Here's what you need to know...

To deadlift as heavy as possible, you need to use three methods: the Maximal Effort method, the Dynamic Effort method, and the Repetition Method.

Deadlift two days a week, with at least 72 hours separating the Dynamic and Max Effort lower body sessions.

Change Max Effort exercises weekly, and for rep work, change either the rep range slightly, the exercise variation being performed, or the rep tempo every 2-3 weeks.

Why do we stall in the deadlift?

• Our technique needs work.

• We're overtraining the lift – we deadlift too heavy and too often.

• We stick with just one type of deadlift and use it for far too long.

• Our exercise selection is terrible. For example, only using a conventional deadlift to build a conventional deadlift is a recipe for stalling out.

These are problems that can be overcome with a little knowledge and a lot of application. To lift the biggest weights, you need to use three methods: the Maximal Effort method, the Dynamic Effort method, and the Repetition method.

This will serve as a refresher on all three methods and show you how to combine them into an effective program designed to blast your deadlift into the realm of respectability.


The Maximal Effort Method (ME)

To lift heavy you have to learn to reduce the muscle strength deficit (MSD). According to Vladimir Zatsiorsky, this is the amount of muscle potential you have but can't fully use. Building the deadlift requires learning to exert peak force at your weakest range of motion (where you stall out) using movement patterns and muscle groups that are similar to the deadlift.

This will help reduce neural inhibitions and engage more muscle fibers. This method should be used at least 72 hours after or 72 hours before the Dynamic Effort method.

The highest levels of muscular activation are achieved when lifting the heaviest weights. This means you must work up to a max lift and be prepared to fail at your sticking point. Don't be afraid to fail – the strain is vital.

Below are some excellent movement choices:

Deadlift

Option 1: Conventional deadlift, standing on 2-inch block
Option 2: Snatch grip deadlift
Option 3: Ultra-wide sumo deadlift
Option 4: Ultra-wide sumo deadlift standing on 2-inch block

Good Morning

Option 1: Close-stance good morning off pins (regular bar)
Option 2: Wide-stance good morning off pins (regular bar)
Option 3: Close-stance good morning off pins (safety squat bar)
Option 4: Wide-stance good morning off pins (safety squat bar)

Box Squat

Option 1: Wide-stance box squat (12-inch box)
Option 2: Wide-stance box squat (10-inch box)
Option 3: Wide-stance safety bar box squat (12-inch box)
Option 4: Wide-stance safety bar box squat (10-inch box)

Box Squat


Key Points

• Use only one ME movement per week.

• Switch ME movements weekly. For example, use deadlifts week 1, good mornings week 2, box squats week 3, deadlifts week 4, etc. These movements use the same muscle groups and will help build one another.

• At least one ME attempt should be done to absolute failure; the other attempts should be at over 90% of the max. For example, if you max out at 100 kilos, follow it up with 3-4 attempts at about 90 kilos, resting 2-3 minutes between sets.

I'll show how to employ all this in a sample program below.


The Dynamic Effort Method

Not only must the muscle strength deficit be reduced, the explosive strength deficit (ESD) must also be reduced. According to Zatsiorsky, this is the amount of force in proportion to your maximal force capability that's not used in any given movement.

Using the DE method appropriately will reduce this deficit. It must be used at least 72 hours after or 72 hours before the ME method. Two tools that are very effective for this are dynamic box squats and jumping exercises.

Dynamic box squat: Base your training weights off of your ME wide-stance box squat records. During week 1, use 75% of your 1RM. Increase the percentages by 5% each week during weeks 2 and 3. On week 4, the percentage must go down to 75% again.

Here's an example based on a wide-stance box squat to a 12-inch box:

Week 1: 75% of your max for 10-12 sets of 2 reps
Week 2: 80% of your max for 8-10 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 85% of your max for 8-10 sets of 2 reps
Week 3: 75% of your max for 10-12 sets of 2 reps
Week 4: % of your max for 8-10 sets of 2 reps

And so on.

By keeping track of your box squat maxes, you can easily adjust the training percentages whenever you set new records.

The above examples use straight weight, but you can also add bands and chains to your dynamic lifts. These reduce the bar deceleration that occurs at the top of any lift and can have a profound effect on training.

If you use bands or chains, your box squat percentages must remain the same – 75%, 80%, and 85% of max. The difference is that at each percentage approximately 65-70% of the resistance should come from bar weight with the remaining 30-35% from band or chain resistance.

Key Points

• Use weights based on your wide-stance box squat maxes.

• Sit back onto the box keeping the back arched. This will pre-stretch your hamstrings, permitting a greater stretch reflex.

• Keep your abs tight, momentarily release your hip muscles, and then flex the hip muscles and launch yourself off the box – that's one rep.

• Keep all reps at max speed.

• Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

Jumping: Jumping movements can build considerable explosive and starting strength needed in the start of a heavy deadlift. The following can be used either as part of a warm-up or as assistance work after the Max Effort or the Dynamic Effort method.

Option 1: Broad jump
Option 2: Vertical jump
Option 3: Box jump
Option 4: Hurdle hop
Option 5: Depth jump
Option 6: Broad jump with weighted vest
Option 7: Vertical jump with weighted vest
Option 8: Hurdle hop with weighted vest

Key Points

• Use 1 rep per set for maximal distance or maximal height for 4-10 sets.

• Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

• Rotate either the resistance you use or the type of jump you do each week.

• About every fourth week, try using multiple jumps at 70 or 80% of a max effort jump of your choice. Do 8-10 sets of 2-3 jumps per set. Keep rest periods at 45-60 seconds per set.


The Repetition Method

A stronger deadlift requires strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, hip adductors, lower back, upper back, front abs, obliques, quads, and grip. This is where the repetition method (RM) comes in.

Let's break down the primary areas that need attention.

Posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors):

Option 1: Good morning varieties
Option 2: Glute-ham raise variations
Option 3: Hyperextension & reverse hyperextension varieties
Option 4: Dumbbell & kettlebell swing
Option 5: Romanian deadlift

Adductors/quads:

Option 1: Dumbbell lunge (front foot elevated)
Option 2: Wide-stance box squat below parallel
Option 3: Barbell high step-up
Option 4: Dumbbell high step-up

Front abs:

Option 1: Bent leg raise
Option 2: Straight leg raise
Option 3: Straight leg sit-up
Option 4: Spread eagle sit-up

Obliques/grip:

Option 1: One-arm dumbbell farmer's walk (2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds)
Option 2: One-arm dumbbell suitcase hold
Option 3: One-arm barbell suitcase hold
Option 4: Barbell suitcase deadlift

Key Points

• For strength, exercises should be done primarily in the 5-10 rep range for 2-4 sets. Experiment with other methods such as density sets, rest pause, or cluster training.

• The rest between sets can vary from 30-120 seconds. There's little value in resting more than 2 minutes for repetition work.

• Reps should be done either to failure or 1 or 2 reps short of failure.


Putting It All Together

Deadlift from plate

Here's an example of what your weekly deadlift training template might look like:


Deadlift Workout #1 – Monday


Warm-up:

1-2 sets of high reps (or 2-3 minutes) of one of the following:

Option 1: Light kettlebell swing and bent leg raise
Option 2: Light power clean and bent leg raise

Explosive strength: Jumps for height or distance

4-10 sets x 1 jump per set of one of the following. Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Broad jump
Option 2: Vertical jump
Option 3: Box jump
Option 4: Hurdle hop

Max Effort movement: Rampup to a max weight

Do 4-5 singles at or near maximum in one of the following. Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.

Option 1: Wide-stance box squat to 10-inch box
Option 2: Wide-stance box squat to 12-inch box
Option 3: Deadlift standing on 2-inch block
Option 4: Deadlift with ultra-wide stance
Option 5: Close-stance good morning off pins
Option 6: Wide-stance good morning off pins

Posterior exercise:

Do 2-4 sets of 5-10 reps on one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Arched-back good morning
Option 2: Straight-leg deadlift
Option 3: Glute-ham raise
Option 4: Romanian deadlift

Adductors/quads:

Do 2-4 sets of 5-10 reps in one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Wide-stance box squat with regular bar (10 inch box)
Option 2: Wide-stance front box squat (10-inch box)
Option 3: Wide-stance box squat with safety squat bar (10-inch box)
Option 4: Wide-stance low box squat with manta ray (10-inch box)

Obliques/grip:

Do either 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps or 2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds of one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: One-arm dumbbell farmer's walk (2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds)
Option 2: One-arm dumbbell suitcase hold (2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds)
Option 3: One-arm barbell suitcase hold (2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds)
Option 4: Barbell suitcase deadlift (2-3 sets of 10-20 seconds)

Finish with 2-3 minutes of stretching and mobility exercises.


Deadlift Workout #2 – Friday


Warm-up:

1-2 sets of high reps (or 2-3 minutes) of one of the following.

Option 1: Kettlebell swing and bent leg raise
Option 2: Light power clean and bent leg raise

Explosive strength: Jumps for height or distance

4-10 sets x 1 jump per set of one of the following. Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Depth jump
Option 2: Broad jump with weighted vest
Option 3: Vertical jump with weighted vest
Option 4: Hurdle hop with weighted vest

Dynamic Movement 1: Use 75, 80 or 85% of your box squat max

Do 8-12 sets of 2 reps in any of the following. Rest 45-60 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Wide-stance box squat with regular bar
Option 2: Wide-stance box squat with safety squat bar
Option 3: Wide-stance box squat with manta ray
Option 4: Wide-stance front box squat

Posterior exercise:

Do 2-4 sets of 5-10 reps in one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Hyperextension
Option 2: 45-degree hyperextension
Option 3: Reverse hyperextension
Option 4: Dumbbell swing

Abdominal exercise:

Do 2-4 sets of 5-10 reps in one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Straight leg raise
Option 2: Straight leg situp
Option 3: Bent leg raise
Option 4: Spread eagle sit-up

Adductors/quads:

Do 2-4 sets of 5-10 reps in one of the following. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets.

Option 1: Barbell high step-up
Option 2: Dumbbell high step-up
Option 3: Barbell lunge (front foot elevated)
Option 4: Dumbbell lunge (front foot elevated)

Finish with 2-3 minutes of stretching and mobility exercises.


Notes

Remember, this is a template. Your schedule could be completely different from the above. You may like to max out later in the week and do dynamic sessions early in the week. No problem. The most important things are:

• At least 72 hours must separate the Dynamic and Max Effort lower body sessions.

• You must pick Max Effort and Repetition Method exercises that work your individual weaknesses. Play with different exercises to see what works best for you.

• Change is crucial. For rep work, change either the rep range slightly, the exercise variation being performed, or the rep tempo every 2-3 weeks. For Max Effort movements, change the type of squat, good morning, or deadlift being performed every week. Keep a log of your records in each movement.

• For dynamic squatting and dynamic pulls, go from 75% to 80% to 85% over the course of 3 weeks and return to 75% on week 4. If you have access to bands or chains, use approximately 65-70% bar weight and 35-40% band or chain weight.

• If you start to feel beat up, add more restorative work like stretching, band traction, or light exercises for high reps.

• Try to use a balanced array of exercises that work all pulling muscles in both conventional and sumo variations.