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Powerlifting Ladders

Powerlifting Ladders

Even if you have been lifting heavy and consistently for numerous months, you still must occasionally make attempts to increase your one-rep maxes or brute strength. As part of any long-term workout program, it’s important to occasionally push towards new ‘standards’ of which all your lifts are based on. Our Powerlifting Ladder technique is primarily based on the popular 5/3/1 program. We do it differently since we only still do 2 strength / volume days per week (as opposed to purely concentrating on powerlifting at the expense of metabolic and strength conditioning). Also, we still continue to super-set during the workouts as we believe ‘Never Doing Nothing’ is better suited to our career and fitness goals.

If you haven’t already checked out our one-rep-max calculator, now would be a good time to do so as all these lifts are based on what your current one-rep maxes are.

Once you have figured out your max, take 90% of it – this is number you will now refer to as your ‘maximum’.

For example, if 100lb squat is your maximum – you will now consider 90lb to be your maximum in regards to what the percentages of the lifts require.


Each Powerlifting Ladder cycle is composed of 4 weeks.

Week 1 – Warm-up Sets – then 5 reps at 65% one rep max, 5 reps at 75%, 5 reps at 85%

Week 2 – Warm-up Sets – then 3 reps at 70% one rep max, 3 reps at 80%, 3 reps at 90%

Week 3 – Warm-up Sets – then 5 reps at 75% one rep max, 3 reps at 85%, 1 rep at 95%

Week 4 – Warm-up Sets – then 5 x 5 of 10 reps at 40% one rep max – Dynamic Effort


That completes one-cycle. You would then add 10lb to your lower-body powerlifts, and 5lb to upper-body powerlifts and start over again.

For example, if week 1 consisted of 5 reps at 70lbs, 5 reps at 80lbs, and 5 reps at 90lbs for your Squats – then in the Second Cycle you would then add 10lbs to each of those, now attempting  5 reps at 80lbs, 5 reps at 90lbs, and 5 reps at 100lbs.

Eventually gains will become harder to make – that’s when you start cutting back and adding 5lb – then 2.5lb and continue this way. The more powerlifting ladders you do, the closer you get to your true one rep max!

Always round-up to the nearest weight possibility depending on your weight-plate selections.

As well – the last sets you should always aim to do as many as possible. If it’s asking for ‘5’ reps, and you can do ‘8’ – then do 8!! 


Our Powerlifting Ladder days break down to the following two days per week:

A – Squat / Press

B – Deadlift / Incline Press



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