- Week 1: Work up to a 1RM, then do 3 sets of 10 reps with 70% of your max.
- Week 2: Sets of 3 up to a 3RM, then do 5–8 sets of 3 reps of rack pulls, with the bar set at mid-shin. Work up to just shy of a 3RM on this second movement.
- Week 3: Work up to a 1RM, then do 5–8 sets of 3 reps of deadlifts standing on a 4-inch block. Work up to just shy of a 3RM on this second movement
- Week 4 (Deload Week): 3 sets of 10 reps at NO MORE THAN 60% of your max.
Rest 2–5 minutes between sets
Romanian deadlifts | 3–6 sets | 8–12 reps | 2–3 mins. between sets
- 45-degree back extension | 3–5 sets | 8–12 reps | Bodyweight or light added weight OR 5 sets | 5–7 Reps | heavily weighted or band-resisted
- Leg curls (Or glute ham raises, if your gym has one)| 3–5 sets | 10 reps
- Standing weighted abs* | 100 total reps | As few sets as possible
* These are simply Kneeling Crunches done in a standing position. Be advised that the amount of weight one can use is limited by what they can actually get in position with.
The BIG DEADS program is designed to work in conjunction with your existing squat training protocol, and bring your deadlift to the next level. This four-week wave is designed to train the most common weak spots of the deadlift, as well as spark dramatic muscle growth in your posterior chain and upper and lower back.
In the first week of the block, the lifter first works up to a 1RM deadlift. After 2 or 3 light warm-up sets, the lifter should perform sets of 3 until he can no longer do so, then continue on with single-rep sets until he reaches his max for the day. After reaching his max, the lifter will drop the bar weight down to 70 percent of his max and complete 3 sets of 10 reps. Accessory work will follow.
In the second week of the block, the lifter first works up to a 3RM deadlift. After 2 or 3 light warm-up sets, the lifter should perform sets of 3 until he reaches his max for the day. After reaching his max, the lifter will move on to rack pulls, with the bar set at approximately mid-shin level and starting at approximately 80 percent of the lifter’s 1RM deadlift. As one of the most common sticking points for the deadlift is once the bar reaches the knees, overloading the portion of the range of motion where the lifter is weakest. This will serve two purposes: strengthening the part of the range of motion where the lifter’s leverages are worst, and building confidence by allowing the lifter to handle more than his 1RM through a limited range of motion. Again, accessory work will follow.
In the third week of the block, the lifter first works up to a 1RM deadlift. After 2 or 3 light warm-up sets, the lifter should perform sets of 3 until he can no longer do so, then continue on with single-rep sets until he reaches his max for the day. After reaching his max, the lifter will drop the weight down to approximately 50 percent, and begin working his way back up, while standing on a 4-inch block. Many lifters have issues with bar speed off the floor. By deadlifting while standing on a 4-inch block, the lifter is pulling over a longer range of motion. As a result, he will need to start the pull with greater speed off the floor in order to complete the lift. This additional speed will carry over to when the lifter is pulling from the floor. Again, accessory work will follow.
The fourth week of the block is a deload week intended to allow the lifter to recover from the previous week’s high-intensity lifts. Three sets of 10 reps are performed at no higher than 60 percent of the lifter’s max, with a focus on maintaining proper technique. Consider deload weeks to be a form of active recovery. On the deload week, the volume of assistance work should also be decreased slightly (for example, performing 2 sets of a given assistance lift rather than 3).
Accessory work will follow to strengthen the most important muscle groups for the deadlift: the posterior chain (Glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors) as well as the abs. Accessory lifts should be done heavy but shy of failure, with adequate recovery time between sets to perform maximally. Occasional training to failure is acceptable. However, training to failure on a regular basis will have detrimental effects on one’s maximal strength. Lifters who respond better to higher volumes of work should use sets and reps at the higher end of the ranges given. Do not skip or slack off on the assistance work. Because fewer movements are performed than in a traditional bodybuilding split, each should be given the fullest of your efforts.
For your warm-up, spend a few minutes on the stationary bike to increase blood flow to the muscles and increase synovial fluid in the joints. Start your warm-ups light for the first movement of the day, slowly increasing the weight. For an average person, 3 to 5 warm-up sets should be done before beginning the work sets of a main movement, and 1 or 2 before the first work set of each compound accessory movement.