Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thinking differently about the Deadlift

Throughout my training career the deadlift has been the hardest lift for me to increase, bar none. It seems to be a real stubborn old bastard with quite the ‘voodoo’ to it. By that I mean, one workout I’d walk into the gym and kick serious ass, while the next workout the same weights (sometimes even lighter weights) feel as though they are welded to the floor. That’s what I call Deadlift Voodoo, and let me tell you, that shit is frustrating.

To give a brief history, the absolute majority of my deadlift training over the years has been thus;
-3to5x5, sets across
-3sets 3-6, RPT style
-Top set of 3-5 reps, followed by lots of RDL work

These are not listed in any particular order; the methods were rotated / changed however I saw fit at the time, in order to keep progressing.

For the last month I have been consulting with my coach Jamie Lewis (chaosandpain.blogspot.com). On top of a complete overhaul to my training, he led me to try an interesting method for training the deadlift which I will outline below.

First, a quick tangent. When most consider manipulations to be made during training they focus on increasing one or more of a few variables; Sets, Reps and Poundage. Now there is nothing wrong with this approach. In fact, increasing these variables (in some fashion, over time) is the key to success. There is one variable that is commonly overlooked though. That variable is TIME. Increasing your work output with a given poundage, within a given time period CAN and WILL make you stronger.

This is the workout recommended to me by my coach;

Singles with 85-90% of 1RM, as many as possible within 30 minutes

Your rest periods between singles are completely up to you, basically on the fly. When you feel ready to do so, pull another rep. When you can achieve 23 or more repetitions within 30minutes, you are to increase the weight 10-20lbs and work your way back up. Since implementing this approach I have been making steady gains week to week, to the point where I am now at my strongest deadlift to date. I have also been able to avoid any and all instances of Deadlift Voodoo, entering my workouts feeling strong and pulling fast.

So that’s it. When you want to try something new for deadlift training, I highly suggest this method.  

Keep it simple, brutal and effective.


  1. How often do you deadlift per week? Only once on this scheme?

  2. Twice over the course of a week. RDL once, DL once.