Not too long ago, I was asked whether the popular deadlift routine of Ed Coan is good for natural lifters. While I have never done the program in its full form, I am familiar with its linear peaking style. You can find the complete routine here.
I’ve done two linear peaking cycles for my deadlift with decent success. They increased my deadlift from 160kg/352lbs to 197.5 kg/435lbs for 2 reps.
Below are the basic principles that I followed:
1. Pick a weight that you can lift for 8-10 reps. In my case, the number was 120kg/264lbs. (At the time my best deadlift with good form was about 165kg/352lbs)
2. Start with high volume and gradually reach a peak.
Week 1: 120kg/264lbs – 10 sets of 3
Week 2: 125kg/275lbs – 10 sets of 3
Week 3: 130kg/286lbs – 10 sets of 3
Week 4: 135kg/297lbs – 10 sets of 3
Week 5: 140kg/308lbs – 8 sets of 3
# Note the reduced number of sets.
Week 6: 145kg/319lbs – 8 sets of 3
Week 7: 150kg/330lbs – 6 sets of 3
Week 8: 155kg/341lbs – 4-6 sets of 3;
Week 9: 160kg/352lbs – 3 sets of 3
Week 10, 11, 12 are PR weeks
Week 10 – 165kg/362lbs – 1-2 sets of 3
Week 11 – 170kg/374lbs – 1 set of 2-3
Week 12 – 175kg/385lbs – 1 set of 1-2
End of the cycle.
The next cycle began the same way (10×3) but with 135kg/297 and finished at 197.5kg/435lbs for two reps.
Why does this routine work?
Because it’s based on cycling. You build up to a PR and then go back. The purpose of the deload is to allow your body and mind to recover.
Back in the day, almost all American powerlifters used similar peaking cycles. One of the reasons was to time their steroid use. Each week they would increase the dose as the weight goes up. Yet the method can produce results even for pure natties
Can I use this method for other exercises too?
What about the assistance exercises?
I never did assistance exercises such as stiff leg deadlifts and barbell rows. They just tire my lower back even more and make me spend extra time in the stupid gym. I think you can get a decent deadlift without doing assistance exercises, but it really depends on your particular situation.
Honestly, I am not 100% sure if Ed Coan’s deadlift routine is good for naturals in its original form. For some, the work may be too much. However, its main principles work even for natties.