So you want the secret to deadlifting more weight?
Today I want to share with you the guaranteed way to deadlift more weight in no time flat. Before I go any further, I have to warn you that this is a method that people have neglected to share and have kept secret for many years. Are you ready for it? (I’m only being a little sarcastic here…)
Alright, I’ll admit that’s pretty vague and could mean a few things. More weight? More times a week? Both?
Before I answer that, it’s important to recognize that there are three crucial parts of training. These can vary wildly in how they work depending on how experienced you are and other factors. Those three things are volume, frequency, and intensity.
- Volume refers to how many reps you do of an exercise
- Frequency refers to how often you do that exercise
- Intensity refers to how heavy you do an exercise
For a beginner to intermediate lifter, you can get by doing almost any combination of the above and see progress. However, as you get past the “noob” gains phase things start to get a little more difficult and you have change your approach to keep making progress.
There are some general things about the above that pretty much everyone “knows”. For example, high volume routines are used for hypertrophy, high intensity and low volume is used for strength training, and more often than not frequency takes a backset to the other two. I know I didn’t pay enough attention to it for years!
Frequency is important not only for size gains, but also strength. Most beginners start off on a three day split that hits each muscle group once. That can work for a while, but past the beginner phase it rapidly becomes ineffective.
Putting it into practice
Now, let’s apply what we now know for a bigger deadlift. For strength you’re going to want to train with a high degree of intensity, low volume and do it multiple times a week (high frequency) I would say a minimum of two days a week deadlifting if not more will make you MUCH better at it than one.
You can take that same line of logic and even deadlift four to five times a week. This means not doing any other compounds and purely focusing on deadlift. Each workout should work up to a max, because you’ll be setting PRs almost on a daily basis. No drop sets or anything.
That’s a pretty hardcore approach that few would take, but any GOOD program will have you doing these lifts multiple times a week. Hugely popular programs for high frequency training include PHUL, PHAT, PPLx6. If you don’t have enough frequency you essentially become a jack of all trades, master of none. If you want fast progress in something, you have to give it enough focus.
The most important factor: recovery
Frequency isn’t the only key though to building a bigger deadlift though. If you aren’t eating enough food and getting enough protein you are sabotaging yourself more than any program can help. The harder we go in the gym, the more we have to replenish what was taken out.
What also ties into recovery is sleep. Sleep is the body’s time to repair itself and if you aren’t getting enough you won’t be making as much progress as you could be. Honestly, these two factors are 2/3s of getting stronger and bigger. The training is just the catalyst for change!
As with any compound movement, you can use accessory lifts to help bring up your main lift where you struggle. I don’t want to over-emphasize these because if you want to get stronger at a lift, you do it more. Whether that’s bench, squat, or deadlift. So while I’m going to list a few helpful ones for deadlifting, you don’t need to go crazy with them. Just do what will benefit you the most.
- Rack pulls
Rack pulls are great for working on locking out the weight. Given the shorter range of motion, you can typically pull more than your actual deadlift on these. Keep the intensity high and volume low as this is a strength accessory, not a volume exercise.
- Weighted Hyperextension
If you have weak erectors, this is an excellent exercise to bring them up to speed. Just like with rack pulls if you haven’t done these before you may want to start out just doing bodyweight before doing them with weights to get a feel for them. I recommend doing these on non-deadlift days because they are very taxing on the lower back.
- Bent-over rows
Rows are one of my favorite lat-building exercises because you can use them for bodybuilding OR strength training just by changing the reps and weight used. I recommend using double overhand grip to train your grip strength while doing these.
Wearing a belt is a huge game changer. A lot of people think a belt is just for safety, which is more of a secondary purpose to the main one: giving you something to build abdominal pressure with. When you press your abs against a belt it allows you to generate more force than you would be able to otherwise. Important note here: don’t cheap out on a belt. Buy a solid powerlifting belt from a company like Inzer.
Flat soled shoes can help you pull more from your heels than a standard weightlifting shoe. Being closer to the floor instead of raised at an angle does help. Usually these shoes are pretty cheap compared to other shoes making picking up a pair very feasible without spending much. I wrote an article on the best deadlifting shoes you can check out to get an idea of what’s out there.
The last key part of pulling a bigger deadlift is your grip. If you only use a double overhand grip, you quickly find out that it’s a VERY limiting factor. I highly suggest using it as long as you can and when reaching the heavy sets switching to a mixed grip (one hand over, one hand under). With chalk, this will give you a secure grip to let you use your full strength.
Straps are always an option too, I just prefer not to use them because I feel like I would neglect to keep building grip strength. If I can’t pull the weight with a mixed grip it’s probably for the best!
Summing it all up
It is very easy to make lifting more complicated than it really is. Different programs, diets, and a million details in between. If you take anything away from this article it should be three things:
- Deadlift more often
- Eat a ton of (good) food
- Sleep well
The rest of the details are just the icing on the cake. If you follow those guidelines it is impossible to not pull more weight! The beauty is all of three those apply to anything in the gym. Focus on your goals specifically and watch how much faster you achieve them.
Hopefully this article gave you some ideas to try. No one is the same, and experimenting is the best way to find out what works best for you.