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.
- Most of the time, use this 9-week approach and you'll keep making progress.
- 3 Rep Max test in week 9.
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.