Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for many reasons.
If you are a PowerLifter then deadlifts are a must because it’s part of your sport.
If you are an athlete deadlifts are a must because it’s a pure strength exercise.
If you are looking to pack on muscle deadlifts are in my opinion the top exercise for a strong thick back.
Now that we have established that deadlifts are good for you we get to the important question.
How Often Should You Deadlift?
Over my years of competing and lifting I have done varying programs where I would deadlift sometimes once a week, sometimes three times a week.
Unlike squats and bench presses you really have to watch how often you deadlift because out of all the lifts, the deadlift is the one that really takes it;’s toll on you physically and mentally. A lot of PowerLifting programs can have someone deadlift and bench up to three times a week and they can handle this, but try to deadlift three times a week and you are going to be in a world of hurt.
The best way to do this is to always pay attention to YOUR own recovery. Some people can deadlift heavy once a week, some people can only handle heavy every 10-14 days. This is going to depend on your own recovery system, the amount of weight used, and also your RPE (rate of perceived exertion). If your deadlift session is a go all out session heavy as possible (not smart) your RPE is a 9-10, and this will take longer to recover than a RPE7-8 session.
If you only deadlift once every 7-10 days your technique will feel rusty.
On another note deadlifting sumo twice a week can take it’s toll on your hips (trust me I have learned by ding this and it’s not fun).
Here is a great way to work around this. Add in a lighter “technical” day for deadlifts or a speed day.
Technical Deadlift Day
When adding in a technical day you can work on doing a day where you just work on technique, nothing heavy 50-65% of your 1 RM and really dial in form.
You could also add in paused deadlifts or block pull deadlifts.
Again these should not be heavy.
Speed Deadlift Day
You would use about 50-65% of your 1RM and work on something like 5 sets of 3 reps fast or you could also do interval deadlifts where you would do one deadlift every minute onthe minute for 10-15 minutes, giving you 10-15 reps.
This is a great way to get in another deadlift session without taxing your body. This could help you improve recovery, refine your speed and technique and also give you a fun deadlift workout that won’t interfere with your heavy day.
Note : I think it’s wise to mix both sumo and conventional. I am a sumo puller but I felt my healthier and strongest when I also pulled conventional once a week. It helped my hips and gave them a break and I think it’s a great option for building more muscle in the upper back and hamstrings. Be sure to mix up your pulling and do both.
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Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.