Doing the greatest exercises should produce the greatest results, right? Well, in theory, the answer is yes. But in practice this is not always the case. You see, some exercises are so effective at recruiting a maximal amount of motor units and for allowing maximal loading that they are difficult to recover from.
Do them too frequently, too intensely or with too much volume and you are sure to overtrain, get nowhere or worse yet, get injured. In other words, the most effective exercises, done incorrectly, will lead to the worst results.
The worst offender of this counterintuitive law is the bent knee deadlift. Although, I usually prefer to keep things simple, giving you the ultra basic advice of deadlifting hard, heavy and weekly will certainly not produce sustainable results.
So what should we do? Do we cut deadlifts out of our routine?
Definitely not! Deadlifts done with the proper parameters can contribute to muscle hypertrophy, pulling strength and performance better than any other exercise out there. Here’s how to take advantage of the deadlift’s awesome benefits while staying fresh and healthy:
1) Never go to failure on the deadlift. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t recommend going to failure on any exercise. Some exercises are definitely more forgiving than others if you happen to break that rule, but the deadlift is not one of them. In fact, even going near failure on deadlifts can result in so much central nervous system (CNS) fatigue that progress can be stopped dead in its tracks. This can happen even if just one set is performed too intensely.
2) Don’t utilize progressive overload for more than 3-4 consecutive weeks with the deadlift. Trying to increase the weight each week on deadlifts will only work for 3-4 weeks. After that, you will notice a DECREASE in strength. This is a very demoralizing fact and one that can be easily avoided. The next point shows us how.
3) Alternate between strength and speed each program. This is the key to deadlifting success. Each program should last between 3-4 weeks. After deadlifting heavy (focusing more on grinding strength) for a 3-4 week program, it is time to back off from the grinding loading parameters and instead emphasize bar speed and technique for the next 3-4 week training phase. Here are effective deadlift speed guidelines for you to follow:
Take 50% of the top weight used during the previous phase and perform 10 sets of 1 rep with it. Rest 30 seconds in between sets.
Take 55% of the top weight used during the previous phase and perform 8 sets of 1 rep with it. Rest 40 seconds in between sets.
Take 60% of the top weight used during the previous phase and perform 6 sets of 1 rep with it. Rest 50 seconds in between sets.
Week Four (If you are following a 3 week program, you would obviously be starting a new program this week.)
Take 65% of the top weight used during the previous phase and perform 5 sets of 1 rep with it. Rest 60 seconds in between sets.
After your speed work is completed, feel free to do assistance exercises, but no heavy bent knee deadlifts are to be performed during this phase. Continue to alternate between phases of strength and speed, and instead of hitting frustrating plateaus, you’ll be hitting new PR’s!
Stay tuned for part two, where I will be putting an end to the controversy about which type of bent knee deadlift is the most effective.
Dedicated to your success,