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 yesterday. Back then, I was hardly aware of anything, and the muscle game was still a new thing to me. I was extremely naive and 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 inexperienced 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’d read how great they are and finished the day with deadlifts.
For the overhead press I used 10 lbs + the bar and for the deadlift I used the magic 95lbs. I even recorded the whole experience with one of those keychain spy cameras. The goal was, of course, to analyze my form when I get back home.
In order to get the bar at the proper height, I put a few 45lbs plates underneath the small plates I’ve used for my epic 95lbs deadlift. I even remember damaging one of those 45lbs plates during the exercise. Those were the times…
While 95 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 point for weak men and strong women. It’s just heavy enough to feel something, but not heavy enough 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 had started light. Rushing to heavier weights never works. I’ve seen it many times with my own eyes: a skinny kid deadlifts 200 lbs with a horrendous form on his first day; a few months later, the kid is deadlifting 180lbs because anything heavier hurts.
Don’t be afraid to start really light. Times flies.
2. Just add weight and recover until…
My initial deadlift routine called for 2 training sessions in a week and a 10lbs increase.
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 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 150lbs for 5 reps. At this point, I started deadlifting three times every two weeks instead of four. In other words, the first week I was having two deadlift sessions and the second week only one.
Quickly, I reached about 185lbs for 5 reps and reduced the frequency to once a week because I was getting tired. I also went from three working sets to just one. It worked really well. I was still able to add 10lbs every working session.
After a few more weeks, I had a 275 lbs deadlift at a bodyweight of 160 lbs. I could feel the weight, but I knew I had more strength.
Following the same principles, I did 315 lbs for 5 reps and later on 360lbs for an ugly single. The whole process took me about 3 months. Little did I know, that real pain was just around the corner.
I was still adding weight to the bar and eventually reached 390lbs for a triple but my form was absolutely horrendous. I still have chills down my spine looking at some of my old benchmark videos.
I addressed the problem by reducing the weight to about 275 lbs and building back up more intelligently.
3. Reaching 405 lbs with good form
After reducing the weight to 275lbs, I started with a new routine which called for 10 sets of 3. This was all I was doing on that particular day – no other exercises. Just the deadlift. I was usually squatting on Monday and deadlifting on Friday.
The first few weeks I was adding 10lbs and still doing 10×3.
Eventually, the weight got heavier, and I reduced my working sets to 8×3, then 6×3, 4×3, 3×3 and eventually 1×3.
I was deadlifting once 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 10×3, but this time with 285 lbs instead of 275 lbs. In the same fashion as my previous cycle, I reached 420 lbs. After one more deload and reload, I did 435 lbs for a triple at about 165lbs 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 5lbs a workout or even 2lbs. That’s plenty.
2. After a few weeks, remove one of the deadlifting days and do the deadlift three times every two weeks.
Also, reduce your working sets to just one. The whole point of doing more sets at the beginning is to practice your 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.
3. After a few more weeks, reduce your deadlifting workouts to just one time a week. Somewhere between 315lbs and 360lbs, you will need to deload. Some may be able to continue, but it’s better to deload and start a new training cycle.
4. 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 not overtraining.
You can, for example, start with one working set of ten (1×10) and work up to 1×3. This option is particularly good, if you are also doing heavy squats in your routine.
I prefer the 10×3 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 peaked, reduce the weight 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 the process until 405 lbs or further.
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: Depends on 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. Then, you are just adding deload phases to allow your body to recover. 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.