by Matt Kroc T-Nation
Here’s what you need to know…
• Hitting a new PR in the deadlift is surprisingly simple. Deadlift hard and heavy and then let your body rest and grow. There’s no need for fancy techniques.
• While this program should result in at least a 20-50 pound increase in 1RM, one lifter experienced a 90-pound increase.
• You’ll only deadlift once per week, preferably 3-4 days after squatting. You’ll also take every fourth week off from deadlifting.
Training the deadlift is simple. Hit it hard, hit it heavy, then let your body recover and grow. There’s really no need for fancy techniques like drop sets, super sets, or rest-pause sets. Regardless, you gotta’ be smart. Effective programming for the deadlift involves a well-planned progression in the amount of weight used. It also addresses and prevents overtraining, stimulates hypertrophy, and reinforces proper technique.
Using the program below, it’s not uncommon to see a 20-50 pound increase in 1RM over a sixteen-week training period, and I’ve even witnessed as much as a 90-pound increase. You’ll only deadlift once per week, preferably 3-4 days after squatting. You’ll also notice that you take every fourth week off from deadlifting. This is to allow sufficient recovery and prevent overtraining. Deadlifting is very taxing and the lower back muscles are often stressed heavily when squatting and during other heavy back movements so you need the break. No worries, though, you can still train the lower back muscles during the fourth week, but with different exercises like good mornings, weighted back raises, reverse hypers, and pull-throughs, keeping the reps in the 10-20 range.
Find Your True Max!
The absolute key to using this program effectively is starting with an accurate 1RM from which all your subsequent lifts will be based. All too often lifters overestimate their max or use a number they could do in their sleep. It’s essential to use your current true max using proper form. Failure to do so will only result in overtraining, making it difficult to progress from week to week, and in general screw up the whole program. In plain English, check your ego to make the most of this program! It’s also important to note that you don’t recalculate your max at any point during the program. Strength increases have been factored into the design of this program and adjusting the weights during the program will completely muck it up.
Note: It should go without saying that you need to warm up before doing any of the workouts.
Week 1: 5 x 5 x 70% (5 sets of 5 reps at 70% of 1RM)
Week 2: 5 x 3 x 75%
Week 3: 5 x 1 x 80%
Week 4: No deadlifting, but feel free to do accessory movements like good mornings, weighted back raises, reverse hypers, or pull-throughs in the 10+ rep range.
Week 5: 5 x 5 x 75%
Week 6: 5 x 3 x 80%
Week 7: 5 x 1 x 85%
Week 8: No deadlifting, but do accessory movements.
Week 9: 4 x 5 x 80%
Week 10: 4 x 3 x 85%
Week 11: 4 x 1 x 90%
Week 12: No deadlifting, but feel free to do accessory movements.
Week 13: 3 x 5 x 85%
Week 14: 3 x 3 x 90%
Week 15: 3 x 1 x 95%
Week 16: No deadlifting and no lower back work at all.
Week 17: Retest your max or compete in a powerlifting meet.