In the post below, I will tell you how I got my deadlift from 95lbs to 405lbs. The routine is incredibly simple and works for naturals too.
1. The first day
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 exercises like pull-ups and push-ups, but I was a barbell virgin. On my first day in the gym, I did some overhead presses (55lbs) because I’d read how great they are. Then, I finished the day with deadlifts (95lbs). I even recorded the whole experience with one of those keychain spy cameras. The goal was, of course, to analyze my form.
While 95 pounds may seem like a pathetic weight to most people (we all know that everybody on the Internet deadlifted 315lbs on their first day), it’s a really good starting point for weak men and strong women.
Rushing to heavier weights never works. I’ve seen it many times with my own eyes – a skinny kid deadlifts 200lbs 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. Time flies.
2. Just add weight
My initial deadlift routine called for 2 training sessions a week and a 10lbs increase each workout.
I was also doing squats and a few other leg exercises, but I don’t consider any of them essential to my deadlift progress. 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
The two deadlift 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.
I quickly reached 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 adding 10lbs every session.
After a few more weeks, I had a 275lbs deadlift at the bodyweight of 160lbs. The weight was getting to me, but I knew I had more strength.
By following the same principles (one work set, once a week, +10lbs every time), I did 315lbs for 5 reps. The whole process took me about 4 months.
Eventually, I reached 390lbs for a triple, but my form was absolutely horrendous. I still have chills down my spine when I look at some of my old benchmark videos.
I addressed the problem by reducing the weight to about 275lbs and building back up more intelligently.
3. Reaching 405 lbs with good form
After reducing the weight to 275lbs, I started a new routine which called for 10 sets of 3. I was usually squatting on Monday, benching on Wednesday and deadlifting on Friday. I didn’t do any assistance exercises. Just those three.
For the first few weeks, I kept doing 10×3 and adding 10lbs every time.
As the weight got heavier, I reduced my working sets to 8×3, then 6×3, 4×3, 3×3 and eventually 1×3.
This program got me to 405lbs for a good triple. My form was not perfect but much better than before.
4. Reaching beyond 405lbs
Once I hit 405lbs for a triple, I decided to deload and build back up again. I started doing deadlifts for 10×3, but this time with 285lbs instead of 275lbs. In the same fashion as my previous cycle, I reached 420lbs. After one more deload and reload, I did 435lbs for a triple while weighing 165lbs myself.
Note: To be fair, it was not a pure triple, more like three singles with 30 seconds in-between them. I didn’t let go of the bar, though.
To some of you, a 435lbs deadlift may seem like a joke, but I assure you that very few people can actually lift this weight after less than a year of training.
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 10lbs 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 deadlift days and start deadlifting 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 heavy (1 time your body weight or a little less if you are a girl), you need to reduce the stress. The deadlift is very demanding and does not tolerate screw-ups.
3. After a few more weeks, reduce your deadlift workouts to once a week. Somewhere between 315lbs and 360lbs, you will have to deload.
4. Begin light and start a peaking cycle.
I did 10×3 to 8×3 to 6×3…..1×3., but 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.
6. Once you reach a peak, deload and build back up
After reaching a personal best, reduce the weight and start all over again with a number that’s 10-20lbs heavier than your previous start. Build up to a peak and repeat the process until you reach 405lbs.
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 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 most cases, anything over 3 times a week seems excessive.
Q: Do I have 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.
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 may occur during your training. Don’t be greedy and make sure that your form is clean. Don’t be afraid to stop or lower the weight if your body asks you to.