Training

Conjugate Powerbuilding 3-Week Split

Stefan Waltersson Elite FTS

Traditionally, powerlifters want to train using complex exercises such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift to get stronger. Bodybuilders want to isolate their muscles to get maximum hypertrophy training, which helps their muscles to grow bigger. So what do they have in common?

You need to get stronger to put on more muscle, so as to get more hypertrophy. If your muscles grow bigger, you can hit bigger weights in the more complex exercises, such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift. It may sound obvious to have that correlation between volume and strength, but it isn’t.

Strength is the quality of the maximum force and volume is the result of persistent resistance. They are each other’s opposite and, at the same time, they depend on each other. Bigger muscles around the joints help you to handle greater resistance. With conjugate powerbuilding, you constantly change the assignment of how the muscles should work, which forces your muscle cells and nervous system to adapt so as to meet the new challenges constantly given.

I like to put in high-volume reps in one exercise each training session just to release more lactic acid because some studies imply that lactic acid triggers your body to release a growth hormone. This could be the reason athletes seem to speed up their recovery remarkably when adding high reps in their programs.


I’ll give you a three-week split you can try out! Try to keep your rest between sets to 30-45 seconds; for heavier sets, you can rest up to 90 seconds. The reason to keep the rest short between sets is simply to increase the volume (pounds/kg per minute) without increasing the work.

It also matters how fast you perform the lift: the faster the barbell moves, the more force you have to release, which creates power/strength. In the main exercises where the goal is to get stronger (maximum force), you should aim to lift fast, of course, because you want to force the bar from gravity. But in the exercises where the goal is to get more muscle hypotrophy, such as assistant exercises, you should take advantage of both the concentric movement and the eccentric movement. Remember that persistent resistance makes the muscle grow.

If you’re in the conjugate system (where you max out every week with similar exercises), you may wonder why I put 3RM instead of 1RM. That’s simply because there is less of a risk of injury and the recovery goes faster because you never experience failure with your max. Another reason is that you’re probably not a pure powerlifter if you follow this program, and that makes me think that your technique in the main lifts isn’t perfect. Because you still have more to learn in the movement, it’s logical to perform 3RM instead of 1RM. Your 1RM represents 100% of your maximum strength, and your 3RM is more like 94% of your 1RM. If your technique isn’t perfect, you might obtain only 87-92% of your full strength. That’s much easier for your nervous system to recover from, so you can get into heavy training for the same muscle group in 72 hours again.

Week 1

Monday:

  • Box squat below parallel 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM you’re done
  • Eccentric deadlifts with snatch grip, 10 reps with 10-second eccentric phase down and fast up (30-40% of 1RM)
  • Good morning with one leg in front of the other 4×10 reps
  • Seated leg curl with band 100 reps in one or in a few sets you manage
  • Leg extensions 3×30 reps
  • Toes to bar 4×10 reps

Tuesday:

  • Bench press with super-wide grip 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM, you’re done
  • Dumbbell press 6×6 reps
  • Cable flyes 4×10 reps
  • Seated row 4×20 reps
  • Triceps push-downs with bands 100 reps in one set or in a few sets you manage
  • Hammer curl with dumbbells 6×6 reps

Thursday:

  • Regular squats 6×6 reps
  • Clean pulls (conventional deadlifts up on your toes) 10×2 reps (50% of 1RM)
  • Seated good mornings 4×10 reps
  • Laying leg curl 4×20 reps
  • Leg extensions 6×6 reps
  • Weighted sit-ups 3×10 reps

Friday:

  • Seated shoulder presses with dumbbell 6×6 reps
  • Bench press with neutral grip 4×20 reps
  • Dumbbell flyes for the middle delt 4×10 reps
  • Chins for max reps 3 sets and then 3 sets with band assistance x 10 reps
  • Dips 3x max reps
  • Scottcurl 4×20 reps

Week 2

Monday:

  • Deadlift 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM, you’re done.
  • Hacklift, one leg squat (assisted with band if needed) 4×10 reps
  • Glute ham raises (assisted with band if needed) 4×10 reps
  • Seated leg curl with band 3×30 reps
  • Leg extensions 100 reps in one or in a few sets you manage
  • Toes to bar 4×10 reps

Tuesday:

  • Bench press with neutral grip 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM, you’re done
  • Dumbbell press 4×12 reps
  • Incline dumbbell flyes 4×10 reps
  • Seated row 100 reps in one or in a few sets you manage
  • Tate press 6×6 reps
  • Biceps curl with barbell 3×20 reps

Thursday:

  • Regular squats 6×6 reps
  • Snatch pulls (conventional deadlifts up on your toes with wide grip) 10x2reps (40-50% of 1RM)
  • Stiffed leg deadlift 4×10 reps
  • Seated leg curl 4×20 reps
  • Leg extensions 6×6 reps
  • Ab wheel with wide knees 4×10 reps

Friday:

  • Standing shoulder press with barbell 6×6 reps
  • Incline dumbbell press 6×6 reps
  • Lat pull-down 4×20 reps
  • Facepull with band 3×30 reps
  • French press with barbell 6×6 reps
  • Biceps curls with z-bar 6×6 reps

Week 3

Monday: 

  • Standing good morning 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM, you’re done
  • Box squat below parallel 6×6 reps
  • Deadlift with bar behind your legs (hack deadlift) 3×10 reps
  • Sissy squat 4×12 reps
  • Seated leg curl with band 4×12 reps
  • Russian twist 3×20 reps

Tuesday:

  • Bench press with close grip 3RM (small weight increases between the sets); when you reach your 3RM, you’re done
  • Clap push-ups 4×10 reps
  • Chins 3x max reps
  • Barbell rows 6×6 reps
  • Standing-over-head triceps extensions with bands 100 reps in one set or in a few sets you manage
  • Pull-ups 3x max reps

Thursday:

  • Regular deadlift 6×6 reps
  • Regular squats 4×10 reps
  • Hip thrusters 4×20 reps
  • Seated leg curls with bands 3×50 reps
  • Leg extensions 2×50 reps
  • Weighted sit-ups 3×10 reps

Friday:

  • Zavickas press 6×6 reps (seated shoulder press on the floor with straight legs)
  • Floor press with dumbbells 4×10 reps
  • Upright barbell row 4×12 reps
  • Lat pull-down with V-handle 6×6 reps
  • Skullcrushers 4×20 reps
  • Scottcurl 4×20 reps

Recap

  • Powerbuilding is a combo between bodybuilding and powerlifting.
  • I have not invented the name; maybe someone wants to take the credit for it and that’s fine.
  • The program I did is designed to build muscle and strength in four hours per week.
  • Whether you’re a powerlifter or you just want to build muscles, I think you can learn from the program and get some new input for your training.
  • If your progress has ceased or if you just want to try something new, this might be just the program you’re looking for.

I hope you enjoyed this article and can take advantage of the program. Remember that I wrote it to work in general and it’s not individually adapted, so if something doesn’t work for you – change it! If you want to receive more individual coaching or share your results of the program, please contact me. You can also tag @seminoff in your Instagram posts if you want me to see your lifts.

Source: https://www.elitefts.com/education/training/bodybuilding/conjugate-powerbuilding-3-week-split/