This article will give you a very effect deadlift program that you can use to increase your deadlift numbers and reps. In the summer of 1995 at the age of 20 I was able to deadlift 500 lbs at a weight of 180 lbs. That was my best deadlift ever and I did it with no belt and no powerlifting training whatsoever. I was also able to deadlift 405 for 10 reps and 315 for 25 reps.
The best back exercise for increasing muscle mass is the deadlift. Nothing beats a good deadliftingi program. It is hard to beat the deadlift for overall difficulty. If you have ever deadlifted before you’ll know that it takes everything you have and then some to push yourself to deadlift. Why you think that a you barely see anyone doing them? Yea, plenty of people on the bench press, lat-pull downs, and working their bi’s. But how come you never see anyone doing deadlifts? At least where I’m from I don’t. I’m in New Jersey, and I go to Retro Fitness (which is kinda a metrosexual gym, more guys taking selfie’s than pushing weight)…but it is decent gym and hardly ever see anyone doing deadlifts. That being said you need to prepare yourself mentally when about to start a deadlift program.
Hard-Core Deadlift Program
Nothing stimulates muscle protein synthesis like the deadlift. Therefore it was the first exercise you do if you’re training your back.
I would first prepare myself mentally before I started to deadlift. You should start to think about generating all of your power today to pull that weight off the ground. You should prepare to realize that it is going to take everything you have in your body. Not like a bench press…but your entire body. You need to prepare for pain, sweat, and shortness of breathe. Again, unlike most exercises, like bicep curls, you are not going to be out of breathe after doing these….deadlifts you will. After you finished deadlifting, you’re not doing to want to do anything else.
Deadlift Program Warm-Up.
Its important that you warm up before deadlifting. You are going to want to stretch your hamstrings. I suggest basic stretches for about 2 to 3 minutes. Next approach the Olympic bar and get ready to warm up.
Start with at least 40 to 50 reps using the bar. I am assuming you’re not a beginner. If you are a beginner or the Olympic bar is too heavy for you, just go over to the bar rack and grab a 20 lb or 30 lb bar…just as long as you can do 30 to 50 reps.
How To Properly Deadlift.
If I can stress THE most important thing when deadlifting is to keep your back flat. Never, ever have a rounded back. If you do then you cannot handle the weight and you need to keep practicing your form. If you ever find yourself rounded your back that means that weight is too heavy and your sacrificing your back muscles for weight. Which makes absolutely no sense, we are here to build muscle, not win a gold medal in powerlifting at the Olympics.
This is a guy rounding his back when deadlifting. Never do this. If you do, you’re dumb and will eventually become injured.
Here is a flat back deadlift. This is how you should look when you deadlift.
I like to keep my shoulders back as well. Pretend you’re in the mirror flexing your back muscles. You dont round your back and slump your shoulders forward do you? No, you arch your back and pull your shoulders back and flex those shoulders.
Start with a weight you can easily knock out 25 reps. When I was deadlifting 4 plates on each side for 10 reps, I would start with 1, 45 lb plate on each side. Approach the bar and stand a comfortable stance. Your feet should be under the bar. Bend at the knees, and grab the bar. I personally like to use a alternative grib. Meaning, one hand palms in, the other hand palms facing away. At this point many people when people prepare themselves to deadlift, they round the back. Keep firm and never round the back even though you are not even lifting yet, just preparing. NEVER round the back.
Prepare to pick the bar up.
Bend at the knees and grab the bar at about shoulder width. At this point I would squat all the way down and then extend up to stretch my hamstrings.
Start to pick the bar up.
With your butt down and your upper thighs parallel with the ground flex your back hard. Do not pull the bar yet. You flex your back to prepare it for the lift and to remember to keep your back flat, not rounded.
Now begin to pull the bar up slowing. Your butt should not be rising faster than the bar. They both should be rising together. If you find your butt rising up faster than the bar that means you need to go lighter because your back cannot handle the weight.
Keep bringing the bar up until you are almost standing up. Do NOT lock your knees out. Keep your body stiff and flexed the entire time. Remember, never round your back.
Once you reach the top, lower the bar back down the same way you picked it up. Lowering the bar should in a slow controlled motion. Never DROP the bar the floor. Dropping the bar to the floor simply means you’re cheating because you cannot handle controlling it through the negative. Remember we are building muscle through exercise, not powerlifting. The bar should “kiss” the floor. Once it barely touches the floor, pick it up again. Always keeping tension throughout the movement.
Some people think they should put the bar to the ground and release complete tension. However I think this gives the muscles a chance to recover because tension is lost. This method would be good if we were trying to power lift, but we are not, so never let the bar come to a complete rest on the ground.
In addition, never “rest” at the top of the movement. Resting at the top of the movement is simply giving your muscle a chance to rest. This is simply “whimping” out and quitting. You should be like a machine…pumping up and down and never resting at the bottom or top of the deadlift.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make when deadlifting, resting at the top of the movement.
Increase the weight.
After you have mastered doing 25 reps with perfect form, it is time to increase the weight. Keep in mind the heavier you go in weight the more concentration you’ll need to keep good form. Never ever sacrifice form for weight. Leave your ego at home. Nobody cares how much you can lift. You should care about form only.
Try to do 15 reps, then increase the weight and do 10 reps. The lowest I would go would be 10 reps. It is pointless to go heavier, we are trying to build muscle, not win a Gold Medal.
Typically your deadlift program should look something like this so far.
Warm-up 50 reps
After 5 sets you should be sweating and really pumped. Energy levels should quickly be getting used up.
Romanian Stiff-legged Deadlifts
These can be done the day of your deadlift day or another day, this is not rocket science, so you can do whatever you wish. If you have the energy, go for it. If you can’t go all out, 100% save it for another day.
Very similar to the deadlift, the Romanian Dead-lift hits the hamstring muscles better than any other exercise, by far.
Keep the back arched but simply bend at the hips. Follow the same guidelines as I gave you above, but instead of bending at your knees you bend at the hips. You will feel those hamstrings stretching.
This is essentially the Romanian Deadlift but putting the Olympic bar on your back like your doing a squat. You’ll feel those hamstrings stretch. This is a good exercise in practicing to keep your back flat and arched as well. Before rounding your back would spell disaster as the bar would roll off your back, and onto your neck and you’d wind up doing a face plant.
Keeps reps HIGH for both the stiff-legged deadlifts and the Romanian deadlifts. 25 to 50 reps. Yes 50 reps!!
Other deadlift program rules
- Never wear a lifting belt. It’s a crutch. If you need a belt than your lower back muscle are weak and you need to go lighter and increase your reps.
- You can use grip straps. Personally, I like to NOT use straps. Not using straps will increase your grip strength.
- Take quick breaks between sets. 2 to 3 minutes max. Another big mistake I see guys making when bodybuilding. They rest 10 minutes between sets. This is just a way to give your muscles a break. We are here to stimulate the muscle, not baby it. Only rest until you catch your breath back and start again. Your workout should take 45 minutes MAX. If you find yourself training longer than that, you’re taking too long between sets. Remember you’re a machine.
Supplements and Nutrition
Please do not use pre workout supplements that contain caffeine. Again, we are not powerlifting, we are building muscle, therefore, caffeine is terrible to use when trying to stay anabolic and increase protein synthesis. Choose one of my pre workout supplements.
During your deadlifting program, simply drink water. You don’t need protein or intraworkout supplements, like BCAA’s. Post workout nutrition is important. Make sure you eat or drink carbohydrates and protein post training. Again avoid caffeine, energy drinks, energy shots, and pre workouts with caffeine. DMAA is very bad as well.
Alex Rogers is a supplement manufacturing expert. He has been formulating, consulting, & manufacturing dietary supplements since 1998. Alex invented protein customization in 1998 & was the first company to allow consumers to create their own protein blends. He helped create the first supplement to contain natural follistatin, invented whey protein with egg lecithin, & recently imported the world’s first 100% hydrolyzed whey.