Powerlifting Programs: 7 Best For Intermediate Lifters [With Spreadsheets]

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 11, 2023
Experience Level
Linear, undulating
Designed for intermediate level lifters
Many options available with free spreadsheets and easy customization
Will help you advance to the next level stage

Bottom Line

If you're looking for an intermediate program, you'll find some great ones here. 

Whether you're in early or late stage in the intermediate you'll likely find something suitable here. 

For how to save spreadsheet instructions, click here. 

Skip Down To Programs

When it comes to training, it's important to determine your level.

As a beginner, you may either be able to increase weight either from workout to workout or on a weekly basis.

But as a intermediate you wouldn't be able to do either. 

At this level, you should be able to increase your weight on a monthly basis.

This means you need to choose a program that is designed to help you make progress from month to month. 

With this frequency, you'll still be able to make tremendous amount of progess after a year. 

How To Determine Your Powerlifting Level

If you've already graduated from a beginner program, then you're likely ready for an intermediate program. 

However if you're not sure, then there's an easy way to determine your level.

If you can make progress from workout to workout, then you're in the early stages of a beginner. 

If you can increase the weight and progress from week to week, then you're in the late stages. 

But if you can only increase the weight on a monthly basis, then you're an intermediate lifter. 

You can find the beginner programs here:

Top Programs For Intermediate Level Powerlifters

Here you'll find the best programs for intermediate level.

It's recommended to start with Texas Method because it helps people who recently completed a beginner program and is moving to the next level.

If you've completed a program like Starting Strength, Strong Lifts or any 5x5 program then the Texas Method is a great start. 

These are the best programs for intermediate level lifters:

  • Texas Method
  • TSA Intermediate Program v2
  • GZCL Jacked and Tan 2.0
  • nSuns 5/3/1¬†
  • Candito 6 Week Program
  • Calgary Barbell 8 & 16 Week Program
  • Greg Nuckols Intermediate Programs

Texas Method

The Texas Method program is one that's practically made for people who are advancing from the beginner stage.

You can read more about it here. 

If you've been using programs like Starting Strength and Strong Lifts then this is a great choice. 

Similarly to Starting Strength, it uses sets of 5 and single reps to keep volume at a minimal in each cycle. 

Alternatively if you want to focus purely on strength and not muscle development, then check out the Madcow 5x5 program. 

Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe is a recommended read to make the most out of Texas Method.

It's a customizable program that can be tweaked to your preference. 

Though it includes cleans in the spreadsheet, it isn't necessary to keep it there. 

Texas Method Spreadsheet

TSA Intermediate Program v2

TSA, or the Strength Athlete is a resource for powerlifters.

They not only offer free programs like the Intermediate Powerlifting Program v2.0 but they also offer custom programming and online coaching. 

This program was written as a 9 week program with a focus on squats, bench press and deadlifts. 

The loads get heavier weekly and there's a week to test your 1 rep maxes at the end of the 9 weeks. 

It's designed to maximize strength while preventing imbalances and common issues that's seen in intermediate level lifters. 

GZCL Jacked and Tan 2.0

GZCL is made by Reddit user /u/gzcl.

Because it's more of a framework than a program, there are many spreadsheets that have been built on this foundation. 

You can find all of them here.  

It's highly recommended that you read about GZCL here before you start this. 

nSuns 5/3/1

There are quite a few programs from nSuns and this is one of them. 

This is great if you're in the late stages of a novice because it gradually increases weeks. 

It's a good choice after running beginner programs like these. 

You can find more of nSuns here. 

Here's the spreadsheet:

Candito 6 Week Program

If you want a 6 week program designed to not only increase strength but strength and conditioning, then Candito is a great choice.

It's particularly great for increasing the 1 rep max on squats.

However there are variations that helps improve bench press as most people found the main version doesn't do this well.

Learn more about Candito's program here. 

Calgary Barbell 8 & 16 Week Program

The Calgary program has both 8 week and 16 week variations. 

The 8 week version will allow you to try out the principles and basics of this program, while the 16 week version includes full progression of each lift.

The 8 week version is straightforward and simple enough and it'll help you decide whether the program suits you.

I recommend reading about it here before jumping into it. 

Greg Nuckols Intermediate Program

This program has many variations that works for all levels, from beginner to advanced. 

You'll find variations for the intermediate level here as well. 

The upside of this program is that there's a lot of support and reviews behind it so you're likely to find the answer to your question.

Here's the spreadsheet:

How To Use These Programs

Regardless of the program you choose, you must warm up.

This means gradually moving until your core temperature is increased so you're primed and prepared to lift heavy. 

Warm up routines can vary and if you live in a colder climate, you may need a little bit more time to warm up, which is okay. 

Generally you want to spend at least 5-7 minutes on light cardio until you break a sweat or until you feel warm. 

Then move to your main lifts and perform light sets until you gradually reach your working weights.   


Sometimes you may have weak points in your form that needs to be worked on. 

This is normal, no matter what level or experience you have with lifting. 

And this can be adjusted depending on your height, injury history and unique limitations. 

As an intermediate level lifter you should already know the basics of the form but there's always something that can be learned from more experienced lifters and coaches. 

One channel I recommend watching is Starting Strength, which is led by coach Mark Rippetoe. 

He's one of the most respected strength coaches. 

Here are his form videos:


What's The Best Powerlifting Program?

The best program is one that you can stick to and enjoy. 

There's no point in forcing yourself to train since you'll likely quit or switch to another program. 

A program that suits you should at least focus on the 3 big lifts and can maximize progress while allowing sufficient time for recovery. 

The programs listed are chosen because they work well and have plenty of community support. 

If you have any questions they are most likely answered across Reddit or related forums. 

These programs are the best for intermediate powerlifters:

  • Texas Method
  • TSA Intermediate Program v2
  • GZCL Jacked and Tan 2.0
  • nSuns 5/3/1¬†
  • Candito 6 Week Program
  • Calgary Barbell 8 & 16 Week Program
  • Greg Nuckols Intermediate Programs

Can I Use Powerlifting Programs for Weight Loss?

Powerlifting programs are designed to help increase muscle and strength. 

Fat loss will come from diet.

If you're eating more than you burn, you will gain weight, whether it's fat or muscle will depend on a number of factors. 

But generally you want to eat a diet that's specific to muscle building and won't put in you a surplus where you gain more fat than muscle. 

If you want a ripped look then you should look at your calorie intake and assess how much you need to eat for this goal.

Like what you've probably heard, abs are made in the kitchen. 

What's the Best Program for Beginners?

If you're looking for beginner programs then check this out:

Best powerlifting programs for beginners

I'm Not Making Progress, What Can I Do?

If you're following the progression according to the program you've picked and you're sure you're not overdoing it then you may have hit a plateau.

To address this issue it would take another article but for now I would recommend checking out these videos:

Final Words

These programs are great choices for intermediate level lifters. 

Whether you've recently graduated from the beginner level or are late in the intermediate level, you're likely to find a program that suits you. 

If you have any questions leave a comment below...

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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