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Calgary Barbell Program: 16 & 8 Week Spreadsheets

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 2, 2024
OVERVIEW
Goal
Powerlifting
Experience Level
Intermediate and advanced. 
Periodization
Follows undulating periodization.
Duration
8 to 16 weeks.
Positives
Made for powerlifting peaking
Includes two versions, one is simple and the other is a complete program
The 8 week program allows you to try the methods used in the 16 week program
Negatives 
Highly demanding
Can only be run a few times a week

Bottom Line

When it comes to powerlifting, many programs can be found.

However, the Calgary Barbell Program stands out as one of the best, especially if you're preparing for a powerlifting meet.

This comprehensive program, available in both 8-week and 16-week versions, is designed to enhance your squats, bench presses, and deadlifts.

Even if you're not gearing up for a competition, the Calgary Barbell Program is highly effective for overall strength improvement.

For those interested in following this program, it's essential to make a copy of the spreadsheet for personal use.

Detailed instructions on how to save the spreadsheet are provided below.

Created by Calgary Barbell, this is a 16 week and 8 week program that are made to improve main compound lifts. 

The main difference between the two programs is that the 16 week has progression of each lift and the 8 week is more of a straightforward program. 

Find the best program with our program finder.

And take a look at our ultimate guide on training programs.

What is The Calgary Barbell Program?

Calgary Barbell is a powerlifting coaching and content production team, focused on raising the standards across coaching and education in strength. Visit their website to learn about their coaching, training programs (including Calgary Barbell app), and apparel.

Calgary Barbell Overview

There are two programs to choose from, the 8 week and 16 week. 

Both of these programs have 4 workout sessions per week, with squats and deadlifts 3x per week, and bench press 4x per week. 

The revised version, which you'll also find below, will let you choose the percentage for each RPE rep range to help with the weight selection.  

RPE should be adjusted according to your strength on that day and these are flexible recommendations. 

It also has a week where you taper to prepare for a powerlifting meet. 

Ensure your nutrition is on point with our macro calculator.

NOTE: Please make a copy (requesting edit access is incorrect). For how to save spreadsheet instructions, click here. 

Spreadsheet Access (Toggle Box)

NOTE: Please make a copy by clicking File > Make  (requesting edit access is incorrect). For how to save spreadsheet instructions, click here. 

Click  Here For Spreedsheet 

Calgary Barbell 16 Week Spreadsheet (Revised Edition)

This is a edited version of the official Calgary Barbell's 16 week program. 

Using a percentage of a 1 rep max to recommend working weights, it allows you to adjust your workout based on your strength on that day, and these are flexible suggestions. 

To calculate your one-rep max for this program, use our 1RM calculator. 

You can modify the table to use your own percentage. 

Calgary Barbell 16 Week Revised

Source: /u/tinderthrowitawaynow

Calgary Barbell 16 Week Complete Program

This is the original program by Calgary Barbell:

Calgary Barbell 16 Week Program

Warm Up

For warm up, it's a good idea to take 5-10 minutes to walk until you feel warm. 

Once you do that, perform a few light sets of the muscles you're about to workout. 

You should do at least 3-4 warm up sets before your actual workout, and then follow the program's workouts. 

You can do 1-2 warm up sets before a specific exercise. 

What Is Calgary Barbell?

Calgary Barbell was created by Bryce Krawczyk (/u/calgarybarbell on Reddit).

It's a powerlifting program made to prepare for meets. 

Although it can be run even if you're not going to compete in powerlifting, you can still use this program. 

What's The Difference Between the 8 week and 16 Week Programs?

The 16 week program allows for full progression of lifts and as Bryce says, the 8 week program is more of a “training snapshot”. 

The 16 week program is better if you have the time. But if you have to prepare in 8 weeks, then the 8 week version is the clear choice. 

The 8 week program also allows you to try out Bryce's training methods in the Calgary Barbell program. 

How Long Are The Workout Sessions?

Most people take about 90 minutes or 1.5 hour per workout session. 

What Are The Numbers In The Tempo Column?

You'll find numbers in the tempo column which are measured in seconds. 

The first number is the descent time (negatives) then the contraction time (pause) and ascent (positives).

What Can I Do Instead Of Pin Squats?

If you can't do pin squats then you can do either box squats or pause squats as a substitute. 

About The Calgary Program

The Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program is a powerlifting routine designed to enhance strength in the three major powerlifting movements: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. It's a creation of Bryce Krawczyk, a Canadian powerlifting competitor and the mind behind Calgary Barbell.

This program is a balance between volume-based hypertrophy training and strength work, which can lead to both muscle growth and strength advancement. It uses a periodized model, meaning the volume, intensity, and type of training change as you progress.

Why Choose the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program?

  1. Compact and Efficient: This 8-week program is perfect for those who are looking for an effective, shorter-term commitment, or for those preparing for a competition with limited time left.

  2. Balanced Volume and Intensity: Like its 16-week counterpart, the 8-week program strikes a balance between volume (repetitions) and intensity (weight), which can lead to enhanced muscle development and strength increases.

  3. Accessibility: The program is freely available online, providing a strong foundation for beginners and intermediates alike. For advanced lifters, it can be utilized as an adjustable template based on personal needs.

  4. Adaptability: The program accommodates a degree of flexibility and customization, allowing you to tailor it to your specific needs and lifestyle.

Implementing the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program

Following the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program requires dedication, consistency, and a keen understanding of your limits. Here's a basic breakdown of how to navigate this powerlifting regimen:

  1. The Split: This program follows a 4-day per week training split, typically with two lower body days (focused on squats and deadlifts) and two upper body days (focused on the bench press).

  2. The Phases: Unlike the 16-week program, the 8-week program has two distinct phases: strength (weeks 1-5) and peaking (weeks 6-8). Each phase has a different intensity and focus to ensure continuous progression.

  3. Exercise Selection: While centered around the three primary powerlifts, the program also integrates essential accessory exercises to encourage balanced development and prevent injuries. These accessory exercises can be adjusted to address your specific weak points.

  4. Load and Volume: The program employs a progressive model, where you start with higher volume and lower intensity, gradually transitioning to lower volume and higher intensity as you approach the peaking phase.

  5. Rest and Recovery: Sufficient rest is crucial to the success of this program. Strength gains are made during rest periods when muscles recover and adapt to training stress.

Signs of Burnout?

This is a highly demanding program that is made to help you peak but if you're not eating enough or getting enough rest, you may overtrain.

Here are some overtraining signs to look out for:

  • Pain at joints like knees, elbows, shoulders, etc.
  • Soreness at distal portion of muscle.
  • Like feeling sore near joints.
  • Lack of proper sleep
  • Suddenly feeling sick or a cold coming on- immune system is compromised.
  • Loss of libido
  • Depression

If you ignore these signs and keep exercising, you will eventually hit a plateau and will increase chance of injury.

If you're already experiencing these symptoms, take it easy and avoid pushing yourself for at least a week or two.

FAQ

1. What is the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program?

The Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program is a powerlifting routine designed to enhance strength in the three major powerlifting movements: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. It's a creation of Bryce Krawczyk, a Canadian powerlifting competitor and the mind behind Calgary Barbell.

2. Who is the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program suitable for?

This program is suitable for intermediate to advanced lifters who have a solid understanding of the major powerlifting movements. It's also a great choice for those preparing for a competition with limited time left.

3. How many days per week does the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program require?

The program follows a 4-day per week training split, typically with two lower-body days (focused on squats and deadlifts) and two upper-body days (focused on the bench press).

4. What are the main phases of the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program?

Unlike the 16-week program, the 8-week program has two distinct phases: strength (weeks 1-5) and peaking (weeks 6-8). Each phase has a different intensity and focus to ensure continuous progression.

5. Can I customize the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program to fit my needs?

Yes, the program accommodates a degree of flexibility and customization, allowing you to tailor it to your specific needs and lifestyle. This includes adjusting accessory exercises to address your specific weak points.

6. How does the program balance volume and intensity?

The program employs a progressive model, where you start with higher volume and lower intensity, gradually transitioning to lower volume and higher intensity as you approach the peaking phase.

7. What is the importance of rest in the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program?

Sufficient rest is crucial to the success of this program. Strength gains are made during rest periods when muscles recover and adapt to training stress.

8. What is Calgary Barbell?

Calgary Barbell is a powerlifting coaching and content production team, focused on raising the standards across coaching and education in strength.

9. Where can I access the Calgary Barbell 8 Week Program?

The program is freely available online. You can find it on the Calgary Barbell website or other fitness platforms.

10. What other programs does Calgary Barbell offer?

In addition to the 8-week program, Calgary Barbell also offers a 16-week powerlifting program and a variety of other strength training resources. They also provide coaching services and have a dedicated app for easy access to their programs.

Bottom Line

The Calgary Barbell 8-week program is an effective strength training program that can help you reach your fitness goals.

It's structured, rigorous, and designed for progressive overload, making it ideal for those looking to increase their power and muscle mass.

Remember, consistency is key, and you'll see impressive results with dedication.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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