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Muscle and Brawn Powerbuilding Routine

By Steve Shaw

Intermediate (2-3 years)
29 minutes/day | 5 days/week | 2 weeks
Good for
Women's Bodybuilding, Men's Bodybuilding, Women's Build Muscle, Men's Build Muscle, Women's Gain Strength, Men's Gain Strength, Women's Powerbuilding, Men's Powerbuilding
Barbell, Box, Dips Bar, Dumbbell, Pull up bar

This routine is detailed below. It should only be performed by those who have at least 6 months experience with squats and deadlift. The intensity of this program can lead to overtraining. Overtraining is not to be feared. More on this subject is detailed below.

Muscle and Brawn Powerlifting Routine. The routine is a 12 day arc, with a 4 day squat/deadlift cycle and a 6 day back/chest/shoulder cycle running concurrent.

  • Squat/Deadlift 4 Day Cycle. Basically, every 4 days you will be training with a variety of heavy compound lifts that will catapult you into huge weight increases for your deadlift and squat. By maximizing these lift totals, your body will have no choice but to get as big as possible, as fast as possible to compensate.
  • Back/Chest/Shoulder 6 Day Cycle. Every 6 days, you will train heavy compound exercises for these body parts. This aspect of the routine looks very similar to a bodybuilding routine – but there are notable difference. Workouts are quick, focused on progression, are not trained to failure, and generally have rep ranges of 6-8 for most exercises.

Rep Ceilings. Keep in mind, the rep ranges given for the routine are rep ceilings. A rep ceiling is the maximum amount of reps performed per set. Here is how a rep ceiling (of 6 reps) works for the bench press…today you lifted 4 sets @ 205 pounds for the following reps…6, 6, 4, 4. During the first two sets, you may have felt like you could have performed an additional rep or two. Don’t. Our goal in powerbuilding is to increase overall volume, so keep it simple. On your next workout, try 205 pounds for 6, 6, 6 and 6 reps. If you hit that goal, bump up the weight by 5 pounds during your next workout.

Never go above the rep ceiling. A rep ceiling provides a mini-intensity cycle. This allows you to prolong your training as long as possible before requiring a de-load period.

Volume. Muscle and Brawn’s powerbuilding relies upon increased training volume to spur you to greater strength and mass. Here’s how volume works…Let’s use the bench press example above. During the first workout, we lifted 205 pounds for a total of 20 reps (over 4 sets). 205 pounds multiplied by 20 reps equals a total volume of 4,100 pounds.

On the next training day, 205 pounds was lifted for a total of 24 reps (over 4 sets). This gives us a total volume of 205 pounds multiplied by 24 reps, which equals 4,920 pounds. This is a 820 pound volume increase from your previous workout.

Please do not feel compelled to add more sets to your workouts, so that your overall volume is increased. This routine has you in the gym 3 out of every 4 days performing very heavy movements. You want to keep your workouts to about 45 minutes. Stick with the given sets, and focus on increasing weight. The squat/deadlift days alone are butt-kicking. Save your strength for the long haul, trying to delay the need for a de-load as long as possible.

De-load Periods. While performing this routine, you probably will wake up one day and feel blah, tired, unmotivated, and with some minor joint aches and pains. This state is called over-reaching. Overreaching is not overtraining. But, if you continue to train hard at this point, you will be overtrained.

When you know for certain that your body needs a rest, it is time for a week or two of de-loading. During a de-loading period, you still go to the gym. But instead of training with the same volume, you can do one of two things…

  1. Train the same number of sets, but with 30-40% less weight.
  2. Train with the same weight, but perform 40% fewer reps.

Because this routine is a twelve day cycle, a de-loading phase should be at minimum a 12 day period. During this time you continue to follow the same workout structure, but adjust your weight reps as mentioned above.

The 12 Day Cycle. Please do not tinker with this layout. Frequent squatting is the key to fast gains in mass and strength. When a rep range is give, you are allowed to choose what your rep ceiling will be.

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Week 1

Heavier Volume Addendum. If after several 12 day cycles you feel that your body is handling the routine, you can up the volume slightly by a couple of sets. Under no circumstances do I recommend training for more than 1 hour. A maximum of 12 sets per workout is enough. If you want to add more sets, on chest, shoulder and back day, add another heavy compound movement. Do not add more shrug sets on back day, as your traps get hammered enough during this routine. A good additional shoulder exercises is DB Arnold presses.

On squat day, add a couple more sets of squats or Romanian deadlifts. Glute/ham raises are also recommended if you have access to that piece of equipment.

Conclusion. It is easy to get confused in the vast sea of powerlifting and bodybuilding routines. A powerbuilding simplifies your training, allowing you to train more efficiently, more effectively, and with a quicker pace. Powerbuilding also helps you achieve your goals of looking muscular and strong without having to weigh chicken breasts every evening.

Squat/Deadlift Day

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1. Barbell Deadlift
Barbell Deadlift demonstrationPlay Barbell Deadlift demonstration

Higher rep sets with heavy deadlifts are not recommended. The more reps you do, the worse your form becomes. Stick with 3 reps per set.
2. Front Squat (weightlifting style)
Front Squat (weightlifting style) demonstrationPlay Front Squat (weightlifting style) demonstration
36 - 860s
3. Dumbbell Side Bend
Dumbbell Side Bend demonstrationPlay Dumbbell Side Bend demonstration

Substitute this exercise with any ab workout every 4 days with a rep range of 10-20
38 - 1060s


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1. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

You can substitute this exercise with Barbell Shoulder Press and stick with one of these movements, or alternate between them. Make sure you are pressing with solid back support.
46 - 860s
2. Upright Barbell Row
Upright Barbell Row
3. Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl demonstrationPlay Standing Dumbbell Biceps Curl demonstration

Substitutions: Barbell Curls or Preacher Curls. Stick with one exercise, or alternate between workouts.
38 - 1060s


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1. Bent Over Barbell Row
Bent Over Barbell Row demonstrationPlay Bent Over Barbell Row demonstration

Substitution: Dumbbell Row. Stick with one exercise, or alternate every workout.
2. Pull-up
Pull-up demonstrationPlay Pull-up demonstration

Substitution: T-bars Rows, or Heavy Low Pulley Rows. Stick with one exercise, or alternate every workout.
3. Barbell Shrug
Barbell Shrug demonstrationPlay Barbell Shrug demonstration

26 - 860s

Squat/Deadlift Day

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1. Barbell Squat
Barbell Squat demonstrationPlay Barbell Squat demonstration
46 - 860s
2. Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift demonstrationPlay Romanian Deadlift demonstration
36 - 860s
3. Dumbbell Side Bend
Dumbbell Side Bend demonstrationPlay Dumbbell Side Bend demonstration

Substitution: Any Ab exercise. Alternate between Ab work and side bends every 4 days. Rep range for Abs can be between 10-20
38 - 1060s


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1. Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Bench Press demonstrationPlay Barbell Bench Press demonstration
2. Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Bench Press demonstrationPlay Dumbbell Bench Press demonstration

Substitution: Slight Incline Barbell Press. Stick with one exercise, or alternate every workout.
3. Tricep Dips
Tricep Dips

Substitution: Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions (DB or BB), Skullcrushers, or Close grip Bench Presses. Stick with one exercise, or alternate every workout.

Date Created: 8/24/2020, UTC

Last Updated: 4/18/2021, UTC

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