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Kristen Dunsmore Intermediate Program
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12 week powerlifting program for novice & intermediate lifters to gain strength and peak for a meet.
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Program Description

The Kristen Dunsmore Intermediate Program is a 12 week training routine for novice and intermediate-level powerlifters. Designed by Kristen Dunsmore, a two-time national champion in the 69kg and 72kg weight classes and a current PhD candidate in Health and Human Performance at Concordia University Chicago, this program reflects her extensive knowledge and passion for powerlifting.

Program Overview:

Duration: 12 Weeks

Training Frequency: 4 Days per Week

Target Audience: Intermediate Female and Male Powerlifters

Objective: To increase 1RM (One-Rep Max) in the squat, bench press, and deadlift

Program Philosophy: The core philosophy of the program is to engage the entire body in every training session. Each session begins with compound lifts that are fundamental in powerlifting competitions, such as the squat, bench, and deadlift. These are followed by accessory lifts and bodybuilding movements, providing a comprehensive training approach that enhances overall strength and muscular development.

Program Structure:

Weeks 1-5: Focus on progressively increasing the intensity of compound movements, complemented by accessory and bodybuilding exercises.

Week 6: A deload week to allow for recovery and reduce the risk of overtraining.

Weeks 7-11: The training intensity gradually increases, leading up to a peak in week 12

Week 12: Meet week or 1RM test week

Target Lifters:

The Kristen Dunsmore Intermediate Program is for novice and intermediate female and male lifters who are already familiar with the primary powerlifting movements and have used a linear progression training program.

The program is structured to be repeated, allowing lifters to continuously challenge and improve their performance.

Coaching:

Kristen Dunsmore is the founder of Empowerlift Training, which offers remote and in-person coaching services including, fully customized training programs specific to your goals and individual response. Visit https://empowerlifttraining.com/ for more information.

Program Overview
Level
Novice, Intermediate
Goal
Powerlifting
Equipment
Full Gym
Program Length
12 weeks
Days Per Week
4 days
Time Per Workout
60 minutes
down_app
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 6-7
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
4 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
3 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
2 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
4
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
2 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
4
5 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
RPE 5-6
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
RPE 5-6
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
8 Reps
RPE 6-7
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 6-7
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 6-7
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
6 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
1
1 Reps
4 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
6 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
1
1 Reps
4 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
6 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
1
1 Reps
4 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
6 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
1
1 Reps
4 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 9.5
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 9.5
3
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
2
6 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 1
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
2 Reps
RPE 7
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
2 Reps
RPE 8
3
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
65%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
6
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
67.5%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
7
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
70%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
8
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
72.5%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
9
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
5 Reps
75%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
75%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
2
5 Reps
70%
3
Lat Pulldown
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Seated Row (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
6
1 Reps
77.5%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
4 Reps
77.5%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
7
1 Reps
77.5%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
4 Reps
80%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
8
1 Reps
77.5%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
4 Reps
82.5%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
9
1 Reps
77.5%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
4 Reps
85%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
10
1 Reps
77.5%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
4
3 Reps
87.5%
3
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Seated Row (Cable)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Seated Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 2
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
70%
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
4
3 Reps
77.5%
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
70%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 6-7
3
Leg Press
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
RPE 8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
72.5%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Leg Press
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
RPE 8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
75%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Leg Press
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
RPE 8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
77.5%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Leg Press
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
RPE 8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
80%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
3
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 9.5
3
Leg Press
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
RPE 8
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Paused)
3
4 Reps
70%*
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 5-6
3
Leg Press
2
8-10 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
5-10 Reps
5
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
* 1RM of Squat (Barbell)
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 6-7
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 8-9
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 9.5
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 9.5
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
4 Reps
RPE 6-7
Day 3
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
3 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
2 Reps
RPE 5-6
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
3 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 6-7
2
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
3 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
2 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 7-8
2
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
1
2
1 Reps
5 Reps
RPE 8-9
2
Lat Pulldown
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
3
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 7-8
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Deadlift (Barbell)
2
5 Reps
RPE 5-6
2
Lat Pulldown
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
4
Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 6-7
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
12-15 Reps
RPE 6-7
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Bench Press (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
80%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
6
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Bench Press (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
82.5%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
6
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Bench Press (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
82.5%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
6
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Bench Press (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
82.5%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
6
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Bench Press (Barbell)
5
1 Reps
85%
2
Lat Pulldown
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
3
Chest Supported Row (Machine)
3
8-10 Reps
RPE 7-8
4
Push Up (Weighted)
2
AMRAP
5
Lateral Raise (Cable)
2
10-12 Reps
RPE 7-8
6
Plank (Weighted)
2
30-60 secs
Day 4
#
Exercise
Sets
Reps
Intensity
1
Squat (Barbell)
3
1 Reps
2
Bench Press (Barbell)
3
1 Reps
3
Deadlift (Barbell)
3
1 Reps
What People Are Saying(50 ratings)
Only ratings with written feedback are displayed here.
4.14/ 5
PelinAge 36, Woman
9 days ago
3 weeks complete
4 years of prior experience
More than expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
I was 1.5 months postpartum and I have been looking for a simple program to regain my strength. This program gave me what I was looking for. Back to the basics and in a few weeks I started rebuilding my strength even though I am not able to complete all the workouts every week as I have a baby at home. Definitely recommended!
Hailee R.Age 23, Woman
20 days ago
8 weeks complete
1 year of prior experience
More than expected strength gains
More than expected muscle gains
None modifications
Better than I thought! Long time athlete in various sports and started powerlifting about a year ago. Call it newbie gains, but I saw a lot more progress in this program than a handful of others I tried. For novices and beginners, I think the periodization can be a bit redundant considering the weight is generally low (which is okay, novices and beginners). My 1RM for squat, DL, and bench ended up at 220, 260, and 135 respectively. Started at 135, 185, and 75 respectively. Would run again!