In the program below I am going to present you a way (not necessarily the only one) to get your deadlift from 95 lbs to 405 lbs. The routine is incredibly simple and without a doubt works perfectly fine for natural bodybuilders looking to improve their deadlift.
1. The first day at the gym
I remember my first day in an actual commercial gym like it was yesterday, even though it was many years ago. At that time I was hardly aware of anything and the muscle game was still a new thing to me. This is the time when I was inclined to believe that Ronnie Coleman was a natural bodybuilder.
I knew how to do some exercises like pull-ups and push-ups but I was unexperienced with barbells. I was what one would call a barbell virgin. On my first day in the gym I did some overhead presses because I’ve read how great they are and finished the day with some deadlifts.
For the overhead press I used 10 lbs + the bar and for the deadlift I used the magic 95 lbs. I even recorded the whole thing with one of those keychain spy cameras. The whole point was, of course, to analyze my form when I get back home.
In order to get bar at proper height I put a few 45 lbs plates underneath the small plates I’ve used for my first 95 lbs deadlift. I even remember damaging one of those 45 lbs plates during the exercise. Those were the times…
While 95 lbs pounds may seem like a pathetic weight to most people (we all know everybody on the Internet deadlifted 315 on their first day), it’s a really good starting weight for weak men and strong women. It’s just heavy enough to feel something, but not so much that you actually tear something.
Very quickly I was able to get my deadlift to 315 lbs and I have no doubt that it was because I started light. If I was rushing my way to heavier weights, the progress would have actually been slower. I’ve seen it many times with my own eyes: a skinny kid comes the first day and tries to deadlift 200 lbs with horrendous form. After a few months the kids is deadlifting 180 lbs because anything heavier hurts.
So, the moral of the story is to not be afraid to start really light, if you are new to deadlifting and weightlifting in general.
2. Just add weight and recover until…
My initial deadlift routine called for 2 training session a week and each week I was adding 10 lbs to my previous weight. I was also doing squats and a few other leg exercises, but I don’t consider any of them essential to my deadlifting progress and this routine can certainly work without them.
The first few weeks my deadlift routine looked something like this.
Day 1: 3×5;
Day 2: 3×5 + 10 lbs;
Obviously, the two deadlifting days were a few days apart, usually Monday and Friday.
After a few weeks I reached about 150 lbs deadlift for 5 reps. At this point I started deadlifting only three times a week instead of four. In other words, the first week I was having two deadlift sessions and the second week only one.
After a few more weeks I reached about 185 lbs for 5 reps. This is the time when all the other exercises and fatigue were catching up to me and I had to reduce my working sets to just one. It worked really well and I was still able to add 10 lbs every working session.
After a few more weeks I was at about 275 lbs deadlift at a bodyweight of 160 lbs. This is when I reduced my training session to just one time a week. I was still adding 10 lbs each workout.
After a few more weeks or about 3 months after my first deadlift I did 315 lbs for 5 reps and later on 360 for an ugly single. This was the time, however, when things started to go bad.
I was still adding weight to the bar and eventually reached 390 lbs for a triple but my form was absolutely horrendous. I still have chills down my spine looking at some of my old benchmark videos.
However, later on I fixed it by reducing the weight to about 275 lbs and building back up more intelligently.
3. Reaching 405 lbs with good form
After I reduced my working weight to 275 lbs I started with a new routine which called for 10 sets of 3 reps deadlift. This was all I was doing on that particular day – no other exercises.
The first few weeks I was adding 10 lbs and still doing 10 x 3. After the weight got heavier I reduced my working sets to 8 x 3 then 6×3, 4×3, 3×3 and eventually 1×3.
I was deadlifting 1 day a week and after my first training cycle done that way I did 405 lbs for a good triple.
4. Reaching beyond 405 lbs
Once I hit 405 lbs for a triple I decided to deload and build back up again. I started doing deadlifts for 10 x 3 but this time with 285 lbs instead of 275 lbs. In the same fashion as my previous cycle I reached about 420 lbs deadlift and after one more deload and reload I did 435 lbs deadlift for a triple at about 165 lbs bodyweight.
While to some of you a 435 lbs deadlift may seem like a joke, I assure you that very few people can actually do this weight with good form after less than a year of training. This routine is targeted at those who want to know a real story about how a NATURAL has increased his deadlift.
1. Start very light and build up. Deadlift 2 times a week and do about 2-3 sets of 5 reps after a warm-up. Add 10 lbs to your deadlift every workout.
Note: If you are a girl, you may be able to only add 5 lbs a workout or even 2 lbs. That’s plenty.
2. After a few weeks remove one of the deadlifting days and do the deadlift three times every two weeks.
3. After a few more weeks reduce the working sets to just one. The whole point of doing more sets when you are first starting is to get advantage of the light weight by practicing your deadlift form. Once the weight gets real heavy (1 time your bodyweight or less if you are a girl) you need to reduce the stress and do just one work set. The deadlift is very demanding and does not tolerate screw ups.
4. After a few more weeks reduce your deadlifting workouts to just one time a week. At one point (usually 315 – 360lbs ) you will need to deload. Some may be able to continue but it’s better to deload and start a new training cycle.
5. Begin light and start a peaking cycle.
In my case I did 10 x 3 to 8 x 3 to 4×3…..1×3. You can do whatever you like as long as you are peaking and you are not overworking.
You can for example start with one working set of ten (1×10) and work up to 1 x 3. This option is particularly good, if you are also doing some decent squat workouts.
For me I prefer the 10 x 3 approach, but it really depends on your body type and the rest of your training routine.
6. Once you reach a peak, deload and build back up
Once you have reached your peak deload and start all over again with a new weight 10 – 20 lbs heavier than your previous starting weight. Build up to a peak again and repeat it all over until you have reached 405 lbs or more.
The whole routine in a few words:
Start light – add weight – reach challenging weight – reduce the weight – build up again – repeat;
Q: Do you think this is the best deadlift routine for beginners?
A: It depends on your whole training chart, so to speak, but for the most part it’s a good approach for beginners.
Q: Is there a need for assistance exercises?
A: In general, there’s absolutely no need for assistance exercises. You can really improve by just doing the lift itself.
Q: How often can I squat when doing this routine?
A: It really depends how advanced your squat is. In general, no more than 3 times a week. Adjust as needed.
Q: Do I need to squat when doing this routine?
A: No, you don’t. The routine will work on its own and your deadlift will increase even without squats. You will also be able to handle more volume when you are not squatting.
Q: Is this supposed to be a ground breaking routine?
A: No. It’s really simple. In the beginning you are doing linear periodization and at one point you are just adding some deload phases so that the body can recover during the early stages of the training cycles. There’s nothing fancy about this routine, but it does work.
Q: Do I need to take whey protein when doing this routine?
A: Are you joking?
Disclaimer: Before starting this or any training program consult your doctor and make sure it’s safe for you to engage in it. NattyOrNot.com is not responsible for any injuries that have occurred during your training. Don’t be greedy and make sure that your form is tight. Don’t be afraid to stop, if your body says so.