6 Week Russian Powerlifting Peaking Program

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This peaking program was pulled from an interview that John Abdo had with Russian professor Yuri Verhoshansky. It was conducted back in 1989.

The first two weeks are relatively moderate. You might feel as if you’ve not pushing as hard as you should. Hang tough. Things get challenging very quickly.

Related – Massive Iron, the Ultimate Base-Building Approach

At the end of each cycle you will attempt, and should likely hit, a new one rep max. After each six week cycle you should spend a period of time using a pre-peaking program; one that focuses on a lower degree on intensity (which is weight relative to your one rep max), a reasonable amount of volume, and some hypertrophy work.

This is a peaking program, and is not typically run over and over again. Run your pre-peaking program 8-16 weeks before ramping up using this Russian cycle.

Here are a few notes:

  • Don’t overestimate your one rep max for each movement. If you are sure, use a reasonable estimation that may be slightly on the light side.
  • A note about anabolics. This program was designed before Russian athletes were using steroids, so don’t brush it off as something only a drug-using athlete could use.
  • Each major lift is trained twice per week. For powerlifting, this involves the bench press, squat, and deadlift. The first weekly workout is more moderate, while the second is far more intense.
  • If you are competing, your week 6 one rep max attempts will occur on competition day.
  • To turn this into a longer off-season program of 8-10 weeks, you can start peaking one of the lifts on week one, the next lift on week two, and the third lift on week three. Non-6 week peaking workouts will be less intense.
  • Yuri Verhoshansky recommends resting 4-6 minutes in between sets of major movements.
  • Total workout time should be limited to 90 minutes per day. Adjust your assistance work as needed. (I present an example workout at the end)
  • Strength requires a peak. You can’t train 100% all the time. The stronger your base, the stronger the peak.
Week 1
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week One  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 6  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 65-70% x 6  Set 4 – 75% x 5
 Set 5 – 65-70% x 6  Set 5 – 80% x 5
 Set 6 – 65-70% x 6  Set 6 – 80% x 5
 Set 7 – 80% x 5
 Set 8 – 75% x 5
 Set 9 – 65% x 6-8
 Set 10 – 50-55% x 8-12
Week 2
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week Two  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 6  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 70% x 5  Set 4 – 75% x 4
 Set 5 – 70-75% x 5  Set 5 – 80% x 4
 Set 6 – 70-75% x 5  Set 6 – 85% x 4
 Set 7 – 85% x 4
 Set 8 – 85% x 4
 Set 9 – 80% x 5
 Set 10 – 70% x 6-8
Week 3
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week Three  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 5  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 70% x 4  Set 4 – 75% x 4
 Set 5 – 75% x 3  Set 5 – 85% x 3
 Set 6 – 75-80% x 3  Set 6 – 90% x 3
 Set 7 – 75-85% x 3  Set 7 – 90% x 3
 Set 8 – 80% x 5
 Set 9 – 55-60% x 6-10
Week 4
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week Four  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 5  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 75% x 4  Set 4 – 75% x 4
 Set 5 – 80-85% x 3  Set 5 – 85% x 2
 Set 6 – 80-85% x 3  Set 6 – 90% x 2
 Set 7 – 95% x 2
 Set 8 – 75% x 4-6
Week 5
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week Five  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 5  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 75% x 5  Set 4 – 75% x 3
 Set 5 – 75% x 5  Set 5 – 80% x 3
 Set 6 – 85% x 2
Week 6
Powerlifting Program
Week Workout #1 Workout #2
 Week Six  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10  Set 1 – 45% x 8-10
 Set 2 – 55% x 6-8  Set 2 – 55% x 6-8
 Set 3 – 65% x 5  Set 3 – 65% x 5
 Set 4 – 75% x 3  Set 4 – 75% x 3
 Set 5 – 80% x 2  Set 5 – 85% x 2
 Set 6 – 80% x 2  Set 6 – 90% x 1
 Set 7 – 95% x 1
 Set 8 – 100% x 1
 Set 9 – 102% x 1 (New PR)
 Set 10 – 105% x 1 (New PR)

A post shared by Steve Shaw (@bendthebarman) on

Article author and powerlifter Steve Shaw is featured in this deadlift compilation video.

Shaw’s 6 Week Powerlifting Peak

This will be an intense split. Because you are targeting three major lifts twice a week, there is no “easy way” to program this split. Here is how I would run it.

  • Day 1 – Squat and Deadlift Workout #1
  • Day 2 – Bench Workout #1
  • Day 3 – Off
  • Day 4 – Squat Workout #2
  • Day 5 – Bench Workout #2
  • Day 6 – Deadlift Workout #2
  • Day 7 – Off

This allows you 96 hours of rest, or 4 complete days, after your heavy bench press day. After your moderate deadlift day you’ll wait 5 complete days before hitting your heavy day.

The biggest challenge will be performing heavy deadlifts two days after heavy squats. Since you don’y want to nail both on the same training day, I see few other options that make sense.

Squat and Deadlift Workout #1
Shaw 6 Week Peak
Week Sets Reps
 Squats (Weekly Workout #1)
 Deadlifts (Weekly Workout #1)
 Seated Cable Rows  4  10-15
 Leg Press  3  10-15
 Seated Dumbbell Curls  3  10-12
Bench Workout #1
Shaw 6 Week Peak
Week Sets Reps
 Bench Press (Weekly Workout #1)
 Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press  3  10
 Push Ups  2  Max
 Cable Triceps Extensions  3  10-15
 Face Pulls  3  10-15
Squat Workout #2
Shaw 6 Week Peak
Week Sets Reps
 Squats (Weekly Workout #2)
 Leg Extensions  4  10-12
 Planks  2  Max Time
Bench Workout #2
Shaw 6 Week Peak
Week Sets Reps
 Bench Press (Weekly Workout #2)
 Dumbbell Bench Press  2  10-12
 Bulldozer Laterals  3  10-12
 Close Grip Bench Press  3  10
Deadlift Workout #2
Shaw 6 Week Peak
Week Sets Reps
 Deadlifts (Weekly Workout #2)
 Leg Curls  3  10-12
 Ab Wheel Rollouts  2  10-15
 Lat Pull Downs or Pull Ups  3  10-15
 EZ Bar Cable Curls  3  10-12
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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.