The All-World Deadlift Program By Deadlift Specialist Brent Howard (Sgt Rock)
Why did I choose the name All-World Deadlift Routine? Well, first, it sounds good ). But seriously, over the years and specifically for this article I have solicited input from, and studied the routines of some of the best deadlifters and deadlift technicians in the world (men like Bruce Greig, Spud, Eddy Coan, John Mathieu, Damian Osgood, Louie Simmons, Brad Gillingham, Jon Kuc, Andy Bolton, Scorpion, Vince Anello and many, many more).
The deadlift is the powerlift which has seen the lowest percentage and absolute increase in the last 2 decades. The records now compared with the records of 10 or even 20 years ago are only marginally higher especially relative to the increases we have seen in the other 2 powerlifts (the squat and bench press). Why? The primary contributors are a combination of training methods and equipment. The powerlifting gear of bench shirts and squat suits provide much greater aid to their respective lifts than any deadlift suit. The training methods which have come into vogue in the last decade or so have de-emphasized or even eliminated heavy contest-style pulling as a regular part of one’s training, thus having (in my opinion) a retarding effect on the advancement of the lift as a rule.
Powerlifters from Finland are some of the best deadlifters in the world. It is no coincidence that one of the primary focuses of their famous Finnish Deadlift Routine is the incorporation of heavy pulling every week. This concept is in-line with the concept of motor learning and the fact that optimization of demonstrable strength can only occur when maximal neural adaptation to a specific movement has occurred. It flies in the face of the idea of not deadlifting to improve one’s deadlift. INCREASE YOUR BENCH WITHOUT BENCHING……sounds silly, doesn’t it? NO ONE would try that routine, now would they?! So why should the deadlift be any different? Answer: IT ISN’T! THERE ARE NO MAGIC ROUTINES OR SUPER GEAR TO PUSH THE DEADLIFT UP INSTANTLY. IT TAKES HARD WORK!!
My own training has lead to what I consider to be a happy medium between the Finnish concept (which includes a more or less standard form of periodization) and the use of special apparatus (such as bands and chains) and exercises. I have tried many routines, and early in my career the standard periodization worked wonders for me (getting me to 700 rather quickly), but I had to come up with something else to push well into the 700s and more. In addition to the Finns, I have studied the methods of the greatest individual pullers of yesteryear, guys like Jon Kuc and Vince Anello. They developed incredible pulling power without ever using a band or chain. Ease off your pulling to rest your CNS??? Can you imagine a training article by Kuc or Anello encouraging such nonsense?
The program I have developed and outlined below should be considered one of deadlift specialization. It will generate awesome results provided the trainee is willing to let his or her squat and bench take a back seat for the entire training cycle. This is a DEADLIFT program designed to dramatically increase your pull!
The All-World Deadlift Program
Reverse Bands: This movement incorporates blue jump stretch bands (you can buy them at: http://www.westside-barbell.com/bands.htm) hanging from 5’6” from the floor (per Louie Simmons’ recommendation). To gauge their setup you can hang a 135 lbs barbell and it should just touch the floor. This movement takes advantage of the lightened method which allows for lockout-focused training.
Against Bands: Uses purple bands for the majority of trainees with advanced pullers (650 lbs and up) using green bands. Anchor the bands using a jump stretch platform if available. If not, be sure to anchor the bands to the floor or just above it. Double up the bands on the bar for maximized resistance at the top of the movement. This form of training provides for another lockout-focused variation.
Box Pulls: The barbell is rested on 5” blocks of wood (one on each end). This provides for a partial range of motion (ROM) movement and supra-maximal loads.
Heavy = Specified repetition max for the day
Medium = 10-15% lighter load than “heavy” described above
Lighter = A load which would permit the completion of 4 or more reps more than that prescribed for the set (i.e. if the set calls for 10 reps you choose a load which you can get for 14+ reps)
Sets and Reps Key: 1X3 = 1 post-warm-up set of 3 reps
Disclaimer: I have purposely left the loads and routine in general somewhat vague as I firmly believe the reader must experiment within the parameters of the general template provided. Your physiology, level of physical preparation, and life stressors etc. are all unique and thus mandate a routine which has some leeway.
Training for your bench should be performed as normal. Squats are an exception in that they are on “cruise control” for the duration of this program with the focus being on building your pull. Perform box squats off a low box for 8 sets of 2 reps of speed work. To read more about the concepts presented in this article and generalized powerlifting training you can go to the following websites:
Program Goal: Prior to commencing this program you should set a realistic target goal (realistic being a 20-40 lbs increase). Any percentages listed below will be based upon your target goal (ex: target = 500 lbs – 84.5% = 422 lbs).
week 1 - reverse bands: 1x3 med, 1x3 heavy
week 2 - against bands: 2x3 heavy
week 3 - reverse bands: 1x3 personal record (pr) attempt, then 1x3 medium
week 4 - against bands: 1x3 pr attempt, 1x3 lighter
week 5 - 84.5 percent for a triple (all gear - regular deadlift with no bounce off deck)
week 6 - no pulls!
week 7 - box pulls: 3 heavy singles
week 8 - against bands: 3x3 heavy
week 9 - box pulls: 3 singles with increased load from week 7
week 10 - against bands: 1x3 pr attempt, then big single
week 11 - 87.5 percent for a triple (all gear – regular deadlift from floor)
week 12 - no pulls!
week 13 - box pulls: pr attempt
week 14 - against bands: pr attempt, then 1x3 lighter
week 15 - reverse bands: go up to goal weight plus 5 pounds!
week 16 - floor pulls: 90 percent for triple!! (all gear)
week 17 - no pulls
week 18 - work up to last warmup, suit straps down, 10-12 days out from competition or max attempt
competition or max attempt: go get your goal!
* Alternate barbell rows for 1 ultra heavy set and one down set with dumbbell rows (same rep scheme). on “no pull” weeks skip the rows.
* Alternate stiff-legged deadlift off a 3 inch box (no belt) and seated good mornings. do both for 2x5 medium. on “no pull” weeks skip this exercise.
* Chins: 3x10-15 or until failure if you cannot get the required rep count. follow with front lat pulls: 3x10-15.
* Machine rows: 3x10-15
* Dumbell shrugs: 2x20 (no straps)
* Add seated cable rows for 3x7 on “no pull” days.
* reverse or regular hypers: 3x10-15
* weighted abs (various exercises): 3x10-15
I suggest you follow a supplement regimen similar to mine, I use the following products daily:
Nitrean protein: This is a protein-only blend of 3 types of whey (isolate is the most abundant form), casein, and egg proteins. It is a highly versatile protein that can be used for all purposes (pre and post workout, prior to bed etc.).
Opticen post workout/meal replacement supplement: I use this product to help with post workout recovery and to add some additional quality calories when needed.
ETS for speeded recovery and to aid with joint care: Ets is a very unique product (the only one of its kind on the market to my knowledge) which reduces muscle soreness, improves recovery, and can help with minor joint pain. (something all powerlifters experience from time to time).
Tip: Do not neglect diet, get enough protein and rest!
Written By Brent Howard
If you have any questions on this article or any deadlift related question, you can ask Brent or our other Powerlifting Members on the Wannabebig Powerlifting and Olympic Lifts forums
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