Deadlifting often gets a bad rap as a high-risk and specialty exercise. This is quite unfortunate when in fact it’s one of the most fundamental and functional movement patterns we can train. Additionally, it is quite powerful for both hypertrophy and strength goals. Even if you’re a 65-year-old grandmother, the deadlift is for you. Imagine not being able to pick up a newborn grandchild off the floor. This is what makes it the ‘basic functional movement pattern.' If you DON’T know how to do it properly you are increasing your risk for injury in life!
Deadlifting can be utilized as a great rehabilitation movement in teaching proper bracing and tensioning strategies needed for long-term back health. Outside of these pretty important aspects Deadlifting also provides substantial carryover to strength and athletic development.
Hypertrophy is highly affected as well. My personal note on this is my trap, lat, and delt development. I rarely target these area’s for hypertrophy work and in fact have not trained my traps directly for a decade. However, when standing next to pro-bodybuilders, I regularly have more developed traps than them when size is not my personal goal.
There are two styles of deadlifts, and each has their benefits.
- The conventional deadlift ( a narrow stance with arms outside the legs) is great for upper back development and is a little more forgiving in regards to technique.
- The Sumo deadlift ( a wide stance with arms between legs) is great for hip firing and carryover to the squat. The Sumo takes more time to master in regards to technique, so I often have people start with deadlifting with the plates sitting on 3” blocks.
Below is a great workout plan if you're getting started with deadlifts. It alternates between sumo and conventional to get the benefits of both and also volume sets and singles to allow for hypertrophy and mastery of technique. On each of the following workouts, 3-4 additional exercises may be chosen to focus on lats, glutes, or hamstring. Examples are bent over barbell rows, Romanian deadlifts, and the glute-ham raise.
Week 1 – Conventional Deadlift
12 singles @ 75% of max with 30-45 seconds rest between sets
Week 2 – Conventional Deadlift
3 sets of 6 reps with 3-4 RIR (reps in reserve)
Week 3 – Sumo Deadlift (Partial deadlift with weight on 3-4” blocks)
3 sets of 5 reps with 1-2 RIR
Week 4 – Conventional Deadlift
10 singles @ 80% of max with 30-45 seconds rest between sets
Week 5 – Conventional Deadlift
3 sets of 6 reps with 1-2 RIR (reps in reserve)
Week 6 – Sumo Deadlift (Partial deadlift with weight on 3-4” blocks)
2 sets AMRAP (as many reps as possible) with target of 5 reps per set
This 6-week program can then be repeated.
This program can be utilized for just about any goal. Let us know if you have any questions, and tag us in your training pics/videos!
Written by Chris Duffin // World Record Holding Powerlifer
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