Have you hit a plateau in your deadlift, and want to start gaining strength again?
Look no further than our deadlift program for powerlifting: Deadlift Disco.
Our own deadlift program is one of the most popular training programs in our workout app, and thousands of lifters have used it to hit new deadlift PR’s since we wrote it.
It is a six week, twice a week training program with two goals:
The Pilot Group Gained 10 kg (+6.9%) in 6 Weeks
In our pilot test, we recruited 25 resistance-trained men and women with an average deadlift of 2x bodyweight.
The average gain in strength was 10 kg (+6.9%) after six weeks, and 90% of participants increased their strength.
Average gains in 1RM:
- Men: from 184.1 kg to 195.5 kg (+11.4 kg)
- Women: from 126.6 to 136.1 kg (+9.5 kg)
The strongest deadlifter that has followed the program to date is Carl who increased his deadlift 1RM by 10 kg, from a massive 340 kg to an even more impressive 350 kg. (“Marklyft Mambo” is the Swedish name of this program)
Explanation of the Deadlift Program
Deadlift Disco is designed so that you can train it continuously for several cycles in a row, perhaps with a light deload week or two in between.
The number of sets, reps and the % of 1RM you use varies over the weeks, but here is a rough outline of what to expect.
Deadlift Workout #1
- Deadlift: 9–12 sets x 2–5 reps
- Romanian Deadlift: 2–5 sets x 8–12 reps
- Barbell Row: 4–6 sets x 8–12 reps
Deadlift Workout #2
- Pause Deadlift: 8–14 sets x 2–5 reps
- Good Morning: 2–5 sets x 8–12 reps
- Barbell Row: 4–6 sets x 8–12 reps
The breakdown of the program’s progression is this:
- The volume (in terms of sets of deadlifts) increases over the first few weeks and peaks in weeks 3 and 4, following an inverted U-shape. The final week, containing the max attempt, functions as a taper and a deload before the next cycle.
- The peak % of 1RM climbs from 80% of 1RM in week one to 102.5% (your new max attempt) in week 6.
- The average % of 1RM increases gradually over the course of the six weeks, from 69% of 1RM in the first few weeks, reaching 79% at most in week 6.
Here’s a visual representation:
The gist of the program is this:
- You start in a somewhat comfortable place and then gradually increase the volume and training weights from there, pushing your limits just enough to stimulate new gains.
- You finish the training cycle with a taper and a max attempt in week 6.
- If the program seemed productive to you, and you believe you will benefit from another cycle, increase your submitted 1RM and go through another cycle of training.
Explanation of the Deadlift Accessory Exercises in the Program
What purpose does the different accessory exercises serve in this deadlift program?
- Pause Deadlift. Perhaps the greatest deadlift accessory of all. These build your strength off the floor and teach you positional awareness in a critical part of the deadlift. You’ll learn which muscles can relax and which has to be tight.
- Romanian Deadlift. These add to your muscle mass in the glutes, hamstrings, adductors, and lower back while at the same time teaching you to keep a stiff core.
- Good Morning. Like Romanian deadlifts, these will teach you to maintain a tight core while strengthening key deadlift muscles. Compared to Romanian deadlifts, these emphasize your spinal erectors a bit more.
- Barbell Row. Lastly, you will be doing barbell rows in both workouts to strengthen your upper back. That includes your upper spinal erectors, rhomboids, and trapezius. Rowing in a bent-over position like this will further challenge your core stability in a position that closely mimics the starting position of a deadlift.
Advice for Making the Most of This Deadlift Program
- Enter an honest 1RM. When you start up the program in the workout app, make sure to enter your current 1RM, not your two years old personal record. Your 1RM is the maximum weight that you can currently pull for one rep.
- Easy on the squats. While you can certainly train squats while following this deadlift program, you should still mentally place them after deadlifts on your priority list. Maybe focus on maintaining your squatting strength or just increasing it slightly. This is a demanding deadlift specialization program that works best when you focus on deadlifting.
- Rest & recover. Any training program works better when you sleep and eat a lot. Make sure to get in bed in time, and eat in a slight caloric surplus. Perhaps aim to gain about 1–2 kg over the course of the six weeks.
- Lifting straps. There is a lot of pulling in this program, and your hands may take a toll. I recommend using lifting straps in up to 50% of all your deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and barbell rows in order to save your hands. Just make sure to do a number of the top deadlift sets without straps to keep your grip strength on par with the increased strength of the rest of your body.
Get the Training Program
You can find Deadlift Disco among the premium training programs in our workout log app StrengthLog.
While Deadlift Disco is a premium program, the app itself is free with unlimited logging and plenty of free training programs.
Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.
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