TSA Beginner Approach
1,647 athletes joined
9 week beginner powerlifting program made by Bryce Lewis and The Strength Athlete
4.37
(197 ratings)
Program Description

The TSA Beginner Approach is a popular powerlifting program tailored for novice lifters by Bryce Lewis and the coaching team at The Strength Athlete (TSA).

It focuses on the primary powerlifting lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. The program runs for 9 weeks, with training 3 days per week. Each day is dedicated to a main lift, followed by accessory exercises to reinforce strength and form. The intensity and volume are kept lower than in advanced programs, emphasizing progressive overload to safely increase strength over time. The final week is a tapering week for recovery or max testing.

Program Overview
Level
Beginner, Novice
Goal
Powerlifting
Equipment
Full Gym
Program Length
9 weeks
Days Per Week
4 days
Time Per Workout
60 minutes
Variation
Variation 1
Variation 2
Variation 3
Variation 4
Male 9 Week
Program Length
9 weeks
Days Per Week
4 days
Recommended Days
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri
Variation Description
  • Most of the time, use this 9-week approach and you'll keep making progress.
  • 3 Rep Max test in week 9.
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Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
2
3
1
7
69%
64%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
3
1
7
74%
65%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
12
RPE 6-7
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
12
RPE 6-8
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
15
RPE 6-8
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
2
4
1
7
73%
68%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
4
1
7
78%
69%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
4
11
RPE 7-8.5
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
11
RPE 8-9
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
14
RPE 8-9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
2
4
1
7
76%
71%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
4
1
7
81%
72%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
4
10
RPE 8-9
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
13
RPE 8-9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
2
4
1
6-7
79%
74%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
4
1
6-7
83%
75%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
4
9
RPE 8-9
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
12
RPE 8-9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
1
5
82%
70%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
4
1
5
85%
70%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
12
RPE 7
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
2
12
RPE 7
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
2
15
RPE 7
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
4
1
5
85%
74%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
5
1
5
87%
74%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
11
RPE 7-8.5
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
11
RPE 7-8.5
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
15
RPE 7-8.5
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
4
1
5
88%
77%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
5
1
5
89%
77%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
15
RPE 8-9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
4
1
5
91%
80%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
5
1
5
91%
80%
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
4
Bent Over Row (Dumbbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
5
Decline Crunch (Weighted)
3
15
RPE 8-9
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
1
4
82%
78%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
4
1
4
84%
78%
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
3
4
65%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
4
8
75%
65%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
10
RPE 6-7.5
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
12
RPE 6-8
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
12
RPE 6-8
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
4
4
67.5%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
4
8
78%
68%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
11
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
11
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
4
4
70%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
4
8
80%
70%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
10
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
4
4
72.5%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
4
8
82%
72%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
8
RPE 8-9
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
9
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
3
3
71%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
3
6
77%
71%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
2
10
RPE 7
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
2
12
RPE 7
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
2
12
RPE 7
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
3
3
73%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
3
6
80%
74%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
10
RPE 7-8.5
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
11
RPE 7-8.5
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
11
RPE 7-8.5
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
3
3
75%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
3
6
82%
76%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
10
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
10
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
4
2
78%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
3
6
84%
78%
3
Hip Thrust (Barbell)
3
8
RPE 8-9
4
Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
3
9
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
3
9
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Paused)
4
1
80%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
RPE 10
* 1RM of Deadlift (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
5
74%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
15
RPE 6-7.5
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
12
RPE 6-7.5
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
15
RPE 6-7.5
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
15
RPE 6-7.5
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
4
5
77%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
14
RPE 6.5-8.5
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
12
RPE 6.5-8.5
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
14
RPE 6.5-8.5
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
14
RPE 6.5-8.5
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
4
5
79%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
13
RPE 8-9
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
11
RPE 8-9
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
13
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
13
RPE 8-9
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
4
4-5
81%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
12
RPE 8-9
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
10
RPE 8-9
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
12
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
12
RPE 8-9
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3
78%
2
Lat Pulldown
2
15
RPE 7
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
2
12
RPE 7
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
2
15
RPE 7
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
2
15
RPE 7
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
4
3
82%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
14
RPE 7-8.5
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
12
RPE 7-8.5
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
14
RPE 7-8.5
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
14
RPE 7-8.5
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3
85%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
13
RPE 8-9
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
11
RPE 8-9
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
13
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
13
RPE 8-9
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
4
2
87%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
12
RPE 8-9
3
Single Arm Shoulder Press
3
10
RPE 8-9
4
Single Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
3
12
RPE 8-9
5
Bicep Curl (EZ Bar)
3
12
RPE 8-9
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
RPE 10
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
4
4
80%
75%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
3
4
67%*
3
Leg Press
3
10
RPE 6-7.5
4
Leg Extension
3
15
RPE 6-7.5
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
4
4
82.5%
78%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
4
4+
70%*
3
Leg Press
3
10
RPE 6.5-8
4
Leg Extension
3
14
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
3
3
3
85%
81%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
4
4+
72%*
3
Leg Press
3
9
RPE 6.5-8
4
Leg Extension
3
13
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
4
2
2
87.5%
84%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
4
4+
76%*
3
Leg Press
3
8
RPE 6.5-8
4
Leg Extension
3
12
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
3
3
82.5%
78%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
4
3
70%*
3
Leg Press
2
10
RPE 7
4
Leg Extension
2
15
RPE 7
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
3
3
3
86%
82%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
5
3+
73%*
3
Leg Press
3
10
RPE 7-8.5
4
Leg Extension
3
14
RPE 7-8.5
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
4
2
2
87.5%
84%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
5
3
75%*
3
Leg Press
3
9
RPE 8-9
4
Leg Extension
3
13
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
3
1
2
91%
86%
2
Bench Press (Paused)
5
3+
77%*
3
Leg Press
3
8
RPE 8-9
4
Leg Extension
3
12
RPE 8-9
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
3
RPE 10
2
Bench Press (Paused)
5
1
77%*
* 1RM of Bench Press (Barbell)
What People Are Saying(197 ratings)
Only ratings with written feedback are displayed here.
4.37/ 5
Erik A.Age 43, Man
14 days ago
5 weeks complete
8 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
None modifications
Good and free i like it
Seán O.Man
23 days ago
7 weeks complete
4 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
I've ran this program back-to-back and have found that it works well; pretty nice way of progressively overloading your training as well as keeping the top singles in as good practice with heavier loads. Only change I would make is adding in some lower back and direct hamstring work, but just personal preference.

This is a 9-week training approach for beginner athletes designed to overcome many shortcomings of common programs that beginner powerlifters run. It’s the starting program we wish we had before powerlifting, designed to bridge into either repeat of the same approach as long as you keep making progress, or into more advanced training approaches as seamlessly as possible.

Toward the end, athletes handle heavier and heavier loads as they work toward new 3-rep maxes before rinsing and repeating. Most athletes should find this is a balanced amount of training volume, training stress, and loading to see great progress.

We think you’ll really like it. For squat, we’ve included two training days of squatting so that athletes have enough frequency to practice the movement and build training volume to progress, but not so much that this program classifies as an intermediate or advanced approach. We’ve included light to moderate single repetitions from the very start to give athletes exposure to walking out and executing single reps. In later weeks, there may be some post-activation potentiation (PAP) from performing heavier single repetitions as well.

We utilize multiple rep ranges to ensure maximum strength and hypertrophy. We’ve also included plenty of lower body training volume to allow for leg size increases, as well as strength. For bench press, we include three movements per week because bench press especially can tolerate (and often need) more training volume and practice.

To this end, we give new athletes a chance to practice pausing the bench on Day 4, practice with heavier loading as the program progresses, and plenty of training volume per week. In addition, we include lots of upper body training volume to grow.

For deadlift, we work on technique with the inclusion of paused work for much of the training approach. Training volume is lower here than squat or bench press by design, and the approach balances fatigue while allowing athletes to crush progress and set new PRs.Over the whole approach, we use autoregulation to make sure athletes can change loads were needed to keep the program at the appropriate difficulty level.

Beginner athletes especially progress at different rates, and we decided to give both percentage and RPE for athletes to choose from. We’ve made this program with a four-week addition that you can use to run this program directly into a competition! The peak is also designed for first competitions, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish.