No exercise offers as many benefits at the same time as the deadlift. And perhaps more importantly, the deadlift is an original display of pure badassery. Pulls are fun as hell and having fun at the gym is damn important.
However, all of these benefits come at a price, and that price is paid with your recovery reserves. Because so much load can be lifted, and because of the tremendous strain on your entire body, deadlifting requires intelligent recovery management. And the longer you have trained and the stronger you are, the more strategic you have to be.
Below I'll show you one such strategic approach, which I cheekily dubbed the Badass Deadlift Program. Think of this training strategy as a hypothetical model to stimulate your creative thinking. You don't have to blindly copy this program, just use it as a launch pad to inspire personal problem solving.
First I will present a rough description of the 3 week program followed by its benefits. Finally, I'll answer a handful of questions about using this cycle.
You will deadlift once every 7 days and alternate between three different methods each week:
Week 1 - Modified Sadiv Deficits
I slightly modified Rich Sadiv's original idea,12 minutes singles, for my purposes. In short, you'll warm up to about 60-65% of your conventional deadlift 1RM and, while standing on a short platform, perform 20 singles in 5-7 minutes. More on that later.
Week 2 - Stop Deadlifts
The sustained deadlift involves pulling the bar to a point just below the kneecap, then back to the floor, then all the way back to a full standing position, and finally back to the floor—that's one rep.
Think of it as the "1.5 method" applied to the dead. Depending on your current strength level, do 1-3 sets of 5 reps.
Week 3 - RM test
Week 3 is test week. You warm up to a single working set of as many reps as possible (AMRAP). Once you've completed week 3, it's back to week 1 with slightly heavier loads. Rinse and repeat.
The bigger and stronger you get, the more physically challenging it becomes to train the deadlift in a linear progression style. By linear progression I'm talking about doing 3 sets of 5 reps each session (for example) and trying to add weight each time. If this style works for you, you are a beginner. If not, you are not.
1 Diversification makes hard work tastier and easier to recover from.
As you get stronger, variety becomes more important, but that variety needs to be planned intelligently. In reality, the best kind of change makes it feel like you're doing something different when you really aren't. For this program, you really only deadlift each week, but they're three slightly different types of pulls that use three different load zones.
For example, after racking your brains during the week of testing, it's a relief to know that you'll be doing something completely different for the next two weeks.
2 Sadiv sets give you 20 ways to master the first rep.
Sadiv sets allow for many "first reps" to be performed in each workout. Most of the time, rep 1 is the hardest because it doesn't have the benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle of the eccentric stretch of the previous rep. (In a stretch-shortening cycle, you utilize the energy storage capabilities of a stretched muscle.)
Compared to a more conventional set rep format where you may have the opportunity to do 3-5 first reps, Sadiv sets give you 20 opportunities to master the first rep. The result? Rapid improvements in the consistency, skill, and economy of your first rep.
3 Holding Deadlift forms the beginning part of a pull.
Holding the deadlift targets another component of the deadlift that often proves difficult - the initial part of the pull. Common mistakes range from not understanding how to get tight at one end to trying to "rip" the bar off the ground at the other end.
From a good start anything is possible. Stopping dead gives you the benefit of 2 starts on each rep. Because the first part of the rep (where you only pull the bar up to your knees) is so short, you'll learn not to jerk the bar too quickly. And because you'll be spending so much time at or near the starting position, you'll learn to be more comfortable and economical during the early part of the train.
Note: If your weakness is different than the one addressed here, feel free to modify this cycle with other exercises that more directly target your weaknesses. For example, if your lockout needs work, you can use block or band resistance moves to emphasize that part of your move.
4 Different progress metrics keep you motivated.
If you always do conventional pull (or any type of exercise), you only have a single progress metric to evaluate your progress against. Week after week you can either add weight and/or reps or not. Conversely, if you diligently train, monitor, and track three different pull variations, you now have three times as many opportunities for new PRs, and a PR in one will flow into PRs in the others.
Now let's open the hood and take a look at the details.
On your very first day of doing this cycle, warm up to a weight that's between 60 and 65 percent of your conventional deadlift 1RM. If you don't know this metric, either use one of the many available formulas to convert your current 5-10 rep max into a hypothetical 1RM, or just use a weight you can get 10 reps with. If you're still in doubt, go for the lighter side - there will be plenty of time to increase the load later.
Perform the Sadiv Method in a slight deficit, which means standing on a low platform between 2.5 and 5 percent of your height.
Deficit pulls increase the bar's range of motion and strengthen the initial phase of the pull, so it will feel like a vacation when you return to your normal ROM (range of motion) in your next pulling session.
When it comes to the amount of deficit to use, go to the less is better page. At 6ft 2" I use a 3.5" platform, but I'm experienced and have long hamstrings that allow me to maintain neutral lumbar even with such a large deficit. If you've never done deficit pulls or have trouble holding the bow in your lower back while pulling or squatting, opt for a lower platform first.
When you've finished your warm-ups, start a stopwatch and start hitting your 20 singles. There's no rule about tempo, but it's imperative that you come off the bar and return to a standing position between reps. Your goal is to complete all 20 reps in 5 minutes or less (about 1 rep every 15 seconds), and if you achieve that, you've earned the right to increase your weight by 3 percent the following week.
However, if it took you more than 7 minutes to complete all 20 reps, use the same weight the following week.
On these reps, focus on perfection of the movement: consistent and accurate foot and hand placement, an efficient tight squat before the lift, and a smooth and quick lift ending in an assertive lockout.
This week you'll work on perfecting the first half of the move. Warm up to about 65-70 percent of your standard 1RM, or just use 10-20 pounds more than you used during the previous week's Sadiv sets.
Each rep consists of gently but aggressively pulling the bar to just below your kneecaps, lowering it back to the platform, pulling a full ROM rep to a standing position, and then lowering the bar back to the floor.
In other words, those 5-packs are actually 10-packs in disguise. So when you're figuring out what weight to use, remember that if you can't deadlift 10 regular reps, you have no chance of getting 5 reps holding.
Do 1 to 3 sets of 5 reps depending on your current strength level. If your conventional deadlift max is less than 400 pounds, do 3 sets. Between 400-500, 2 sets. Over 500? 1 sentence.
On these sustained reps, focus on developing an aggressive but gentle start - no jerking or jerking. Viewed from the side, your torso angle shouldn't change until the bar is higher than your knees. If your tail is lifting faster than your shoulders (a sign of weak legs), give yourself the opposite: try lifting your shoulders faster than your hips. Things should work out.
Another critical technique check is to make sure there is no body movement before the plates break off the floor - you and your barbell should be moving at the same time as one.
After two weeks of relatively easy technique training, you should be fresh and excited to get heavy. How hard depends on many factors, including your experience level and current training goal. But you're not aiming for a 1-rep max here, but rather "rep PR" — hit a certain number of reps with the heaviest weight you can.
- If you're training for general fitness/bodycomp, or are on the inexperienced side at deadlifting, aim for a single max set of 8-10 reps.
- When you're more experienced and focused on maximum strength, aim for a lower rep set, 3-5.
Regardless of what approach you use initially, after 4-6 consecutive weeks of doing the same rep goal, it's wise to switch to a different bracket to combat adaptive resistance — your body's inevitable reduced response to a repeated training stimulus.
Just one set for the first two weeks? Is that enough work?
First, let's wait until test week to make that decision. If you got a new rep PR, that was enough. If not, you either did too little or too much. And of course, if you've only used one working set in the previous weeks, you already have your answer.
Remember that training is a process, not a single event. Whenever you start a new cycle, keep your loads and volumes low enough to make sure they're definitely not excessive, and then build from there. Be patient and focus on the long-term reward.
What about training the rest of the body?
I recommend it! Continue to train your upper body as you wish. I would suggest training each upper body muscle group 2-3 times per week. If you usually pull once a week, just use this cycle for your pulls, and then continue with any other lower-body auxiliary movements you find useful.
If you typically pull twice a week, remove dead spots from this second session and replace them with an alternative lower-body movement of your choice. Finally, if you usually pull 3 times a week, stop doing it...unless your max is under 200 pounds.
What if I draw sumo?
Although this cycle was designed for conventional deadlifts, you can still use the underlying strategies to improve your sumo. For week 1, simply use the Sadiv method with your sumo train (but no deficit) and then for week 2 choose a targeted deadlift variation designed to target your greatest weakness. If your lockout needs work, you can use sumo block moves or sumo tape-resistant moves to emphasize that part of your move.
Finally, in week 3, start testing sumo technique.
Is deadlifting 1x a week enough? ›
Both beginner and advanced lifters will benefit from training deadlifts 1 to 3 times per week. There can be a case for deadlifting more frequently, for example, if you've hit a plateau in strength or want more technical practice, but you should manage the difficulty and volume of those workouts carefully.What is the 5 3 1 deadlift program? ›
5/3/1 works on a 3-week cycle. Each week, you lift a heavier weight for fewer reps in your main lifts. So in week 1, you use sets of 5 reps, in week 2 you lift sets of 3 reps, and in week 3 you use 5's and 3's to build towards a heavy single. All of which combined give the programme its name - 5/3/1.What is the 2x deadlift program? ›
What is this? You deadlift twice a week: one heavier session with regular deadlifts and one lighter session with pause deadlifts. The number of sets, reps and the % of 1RM you use varies over the weeks, but here is a rough outline of what to expect.Is 5x5 good for deadlifts? ›
According to Chapman, '5x5 is a very popular method of gaining strength with compound moves, and I find it particularly effective with deadlifts, squats and bench.Is deadlifting 3 times a week too much? ›
A beginner may choose one to three times a week, with a longer recovery time between exercises. An advanced athlete who has already been hitting the gym up to six days a week and has already been incorporating deadlifts into their routine may be ready for a higher frequency such as five or six times a week.Is deadlifting 1.5 times your bodyweight good? ›
Summary of The Barbell Weightlifting Standards
To optimize the health of your body, you should be able to squat and deadlift ~1.5x your bodyweight, bench press ~1.25x your bodyweight, and overhead press ~0.75x your bodyweight.
The way to build up to a 405 pound deadlift (one rep, no belt, no lifting shoes) is easy: just deadlift once a week, and add 2.5-5 pounds a week. Think about it. After a year, you can add 2.5×52 pounds to your deadlift a year (around a hundred pounds). Plateaus don't exist.What is the 8 5 2 lifting program? ›
In a nutshell, the 8-5-2 program operates in 3-week cycles where each week is either focused on new PRs in sets of 8, sets of 5, or sets of 2. It's not revolutionary or complex, but it does work. And we use this core strategy in split training routines, heavy-light routines, and heavy-light-medium routines.What is the Army 3 rep max deadlift? ›
Strength deadlift: You must perform a three-repetition deadlift with the weight increased with each repetition. The weight range of the deadlift is 120 to 420 pounds. The deadlifts replicate picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded soldier, supplies or heavy equipment.Is 20 reps too much on deadlifts? ›
As Tony Gentilcore says, "The ideal rep scheme to teach deadlifts is in the 3-5 rep range. Anything more and technique goes into the crapper." When pulling from the floor, it's hard enough to maintain optimal technique, full-body tension, and a strong brace for 1-3 reps, let alone 10, 12, or 20.
How many reps of deadlift is most effective? ›
Deadlifting: How Many Reps, Sets and Which Weight? Choose a rep range and weight to suit your abilities. As a general rule of thumb, for strength 3-4 sets of 2-6 reps. For hypertrophy (building muscle) 4 sets of 6-12 reps should be sufficient.What is an impressive deadlift for reps? ›
The average Deadlift weight for a male lifter is 336 lb (1RM). This makes you Intermediate on Strength Level and is a very impressive lift. What is a good Deadlift? Male beginners should aim to lift 173 lb (1RM) which is still impressive compared to the general population.Is 3X3 better than 5x5 for strength? ›
It all depends on what exercises you pick and how the workout weeks are structured. The 3X3 protocol is also a great prelude to the 5X5 program. Why? The 3X3 program will get you very strong, and the stronger you are the more effective the 5X5 program will be.Should I do deadlifts 5x5 or 3X10? ›
5X5 vs 3X10: Which Is Better For Building Strength? Look at any legitimate strength program out there, and it'll focus on lower-rep, higher load set schemes. Because 5×5 uses heavier loads, it's superior for strength training. But don't throw away 3×10 if you are just focused on getting stronger.Can I get jacked with 5x5? ›
Get Ripped with the 5x5
The 5x5 workout is an effective bodybuilding program that can be done seasonally. The barbell back squat, barbell bench press, overhead barbell press, the deadlift, and barbell row put together is enough to push your muscle growth up to the next level.
Deadlifts Increase Muscle Mass
Deadlifts promote muscle growth because they involve heavyweights and a compound movement that engages many muscle groups. If you include deadlifts in your fitness program and do them correctly, you'll gain more lean muscle mass in your legs, back, arms, and shoulders.
But if you do them, they're worth it. If you want a bigger, stronger, and better-looking body, there's no better lift than the deadlift. It stimulates the most overall muscle growth, it develops full-body strength, and it thickens some of our most impressive muscles.Is it better to squat or deadlift first? ›
In powerlifting competitions, you squat, then bench, then deadlift. Most recreational lifters always squat before they deadlift as they feel that squats “warm them up” for heavy deadlifting. This makes sense as many individuals hurt their low backs when deadlifting because they aren't warmed up sufficiently.Is 405 deadlift impressive? ›
A Deadlift of 405 pounds isn't that impressive for a guy who weighs 300 pounds—it's less than 1.5 times his body weight. And he's actually doing a Rack Pull, which means the bar is elevated on the rack at the bottom of the exercise to reduce the range of motion and make it easier to perform.Is deadlifting 315 lbs a lot? ›
Anything over 315 is a solid deadlift no matter if you are a man or woman and you dont need to be a strongman or powerlifter to do it.
Is deadlifting 225 a lot? ›
No matter what comes afterward, 225 in the squat or deadlift is a respectable milestone for any non-powerlifter, amateur athlete, or weekend warrior. A 200-plus deadlift is also a tough but realistic goal for most fit women. I've known many who've already achieved it, and many more who can.Can anyone deadlift 1000 lbs? ›
With the right training plan and enough dedication, just about any man can achieve it at just about any age. Indeed, Hugh Jackman became a member of the 1,000-Pound Club at 46 by performing a 355-pound squat, a 235-pound bench press, and a 410-pound deadlift.How long does it take to increase deadlifts by 100 pounds? ›
Generally speaking, you may be able to put on 100 pounds on your deadlift in as quick as 4 to 8 months, but many others may take over 1 year to achieve that.How many people can bench 225? ›
Though we can safely say that – based on national statistics – less than 1% of the population can bench press 225 pounds, this figure becomes somewhat more dubious when changing the sample size to only individuals that visit the gym.What is the 5x5 rule in gym? ›
As the name implies, a 5×5 workout usually involves 5 sets of 5 repetitions. The goal is to build strength in compound movements by adding weight every time you do the workout. You'll only do these workouts 3 times a week, as the rest days in between workouts are crucial to encouraging muscle growth.What is the 5 4 3 rep scheme? ›
The 5-4-3-2-1 program is a program that aims to take advantage of periodizing training frequency by training one lift five times per week, one lift four times per week, one lift three times per week, one lift twice per week and one lift once per week.What is the 4 2 2 lifting method? ›
Using a squat as an example, with a 4/2/2 tempo, you would lower into the squat slowly taking 4 seconds to reach the bottom position. You could pause for two seconds at the bottom position, with tension on the muscle, for 2 seconds and then stand and return to the start position in 2 seconds.What is Arnold Schwarzenegger's deadlift Max? ›
Arnold says his best gym powerlifts were: squat 545 lbs. (247 kg.), bench press 500 lbs. (227 kg.), and deadlift 710 (322 kg.).What is the heaviest deadlift 1 rep max? ›
- Standard Bar Deadlift (with deadlift suit & straps) - 501 kg (1,105 lb) by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. ...
- Standard Bar Raw Deadlift (no deadlift suit or straps) - 460.4 kg (1,015 lb) by Benedikt Magnússon. ...
- Standard Bar Raw Sumo Deadlift (no deadlift suit or straps) - 487.5 kg (1,075 lb) by Danny Grigsby.
Among the big three exercises, a bench press of 3 plates or 315 pounds is considered to be elite or beyond for most average-weight male lifters, while a deadlift or squat of 3 plates on each side is in the more advanced area – though not as impressive as a bench of the same amount.
How many reps is too heavy? ›
Training for Muscle Size (Hypertrophy)
In other words, after your warm-up sets—which are never taken to failure—you should select a load with which you can complete at least 8 reps but not more than 12. That means if you can do only 6-7 reps, the weight is too heavy, so reduce it on subsequent sets.
An untrained individual with an average weight and height would be able to deadlift 135 pounds. If you are a 15 year old who weighs 135 pounds, 225 is very impressive. If you are a 200 pound adult, you should try a bit harder. If you are middle aged or senior, you are awesome, keep doing what you're doing!How much can the average man deadlift for one rep? ›
The average untrained man can deadlift around 155 pounds. Then, with three months of practice, he can deadlift 285 pounds for a single repetition. That means the average man you meet on the street can deadlift roughly: 285 pounds as their 1-rep max deadlift.Which muscle does deadlift work the most? ›
The deadlift mainly works three muscle groups, your hamstrings, your erector spinae and lower back, and your glutes. Your Hamstrings: One of your prime movers for the deadlift, which means they're going to be doing plenty of most work.What is a good deadlift weight? ›
The average deadlift weight for a male 22-year-old is 2.7 times bodyweight. The average deadlift for a female 22-year-old is 2.1 times bodyweight. Depending on the weight class, deadlifts will range from 170kg to 261kg (374lb to 575lb) for men and 95kg to 159kg (209lb to 350lb) for women.Is 300 lb deadlift good for reps? ›
A 200-lb guy who can deadlift 300lbs for one rep is pretty strong. If your number falls in the novice or average categories, see below for tips on how to bring it up.How much should I deadlift if I weigh 150? ›
The average deadlift for male 15 year olds is 1.9 times bodyweight. The average deadlift strength of 15 year old females is 1.7 times bodyweight.How many deadlift reps for muscle growth? ›
If you're looking to get absolutely jacked, then you'll need fewer reps than those looking to achieve endurance. Increasing muscle size lies in a rep range of about 6 to 12 reps over 3 to 6 sets with a rest period of about one minute.
In order to get bigger and stronger, you must ensure your muscles work harder than they are used to. Generally, between 6-12 reps for 3-6 sets will help to build overall muscle size.
Is 5x5 a bodybuilding or powerlifting? ›
5x5 training is one of the original and most popular muscle mass building programs being used by elite bodybuilders and athletes. It's designed to hit a muscle group hard 2-3 times per week, while still providing enough recovery time to promote significant muscle growth.What is the best rep scheme for strength? ›
If your objective is strength or power (think: heavy lifting), the textbook advice is to perform 3 to 5 sets of 2 to 6 reps per exercise. For hypertrophy (building muscle), the sweet spot is 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps. And if your objective is muscular endurance, shoot for 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps.Do powerlifters do 5x5? ›
The 5x5 Approach Isn't New
Since lifting's golden age, when the only difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting was diet, athletes and lifters have been doing 5x5s to build bigger, stronger frames.
The 5/3/1 workout is a powerlifting program designed by powerlifter Jim Wendler. The key concept is to slowly build strength through four barbell weightlifting exercises: the parallel squat, bench press, deadlift, and the shoulder press, also known as overhead press or military press.Is 4 reps good for deadlift? ›
If you are new to deadlifting, the priority should be to learn the correct form first and get comfortable with the workout. Beginners are recommended to do 4 sets of 6 reps (4). You need to use the same weight in each set of the exercise.Does 5x5 cause hypertrophy? ›
5×5 is certainly better than 3×10 as far as building strength is concerned. Heavy weights and lower reps tend to do a better job of increasing maximal strength than lighter weights and higher reps. However, in terms of hypertrophy, both 5×5 and 3×10 can work well.What is the Texas method? ›
The Texas Method is a three-days-per-week training regimen that emphasizes volume on Mondays, active recovery on Wednesdays, and intensity on Fridays. Rippetoe was inspired by an old bench press workout from Canadian strongman Doug Hepburn, in which Hepburn would do 5 heavy 1-rep sets followed by 5 heavy 5-rep sets.What percentage of my 1 rep max should I use for 5x5? ›
Calculating Your Ideal Training Weight. At this point, you may be wondering about the best “percentages of your percentages” when doing your 5×5 workouts. The most common figure I see is that a 5×5 workout is best done with about 81% of your 1RM. That works out to about 90% of your desired 90% intensity.Are deadlifts enough for one workout? ›
While the deadlift is an important and effective element of back training, when done alone, it misses out on training the rhomboids, lats, and traps to their full abilities. To learn more about how exactly deadlifts work the lats, check out Do Deadlifts Work The Lats? (Yes, Here's How).How often should I do 1 rep max deadlift? ›
If you are building to a 1 rep max you should only max out every 3-4 months. However, there are different ways to “max out”, each with their own recommendations. Maxing out, in any capacity, on a regular basis will often lead to injury and decreased performance.
Will deadlifts alone build a big back? ›
It's excellent for improving your back's ability to hold a neutral position and increasing hip strength, and this is critical for lifting any load. But deadlifts will not build a big back on their own. To build a thick, broad back, you will need upper body pulling exercises.Can I skip deadlifts for a week? ›
Absolutely not! No matter how amazing this exercise is, you can skip it from your workout routine, without too much stress. We will tell you why deadlift might not be for everyone and why it is alright to skip it.What happens if you only squat and deadlift? ›
Training Only Squats and Deadlifts Will Keep Your Workouts Shorter. If you have a limited amount of time to spend in the gym, training just squats and deadlifts will give you more bang for your buck. Because they're compound exercises, you don't need to do a ton of sets and reps for them to be effective.How many reps should I deadlift? ›
Deadlifting: How Many Reps, Sets and Which Weight? Choose a rep range and weight to suit your abilities. As a general rule of thumb, for strength 3-4 sets of 2-6 reps. For hypertrophy (building muscle) 4 sets of 6-12 reps should be sufficient.Should you deadlift more reps or weight? ›
Generally, you should opt for more reps if you're after muscle, but the best bodybuilders use a blend of heavy sets for low reps and lighter weights for higher reps. Take-home message: Generally, use 1-6 reps for strength and 5-12 for muscle.Is 12 reps too much for deadlift? ›
Most people consider 8 to 12 or more repetitions for deadlifts to be high rep deadlifts. There is no universally agreed threshold for high repetitions as repetitions are on a spectrum. Most people who train high rep deadlifts would not exceed 15 repetitions although occasionally there are advanced athletes who do more.Do deadlifts increase testosterone? ›
Instead, by doing at least 8 to 10 repetitions of Deadlifts with significant weight, you can increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone produced by your body.
If you include deadlifts in your fitness program and do them correctly, you'll gain more lean muscle mass in your legs, back, arms, and shoulders. You will also develop better core strength. Bigger muscles and core stability will translate into more power and endurance and better sports performance.What are the disadvantages of deadlifts? ›
Lifting too heavy: Deadlifting creates a large amount of torque at hips and low back. Poor technique due to excessive weight may create an imbalance in the distribution of load between these areas, quite commonly increasing load at the lumbar spine and increasing the risk of injury (Strömbäck et al).Can you get ripped without deadlift? ›
Yes, you can get big without deadlifts. However, the deadlift is considered one of the best compounded movements to build strength and mass for the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, low back, traps, and erectors).
Why is my deadlift weaker than last week? ›
There are two main reasons why you are weak off the floor in the deadlift: (1) the muscles responsible for generating force off the floor are underdeveloped, or (2) you lack efficient technique in the start position of the deadlift. In order to implement solutions, you first need to understand the root of the problem.