TSA 9 Week Intermediate Approach

(258 reviews)
Designed for intermediate lifters to peak into competition or be re-run multiple times in offseason.
Program Description

The TSA 9-Week Approach is a popular intermediatel-level powerlifting program designed by Bryce Lewis and the coaching team at The Strength Athlete (TSA). It's a periodized plan focusing on strength gains in three core lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift.

The program comprises 4 training days per week, each targeting specific muscle groups and lifts. The intensity and volume gradually increase over 9 weeks, preparing the athlete for a peak in performance. The final week, Week 9, is designed as a deload week to prepare for a competition or 1RM testing.

Read more about the program below.

Program Overview
CoachThe Strength Athleteverified coach
LevelIntermediate
GoalPowerlifting
EquipmentGarage Gym
Time Per Workout90 minutes
Days Per Week4 days
Program Length9 weeks
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Week 1 · Intro/Acclimation
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
3
3
8
Bench Press (Barbell)3
8
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
6
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
10-12
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)4
5
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
5-7
Back Extension3
10-12
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
30
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)6
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Leg Press3
8-10
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
10-12
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
3
5
Feet-up Bench Press3
6
Deadlift (Paused)4
4
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-8
Lat Pulldown3
10-12
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 2 · Progress 1
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
3
3
8
Bench Press (Barbell)3
8
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
6
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
10-12
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)5
5
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
5-7
Back Extension3
10-12
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
30
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)6
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Leg Press3
8-10
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
10-12
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
3
5
Feet-up Bench Press3
6
Deadlift (Paused)4
4
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-8
Lat Pulldown3
10-12
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 3 · Progress 2
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
3
3
7
Bench Press (Barbell)4
7
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
6
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
10-12
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)5
4
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
5-7
Back Extension3
10-12
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
35
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)6
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Leg Press3
8-10
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
10-12
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
3
5
Feet-up Bench Press3
6
Deadlift (Paused)4
4
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-8
Lat Pulldown3
10-12
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 4 · Progress 3
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
3
3
7
Bench Press (Barbell)4
7
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
6
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
10-12
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)6
4
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
5-7
Back Extension3
10-12
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
35
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)6
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Leg Press3
8-10
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
10-12
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
2
5
1
5
Feet-up Bench Press3
6
Deadlift (Paused)4
4
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-8
Lat Pulldown3
10-12
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 5 · Deload
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
5
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6
Bench Press (Close Grip)2
5
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
8-10
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
--
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)4
3
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
4-6
Back Extension3
6-9
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
30
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)5
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
6-8
Leg Press3
6-8
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
4
Feet-up Bench Press2
5
Deadlift (Paused)4
3
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
4-6
Lat Pulldown3
8-10
--
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 6 · Intensify/Peak 1
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
1
5
3
Bench Press (Barbell)4
6
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
5
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
8-10
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)1
2
4
3
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
4-6
Back Extension3
6-9
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
35
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)5
4
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
6-8
Leg Press3
6-8
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)2
1
3
4
Feet-up Bench Press3
5
Deadlift (Paused)5
3
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
4-6
Lat Pulldown3
8-10
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 7 · Intensify/Peak 2
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
1
5
3
Bench Press (Barbell)4
6
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
5
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
8-10
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)1
1
5
2
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Pendlay Row3
4-6
Back Extension3
6-9
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
35
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)5
3
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
4-6
Leg Press3
6-8
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)2
1
3
4
Feet-up Bench Press3
5
Deadlift (Paused)5
3
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
4-6
Lat Pulldown3
8-10
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 8 · Intensify/Peak 3
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
1
5
2
Bench Press (Barbell)4
5
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
5
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)4
8-10
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (Barbell)1
1
4
2
Bench Press (Barbell)5
3
Pendlay Row3
4-6
Back Extension3
6-9
Pull-Up (Weighted)1
35
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)5
3
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell)3
4-6
Leg Press3
6-8
Chest Supported Row (Dumbbell)3
8-10
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
4
3
Feet-up Bench Press3
5
Deadlift (Paused)5
2
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
4-6
Lat Pulldown3
8-10
--
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Week 9 · Test/Compete
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)5
2
Bench Press (Barbell)5
4
Bench Press (Close Grip)3
5
Deadlift (Barbell)5
1
Band Pull-Aparts3
30
--
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
5
3
--
--
--
--
Day 3
ExerciseSetsReps
Rest1
1mins
--
--
--
Day 4
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)1
1
Bench Press (Barbell)1
1
Deadlift (Barbell)1
1
--
--
--
--
What People Are Saying
4.0/ 5
Logan GMan, 22
5 weeks complete
5 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Follow the program to the letter and you will see expected results. 4th time cycling this program. 100lb increase on squat overtime. Add in 5th day for weak points + hypertrophic training, be mindful of CNS fatigue
12 hours ago
Brenden G.Man, 22
9 weeks complete
2 years of prior experience
Less than expected strength gains
More than expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Lots of volume especially for bench which is nice. My bench felt really good while running the program and it was fun. However, the program was too conservative in my opinion. I used very honest training maxes which were 350 lb squat, 260 lb bench, and 500 lb deadlift. I ended up bumping up my max bench that I used for the program to 275 lb because it just felt way too easy. I still hit every prescribed set. I recommend using maxes somewhere in between where you are now and where you want to be at the end of the program. Looking back I wish I had done that, especially for squats I think I should’ve been training harder. I used the program to train for a meet where I got 385 lb squat, 265 lb bench, and 518 lb deadlift at 192 lbs. So I did make progress with the program but not as much as I think I could’ve made if I used higher maxes. I am still pretty early intermediate though so maybe I should’ve chose a novice program.
2 days ago
Luke T.Man, 27
3 weeks complete
3 years of prior experience
More than expected strength gains
More than expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Love it so far!
4 days ago

Created by Bryce Lewis and the team at The Strength Athlete (TSA), this is a popular 9-week training approach designed for intermediate lifters to peak effectively into a mock meet or actual competition. If used for the off-season, this program can be chained together and re-run multiple times.

The first four weeks represent higher overall work and lower overall loading, designed to build training adaptions and muscle hypertrophy. We’ll deload on Week 5, shedding some fatigue and preparing for the next phase. Finally, we’ll peak with exposure to heavier loads, bringing out your best.

This program is designed for athletes with around 2 years of experience in powerlifting. If you have less than 6 month's experience, we suggest the TSA Beginner Approach. If you have 1-2 years' experience, we suggest the TSA Intermediate Approach.

Ideally, you are eating in a small to moderate caloric surplus, sleeping 7-10 hours per night, and stressing as little (or as predictably) as possible on this program.

This program is a generalized approach, meaning we aren't targeting any individual athlete strength or weaknesses or problem solving strategies. If you like the program, consider working with a TSA coach to make sure training is continually tailored to you and your goals.

Check out thestrengthathlete.com for more free programs, store, and coaching services.