The Lilliebridge Method For Powerlifting!


Lilliebridge Method

The Lilliebridge Method is one of the most effective and popular powerlifting training methods in the world. Many of the world’s strongest powerlifters continue to use Eric Lilliebridge’s brainchild to set world records in the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

I can’t recommend this program highly enough!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Training Split
  • Part 2: Percentages
  • Part 3: Accessory Work
  • Part 4: Typical Workouts
  • Part 5: Off season Training
  • Part 6: Bench Press Day
  • Part 7: Squat / Deadlift Day

In this comprehensive guide I am going to teach you everything you need to know about how to use the Lilliebridge Method to hit huge PR’s in your next powerlifting meet!

The Lilliebridge Program is a 2 days per week powerlifting program specifically designed to peak your strength on the squat, bench press, and deadlift for your next competition.

It utilizes a high degree of specificity, a lower overall training frequency and a modified form of traditional linear periodization to help you blast through your old PR’s!

Over the years Eric Lilliebridge and his family found that they needed more and more rest between workouts in order to continue making progress. This was especially true for the squat and deadlift.

Eric started experimenting with a 2 days per week approach where he bench pressed on one day and trained the squat and deadlift on another day. This is a highly unorthodox way to train. However, it worked like magic for Eric Lilliebridge and the rest of his family.

The numbers don’t lie: Eric’s best raw total is 2,369 pounds in the 308 pound weight class! This includes a massive 920 pound squat, 545 pound bench press, and 903 pound deadlift. Here is the video of Eric’s world record meet performance:

Many other advanced lifters have followed in Eric’s footsteps and started using the Lilliebridge Method with fantastic results.

Stan Efferding certainly comes to mind in this regard! Stan admits that he was only training 2 days per week when he set a raw powerlifting world record in the 275 pound weight class in 2013!

I hope I’ve convinced you to give this unorthodox training program a closer look. Now let’s take a closer look at the nuts and bolts of powerlifting’s most controversial training program.

Please note that all of the sample routines in this article are written with all of the loading parameters clearly defined. If you have any trouble reading these routines then please consult this article.

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: The Training Split

At its core the Lilliebridge Method is a 2 days per week training program. You have one day of the week where you train the bench press and another day of the week where you train the squat and deadlift. For example:

  • Wednesday: Bench Press
  • Saturday: Squat / Deadlift

This is obviously a low-frequency training program, both in terms of how often you train each exercise and the number of days per week that you will be training.

As a general rule of thumb most powerlifters get their best results training body parts once every 3-5 days. It is relatively rare that someone makes optimal progress only training twice per week. However, for the rare individual that responds well to this kind of programming absolutely nothing works better!

In my experience the Lilliebridge Method and other similarly low-volume training programs work best for extremely strong individuals with a TON of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

These individuals drain their nervous systems so much with every workout that they need an enormous amount of rest between workouts to fully recover.

Eric Lilliebridge certainly fits the bill. Just take a look at the guy’s instagram page – it is hard to believe that a powerlifter could pack on that much muscle mass just training twice per week! The man looks like a freaking silverback gorilla!

Heavy Vs Light Weeks

Don’t worry, you are not going to train both the squat and the deadlift heavy on the same day. Instead you are going to train each of these lifts heavy only every other week.

One week will feature some heavy squats (and maybe some light speed deadlifts afterwards), while the other week will feature heavy deadlifts (and maybe some light squats afterwards).

The bench press is cycled in a similar manner where you train heavy only every other week. The lighter weeks generally emphasize some higher-rep assistance work.

For example:

Week 1

  • Wednesday: Heavy bench press
  • Saturday: Heavy squat

Week 2

  • Wednesday: Light bench press
  • Saturday: Light squat

The squat / deadlift training frequency is probably the most important part of the entire program. You are only going to be squatting or deadlifting heavy once every 2 weeks!

Believe it or not this can be an extremely effective way to train. Consider that Eddie Hall put up his incomprehensible 500 kilogram deadlift in 2017 while training the deadlift heavy only once every 2 weeks!

The point is that you really need to be honest with yourself before embarking on this program.

Are you someone who can honestly make great progress training the squat or deadlift heavy only every other week? Only you can answer this question.

Part 2: Percentages

Eric Lilliebridge recommends a very simple form of linear periodization to peak you for your powerlifting meet.

Linear Periodization is a way of organizing your training where you start out your training cycle with relatively lighter weights and higher reps.

You then gradually increase the weights and decrease the rep ranges over the course of many weeks so that you are handling your heaviest weights right before the competition.

Many powerlifting coaches such as Ed Coan and Josh Bryant continue to use various forms of linear periodization with their clients to this day. 

Here are the training percentages that you are supposed to hit on your lower body training days:

Squat / deadlift

  • Week 1: Squat = 85% x 5 reps
  • Week 2: Deadlift = 85% x 5 reps
  • Week 3: Squat = 90% x 3 reps
  • Week 4: Deadlift = 90% x 3 reps
  • Week 5: Squat = 92% x 2 reps
  • Week 6: Deadlift = 92% x 2 reps
  • Week 7: Squat = 95% x 1 rep
  • Week 8: Deadlift = 95% x 1 rep
  • Week 9 Squat = deload at 50% of max x 3-5 reps
  • Week 10: Competition day!

Eric Lilliebridge and Stan Efferding use very similar training percentages to the ones listed above peak their strength in the squat and deadlift.

Bench press

  • Week 1: 87% x 1 rep
  • Week 2: 70% x AMRAP**
  • Week 3: 90% x 1 rep
  • Week 4: 70% x AMRAP**
  • Week 5: 93% x 1 rep
  • Week 6: 70% x AMRAP**
  • Week 7: 96% x 1 rep
  • Week 8: 70% x AMRAP**
  • Week 9: Work up to planned opener x 1
  • Week 10: Competition day!

**AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible.” Perform 1 set for as many reps as you can without reaching failure.

This is how Eric Lilliebridge formally organizes his bench press training. This is a very logical setup and works well for many lifters.

Stan Efferding takes a slightly different approach for his bench press training cycles: he does not perform the bench press at all during his “lighter” weeks. Instead he goes moderately heavy on 2-3 supplementary exercises such as dumbbell presses, incline bench presses, and dips. 

As you can see the Lilliebridge method is designed as a 10-week training cycle with your 10th week being the week of the powerlifting meet itself. It is certainly possible to use shorter or longer training cycles depending on your unique needs.

However, as a general rule of thumb 10 week training cycles tend to work best on this method. Stan Efferding is another big proponent of the 10 week powerlifting meet prep cycle.

Part 3: Accessory Work

Any successful powerlifter will tell you that accessory work is critical regardless of what training program you are using.

One of the interesting aspects of the Lilliebridge method is that you are given very little guidance in terms of how you should organize your accessory work.

This makes sense as the Lilliebridge Method is designed for advanced powerlifters. If you are bench pressing upwards of 300 pounds and squatting / deadlifting upwards of 500 pounds then you probably already know which accessory exercises work best for you.

I find it rather interesting that both Eric Lilliebridge and Stan Efferding approach their accessory work very differently. Let’s take a closer look at both of their approaches.

Eric Lilliebridge’s powerlifting accessory work

Eric Lilliebridge likes to perform a relatively large volume of accessory work in the traditional bodybuilding rep ranges. He often performs as many as 4-8 accessory exercises in a single workout and primarily trains them with 6-20 reps per set.

Here are some of Eric’s favourite accessory exercises for each power lift:

Eric’s favourite bench press accessory exercises

  • Sling shot bench
  • Board work
  • Incline bench
  • Floor press
  • Incline bench dumbbells
  • Pec fly
  • Tricep pushdowns

Eric’s favourite squat and deadlift accessory exercises

  • Front squat
  • Rack pull
  • Deficit Deadlift
  • Barbell row
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Upright rows
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls
  • Leg press

Stan Efferding’s powerlifting accessory work

Stan takes a very different approach to powerlifting accessory work. He believes that when you are in your 10-week meet prep cycle you should primarily be training in the 1-5 rep range. This is true for both your heavier sets on the competition lifts and for your assistance work!

Here is Stan discussing his views on powerlifting assistance work in more detail:

Keep in mind that Stan frequently started his powerlifting meet prep cycles after performing 3-6 months of bodybuilding-style training where he performed plenty of higher-rep assistance work.

When Stan performed assistance work it was frequently for 1-2 all-out sets on 1-2 exercises performed in the 2-5 rep range. 

Here are some of Stan’s favourite powerlifting accessory exercises for each lift:

Stan’s favourite bench press accessory exercises:

  • Board press
  • Dumbbell press (flat, incline, overhead)
  • Incline barbell press
  • Behind the neck press
  • Dips

Stan’s favourite squat and deadlift accessory exercises:

  • Lat pulldowns
  • Cable rows
  • Leg press
  • Leg curls

So who’s right? Should you perform lots of higher-rep bodybuilding-style assistance work like Eric Lilliebridge? Or should you perform 1-2 heavy supplemental exercises after your main lift and then call it a day like Stan Efferding suggests?

In reality both of these approaches work depending on the individual. I suggest you experiment and figure out which one works best for you. Of course an experienced coach can save you a lot of time in figuring this out.

Part 4: Typical Workouts

By now you should have a good understanding of how Eric Lilliebridge might structure a 10-week training program and the types of accessory exercises that work best on the upper body and lower body training days.

Now let’s take a look at some typical bench press and squat / deadlift workouts from Eric Lilliebridge and Stan Efferding.

Here is an exact bench press workout that Stan Efferding used in the weeks prior to breaking the all-time 275 pound weight class raw powerlifting total.

Check it out:

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 3 x 3, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-10, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Dips, 2 x 6-10, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed

Here are some sample training videos: A1: Bench press (competition grip), B1: Incline dumbbell press, C1: Dips.

As you can see Stan keeps things straight to the point during his bench press workouts. He works up to some heavy singles, doubles, or triples on the bench press and then trains as heavy as he can on 1-2 accessory movements.

Now let’s take a look at Eric Lilliebridge’s squat and deadlift workouts:

Eric Lilliebridge’s Squat Workout

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x 5**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

Here are the exercise videos: A1: Back squat (competition stance), B1: Barbell bent-over row, C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), D1: Leg extensions.

Eric’s Deadlift Workout

  • A1: Deadlift (competition stance), 1 x 5**, 1/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Leg press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

Here are the exercise videos: A1: Deadlift (competition stance), B1: Leg press, C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral).

Once again you are free to use the assistance exercises that work best for your body. These just happen to be the squat and deadlift assistance exercises that Eric Lilliebridge has relied on over the years. As they say, you can’t argue with results!

Part 5: Offseason Training

The Lilliebridge Method is designed to be used for the last 10 weeks leading up to your next competition. This 10-week meet prep cycle is incredibly demanding on your body and should not be used year-round.

Eric Lilliebridge, Stan Efferding and many other successful powerlifters find that they need to use a dedicated “powerlifting offseason” in between their meet prep cycles.

Here is the legendary powerlifting coach Josh Bryant talking about the many benefits of a powerlifting offseason:

Once again Eric and Stan approach their powerlifting offseason in two very different ways. 

Eric Lilliebridge’s powerlifting offseason

Eric spends about 6 weeks on average in “offseason” mode before starting his next meet prep cycle. This allows him to complete roughly 3 times per year. During these 6 weeks Eric stays far, far away from the heavy weights.

Eric mentioned in an interview with the bodybuilding / powerlifting coach Paul Carter that he doesn’t really have a plan for these 6 weeks. He just goes in and hits some relatively lighter weights for higher rep ranges.

If I had to guess I would say that Eric does a lot of his work around 70% of his max during this time period. This is just heavy enough to maintain his strength while giving his body a chance to rest following his last competition.

Stan Efferding’s powerlifting offseason

Stan was famous for competing at a very high level in both powerlifting and bodybuilding. Rather than using a more traditional powerlifting offseason Stan actually spent several months training for his bodybuilding competitions!

Stan strongly believes that his time spent training like a bodybuilder allowed him to progress more quickly when he transitioned back into powerlifting. Stan is the first to admit that he didn’t squat for 6 months straight before his meet prep cycle where he squatted 905 pounds in training!

Regardless of how you structure your powerlifting offseason it is essential that you use one.

If you try to use the Lilliebridge Method and the corresponding training percentages year-round then you may find that your progress comes to a screeching halt.

Part 6: Bench Press Training Cycle

Let’s take a look at a full 10-week Lilliebridge Method training cycle for the bench press. This training cycle is modeled after Stan Efferding’s bench press training cycles during the peak of his competitive powerlifting career.

Check it out:

Week 1

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x 3**, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 88% of your 1-rep max.

Week 2

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Incline barbell bench press, 2 x 6-8, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Seated DB overhead press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max.

Week 3

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x 2**, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 90% of your 1-rep max.

Week 4

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Incline barbell bench press, 2 x 6-8, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Seated DB overhead press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max.

Week 5

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x 2**, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 92% of your 1-rep max.

Week 6

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Incline barbell bench press, 2 x 6-8, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Seated DB overhead press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max.

Week 7

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x 2**, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 94% of your 1-rep max. Your strength should have increased significantly from week 1 so this should be extremely doable.

Week 8

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Incline barbell bench press, 2 x 6-8, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Seated DB overhead press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max.

Week 9

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: B1: 30 degree incline dumbbell press, 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with your planned “opener” weight, or roughly 90% of your projected 1-rep max on meet day.

Week 10

Competition day! In other words get your ass on the powerlifting platform and smash your old PR’s!

Part 7: Squat / Deadlift Training Cycle

Here is a sample 10-week training cycle for the squat and deadlift. This training cycle was modeled directly after the workouts of Eric Lilliebridge.

Check it out:

Week 1

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x 5**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 85% of your 1-rep max.

Week 2

  • A1: Deadlift (competition stance), 1 x 5**, 1/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Leg press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 85% of your 1-rep max.

Week 3

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x 3**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 90% of your 1-rep max.

Week 4

  • A1: Deadlift (competition stance), 1 x 3**, 1/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: leg press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 90% of your 1-rep max.

Week 5

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x2**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 92% of your 1-rep max.

Week 6

  • A1: Deadlift (competition stance), 1 x 2**, 1/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: leg press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 92% of your 1-rep max.

Week 7

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x 1**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 95% of your 1-rep max.

Week 8

  • A1: Deadlift (competition stance), 1 x 1**, 1/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: leg press, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 95% of your 1-rep max.

Week 9

  • A1: Back squat (competition stance), 1 x 3-5**, 1/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Barbell bent-over row, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Lying leg curls (feet dorsiflexed / neutral), 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Leg extensions, 3 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed with 50% of your 1-rep max. This is just a light deload workout designed to make sure that your strength is peaked for competition day.

Week 10

Competition day! In other words get your ass on the powerlifting platform and smash your old PR’s!

Conclusion

Lilliebridge Method

The Lilliebridge Method is one of powerlifting’s most effective training programs. There are just too many world-class lifters who have set powerlifting world records using this training system to ignore it.

If you are an advanced powerlifter who thrives on lower-frequency training programs then I highly recommend you give the Lilliebridge Method a shot. You won’t be disappointed! 

“I think it’s the most important thing to have a very clear vision of where we go. Because you can have the best ship in the world, you can have the best cruise liner, but if the captain does not know where to go then that ship will just drift around the world and it will never end up anywhere.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen

I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they never imagined possible.

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