Of all the compound lifts that recruit more than one muscle group, the deadlift is arguably the most demanding. It’s a one on one challenge between you and the barbell.
If you want to build mass and strength in abundance, you have to discard the excuses and incorporate deadlifts into your routine.
We’ve constructed a deadlift program that will increase your grip, build your back and power up your entire posterior chain.
Here are our top tips alongside our ultimate deadlift workout routine to help you boost up your pulling power and lift some heavy numbers.
How to deadlift
Deadlifting is a fairly basic movement, but it’s one that poses lots of risk to your back if done incorrectly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to deadlift.
- With the barbell on the floor, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes just under the bar.
- Bend at the legs and keep your back in a straight line.
- Grip the bar with either an overhand grip (palms facing back towards your body) or a mixed grip (one hand over, one hand facing out.)
- Keep your head up and your back straight as you drive through your legs, with your chest pointing up.
- Fully extend your legs and pull the bar up. It should rise near your shins and pass over your knees as you straighten your legs and press your hips forward.
- You should end up standing straight with the barbell held at waist height. Again, make sure to keep your back straight.
- Place the bar back down by bending your legs and keeping your back straight, taking care to keep your head up.
Benefits of deadlifting
As all no-excuses athletes know, deadlifting is a fantastic exercise for building frightening grip, power and mass. Because they’re generally your heaviest lift and a compound that use lots of muscles, so can help gain muscle when performed correctly.
Deadlifting builds core stability and gripping strength, develops cardio (if done at high intensity) and builds the following muscle groups:
- Back - such as your erectors and lats.
- Gluteus maximus and glutes
- Legs – most of the deadlift is done with your legs, building power in almost every muscle in your lower body.
- Arms – all muscles in your arm are contracted during deadlifting. Your forearms gain special benefit from the monstrous grip you’ll build.
- Shoulders – build big traps with heavy deadlifts.
Alternative styles of deadlifting
There are a few common styles of deadlifting that you might see someone perform in the gym. Here’s an explanation of the ones you’ll use if you follow our routine.
Sumo Deadlift: Lifting with your feet spread further than shoulder width and your hands using a narrow grip.
Romanian Deadlift: A version of the deadlift that involves using more of your back than your legs, the Romanian deadlift is performed by keeping your back straight and bending your knees very slightly, lowering the bar to just off the floor before pulling back up.
Farmers walks: Not a deadlift, but great for grip, farmers walks involve picking up dumbbells or a proper farmers walk bar and then walking for a set distance, pinching the weight as tightly as you can.
The ultimate deadlift workout routine
If you’re new to deadlifting, you’ll need to perform these routines once a week so you don’t stress your back.
For a seriously beasty workout that will boost your deadlift, you should perform two workouts a week. You can mix and match, but the idea is to have one volume set and one heavy set per week. (Beginners will have one heavy week and one high rep week.)
For those who are serious about results, you should try and add weight to the bar each week. The smallest plates in the gym are still added weight – so don’t be afraid to put them on and heave that bar.
Workout A (Volume)
- 2 x 12 warmup set (20-30% of max)
- 5 x 12 deadlift (50% of max)
- 1 x 15 deadlift (60 % of max)
3 x 10 Romanian deadlift (40% of max) – Ensure you have good form and drop the weight if needed
Workout B (Weight)
- 1 x 10 warmup set (30-40% of max)
- 3 x 6 deadlift (70-75% of max)
- 2 x 5 deadlift (80% of max)
- 2 x 2-3 deadlift (85-90% of Max)
Workout C (Accessory)
This workout can replace the volume section on alternate weeks to keep your body adjusting.
- 3 x 5 finger grip pull ups
- 3 x 10 Romanian deadlifts (60% of max)
- 3 x 10 sumo deadlifts (70% of max)
- 50-100ft farmer walks with 80% of max deadlift weight grasped.
A typical week would always include workout B – but would swap workout A and C in order to keep your muscles guessing.
Deadlifting is going to be hard. They’re one of the most intense of all exercises. But they’re also the best, delivering the ultimate gains when it comes to muscle growth and strength.
Make sure you consume enough calories to help support muscle growth. Consume Protein with Creatine to help support a growth in muscle mass and use a Pre-Workout with Creatine can increase physical performance during short-term, high intensity, repeated exercise bursts. A minimum of 3g of creatine should be consumed per day.
Commit to training your deadlifts and see yourself grow in both power and mass.