed with warping their body into a perceived ideal, powerlifters are concerned with only one thing: functional strength.

If it doesn’t serve a purpose, what is the point?

The big three exercises – the bench press, the deadlift and the squat – are the focus of powerlifting. Increasing your max rep – the highest possible weight you can lift during each of these exercises – is the sole goal of powerlifting.

With this in mind, all of the exercises you’ll see listed below are either imitations or variations of these three lifts.

That isn’t to say these exercises won’t give you a sleek, toned and muscular body. Bodybuilding legends like Steve Reeves famously relied on full-body strength training to sculpt his impressive physique.

In this article, we’ve tried to create a list of exercises that focus on developing power and strength in the key muscle groups that’ll allow you to increase your powerlifting bests.

Full body training vs splits

Full body training has gone out of fashion to an extent. Training splits – focusing on a different part of the body in each session – is the dominant mode of training at the moment. This is partly because it allows you to pack in weightlifting sessions on consecutive days without any need for rest.

Meanwhile, as the name implies, full-body training works the entire body over the course of a single session. And because almost all the muscle groups are engaged during this session, you need to balance your training days with rest days.


Because weight training is so taxing – particularly when it comes to powerlifting because of the intense focus on increasing your maximum capacity to lift weight – you need to allow time for your body to recover.

Remember to allow yourself a couple of minutes to recover in between sets. You don’t want your progress to be stifled by an injury.


At this stage, it’s important to emphasise the significance of form. It’s one of the key differentiators between powerlifters and just lifters. Without proper technique, you simply won’t be able to execute the different exercises.

With this list of exercises, you’ll be well on your way to matching world record holder Eddie Hall’s famous 1102 lb deadlift in no time at all. Well, maybe not, but you’ll have the best possible start.

1. Back squats 3×8

Grip the bar evenly, line up the centre of the bar with the centre of your chest and then position it on your rear deltoids. Before you perform the squat, remember to align your feet correctly – the wider your stance, the further out your toes should point. Breathe in, brace your core and squat down and then come back up.

2. Bench press 3×3

Everyone knows how to bench press but few people know how to bench press properly. Lie down, align your body with the centre of the bar, take an even grip and slowly bring the bar onto your chest before raising it back up and placing it into the rack.

3. Deadlift 3×3

Stand behind the bar, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Pull your rear back, bend your knees and grip the bar (make sure it is just outside of your shins). Next, raise your chest. Then, hold your breath, brace your core and bring the bar up. From there, push your rear back and lower the bar.

If you’re concerned about the width of your stance, you can read about it in more detail here.

4. Vertical pull 4×10

Examples of vertical pull exercises are chin-ups and pull-ups.

5. Vertical push 4×10

A standing or seated dumbbell press is an example of a vertical push exercise.

6. Horizontal pull 4×10

Dumbbell rows, barbell rows and cable rows are all horizontal pull exercises.

7. Single leg variant 3×8

This branch of exercises can include anything from Bulgarian split-squats to lunges.

About The Author:

Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition and provides in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.

Love to Share