Frequent Deadlifting: How to Pull It Off

Every so often the idea of squatting more often than once a week makes the rounds. Just within the last year Tony Gentilcore wrote a great article called Squat 4 Times Per Week Experiment, Matt Perryman wrote a fantastic book I think you’d like to read called Squat Every Day, and of course the Jon Broz mantra of squat every day continues to make the rounds.

Despite the popularity of this idea with squatting, no one wants to touch the topic when it comes to deadlifts. Apparently putting a barbell across your back and squatting with it is a more natural movement than picking something up off the floor. Doing the former is sure to pack muscle mass on your frame, and doing the latter will guarantee your spine shoots out your ass before you make it to thirsty Thursday.

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Don’t be this guy.

On the contrary, I think you can deadlift frequently. In fact, if your goals lie in the regions of strength and/or muscularity, I think you might want to give frequently deadlifting a shot. To me it’s obvious why you would want to deadlift daily if you could, and in fact I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to pull that often. But if you’re wondering why you would want to, here are a few reasons:

  • You’re going to get better at deadlifting. Practice makes permanent, or perfect, or potential, or whatever depending on who you ask. Either way more practice is a good thing, and the more you practice deadlifting the better you will get at it.
  • Aside from squatting, there aren’t many ways you can utilize more muscle than a deadlift. Stress a lot of muscle with a lot of weight frequently, and you’re well on your way to packing on some mass.
  • You’re going to improve in associated strengths, like grip. Deadlifting frequently is going to involve picking things up off the floor in ways other than a plain old barbell. As soon as you start introducing axles or pinch deadlifting, now you’re talking about strengthening otherwise totally neglected areas like your forearms. Have you ever seen a guy whose forearms have the same girth as his upper arms? Yeah, you want that.
  • Cardio. That’s right. Cardio. Deadlifting lighter weights for high volume in short time frames (take 315 for 100 in 30 minutes and call me on Monday) is my favorite way to Lift Weights Faster.
  • It’s the gym opposite of your life movements. Just as a good program seeks to balance push and pull, it’s good to balance your life movement with opposing movement in the gym. If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet you spend too much time sitting – in the car, in front of the computer, at work, etc.- and the deadlift, moving into extension against resistance, is a perfect opposition movement to that.

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Listen, it’s just a fact that deadlifting is awesome and doing it often is by definition more awesome. Sure, you could squat, but why would you do that when you can deadlift? I make no apologies for the fact that I don’t like squatting, and I do it the least I can possibly get away with.

Here are a few considerations that will help you pull it off:

  • You might be able to do the same deadlift every day, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, use testing and a range of variations to find the best testing variation every day. Simply changing the variation will not only mean you stress very different tissues, but it will also change everything else about how you lift like the load, sets, and reps.
  • Acknowledge that you aren’t going to be able to lift at the same intensity day in and day out. Fortunately, there are two more metrics of progress you can use to vary your workouts. Intensity, volume, and density can all be tweaked and manipulated so that you can deadlift day after day. For example, you might lift very heavy one day, but very light the next day for many reps and total volume.
  • Vary your rep ranges. I want you to know your 8RM, 10RM, 15RM, and 20RM just as well as you know our 1, 3, and 5RM. Think rep work doesn’t build strength? Go tell that to the Juggernaut guys who are currently laying waste to the powerlifting and strongman fields.
  • Along the lines of varying intensity and rep ranges, train sub-maximally for the majority of your lifting. The idea that you need to be at >90% to make progress is bullshit.
  • Don’t miss lifts. Ever.
  • Don’t train to failure. Training to failure is training to fail. You’ll also significantly increase the amount of time you need to recover, which kind of throws a wrench in deadlifting frequently.

Consider this your written permission to deadlift two, three, even four times per week if it continues to test well and you continue to make progress. Don’t let someone else’s bad idea be your limitation. Go and get after it.

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If you’re not sure how to get started, my deadlift tome Off The Floor gives you a comprehensive plan of how to deadlift frequently, including using your biofeedback, for maximal strength gains. This template is the exact template I used to skyrocket my deadlift from a measly 245 pounds to not one but three different 600+ pound deadlifts in 3 variations, including a world record.

 

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Comments

  1. Miguel Sevilla says:

    I like how those simple ideas allow to integrate the DL in a weekly routine. Playing with variations is the keys ; different weights, range of motions, grips, are all ingredients that keep you challenged without having to work above 90% all the time (which I never do, as I am still laying the foundations of my dead lift).
    Thanks for explaining in a simple way what that complex movement is about.
    Miguel

  2. Great article. I love deadlifting and have been religiously doing just 2 sets of 5 every day now for over a year. I took the Pavel Tsatsouline approach. Took a big step back in weight when I began and went ridiculously light. It doesn’t take long for the weight to build up and there’s a lot to be said for ‘thinking heavy’ and ‘greasing the groove’ in terms of getting form spot on. From 16 day cycles, increasing 2.5kg every 2 days and increasing each starting cycle by 2.5kg, I’m now at 1.2x bodyweight and it’s feeling like there’s loads more to come. I should be at around 2x bodyweight within a year from now. And then I’ll carry on going onwards and upwards from there. I’m 46 btw and only started regular deadlifting having always had a susceptibility to lower back niggles. I thought I should tackle it head on, do it right, do it sensibly and build up strength gradually. It works. My back’s never felt better. Critical to get your form right though obviously. I’ve got my program in an Excel doc and if anyone wants a copy of that then just shout as it’s easy to adapt to your own…

    • i like to see your excel SP. I use a paper notebook and record my DLs. I like to change to computer. (VideoMover@gmail.com)

      I do appreciate.

      I am 58 years old and took similar approach to DL. Now I am into it for 17 months. Most amazing ride. Will do this as long as I live. Fountain of Youth..lol

    • Hi

      Would love to see your spreadsheet. Am 50 yo. Started crossfit 5 months ago. I need a long term dead lift and squat plan.

      Many thx

      Joe

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