Thursday, October 21, 2010

Raw Powerlifting - Deadlifting

Ok now it's time to talk about tugging stuff up around your crotchal region.  Yes I'm talking about the deadlift.  What else would I be talking about?

Ok deadlift training, in terms of how to use your percentages, go a bit different than how I plan for squats and bench.  The reason why is, you have no myotatic reflex to start the movement.  This is one reason why calculations don't always work as well for the deadlift as they do the bench and squat.  Case in point, a lot of time the reps that follow the first rep seem easier than the initial one.  That's because you do in fact get some of that myotatic reflex on the follow up reps.  Especially if you go touch n' go style.  So where 405x10 in the squat or bench pretty much always puts you in the 520-525 range, 405x10 in the deadlift probably means a lot less than that.  That has been my experience and generally the experience of guys I have talked to about this.  You can do reps with something closer to your 1RM in the dead than you can the squat and bench.  

Therefore, I like to set the training max percentage a little higher in the dead than the squat and bench.  Usually 95% for a double at the end of the cycle seems to be about right.  

Second, unlike the squat, I feel like the dead generally needs a little bit of help from assistance work.  Yes the dead will build itself just fine, and you certainly can't go wrong with just pulling but some chins, shrugs, and rows thrown in there seem to help.  I have not found that adding a lot of hamstring work to my training to help my deadlift as much.  I do know this has helped a lot of guys but it just doesn't seem to be the case for me.  I've done stiff legs with 500 for reps, good mornings with 455 for reps and all sorts of other things for hams to strengthen them and my dead never budged.  It wasn't until I just started focusing on pulling from the floor and from blocks that my deadlift started to move at a good clip.  

And speaking of pulling from blocks, what I am referring to here is not deficit deadlifts where you stand on something, but rather where you put the plates on short blocks, so that the bar is at mid-shin or so, and pull from there.  To me, pulling from this height is actually harder than pulling from the floor.  The weight feels more "dead" than usual, and there is less quad involvement.  When I have pulled from a deficit I have noticed that I can really bend down and get my quads involved.  This is not something I get much use from because when I pull from the floor, it doesn't feel the same.  I always feel as if my low back and upperback are the weak links.  So pulling from blocks made my low back do a lot more work, and get a lot stronger.  This actually made pulling from the floor feel easier for me.  

So also unlike the bench and squat, I feel like the dead does need some assistance plugged in to cover some weak links because the posterior of the body seems to need a little more work.  However what kind of work you choose to plug in there, will need to be determined by you.  

I don't add lower back work into my routines generally because if you are squatting and pulling heavy each week the low back gets a ton of work.  The low back also takes longer to recover than most bodyparts, so adding in low back work has never been part of my philosophy.  

So let's get down to looking at the cycle.

Training Max = 95% of real max or second attempt for the meet

Week 1 - 80% x 1 65%x2x5
Week 2 - 85% x 1 70%x2x5
Week 3 - 88% x 1 75%x2x5
Week 4 - 90% x 1 80%x2x3
Week 5 - 92% x 1 85%x2x3
Week 6 - 95% x 1 90%x2x3
Week 7 - 97% x 1 93%x2x3
Week 8 - 100% x 2
Week 9 - deload 70% x 5
Week 10 - meet

Notes on this training cycle -

What to do after deads?  

One way to do things is to pick something for hamstrings, lats, and upperback and do 2-4 sets for each for around 8-12 reps.  So you could do leg curls, chins, then db rows.  Another option is to do the block deadlifts like I mentioned above for a set of 10 or 2-3 sets of 5.  The weight on the block deads could easily be what you did for your back off sets to keep things simple.  As I noted, I don't notice any kind of bump in my deadlift from extra hamstring training therefore I don't do any.  It will be up to you to figure out if your hamstrings are holding you back.  

Why do I set up these cycles this way?

I had a few questions like that.  I like to set it up this way because the singles give you practice at what you will do for the meet.  The back off sets are the actual strength builders.  Then you need to test where you are at in week 8 for the meet.  This is my own philosophy.  Some may think my percentages are low, however I have found that using higher percentages tends to either make me peak too fast, or burn out and hit a wall too fast.  I like to feel confident in everything I lift.  This way, come meet day I haven't missed weights and have an idea of what I am at.  Knowing this also gives you confidence on the platform. 


  1. Paul,

    Fantastic article as always for us raw guys. This website has been a huge inspiration to me. I think I am going to start running these cycles for the big three along with the assistance you reccomend and at the end of each cycle test my max and then tax my 90% or 95% from my new max. Thanks for all the help!

  2. Glad you found something worth while Reg.

  3. Paul, what is your experience with deadlifting every other week or even once a month?

    In the past, I've seen decent results from pulling from pins or blocks (from below the knee) for reps after squatting and then pulling heavy from the floor once a month. Usually I will start with a weight I know I can blast and try to add 10 lbs a month. I do this because I'm trying to minimize the stress on my hips (dislocated the right one and had two surgeries.

    Also, any time my squat has gone up, my dead has followed, but this is probably because I pull sumo. I pull sumo because of my hip. It sounds stupid to pull sumo with a bad hip, but I can't get to the bar in a conventional stance without looking like a cat trying to take a shit. It's just the way the labrum healed.

  4. I've done fine with every other week. The Brad Gillingham program of pin pulling at various heights every other week then a light week from the floor in between was good to me as well. I would just minimize how much time you pin pull from above the knee. There is virtually no carryover to the floor from that position IMO.

  5. What would you recommend in order to fit it in 9 weeks? Maybe just supressing the 3rd week...


  6. Just work it however it comes out.

    1 week light, 1 week heavy. Time it so that the heavy day arrives on meet day. Make sense?

  7. Thanks for checking out my Squat form before.

    But I'm gonna push it and ask if you can check on my deadlift as well?

    Is my back rounding too much? This was near a max.

    Help a noob out!

  8. Pretty much. However on a MAX single a lot of times form goes to shit. That's just how it is. Just keep training and work on technique and just keep trying to get stronger. If this is an issue even on medium-heavy work, then it's a problem. But on a max single? Not as big a deal.