Best use of deadlift for a 47 year old?

Ok so I’m still a novice here, I have some deadlift questions.

For someone whose main goal is health, with hypertrophy as main secondary, how does deadlift best fit into a split? I really enjoy deadlift but am trying to figure out how to get the best of the benefits of it.

Do you do deadlift near the beginning of the workout or end?

How do you know when you’ve gotten sufficient stimulus? For example I can tell on bench press and squats when I’ve hit that proper stimulus. That magic point where anything beyond that just prolongs the recovery. Even with RDL this feels obvious to me.

With DL, I really have no idea. I don’t feel “it” with any one muscle. And usually my lower back is my bottleneck.

Should I maybe put DL near the beginning of the workout and do 2-3 sets of 10? Again I’m going for fitness here, and hypertrophy next. Not strength competition.

Or should I put it near the end and just DL sets until my lower back notifies me that it’s time to stop?

My usual Posterior day is;

  1. Calf raises 3-4 sets
  2. Back hyperextensions 2 sets
  3. RDL 3 sets
  4. Leg Curls 3-4 sets

How should I incorporate DL here?

My best DL is 315 x 4 reps and I had plenty gas in the tank for more reps except I felt fatigue in my lower back on that 4th rep, so I stopped out of caution.

Background story if you care:

In high school (1990s) I was cream of the crop on deadlift despite being mediocre everywhere else.

Been lifting for about 3.5 years now following a PPL split of some format.
When I returned to lifting at about 43, I went right back to DL and clearly went too hard with bad form b/c I’d get small muscle tears in my lower back. I gave up DL for a while and switched to RDL which worked wonderfully. Lately I’m slowly easing back in to DL just to see what gains I can get here. Just, not heavy such that I’m risking poor form and injury.

My current format for the past year is Push-Leg-Pull-Leg, with one leg day being quads/squats and the other being Posterior chain/RDL. Takes me usually more than a week to do this, my schedule is chaotic.

I don’t see deadlift fitting in with the goals listed, so now it’s simply a pet lift: something we do because we like it.

In that case, if doing a PPL split, I’d consider a separate day just for deadlift. 1 set, submax reps, get the lift in, practice it, and leave it alone.


IF I wanted to deadlft. I always like putting the main lift first. Then do the fluffy stuff.


Sometimes, romanian dead is better.


That makes sense. Never thought of a pet lift lol but instantly knew what you meant. That does sorta describe it for me. It’s hard not to want to do it for ego, especially seeing Hapthor lifting 1006 lb recently like it was a warmup rep. I know that’s not ever something I’ll achieve but still makes me want to see just how strong I can get safely.

To Flats Farmer’s point (perfect reference by the way), switching to RDL as the main Posterior exercise was probably the best change I’ve ever made. My Hams are noticeably bigger than 2 years ago when I first started doing them. Honestly they probably are my #1 “return on investment” and it’s solidly due to RDL and back hyperextensions.

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For general fitness consider trap bar. Context on me, about to turn 49, my best conventional DL was 500 many years ago. Low back is issue now. Anyway… transitioned to trap bar high handle mostly. Builds strength endurance for me. Every now and then switch to conventional low reps to itch the need. Hasnt created further low back pain and get that ‘heavy’ lift in.


Considering your goals, I’m voting with this guy.

You need a hip hinge in there somewhere. RDLs are a good fit. You need to learn to properly brace and hinge at the hip. Best way to visualize the hinge is to think about closing a car door with your butt.

If you you really feel like you have to pick something up heavy off the floor to feel more manly, it’s safer to use a trap bar.


I completely understand. It was my best lift when powerlifting competitively by a large margin.

I believe it is important to have an exercise that excites you to look forward to going to the gym. One that you excel in doing. One that gives you positive feedback.

First: when in my 40’s I placed the deadlift with my Back Day (Monday, which included Chest))

But apart from that, since you love the deadlift, I would focus on that lift (first exercise), doing sets of 4 reps one week and sets of 10 reps the next week (rotating each week). Do this until you plateau.

Then drop the deadlift for a while. I liked to do hanging cleans as a good “not get weaker on deadlift exercise” (but I did those on shoulder days.)

I never considered having a “Posterior Day.” So, my suggestion is to drop that, but I understand why you want to keep it.

I should say that my body part focus to improve was legs. It was my lagging body part. I did legs on Wednesday and that included the entire leg. There was a day rest before legs and a day rest after legs. I mention this because I needed to place deadlifts at least a rest day before legs as I knew the lower back and hamstring/glute contribution involved in the deadlift would adversely impact my squat capability.


Secret Old Guy RPE Deadlift scheme

Week 1: RDL, 5 sets of 10, working up to an RPE 8 or “tough” set
Week 2:RDL, 5 sets of 5 with a pause at knees, working up to RPE 8
Week 3: RDL 6 sets of 3 reps with 5 count eccentric, working up to RPE 9
Week 4: No deadlift

Week5: Deadlift 5 sets of 8 reps, working up to RPE 8
Week 6: Deadlift 5 sets of 8 reps with 3-3 tempo, work up to RPE 8
Week 7: Deadlift 5 sets of 5 reps with 3-1-3 tempo, work up to RPE 9
Week 8: no deadlift

Week 9: Stiff Leg Dead from Blocks, 6 sets of 5 reps working up to RPE 8
Week 10: Stiff Leg Dead, 6 sets of 5 reps, 3 count eccentric, up to RPE 8
Week 11: Stiff Leg Dead, 6 sets of 5 reps, up to RPE 9
Week 12: no dead

Basically, use the RDL to perfect your hinge. Then do some deads because they’re cool, but uses pauses and slow eccentrics to keep the weight down and the mass producing tension up. Then move to “stiff leg deads” (or RDLs lifted from the floor) to keep up the “dead” lifting because its cool, while using less weight to make it easier on your lower back.


I’m 50 and think these types of thoughts as well. Good advice here already.

In addition to the above advice (RDL’s, trap bar), I also suggest KB swings done for hip hinge volume. These can even be done for strength when you add resistance bands (you might need to youtube that if you aren’t familiar), but even if done traditionally are highly effective. These keep you strong and fit without the wear and tear of barbell deadlifts.

I also like Dan John’s barbell DL scheme on his Minimalistic plan, which can be done at the beginning of a workout. Do 5 sets of 2, with increasing weights. Work up to a heavy (but not grinding) double. Then get the volume with the trap bar, RDLs, or swings.


Gents, this is great stuff. I just got out of the gym (chest/shoulder day) so as I rest this evening I’ll read all these in better details. I already see some great advice.

I always do main lift first.

As stated by others, stiff leg/rdl is a good choice considering your goals. Also consider rack pulls for higher reps.

The older I get the more I like the idea of “underloading.” Make a movement deliberately harder but drop the weight down. So for instance, instead of doing heavy deadlifts drop the weight and do snatch grip, a deficit, or sumo with chains, or a barbell hack squat etc. The idea being less stress on your CNS and easier recovery while still getting good work in. Obviously your lift choice is dependent on your mobility.


When I was younger and focused on improving my powerlifting total, I always put the main lift first. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have come to appreciate the advice of putting the main lift in the middle or at the end of the workout. Doing less taxing exercises first gets everything loose and feeling better – a little bit like extending the warmup – and I’m better prepared for whatever the main lift for the day is.


Yeah that’s what I typically do anyhow and I have basically 0 joint pain or issues.

I like doing Isolations first to pre-fatigue the target muscles, which means lighter weight on the big compound, less chance of tearing a weaker stabilizer type muscle. So far that’s worked well for me.

The only exception is leg curls. I have to be REALLY warmed up for those otherwise I’m risking horrendous ham cramps. I think it’s a nerve issue, they can hit out of nowhere if I do any sort of full contraction on the Hams.

I can do hip hinge all day long (hyperbole here) without getting a ham cramp, but can get it from 1 single set of leg curls.

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