Connor Lutz is a powerlifting competitor and coach at Calgary Barbell. These are a few different powerlifting programs he shared several years back. There are three powerlifting programs in total: a beginner program, an updated intermediate program, and an old intermediate program.
If you’re going to run the intermediate program, you’d probably be better off running the updated version (assuming it is an improved version of the older template), but obviously you’re free to compare the two and make your own decision.
These programs are both peaking programs and are designed to help you set new PRs after 7 weeks. You can use them when preparing for a powerlifting meet.
I’m sharing all three here along with some additional information regarding the programs that Connor originally shared on his (now defunct) website.
Table of Contents
- 1 Spreadsheets
- 2 Clutz Training Manual
Original Beginner and Intermediate Connor Lutz Powerlifting Programs
Updated Intermediate Connor Lutz Powerlifting Program
Clutz Training Manual
This is a republishing of the “Clutz Training Manual” in its entirety, as it was originally shared in this PDF.
Please note that this was written for the “original” beginner and intermediate training templates and some of the notes below may not apply to the “updated” intermediate powerlifting program.
First off, thank you for taking the time to support me as a coach and as an athlete. I appreciate every single person that takes the time to read through the PDF and gives the templates a try. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
This program isn’t recommended for individuals withany pre existing or chronic injuries that haven’t been evaluated by an accredited health care professional. Nor is it recommended to follow this program without appropriate coaching or safe lifting technique. While it is fairly common knowledge and socially accepted that squats can cure many life-threatening diseases, it is not yet scientifically proven and any lifter choosing to partake in this program is doing so by accepting the inherent risk that comes with intensive exercise.
It is important to understand that both the Beginner and Intermediate Clutz training templates are not intended to be utilized as an entire training system. Each lift is individually periodized over the course of the 7 week training cycle leading to a “test day” or meet. The templates can certainly be used over and over again manipulating the available options to improve performance but doing this for an entire year for an example may not be the most effective method for long-term athlete development. These templates are designed to give lifters the experience of how I myself train as a lifter, while aiming to improve trainee’s work capacity, training frequency and technical proficiency.
Definitions of Beginner and Intermediate
The beginner template is designed for a lifter that is competent in the squat, bench press and deadlift but has never trained specifically for strength or powerlifting. The beginner template will begin to introduce lifters to an increased training volume and frequency in the 3 powerlifting movements. This template can also be used by lifters who only wish to train 3 days a week. The intermediate template is designed for lifters who have trained using a volume based training approach to strength in the past. This template involves a lot more freedom than the beginner template and as a result requires lifters to be able to make their own informed training decisions. The intermediate program involves training 4 days a week with a much greater total work load than the beginner template.
Starting the Program
So you’ve decided to invest the next 7 weeks of training in one of the two training templates. Now what? Start by entering your best competition lifts in corresponding cells in the top left corner of the spreadsheet. These can be entered in either kilograms or pounds. The lifts don’t have to be done in a competition per se but part of the program design is to improve lifters ability to perform in a competition setting. This means below parallel squats, paused benches and locked out deadlifts all performed on the same day. While some of the training sessions might seem “easy” to lifters who haven’t utilized a volume based training approach; be honest with the maxes you enter into the program and let the accumulated training effect drive your progress.
Next you will need to choose some “Secondary Movements”. To do this, click the cell that says “Secondary (1 or 2)” and a drop down option should appear on the sheet. The secondary movements are incorporated for one of two reasons. One, to improve technique or two, to add volume in a movement that addresses a weakness in your competition lifts. On the beginner template there is only one secondary movement spot and you can choose to make that a deadlift or squat variation. Hint: a squat variation can improve the deadlift and vice versa. So choose based on your individual strengths and weaknesses. The intermediate template has two secondary movement slots, one being primarily deadlift variations and one being primarily squat variations. Just like in the beginner template a squat variation doesn’t necessarily have to be used to address the squat or a deadlift variation to help the deadlift. These movements are used to build areas of weakness in the competition lifts, not to get stronger in the secondary movement itself. With that being said, feel free to experiment with your own secondary movement choices. I have included some of the movements I find most beneficial for myself and athletes I have worked with but again, everyone is an individual and may find other movements to be beneficial. One option that is made available in the intermediate template is to use the squat as a deadlift variation and the deadlift as a squat variation. Choosing this option can be utilized by powerlifting purists looking to increase the frequency of the competition lifts or during a meet prep period where the skill of the movement is a top priority.
After choosing your secondary movements you will need to enter an appropriate 1rep max for the movements selected. If you don’t know the specific 1 rep max for the movement don’t stress yourself out. Take your best estimate. In general the secondary movement percentages are fairly low and they shouldn’t cause you to fail reps. If you happen to choose some type of overload movement such as reverse bands or block pulls add 15-25% to the corresponding competition lift regardless of what you think you can achieve in that movement. For example: You squat 400lbs and want to use reverse bands. Enter 460-500lbs in the reverse band 1rm slot. This will get you “overloading” in the appropriate intensity ranges on the template. Overload principles shouldn’t be applied to drastically surpass your competition lift, but to overload the volume of an intensity range you other wise couldn’t perform. The last box you will need to fill in, on the top left corner of the spreadsheet will be the “increment” box. This will round all of your training numbers to whatever increment you choose. Ie. Choosing 2.5 will round all of the numbers to an increment of 2.5 (350, 352.5, 355 etc). Choosing 10 will round all of your numbers to an increment of 10 (350, 360, 370 etc). Choosing 1 will round all of your numbers to an increment of 1 (350, 351, 352 etc). Select whichever is the most appropriate for the plates you have available at your gym.
For users of the Beginner Template
Week 5 Day 5 includes a “plus set” on the bench press. In my experience lifters new to training with a higher frequency bench press approach make progress fairly quickly and the weight you entered at the start of the template may no longer be appropriate after a month of training. On this day attempt as many competition quality reps as possible and enter the reps achieved in the yellow box. This will adjust the final week of the program to allow for more appropriate loads before testing in week 7.
For users of the Intermediate Template
There will be one more box to fill in and that will be Week 1 Day 6 “Overload Bench”. Clicking this cell will once again drop down a menu with the option as to how you wish to overload your bench. This can be done in anyway you choose. The overload weights will be generated off of your competition bench press but loads may have to be adjusted slightly depending on the movement of choice. Ex, board heights or band tension for reverse bands. Should the lifter not have access to bands, boards or a slingshot device (boards can be made for under $5), Pin presses are acceptable; however, not desired. The overload repetitions should be taxing on the nervous system but not physical or visible grinders.
Now that all of the exercises are chosen with appropriate training maxes entered into the sheet you should be looking at your very own customized CLUTZ training template. How should these days be structured over the course of a week?
For users of the Beginner Template
The beginner template is three days a week with training on days 1, 3 and 5. What that means is train for one day, rest for one day, train for one day, rest for one day, train for a day rest for two days. Repeat. For example: Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday Thursday Saturday. I know a lot of new trainee’s want to get into the gym and train like a maniac when they first begin but rest and recovery is extremely important and something that needs to be trained as well as the lifting itself. Let your body adjust to the volume and increase it over time as your body becomes more efficient at recovery.
For users of the Intermediate Template
The intermediate template is 4 days a week with training on days 1,3,5 and 6. This means that two sessions will be back to back. This is done on purpose. It begins to acclimate lifters to training lifts more frequently in a fatigued state. Does this make training more difficult? Yes. This makes training more difficult without having to increase training volume or intensity. This means that you will be deadlifting the day after you squat with fairly high intensity. As competitive powerlifters we compete in the squat bench press and deadlift in the same day. Training the deadlift in a fatigued state is beneficial to performance on the platform. In fact, training both lifts in the same day at times can be very beneficial (this can be structured depending on your choice of secondary movements). The intermediate template begins to train the deadlift in a fatigued state without complete lack of recovery. Something to keep in mind is train to train and compete to compete, don’t compete in training.
Can you substitute other lifts in place of the squat, bench
press and deadlift?
The 3 main powerlifting movements should be the staple of any quality strength or powerlifting program. This means I don’t suggest substituting secondary movements in place of competition lifts. With that being said there is a few exceptions. If you have an injury (that has been assessed by a professional in the appropriate field) that needs to be worked around you may choose to substitute movements. If you are an experienced trainee and are in an “off season” period of training and wish to prioritize other movements you may substitute appropriate movements. If you aren’t sure what exercises are appropriate substitutes don’t do it!
In my experience the most effective way to train the squat is through a high training volume at intensity ranges that still allow for dynamic completion of each rep. That means that throughout the course of a training day the last rep of a set, or the last set of the day may feel tiresome and slower than the previous reps. However, constantly grinding reps in training is a recipe for disaster. If you find you need to constantly grind out reps on the template it doesn’t mean you are getting weaker it means you handle volume and intensity different than other people. Lower your training max to achieve an acceptable bar speed. This will make your training more effective and will result in greater progress on test day. At no point should you ever sacrifice the depth of your squats to achieve the prescribed weight.
I recommend doing all of your bench training with a competition “pause” on the chest, or at the very least complete control on every rep. This means no heaving, trampolining or bro spotting! If you have never paused your bench press before, use 90% of your touch and go bench in the calculator. If you aren’t training for a competition, feel free to re-test your touch and go bench press on test day. Out of all the Powerlifting movements the bench press is the most effectively trained with a high frequency. On either template you will bench every session you are in the gym. The secret to benching a lot is to bench a lot. Due to the high frequency of bench pressing it is extremely important to have your technique at a level that you are not going to injure yourself. Benching often isn’t hazardous to the body so long as you are doing it in a safe manner. Take a look at this video if you are unsure of your technique, or seek out a qualified coach. As previously stated, I recommend pausing every rep in training on the chest. There are multiple benefits to this, the biggest being that it is how you will compete on the platform.
Benching on the Beginner Template:
The bench press on the beginner template is generally linear with constant weekly volume and a manipulation in training intensity. This means that even though the weights and volumes stay constant over the course of a training week each day is successively more challenging. Week 5 day 5 gives the lifter an opportunity to realize their gains by attempting a plus set. What this means is you will attempt as many competition quality reps as possible at the prescribed weight. Whatever number of reps you achieve can be entered in the yellow box. This will adjust the remaining weeks of training leading up until test day.
Benching on the Intermediate Template:
The intermediate template begins to adjust lifters to benching at greater overall training volumes and frequencies than the beginner template. It also begins to introduce a greater level of periodization as well as some secondary movements: the 3 count pause bench, the touch and go bench and the overload bench.
3 count pauses:
The 3 count pause bench is completed by performing a standard bench press but holding the bar static on the chest for a full 3 seconds before completing the rep. Getting a training partner to count out the seconds aloud will help keep you honest. The purpose of this movement is to build starting strength in the bottom portion of the lift while engraving appropriate technique and motor patterns under heavy loads.
Touch and Go Bench Press:
The touch and go Bench Press is utilized in this template as a secondary movement to the competition style paused bench. Because all other reps on the program are expected to be paused, the touch and go “plus” sets are used as a volume overload technique. When performing these sets the goal should never be to go to failure and you should never miss a rep however the goal is to achieve a rep or two more than that training days prescribed reps. These plus sets can also be used as a gauge in progress should you run the template more than one time over. If it is possible to achieve a rep PR following some intensive volume then your bench is likely on the right track!
The overload bench isn’t designed to push lifters way beyond their natural strength levels, it is used as a neural stimulus and a volume overload in an intensity range you wouldn’t otherwise be able to handle. You can choose to overload in whatever method you find best suits your own training but I find slingshots, boards or reverse bands to be the most realistic and effective methods. The weights are calculated off of your competition style bench and if possible find the appropriate level of overload to keep those weights applicable. Depending on your own personal strengths and what is available to you in training you may need to adjust those numbers to achieve appropriate bar speed. Should the lifter not have access to bands, boards or a slingshot device (boards can be made for under $5), Pin presses are acceptable; however, not desired. The overload repetitions should be taxing on the nervous system but not physical or visible grinders.
Deadlifts on the Beginner Template:
The deadlifts on the beginner template have the lifter ramping up to one progressively more challenging top set per week before backing off for a fairly hefty amount of volume work! While the top set is likely the most exciting lift of the day, the back off sets are what drive progress. Technique is of the upmost importance on these sets. We want to begin to increase the volume at which you deadlift without taking a trip through snap city.
Deadlifts on the Intermediate Template:
Deadlifts on the intermediate template increase drastically in volume and intensity. It is important your deadlift technique is safe before we begin to take this next step in both volume and frequency. If you are not comfortable with your deadlift technique seek out a qualified coach or utilize the beginner template with an appropriate secondary movement to address your issues. With that out of the way, the deadlifts on the intermediate template have a day dedicated to the technique of the movement, the paused deadlifts (day 3), and a day dedicated to putting in work (day 6). The paused deadlifts are to be paused just slightly below the knees and are designed specifically to engrain appropriate positioning while statically strengthening the entire posterior chain. The second deadlift day (day 6) is very volume intensive with an option to modify the top working sets for the day. Every lifter handles volume and intensity differently deadlifts especially. This is in part to do with the effect your nervous system has on your ability to deadlift on any given day. Some lifters can pull 90+% for multiple reps (like me), while others aren’t able to do more than a single over 80% but they can grind out 3rd attempts in competition like a boss. Knowing this about yourself as a lifter (especially if you don’t have a coach) is important. For this reason the top sets can be modified. The goal is to achieve the total number of top working reps that day in any combination of sets and reps that you see fit. The prescribed sets and reps is the ideal combination for that workload however on some days it might not be there. For example: The top sets and reps of week one day 6 are 3×3 (9 total reps). If you slept 12 hours ate a 3000kcal breakfast and feel like a million bucks you can complete up to 1 set of 9 reps. On the other hand, you think you’re coming down with a cold and were up all nigh with a crying baby 9 sets of 1 rep might be more realistic on the given day. Any combination of sets and reps in between is acceptable but keep in mind the sets and reps are prescribed for a reason and bar speed is important.
Is it possible to add in my biceps blaster, shortcut to greater gunz circuit at the end of the workout?
Generally speaking I would say no.
Most assistance exercises are going to take away from your ability to perform and recover from the primary and secondary movements that are actually programmed in the template. If you only have 100% to give will you be stronger devoting 100% to strength or 90% to strength and 10% to crossfit? In the end you are the one in control of your own training and will do what either a) makes you happy or b) what you think is best for you. Both are acceptable answers.
With that being said, there is a place for assistance exercises and I have listed what I believe to be the most effective assistance exercises in the template.
- Pec Flies
- Pec flies can be done using dumbells or with a pec deck machine. Neither one is going to be the savior for your lagging bench press but in my experience a nice light (I use 25lbs dumbells) set of pec flies at the end of every session helps relieve any tension that is built up from the multiple bench sessions. Keeping the chest stretched out is going to do wonders for any slight shoulder discomfort you might experience down the road.
- Upper Back Work
- I don’t think there is any person on earth that can’t benefit from more upper back or shoulder girdle work. 50 total reps in any exercise you choose addressing this area should be enough attention to keep the shoulders healthy and posture strong in conjunction with properly performed squats and deadlifts.
- Exercises that fall into this category include:
- Any type of horizontal or vertical row
- T-Bar Rows
- Chest supported rows
- Lat Pulldowns
- Barbell Rows
- DB Rows
- Towel Rows… Just kidding
- Rear Delt Flies
- Cuban Presses
- Seated DB Cleans
You can make up your 50 lifts on any day using any combinations of these exercises although I would suggest keeping the reps between 10-25 per set.
So some examples include:
- Facepulls 2×25
- T Bar Rows 3×10 + Shrugs 1×20
With that in mind, It is important to note that the weights listed on the Clutz program sheets are the working weights. That means that each lifter is responsible for warming up in such a way that they feel prepared and ready for the training weights that day. Absolutely do not walk in, put the prescribed weights on the bar and begin the sets. Even if the weights for the day seem light, perform atleast 5-6 warmup sets in prior to the prescribed weights. I’ve mentioned it before, train to train, don’t compete in training.
The more warmup sets you do the more total work you are accumulating on that given day. Again, this can make training more difficult without changing the training intensity of the program. The one thing to avoid is to doing so many warmup sets that the working sets become too difficult due to fatigue. This is going to be different for every lifter depending on your work capacity and conditioning.
The one exception to this would be on a competition or test day when the goal is lifting as much weight as possible.here is an example warm up progression to working weights at 80%:
- Foam Roll/ Lacrosse Ball/ Mobility Work
- 2×5-10 @25%
- 2×5 @40%
- 1×5 @55%
- 2×3 @70%
- working sets @80%
I wish everyone the best of luck with the program, if there are any parts that are still unclear feel free to get in contact with me and please share any success you have with the program! Never be satisfied with where you are at now and forever look towards bettering yourself in the future. As always, Stay Strong.
And there you have it, folks.