The number of hours in a day that a powerlifter may spend training can vary depending on factors such as whether the session is meant to be a hard session or an easy session.
It can also depend on the training frequency (how many times per week they train), where they are in their phase of training (off season or competitive season), rest times, their training environment, and their training experience.
So how many hours a day do powerlifters train? Powerlifters train on average 2 hours per day, including warm-ups. If powerlifters train more frequently or do an easier session, they train for 1-1.5 hour per day. If powerlifters train less frequently or do a harder session, they may train up to 3 hours a day.
In this article, you will learn…
- How long average powerlifting workouts tend to take
- Factors that increase and decrease session length, and
- What workout durations really mean for you in the long run
How Long Does An Average Powerlifting Workout Take
Here is how a powerlifting workout can be broken down:
- Primary Exercises
- Accessory Exercises
- Core Exercises
- Cool Down
Warm-Up (20 minutes)
A powerlifting warm-up can take between 15 to 20 minutes.
It often consists of some form of cardiovascular activity that can last 5 minutes. After this, there is normally some form of dynamic stretching that can last for 5 to 10 minutes and some core exercises that can last between 5 to 10 minutes.
Primary Exercises (30 to 90 minutes)
The primary exercises will take up the longest portion of the workout.
Powerlifters will only have the capacity to perform between 1 and 2 primary exercises, which include a variation of the squat, bench press, or deadlift.
Powerlifters will perform warm-up movements and warm-up sets towards their main prescribed sets for each of their primary exercises. This can take between 5 to 20 minutes in itself depending on intensity, difficulty, and volume.
Prescription for primary exercises will be anywhere between 3 sets to 8 sets with rest times lasting 3 to 5 minutes depending on intensity, so this can last anywhere between 20 minutes to 50 minutes.
We’ll discuss rest times later, but generally speaking if the workout calls for heavier lifting in the low reps range, the rest times are longer.
Accessory Exercises (20 to 40 minutes)
Accessory exercises will take up the second longest portion of the workout, lasting between 20-40 minutes.
Powerlifters will perform between 2 to 4 accessory exercises in their workouts with between 3 to 4 sets each. Accessory exercises are normally lower in intensity and shorter in rest times with 1 to 2 minute rest times. This makes each accessory last around 10 minutes on average.
Accessory movements are programmed around a lifter’s specific area of weakness.
You can learn more about powerlifting accessories movements here:
- 9 Squat Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
- 10 Bench Press Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
- 12 Deadlift Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
Core Exercises (5 to 10 minutes)
There are normally between 1 to 2 core exercises in powerlifting workouts with each core exercise having 2 to 3 sets.
Each core exercise will take no more than 5 minutes. Core exercises are normally done at the end of the training session with the cool down.
Cool Down (5 minutes)
The cooldown portion of the powerlifting workout can have activities such as static stretching, foam rolling, and breathing exercises to help you get into a more restful state to recover better.
Want to get advice on programming, technique, or competing? Speak with one of our coaches.
Factors That Increase/Decrease the Length of a Powerlifting Workout
Here are 7 factors that can affect the duration of a powerlifting workout:
- Volume, Load, and Intensity
- Rest Times
- Phase of Training
- Training Frequency
- Equipped Powerlifting
- Number of Exercises
- Training Environment
Volume, Load and Intensity
The prescription of volume (total number of sets), load, or intensity of the training will be directly proportional to the duration of the workout.
If the volume or the total number of sets is higher, it will take longer to complete. If the load or intensity is higher, this may mean that you will need to perform more warm-up sets to reach the prescribed sets, which will result in a longer workout.
Rest times will depend on the sort of intensity that is performed. Rest times can be longer for higher intensity sets, which may mean 5 or more minutes.
Rest times can be shorter for lower intensity sets for exercises, which may mean 3 or fewer minutes.
If you choose to time your rest intervals, it can make your training times more consistent. A lot of powerlifters don’t record their rest times, meaning they can go beyond 5 minutes, which can dramatically increase powerlifting training sessions especially if multiple sets are involved.
Phase of Training
Powerlifting training throughout the year can be broken down into off season and on season where you may be far from or close to a competition respectively.
During the off season training, you are going to be training harder be it higher in volume or intensity meaning your sessions can be longer.
When you are preparing to compete, you ideally want to reduce training difficulty so that you can reduce fatigue to perform best so your sessions will be shorter.
Training frequency can be dependent on your availability to train throughout the week.
If you tend to be busier throughout the week due to work and life commitments, you may have to train less frequently and therefore have longer sessions.
If you have more time to train, you will be able to spread your training out over more days and shorten your workouts.
If you are training for equipped powerlifting, you can end up spending more time putting on supportive equipment (like squat suits and knee wraps) and spend more time performing higher frequencies.
Both can contribute to your training sessions being longer on average.
Number of Exercises
The more exercises you do, the longer your workouts are going to be. Depending on what type of exercise you do will determine how much longer your workouts are going to be.
If you include more primary exercises that are squat, bench press or deadlift variations, your workouts can be considerably longer. If you include more accessory exercises, your workouts can be mildly longer.
Gyms can be a very social environment especially if they specialize in powerlifting.
If you tend to train with other powerlifters that you are familiar with, you may find yourself socializing more and thus inadvertently spend more time with your workouts.
If you have a home gym and train alone, you may be able to get through your workouts quicker.
Is Training Fewer Hours For Powerlifting Less Effective?
Yes, it can be less effective on your overall powerlifting development if you train fewer hours.
If you have to squash your workouts to shorter sessions, you may have to sacrifice some rest time or even some of the exercises.
Sacrificing some of the rest time may mean you will not recover as much as you need to and not perform as well as you would like. Sacrificing some of the exercises may mean you will lag behind in certain weak areas or muscle groups.
However, you can be creative and resourceful with picking exercises that give you the most bang for buck. This means choosing exercises that may help you achieve more than one thing that meets your needs.
Do The Number Of Hours Increase For Advanced Powerlifters?
Yes, more advanced powerlifters do train more hours.
The reason for this is because of the progressive overload principle.
As you become stronger and more experienced, the need for more intensity and volume increases in order to continuously make progress. Your rate of gains naturally plateau over time as you become more experienced.
For these reasons, the amount of time you have to spend training increases over time.
Looking To Get Started In Powerlifting?
Check out the following resources:
- How To Start Powerlifting: A Beginner’s Guide
- How Long Are Powerlifting Meets? Meet Day Timing Explained
- How Strong Do You Need To Be At Your First Powerlifting Meet?
- How Is Powerlifting Scored?
- How To Pick Attempts For Powerlifting
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting, and accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience coaching various lifters, from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Alongside coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com