Training Advice For A Bigger Deadlift

In this article I answer a question from Carl. I get asked this question about a 1,000,000 times a day!

So it should help you help you out….

***QUESTION from Carl***

“Andy, Could you give me a good deadlift routine and any tips on how to get my grip stronger?”



I’m not a big fan of writing general routines out rep for rep, set for set; when I know nothing about the person asking the question.

I know certain magazines that make a ton of money dishing out routines every week that supposedly add 300 pounds to your Deadlift in 5 minutes or put 30 pounds of muscle on your frame in 30 days; but by and large these programs are as likely to work as you are likely to look outside your window right now and see a flying pig!

Choose who you listen to wisely and remember that:

“Success Leaves Clues”

With that said, I can tell you some things you should definitely be doing in order to get your Deadlift STRONGER.

For starters, you’re going to have to do some Deadlifting!


Well, lately I’ve seen a ton of guys trying to make their Deadlift go up by avoiding Deadlifting and using assistance work and special exercises instead.

I think this is a road to frustration and a good plan requires some Deadlifting, some variations of your regular Deadlift style (eg Rack Pulls) AND some sensible assistance work..

Remember the principle of S.A.I.D at all times.

This stands for ‘Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands’ and was a term used by Ivan Abadjiev
to describe how he trained his Bulgarian Weightlifters when they were the most dominant force in World Weightlifting.

By dominant I’m talking 9 Olympic Champions and something insane like 50 to 60 World and European Champions, (from a country with a population less than that of London or NYC).

What S.A.I.D basically meant was that you get good at what you spend your time doing. So…

If you wanna pull big, the most important thing you must do in your training is pull! ie… do some Deadlifting.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that we should all stop doing everything but the competition exercises and
start using only 5 exercises in our training like Abadjiev had his athletes do.

No, I think that plan is too extreme and it broke a lot more lifters than it made. Abadjiev didn’t care though; he wanted world champions and if he dam near had to kill 100 guys to find 1 star, so be it.

I think the average guy needs a much more balanced approach to his training. You must know why you are training.

Have 3 or 4 lifts that you are trying to master and spend 70 to 80% of your time working those lifts or variations of those lifts.

Then spend 20 to 30% of your time on carefully chosen assistance exercises that bring up your weaknesses and help you avoid injury.


Deadlifting And Deadlift Variations


So, if you are trying to get stronger on your pull make Deadlifting the first thing you do in your session and perform the style you are trying to get stronger on at least some of the time.

That probably means, either pull conventional or Sumo from the floor, with straight weight, some of the time.

On other training sessions you may use special Deadlifts to work on your particular weaknesses. For example, if you
are weak off the floor you may want to try Deficit Deadlifts.

To do this, stand on a 1, 2 or 3″ mat and pull from there.

On the other hand, if you are weak at lockout, you may want to do some Rack Pulls (or block pulls ) to overload the top end.

To do this, set up the pins in a power rack to the height you wish to pull from and Deadlift from the pins. (I use this a
lot myself and usually pull from just below knee height).

Another Deadlift option to use is speed pulls. You can use Bands and Chains if you like, although I reserve these for my Squat and Bench training.

Bands and Chains can develop a lot of speed and lockout power, but don’t forget: You have to separate the bar from the floor… so don’t overdo a good thing.

When Deadlifting you should do the following most of the time:

– keep your reps between 1 to 5

– make sure every rep starts from the same position

– mix things up to avoid boredom… pull from the floor, pull from blocks, do speed work. Occasionally have a weak off if you are tired.

Once you’ve Deadlifted, move onto assistance work. This should focus on the Hamstrings, Glutes, Back and Grip

Here are some options:


Assistance Exercises For A Bigger Deadlift


You should remember that the most important muscles for a big pull are also the most important muscles for a big SQUAT (Hammies, Glutes and Back).

So if you choose your assistance exercises carefully you will get more ‘bang for your buck’.

Here are some of the best:

– Glute Ham Raises

– Leg Curls

– Band Leg Curls

– Reverse Hypers

– Good Mornings

– Pull Throughs

– Kettlebell Swings

– Barbell Glute Bridge

Experiment with lots of different assistance exercises and find out what rep ranges work for you.

You may also want to perform some single leg work such as Reverse Lunges or Bulgarian Split Squats.

And of course train the abs hard. Use Side Bends, Full Contact Twists, Pull Down Abs and anything else that you find works for you.

Switch up your assistance exercises every 3 to 6 weeks or when progress stops.

Putting it all together. A simple way to plan a Deadlift

1. Deadlift Variation

2. Hamstring/Lower Back/Glute Exercise

3. Single Leg Exercise

4. Ab Exercise

5. Calf Exercise (optional)

One final thing to talk about. And it’s the thing NOBODY agrees on….


Grip Training


Ok, here’s what I know. Those Hand Grippers get your grip strong but don’t carry over much to Deadlifting.

Pinch Gripping, Fat Bar Work and Shrugging movements are what I have found makes my hands strong as hell for Deadlifting.

There’s a ton of ways to set these movements up. Try some new things out for yourself and find out what works for you.

Try timed holds for 5, 10 or 20 seconds. Try low reps and high reps. Try a couple of sets or 8 sets. Mix things up and continuously change the stimulus very few weeks to avoid boredom.


What it takes to Deadlift BIG


It takes a few things to Deadlift big.

A well thought out training plan is one. Do some Deadlifting and some assistance work. Do what you SUCK at, not what you’re good at. That takes courage and honesty to do, but it works. Over time these thing pay off.

Remember this:

“If you live life the easy way it ends up hard and if you live life the hard way it ends up easy”

(I’d love to give credit to whoever first came up with that gem of a quote but I can’t remember the dam name of the guy).

Moving on…

Get a good mind-set. It definitely takes a certain attitude to pull big.

Find yourself some training partners who like pulling and who are better than you. This will accelerate your strength
gains faster than anything else I know.

If you really want to pull big you must avoid those guys who love to Squat and Bench but treat the Deadlift as an  afterthought. There’s plenty of them around. Just check the record books for proof. Squat and Bench records change frequently, but Deadlift records can stick around for years.

Above all else, NEVER give up.

Until next time,

Andy Bolton