Here's what you need to know...
- Pick a deadlift variation that suits your anatomy. The one you choose depends on five anatomical considerations.
- Training too often above 90% of your 1RM will leave you feeling beat up. Accumulate volume instead.
- Stop viewing your warm-up sets as just a way to get loose before working sets. Start reframing the warm-up as an opportunity to accumulate volume.
- The best way to increase the number of sets you're doing is to add in a second deadlifting day. This could mean adding in a day for speed work, a day to train a partial range of motion lift, or a day for another variation to hit weak areas.
- Learn to set up quickly and push your feet into the floor. The quick set-up allows you to take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle. The push through the floor allows you to hit peak force production sooner.
Understand Your Anatomy
In order to hit a triple bodyweight deadlift, you're going to have to deadlift more weight more frequently. And knowing the unique anatomy of your body will allow you to choose the best variation of the deadlift to train.
You can either pull conventionally or widen your base into a sumo or semi-sumo stance. The variation you choose should be based on five anatomical considerations: hip rotation, hip flexion, head of femur placement in hip socket, and femur and arm length.
|Conventional Deadlift||Sumo Deadlift|
|Good Hip Internal Rotation and Adduction ROM||Limited Hip Internal Rotation and Adduction ROM|
|Good Hip Flexion ROM||Limited Hip Flexion ROM|
|Neutral or Anteverted Hips||Retroverted Hips|
|Long Arms, Short Femurs||Long Femurs, Short Arms|
Look at the list and find out what best fits you. Obviously, a couple of the terms or conditions might be a little too "inside baseball" for some lifters, but even novice lifters can recognize if their arms and femurs are short or long, and whether they have good hip flexion. Recognizing these things will allow you to pick the best style.
Build Strength, Don't Test It
One of the most common mistakes novice lifters make is testing their 1RM (one-rep max) and working at near-max percentages too often. Your tissues and nervous system can't constantly handle high intensities. Training too often above 90% of your 1RM will leave you feeling tired, sore, and beat up.
Accumulating volume at submaximal weights will get you a triple bodyweight deadlift much faster than consistently going to battle with weights above 90%. You can't pin the gas peddle to the floor all the time without making compromises.
Keep in mind that volume is more than just sets and reps – it's sets X reps X external load (weight on bar). Below are three easy ways to add reps, external loading, and sets to your training each week.
1 – Adding Reps
Have intent with your warm up sets: Stop viewing your warm-up sets as just a way to get loose before you hit your working sets. Start reframing the warm-up as an opportunity to accumulate volume in your program; a long on-ramp that allows you to build momentum toward your higher intensity sets.
Here's an example of a deadlift warm-up that works up to 85% of 1RM sets. This is an easy way to add 30 reps to your training week:
- 1x8 at 40%
- 1x8 at 50%
- 1x6 at 60%
- 1x5 at 70%
- 1x3 at 75%
2 – Adding External Load
Perform speed work between 60-80%: A study by Swinton, et al. concluded that peak force production was exponentially higher when training between 60-80% of your 1RM compared to training between 30-50% of 1RM, which is where dynamic effort training session loads usually hover. If you look at the study, you'll also notice that peak power production occurred at loads between 30-40%.
If peak power production is a quality that's particularly important to your goal – like when you have to throw something as fast as possible, explode off the starting line in a race, or land a flurry of explosive punches – then it makes sense to stay in line with a 30-40% prescription.
However, powerlifters don't care how fast something is moved. Because of this, force production becomes more important than power production. Therefore, on dynamic effort days, use weights that are between 60-80% of 1RM.
3 – Adding Sets
Deadlift two times a week: The best way to increase the number of sets you're doing is to add in a second deadlifting day during your training week. This could mean adding in a day for speed work, a day to train a partial range of motion lift (trap bar, RDLs, rack pulls), or a day for another variation to help you train areas where you're weak.
Making the weight lighter than your main deadlifting day, or decreasing the range of motion, are both great ways to stay healthy while still adding volume to your program.
Train Sticking Points
Most people are going to miss their deadlift from off the floor, at the beginning of the pull, or right below the knees, before maximum hip torque can be harnessed. Lack of hamstring and glute strength is to blame for missing lifts off the floor and at mid-shin height, but before jumping into adding accessory work, make sure your technique focuses on two things:
- Getting set up quickly.
- Pushing your feet into the floor as hard as you can.
Now, a quick set-up and rapid descent into the pull position carries a certain risk of speeding past an optimal set position. But if you're chasing a triple bodyweight deadlift, chances are you've already put in thousands of reps of slow, thoughtfully calibrated and painstakingly tested reps to establish your ideal start position. If you've put in the work, then your set-up should be second nature and the risk is minimal.
The quick set-up allows you to take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle in your hip extensors, while the push through the floor allows you to achieve peak force production sooner in your lower body to help you grind through the lift better.
Supplemental Lifts and Accessory Work
If honing the finer points of your technique isn't enough, you might benefit from adding a few strategically placed supplemental lifts to your secondary deadlift days.
When you're training for a triple bodyweight deadlift you want all of your volume to have a purpose, and you don't want your body to have to recover from an exercise that has no direct carryover to your deadlift. To ensure this, you must identify your weak points and train them.
If you're continually missing off the floor, try using block pulls off 3-4 inch blocks. This will allow you to challenge your hip and back position at an angle that mimics where the bar will be right after you get it off the floor.
If you miss at your knees or around mid-shin height, it's common to hammer away at RDL's, good mornings, and other variations to train your posterior chain. This can be beneficial, but without a strong upper back, those supplemental lifts won't do a thing. That's why chest-supported rows should be a staple in your program when training for a triple bodyweight pull.
Likewise, strong lats, traps, and rhomboids are often undervalued when training your deadlift. Increasing their strength will ensure that you can keep better mid and upper back position during your pull, especially when the bar hits mid-shin height.
Recovery Makes It All Possible
When you leave the gym, you've likely fatigued your body's systems and can't do as much as when you walked in. It's not until after you've recovered that your body has built itself back up to capacity and is ready to take on the demands of another training week.
Answer the questions from the recovery list below to find out where you're lacking:
- Sleep Quality and Quantity: Do you have a good sleeping environment? Are you getting enough hours of sleep?
- Nutrition Quality and Quantity: Are you eating quality foods that promote low levels of inflammation? Are you eating enough calories to support your training?
- Respiration: Can you fully exhale your air to help shift yourself to a more parasympathetic state (the body's rest-and-digest response)?
- Tissue Quality: Do you get regular massages, acupuncture, or perform regular self-myofascial release?
- Active Recovery Sessions: Do you use active recovery sessions when you're feeling tired or sore?
Now It's Your Turn
Training for a triple bodyweight deadlift is no easy task, but it can be made easier by implementing smart strategies. Don't feel like you have to do everything listed above right away. Learn to appreciate your unique anatomy, put your ego aside, and build strength.
Focus on technique and force production first before putting yourself through the gamut of supplemental lifts, and place a premium on recovery. Now get to work.
Related: Heavy Deadlifting 101
- Swinton, P. A., Stewart, A., Agouris, I., Keogh, J. W., & Lloyd, R. (2011). A biomechanical analysis of straight and exagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.