Best Free Powerlifting Programs of 2023

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Jul 19,2023|22 min| 7780

The best free programs to make progress in your powerlifting career

Are you looking for the perfect powerlifting program to absolutely push your progression to the next level and hit some PRs? Perhaps you are looking for a training program that helps to incorporate progressive overload a little bit better and really get strong. Maybe you are getting ready for a competition and need a program to help you peak. If so, you’re at the right place.

Boostcamp compiled the top free powerlifting programs on the internet to help you find the right program for your level and goals. How did we compile this list? As a disclaimer, “best” is subjective. These programs below are compiled based on the most popular and proven programs that thousands of athletes have found success with over many years. These are not the latest programs some fitfluencer released, as those are not proven. These are tried and tested programs that guarantee results if you stick to them.

Programs are not listed in any particular order. They're all awesome, so read further below to find the right routine for your level, number of days per week, and structure.

Best Free Beginner Powerlifting Workout Programs:

  1. 5/3/1 for Beginners

  2. TSA Beginner Program

  3. GZCL Program

  4. r/Fitness Basic Beginner Routine (3x5)

  5. nSuns

Best Free Intermediate Powerlifting Workout Programs:

  1. Candito 6-Week Program

  2. TSA 9-Week Intermediate Approach

  3. Calgary Barbell 16 Week Powerlifting Program

  4. 5/3/1 Boring But Big

  5. Greg Nuckols 28 Programs

List of the Best Free Beginner Powerlifting Programs

5/3/1 for Beginners

Coach: Jim Wendler
Level:
Novice
Days Per Week: 3 days
Program Length: 12 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Created by renowned powerlifter and coach Jim Wendler, 5/3/1 for Beginners is based on the famous 531 training philosophy. 5/3/1 is a progression scheme based on a scheduled ramp of 5 reps, 3 reps, and 1 rep for the main compound movements over a defined training period. Specifically for 5/3/1 for Beginners, this is on a weekly linear basis because beginners can make progress much faster than intermediate and advanced athletes. To learn more about 5/3/1, we highly recommend Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 book, which contains more detailed training advice and over 50+ 531 templates.

Program highlights

  • Learn the famous 5/3/1 training methodology developed by Jim Wendler

  • 3-day routine that builds work capacity, coordination, stability, and of course strength

  • Progression scheme that is proven to work

TSA Beginner Program

Coach: The Strength Athlete
Level:
Beginner, Novice
Days Per Week: 4 days
Program Length: 9 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App (soon!), spreadsheet

Written by Bryce Lewis and the team at The Strength Athlete (TSA), TSA Beginner Approach is a beginner powerlifting program based on 9-week or 13-week cycles. This is excellent for a new powerlifter with the main goal of increasing their squat, bench press, and deadlift. In 2022, Boostcamp officially partnered with Bryce lewis to turn this popular program into a more user friendly mobile app version.

Program highlights

  • Designed by Bryce Lewis, one of the best powerlifters in the world

  • Different training stimulus every week to keep it interesting

  • Program has a balanced amount of volume, intensity, and frequency

  • High frequency: 2x squat, 3x bench, 1x deadlift per week

  • Choice of accessory movements to build muscle

  • Male and Female versions of the program available

GZCL Program

Coach: Cody Lefever
Level:
Beginner, Novice
Days Per Week: 3 or 4 days
Program Length: 12 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Created by strength coach and r/fitness cult leader (joking!) Cody Lefever, GZCL is a flexible programming methodology for building strength in the powerlifting compound lifts and also general muscle building. GZCLP is the beginner template that is based on a linear progression approach. There are 3 classes of exercises: Tier 1, which are the primary barbell movements to be done with heavy weights and low reps, Tier 2, which are secondary compound exercises to build strength to Tier 1 done at slightly lighter weight at higher reps, and Tier 3, which are tertiary accessory exercises to build more muscle done at the highest reps. GZCL is a favorite on r/fitness, r/weightroom, and r/gzcl with tons of user reviews. In 2021, Boostcamp partnered with Cody to launch the GZCL app on Boostcamp for free.

Program highlights

  • GZCLP has a cultish following on Reddit’s fitness community

  • Focus on both compound lifts and also accessory bodybuilding exercises

  • Easy to follow, with 3-4 exercises per workout and only 60 min to complete each workout

  • Smart protocol to handle weight stalling, with different rep failure schemes

  • Different progression schemes for main lifts and accessory exercises

  • Highly customizable program for your training goals

r/Fitness Basic Beginner Routine (3x5)

Coach: Reddit Fitness
Level:
Beginner
Days Per Week: 3 days
Program Length: 12 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

This beginner program is best described as a “training wheels” routine. It follows the classic tried and true linear progression structure of 3 sets of 5 reps on the compound lifts–squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, barbell row. If you are completely new to barbell training, this is a good 3x/routine to start with. If you’ve ever heard of Stronglifts and Starting Strength, the r/fitness Basic Beginner Routine is often considered an improved version of those. Given how fast the weight progressions are, you can generally only run this program for 3 months, after which you should consider some of the other novice routines on this list. You can find this program free on Boostcamp and also on spreadsheet.

Program highlights

  • Super simple Workout A and Workout B format

  • Complete focus on the compound lifts

  • Workout by workout weight progressions

  • Tried and proven by thousands of Redditors

  • Improvement over Starting Strength and Stronglifts

nSuns

Coach: nSuns
Level:
Novice
Days Per Week: 3, 4, 5, 6 day variations
Program Length: 12 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Believe it or not, nSuns was actually made by a lifting enthusiast (u/nSuns) who’s since gone anonymous. Despite the lack of coaching credibility, nSuns program gained a cult following on reddit due to its effectiveness and flexibility. Speaking of its proven effectiveness, the program progressions are auto-regulated, in the sense that the weekly linear progressions are based on your performance in the previous week. And for flexibility, there are multiple variations of the program available depending on your preference, such as a 3 day a week, 4 day a week, 5 day a week, and 6 day a week versions of the program. Note that this is a rather demanding program with a ton of volume on compound movements, so it falls in between a novice to intermediate program. If you’re a beginner still mastering the basic compound lifts, one of the other programs on this will suit you better. Boostcamp was able to make contact with u/nSuns to get approval to launch nSuns on our app.

Program highlights

  • Program with a cultish following on Reddit

  • Auto-regulated weekly weight progressions

  • 3-6 day a week variations available

  • High volume training program

List of the Best Free Intermediate Powerlifting Programs

Candito 6-Week Strength

Coach: Jonnie Candito
Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week: 3-5 days
Program Length: 6 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Candito 6-Week Strength, also widely known as C6W, is an incredibly popular powerlifting program written by Jonnie Candito. Candito is an OG YouTuber, elite level competitive powerlifter, and coach to other powerlifting champs. This program uses principles of weekly periodization, which means that every week is different and focuses on a different goal. It starts off with higher volume hypertrophy and muscular conditioning for the first few weeks, then transitions to heavy weights and finally peaking for Personal Records. Boostcamp officially partnered with Candito to digitize his popular spreadsheet program on Boostcamp App for free to use.

Program highlights

  • Made by Jonnie Candito, the OG of fitness YouTube

  • Super fun program where every week has a different goal

  • Proven to be incredibly effective by thousands of lifters

  • Very tough, high volume program in the first 3 weeks

TSA Intermediate Approach

Coach: The Strength Athlete
Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week: 4 days
Program Length: 9 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Written by Bryce Lewis and the team at The Strength Athlete (TSA), TSA Intermediate Approach is an excellent program based on TSA’s experience coaching hundreds of powerlifters to elite levels. This program gets progressively heavier week over week to peak into competition/PR testing at the end of 9 weeks. This program is thoughtfully designed to address many of the shortcomings of the average beginner/intermediate level powerlifter. For example, this program really helps you develop technical proficiency on the squat/bench/deadlift, underdeveloped posterior chains, control off the floor in deadlifts, and upper body muscular hypertrophy. We partnered with Bryce to digitize this proven program into Boostcamp App.

Program highlights

  • Designed by Bryce Lewis, one of the best powerlifters in the world

  • 9 week progression into competition/PR testing

  • Addresses many weaknesses of beginner/intermediate powerlifters

  • Can be cycled successfully over and over again

Calgary Barbell 16 Week Powerlifting Program

Coach: Calgary Barbell
Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week: 4 days
Program Length: 16 weeks, 8 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Written by Bryce Krawczyk and the coaching team at Calgary Barbell, this is one of the best intermediate powerlifting routines on the internet. The 16 week program is broken into 4 blocks, with each block lasting 3-4 weeks long, with 4 workouts a week. Each block increases in intensity before finally peaking into competition/PR testing at the end of the program. The 8 week version of the program shortens some of the blocks and then peaks into competition/PR. Note that Calgary Barbell also has their own monthly paid training app, which contains tons of their own programming for powerlifters of all levels. I highly recommend that you check it out.

Program highlights

  • Designed by Bryce Krawczyk, one of the best powerlifters in the world

  • High bench press frequency and known to help athlete’s bench explode

  • Intelligently designed with a mixture of volume/intensity/frequency

  • Peaks into a powerlifting meet/PR testing

5/3/1 Boring But Big (BBB)

Coach: Jim Wendler
Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week: 4 days
Program Length: 12 weeks
Availability: Boostcamp App, spreadsheet

Written by Jim Wendler, 531 BBB is one of the most popular variations of the 5/3/1 training philosophy. This program focuses on the 4 main compound movements–squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press, with 1 training day per week for each lift plus assistance exercises done at 5 sets of 10 reps. Compared to other programs on this list, this program has way less exercise variations, but Jim would probably tell you that this is a feature, not a bug. It is hard to argue as so many lifters have added serious poundages and muscle size following 5/3/1 BBB. We highly recommend that you purchase Jim Wendler’s books to learn more about his program.

Program highlights

  • Brutally simple and effective

  • High volume program

  • Can be repeated for multiple cycles

Greg Nuckols 28 Programs

Coach: Greg Nuckols
Level:
Intermediate, advanced
Days Per Week: variable # of days
Program Length: 4+ weeks
Availability: Spreadsheet

Twenty-eight programs? OK not actually. Greg Nuckols 28 Programs is actually a mega spreadsheet that contains 28 sheets meant to be combined into 1 program. There are sheets for the main compound lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. Each compound exercise has sheets for different levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced. Then each of these have variations for frequency: 1x, 2x, or 3x per week. Think of this as a modular spreadsheet to mix and match into your own program. We love Greg’s programs, but this is too hard to digitize into an app format unfortunately.

Program highlights

  • Highly modular program with multiple combinations

  • Made by the beloved Greg Nuckols, founder of Stronger by Science

  • Can be repeated for multiple cycles

Best Free Powerlifting Programs Wrap Up

Overall, there are plenty of free powerlifting programs available for you to test out, no matter your skill set. Strength training is relevant for many different things, from lifting to other sports such as cycling, where strength training would be especially valuable for hill climbing. Have you tried any of the programs on our list? Feel free to swing over to Boostcamp to check out all of these programs.


Boostcamp has plenty of free programs that help with both strength and hypertrophy, be sure to check them out and follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!