The following deadlift routine was developed by oldschool powerlifting star John Kuc – Mr. Berg
“What we are going to do in this narrative is map out a complete deadlift cycle. To do this a few assumptions must be made:
1. Lifter is in beginner to intermediate stage
2. Has competed in a meet
3. Has a best deadlift of 500lb
The fictitious lifter has just competed or cycled out with all-time best lift of 500lb. We will now attempt to work out sixteen (16) week cycle that will allow the lifter to add 30lb. to his previous. is a very attainable goal, but some will do more and some less.
Step 1 is for the lifter to take a one week layoff. This workout will deal strictly with the deadlift, but I do advocate squatting and deadlifting on the same day. If you follow that guideline all back work should be done after the legs.
The training days will be Monday and Thursday. If they are not compatible with your schedule, Tuesday-Friday, or Wednesday-Saturday, may be used. Actual deadlifting from the floor will be done only once per week.
There seems to be two major problem areas for the beginner to intermediate lifter in the deadlift. Some have poor starts and others are weak in the lock out. We will lay out this program so that it can accommodate either condition. The first eight weeks will be higher reps with concentration on the assistance training. Both programs (start weakness or lockout weakness) will be identical, except for one assistance lift.
If your weakness is in the finish, you will use lockouts, and if the start is weak, deadlifts standing on blocks will be used. In our example Monday will be assistance work, and Thursday will be deadlifting. Our back workout will consists of four exercises; the deadlift, lockouts or off blocks, dumbbell rows and pull downs. If any of these movements are unfamiliar to you a description of each will be given at the end of the article.
You have now had your week off and are ready to go; so let’s begin. I am going to give exact poundages in the assistance, but everyone should adjust to their own needs. If you have done the exercise before you may be able to handle more weight than someone who has never done them. The weights in the deadlift should be followed as closely as possible.
This program is not set for any specific bodyweight. A 242lb lifter may progress faster than an 181lb lifter. This should be especially true in the assistance exercises.
Even though I am giving you some leeway in the assistance exercises, do not take them lightly.
They are very important to the overall program. Add weight as often as you can, but do not sacrifice good form to do so. The lockouts or block work will be done for the first (8) weeks only. The benefits received from them will carry through the second eight (8) weeks. We will ad one (1) set each to the tows and pulldowns in the seconds eight (8) week phase, but the deadlift itself will get the heavy concentration of work.
Let’s get started. The following is a day by day, set by set, workout schedule. Stay as close as possible to the schedule but use some common sense. Injuries or illness could affect your training; be prepared to make adjustment if necessary.
Through the first eight (8) weeks the lifter wanting to improve his start should use schedule marked ‘A’ (off blocks); to improve your finish, follow schedule ‘B’ (lockout)
1st week, Monday (Off blocks-A) 135-10 225-6 315-4 265-4-3, (lockouts-B) 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 500-4-3, Dumbbell rows 4×10 (70), Pulldowns 4×10 (115).
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4-4, Dumbbell rows 3×10 (70), Pulldowns 3×10 (115)
2nd week, Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 275-4-3, B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 415x4x21 Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10 225×8 325-6 400-4 405-4-3, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
3rd Week, Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 395-4-2, B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 530x4x2, Dumbbell rows 4×10 Pulldowns 4×10
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 410-4-3, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
4th week, Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 395-4 405-4, B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 525-4 545-4, Dumbbell rows 4×10, Pulldowns 4×10 4×10.
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 415-4-3 Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
5th Week (light week), Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 395-4 B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 525-4 Dumbbell rows 4×10, Pulldowns 4×10
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4-4
6th week: Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 405-4 415-4 B:225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 525-5 560-4, Dumbbell rows 4×10, Pulldowns 4×10
Thursday, Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 415-4 425-4-2, Dumbbell rows 3×10 Pulldowns 3×10
7th week, Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 405-4 425-4, B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 530-4 580-4 Dumbbell rows 4×10, Pulldowns 4×10
Thursday, Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 415-4 425-4 440-4, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
8th week, Monday, A: 135-10 225-6 315-4 375-4 405-4 435-4 B: 225-8 325-6 425-4 475-4 535-4 600-4 Dumbbell rows 4×10, Pulldowns 4×10.
Thursday, Deadlift- 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4-4 Dumbbell rows 3×10 Pulldowns 3×10
9th week, Monday (single week), Dumbbell rows 5×10, Pulldowns 3×10
Thursday, Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 460-1 515-1 415-4, no other work
10th week, Monday, Dumbbell rows 5×10, Pulldowns 5×10
Thursday Deadlift- 135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 425-4-3, Dumbbell rows 3×10 Pulldowns 3×10
11th Week, Monday, Dumbbell rows 5×10, Pulldowns 5×10
Thursday Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 435-4-3, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
12th week, Monday, Dumbbell rows 5×10, Pulldowns 5×10
Thursday, Deadlift 135-10, 225-8 325-6 400-4 450-4-3 Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
13th week, Monday, Dumbbell rows, 5×10 Pulldowns 5×10.
Thursday, Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 440-4 460-4 450-4 Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
14th Week, Monday, Dumbbell rows 5×10, Pulldowns 5×10
Thursday, Deadlift -135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 440-4 465-4 450-4, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10
15th week, Monday, dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10 (cut back work load).
Thursday, Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 440-4 475-4 450-4
16th week, Monday, Dumbbell rows 3×10, Pulldowns 3×10 (light weight)
Thursday Deadlift-135-10 225-8 325-6 400-4 450
17th week Deadlift 530lb
Dumbbell rows: You will need a flat bench and one loaded dumbbell. To begin the exercise place your left leg to the rear with the knee locked. bend the right knee and brace yourself with your right arm on the bench, elbow locked. With your left hand pick up the dumbbell. Make sure the dumbbell is free from the floor when your arm is hanging straight down. Pull or ‘row’ the dumbbell to the side of your chest to start the movement. Return the dumbbell to the starting position making sure it does not touch the floor between reps. Repeat with the other arm.
Pulldowns: The pulldown is done on a lat machine. You can do the pulldown while sitting or kneeling. Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Sit or kneel, making sure of the correct grip position first. The arms must be fully extended and elbows locked. Slowly pull the bar down behind your head until it touched the bottom of your neck. Return to the starting position.
Deadlifts off blocks: Stand on a block that is high enough to bring the top of your feet withing an inch and a half of your feet within an inch and a half of the bar. Do not do stiff leg deadlifts. Perform the regular deadlift and use your regular stance.
Lockouts: Done on power rack or with the plates resting on blocks. Lockouts can be done from any point. For this program start the bar between the middle and top of your knee.”
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