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Old 04-11-2007, 10:26 AM   #13
Steve Shafley
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,273

It's a 1x weekly thing.

And, yeah, that's pretty close to this:

135x3, 135x3, 185x3, 185x3, 205x3, 225x3
225x3, 275x3, 315x3
315x3, 365x3, 405x3, 455x1, 475x1, 495x1
Which is directly taken from my ADD log at the P&B. My max in the DL right now is probably ~540-550 (that's max max with psyche, probably 515-535 without the frothing at the mouth).
I do them by feel, and very often don't worry about percents.

PC: Up to a moderately hard triple or single.
CHP: (clean grip high pull): Up to a moderately hard single or triple
DL: Up to a daily max psyche.

I also like just the PC+DL combo.

This isn't even dabbling in all the different DL and other variations you can do. In an old "Get Up" I have a rambling article about "Deadlift Voodoo" with all kinds of crazy babbling.

DEADLIFT VOODOO from the June 2004 Get Up Newsletter.

Out of all the powerlifts, it seems that the majority of lifters have trouble with the deadlift. There are some verypowerful reasons for this:

1. The deadlift movement doesn't lend itself well to supportive equipment.
2. The deadlift starts from a dead stop. Reactive strength won't help you here.
3. For most, deadlifting is no fun at all. It's a hard, brutal, grinding lift.

One very interesting thing is to look at the meet results between a federation like the APF and a federation like the USAPL. The deadlifts in the USAPL are much higher in relation to the squats. This is directly related to the equipment used. Some guys squatting 1000 lbs in unlimited fed are barely pulling ~650 lb in the same meet.

The guys at Westside Barbell maintain that the deadlift has the highest drain on the CNS (central nervous system). Up until recently, they preferred to address this issue by using a majority of non-pulling special exercises. It's nice to just toss a blanket over the whole thing, and say that the deadlift is a killer on the CNS, and not pull and hope for the best. I've done this myself. In one meet I had a significant PR, in another, I regressed.

Looking over my training logs, I didn't see all that much difference between the way I trained for either meet, except one was a push/pull and one was a full meet.

When you look at the deadlift, and analyze the lift, it should be readily apparent that it makes a bigger dent in the CNS than an equivalent squat, and here's why:

1. The grip: You have to hold onto the deadlift with your hands. You don't think it matters? I can practically guarantee that MOST (but not all) lifters can deadlift more when using straps. Don't forget your hands are the most innervated part of your body.
2. The full body aspect: The deadlift is probably the most full-body, brute strength, low skill lift you can do.
3. The mental aspect: Psyching for a maximum deadlift is tiring and an ordeal. The low skill required to pull a deadlift allows a lifter to really get agitated and froth at the mouth when preparing for the max pull. You can bet that this is going to take it's toll on the CNS.
4. The grinding nature of the deadlift. The competitive deadlift is not
a fast lift. The lifter must be able to send a large impulse to overcome gravity and get the deadlift moving and then must maintain that impulse to finish the lift.

There are always exceptions. Some lifters pull and pull and pull and don't have a problem with it. I know of one guy who pulled max deadlifts every week for a period of 2 years, and his deadlift went from ~500lbs to ~800lbs. He didn't know his CNS was fried. If pulling a max deadlift every week would do that for me, I'd be hopping right on the bandwagon. This lifter suffers from OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and I suspect that this has a lot to do with his brute- force, straightforward plan and results. For some, like the lifter above, the no-deadlift approach doesn't cut it. For others, it's a godsend.

I haven't quite figured out how to tell if a lifter should pull more often or not, but I think it might have something to do with the difference between a lifter's stifflegged deadlift and good morning (this insight was brought to you by Kip Miller of the HOUSE OF HURT fame). If a lifter excels as stiff- legged deadlifts, they are probably more suitable for a routine based around more frequent pulling. If they excel at the good morning, then using an assortment of
special exercises with some skill andspeed work on the deadlift throw in may be a better approach.

This is an old Westside recommended program for deadlifting:
Week 1 - 15 singles @ 65%
Week 2 - 12 singles @ 70%
Week 3 - 10 singles @ 75%
Week 4 - 8 singles @ 80%
Week 5 - 6 singles @ 85%

Kip Miller swears by this, and says it's worked for him every time he uses it. He also says it works really well using the reverse band technique instead of regular deadlifts (you hang the bar from some jumpstretch bands so it deloads as you get higher)

If you watch the training logs on EliteFTS you will see that they are doing more pulling. A lot of it is speed pulls with bands attached to the floor (as opposed to reverse band pulls), and there is a pretty decent amount of it done while standing on some kind of platform. This varies significantly from what they have done in the past.

You'll see some interesting things coming out of Westside in the next year or so about improving the deadlift, because it's the last frontier. Once Louie Simmons turns his eclectic talent towards improving the deadlift of his club, you will be seeing some improvement. It's already started and you can see that in one of his later articles "Deadlifts on the Rise" or something on the Westside-Barbell site.

Here are some ideas I've had while brainstorming deadlift training.
They are varied, and some chime with what WBC recommends and some go against the grain. Training yourself often involves a significant amount of experimentation.

Bottom position work is an excellent choice for ME work or assistance work. One of my favorite lifts to help the deadlift is the bottom position start zercher squat. This is a painful lift, but very effective for helping maintain the stability of the "core" during the deadlift. Bottom position GMs also seemed to help much more than regular GMs. Bottom position work seems to jar my spine and joints more than regular work. In terms of the central nervous system, this helps train for that big initial impulse to get the lift moving.

I also think isometrics at the bottom position and at the "critical joint
configuration" (a term used by DB Hammer at , who's training methods are based on training the nervous system, not the necessarily the musculature) might help, but haven't gotten around to experimenting with them yet. The CJC for the deadlift is supposedly around knee level and at the floor. The recommendations for these types of isometrics don't involve pulling against a immovable bar, but rather lowering the bar to the proper position and holding it there for a specified amount of time. This would have a beneficial effect on a lifter's ability to maintain the required CNS impulse for a longer duration.

In addition, heavy, (and I mean eventually working up to bodyweight or
greater) side bends or isometric suitcase deadlift holds, or one handed farmers walks, or suitcase deadlifts might assist here too. The lateral or side-to-side stability of the spine becomes an issue with the mixed grip typically used for competition deadlifting. It's a big enough issue for some (like Brad Gillingham and my friend Wade Hanna) to switch to the painful hook grip, and spend months acclimatizing the thumbs to that sort of pressure and pain.

I have just started dabbling with "density" type deadlifting. I'll take a 20 minute block of time, and perform deadlifts with a set weight. Over time, your workload will increase as you get better and better at pulling with that weight. When it reaches a certain threshold, you add weight. I've arbitrarily set this threshold at ~30 repetitions. This concept is highly recommended by Bryce Lane (who keeps an excellent website at and a forum at and the strength coach Charles Staley, who really delves into it in his EDT (Escalating Density Training) concepts. Incidentally, the DOMS that occurred after the first session of this type of pulling kept my training partner home from work the next day. Not for the light hearted.

It's all Deadlift Voodoo. What works for me doesn't work for you. What works for me one meet, doesn't work the next.

It's hard, brutal labor that often doesn't pay off. The deadlift is a harsh mistress.
Steve Shafley is offline   Reply With Quote