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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Q&A - Deadlift Training

Mr. Robertson,

Hello my name is Andrew and I live on the westside of Indianapolis. I currently train at Next Level Gym with Josh Bolin. I had a question about deadlift training.

I have been seriously training for about a year and a half. Up until recently the majority of my lower body ME days consisted of box squats and good mornings of different variations. My DE lower body days have consisted of only box squats with different bars and resistance, and I have never pulled for speed.

I think the main reason I have not trained the DL very often is because so many people advise against it in different articles I have read. I saw that you mentioned in an article on Elitefts that one should pull more often as a beginner. I feel like I am stronger conventional and I am weak at the lockout at near or around 100%.

How would you recommend I train the DL and how often? If I pull on ME day does that mean I should not pull on DE day? I am sure my deadlift has gotten stronger from other lower body movements and supplemental/accesory work, but I bet I would gain faster if I trained it directly.

Thanks a lot for your time,

Wow, a lot of questions in there Andrew! Here goes...

I firmly believe that in the beginning, you HAVE to train the deadlift. Sure if you're already pulling 600, 700 or 800 pounds, you may not need to train it that often. But as a beginner, you absolutely have to train it.

In the beginning, heavy sets in the 3-5 rep range would be adequate. More than anything, you need to get some high quality reps under your belt. How do you know what you need to work on technique wise if you never pull?

Once you get into the 400 and 500 pound range, I would suggest throwing in speed work and/or ME deadlift variations. Let's assume you do a ME workout on Monday and a DE workout on Thursday.

If you perform a ME deadlift variation on Monday, then I wouldn't include speed work for the DL on Thursday. Just DE squats and assistance work.

If you don't perform a ME deadlift variation on Monday, then I would definitely include speed work on Thursday.

The thing I always liked to do (and no, those who train Westside may not approve of this), was to perform a heavy squat workout on Monday, followed by assistance exercises. Then, on Thursday I would perform DE squat work and follow that up with either DE or ME deadlift work as necessary. I really feel like you can train heavy 3-4x/week in the beginning/intermediate phases; it's not until you get to the advanced/elite level that you should consolidate solely into ME and DE days. This was covered in my artice for Elite, The Intermediate Deadlift Cycle.

Regardless of my thoughts, I hope this helps. I would definitely be getting some DL training in every single week, at least until you get to a moderately high level of strength. From there, focusing on the assistance work may be more fruitful than training the DL itself.

Stay strong

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