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The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
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StrikeBack Offline
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RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
== The No Deadlift Program for novices ==

After all these technique tips, I will tell you something surprising:

If you're a novice and not yet repping 1.5xBW deadlift, or have a 1RM that is less than 2xBW, and you are struggling to make any gain, you should stop deadlifting completely.

If after you read through my previous tips in this thread and find yourself lost especially when it comes to activating this or that muscle group, a No-Deadlift program might just be what you need to have a breakthrough.

Why is this? The deadlift requires your entire body to coordinate and produce maximal force, but most newbies do not have sufficient body awareness to do this, so they tend to favour one muscle group over the rest and that's usually their back. The more frequently they deadlift, the more ingrained this poor movement pattern is, and the more hurt they suffer. That's the tricky thing about the deadlift: when done absolutely right, it works damn near everything in your body; when done wrong, it overloads certain parts and fucks up your body.

When I first started, I was inspired by a local coach who advocated the use of the deadlift (conventional or sumo style) as a demonstration of strength, not a strength training exercise, at least for newbies. Those newbies would deadlift maybe once a month or once every couple of months just to check progress. Instead of deadlift in their program, they use the space and energy to do general strength training:

- more squats
- more abs and back work
- lots of KB exercises
- some variations of the deadlift using lighter weights e.g Romanian DL or Stiff-Legged DL

Whenever those people test the deadlift, their PRs go up.

I trained myself and my own newbies very similarly and they make better progress on the deadlift while deadlifting very sparingly. By doing no-deadlift, I took mine to 200kg 1RM in competition. Even now, I have a ridiculously low deadlift volume, often 5-10 total reps on top work sets a week. Although as I get stronger, I will eventually increase this volume slightly.

This is not unprecedented either, even at the very top level. Bill Starr and his mate from weightlifting used to come over to powerlifting and destroy the deadlifts while having not done much deadlifting at all. See: http://www.liftinglarge.com/The-No-Deadl..._51-1.html

If you've been stuck at around the weight I mentioned above for a while, here's how you can implement this in your current program. Simply take out the 3x5 or 1x5 or whatever deadlift slot you have there and replace it with some or all of the below exercises (pick the ones that are your weakness - choose from all 3 groups):

Except for the squats, where you can go from high to low reps (muscle building -> power building), the rest should be done with higher rep ranges, at least 8+, more (20+) for the easier / smaller lifts.

Group 1 (compound lifts that have similar strength requirements and muscle activation):

High Bar Squat
Front Squat
Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift

Group 2 (core: including abs, glutes and erectors)

Heavy KB Swings
Heavy KB/DB Farmers Walk
Ab Wheel Rollouts / Hollow Body Position / Superman pushups / Hanging Leg Raises
Barbell hip thrusts (go for speed and holding at the top for time over heavy weights)

Group 3 (lats)

Pull ups
Lat Pulldowns
Seated Cable Rows
Barbell Rows
DB Rows

If you like, every 6-8 weeks you can deadlift for 1-2 top sets, 1-3 reps, just to see the progress.

If you really really have to do deadlift, keep it very light, and very low volume, like 2x2 or 3x3 once a week, using the kind of weights that you can do 3x5 or more with. Then spend the extra energy on the above exercises.

Happy No-Deadlifting!

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05-26-2015 08:16 AM
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RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic - StrikeBack - 05-26-2015 08:16 AM

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