Conjugate Deadlift Training

My first post at this grand place. Elitefitness got incredibly stale after 2 months.

My question:

I like deadlifting. I have been deadlifting for over 6 months. I am 22. I weigh a mere 127 - 128 lbs. I am 5’ 8". I have worked my max up to around 350. I deadlift every 8 or 9 days.

I have been reading about the conjugate method, from an article by Westside.

It states that you deadlift only to check your progress, and instead, you do good mornings, ab work, and hamstring work.

Like I said, I like deadlifting. If I keep deadlifting every 8 - 9 days, and keep it low volume, like 2 sets of 5, am I risking anything? I have been branded to use good form, since i hurt my back a little, which took a week to heal. I also am aware of the ab tension which is crucial…blah blah…anyways, I believe I am not being a goon on the deadlift.

Should I do conjugate to reach higher states of the deadlift? Or just keep doing what I am doing?

I also do low volume front squats/back squats every 8 - 9 days…thus the squats and deadlifts are roughly 4 days apart. I don’t go too hard on the squats though.

I also do farmers walk on the deadlift day. That involves pick up the farmers around 5 - 6 times.

I also do bent over rows on alternating days.

I work out twice every 8 - 9 days.

Thank you for reading, and comments from wise ones are appreciated.

Couple things:

You’re pretty light, are you still making strength gains being that light?

You workout less than twice a week?

And in my experience it’s really unnecessary to deadlift so often.

Just get balls to the walls strong and keep your technique in check with speed pulls every now and then.

I do some form of pulling every week usually cycling off very couple of months. I tried the conjugate methods from wsb and my deadlift went in the toilet. There is something irreplaceable about doing the actual full rang movement. I think people put too much stock in conjugate training because they don’t know how to progress with lighter weight. People are afraid to dip below that magical 90% threshold. linear progression with submaximal weight works great on improving your deadlift. And MasterNinja, as far as working out twice every 8 days, that seems kind of low? What type of progress are you making on that type of schedule?

I didn’t deadlift (well, unless you count using the trap-bar) for 15 weeks back in the summer/fall because I wanted to experiment with that. At the beginning I pulled 390 and after 15 weeks I pulled 465. Exactly 5 pounds per week without straight-bar deadlifting. My exercise rotation was:

Straight-Bar Deadlift
Box Squat
Front Squat
Trap-Bar Deadlift
Box Squat
Straight-Bar Deadlift

On my heavy day I worked up to a max single or double (front squat), dropped the weight about 10% and did sets with that until I couldn’t get any more. Typically that was 2-5 more sets, depending on the exercise, then I did some ab work and that was it. On my lighter day I did a heavy posterior chain (good mornings usually), lighter posterior chain (back extension usually) and a single-leg lift (bulgarian squats usually). 6-12 reps, working up to an all-out set, then dropping the weight a little, as I did on the heavy day. Typically 2-3 sets were done, then finished with some ab work.

So not really the Westside plan, but I don’t think I have the same work capacity yet, so I needed less volume and a way to regulate it as well. Poliquin talked about something similar to that recently. Obviously I am not super-advanced, so perhaps I could’ve made the same progress with another method, but that is how conjugate(ish?) training worked for me.

I am making relatively good progress. For about 5 - 6 weeks, I have a weight that I can do 5 reps for, and every workout, I try to get one more rep, until I hit 7. Then I up the weight to where I can only do 5. Simple progression.

I do this on deadlift, squat, military press, weighted ring pushups/dips, and pull up.

Then, after that 5 or 6 weeks, I’ll do either singles, doubles or triples, and try to get those up a rep or 2, then go back to the 5 rep training. I’ll do this for 2 weeks or so.

95% of the time, I progress. Only time I don’t is when I don’t rest enough.

For example:

Monday: deadlift - chain pushup - power clean -farmers walk


saturday: military press - squat - pull up

I am trying not to overtrain my shoulders and my back.

Actually, it is twice a week…I just deadlift every 8 - 9 days.

It works well.

In between I’ll just walk or do hill sprints if I feel up to it, possibly wood chopping.

Im just trying not to overdo it.

Thanks for the replies, any further advice is much appreciated.

Trying not to overdo it on your shoulders and back?

Do you have serious old injuries on them?

It sounds like you barely train.

You won’t overtrain if you eat and rest more.

Sorry if this sounds like an attack but it just seems like you’re not really using your time effectively.

Even the guys that advocate less is more would say to do like 3 days a week.

could you tell me your basic routine?

I have read that hitting shoulders more than twice a week, especially for strength, is not wise.

no attack taken, haha.

constructive criticism is good.

Some considerations on “conjugate training.” 1) take into account your training age: a younger age equals a concurrent (using special exercises in a simple regime) approach to build GPP and well rounded skill-strength.

An older age equals a conjugate approach around the skill itself while utlizing progressive methods of training (using special methods utlizing the skill/lift itself).

  1. take into account strength deficit. A larger deficit would indicate an approach where heavier loads must be repeated. A smaller deficit would indicate a more explosive approach. An acceptable defeicit 15-20% indicates a hybrid approach in which different methods can be utilized.

A few thoughts–

  1. You’re really light. I mean, REALLY light for your height. I think you should gain mass, but as long as you are making strength gains, you don’t have to take that advice. If you are not gaining strength, you will absolutely need to gain muscle, as you are probably not a freak in the superlight weightclass like some athletes.

  2. I make a lot of good progress with pulling 1 or 2 times, sometimes even 3+ times a week. A lot of people make progress doing Trinsey’s and elitefts’s thing–no straight deadlifting for extended periods of time. I love it, I don’t want to live without it, even if I can make progress that way. I don’t feel comfortable that way. If there ever comes a time when I have to stop pulling weekly in order to gain strength, I’ll do it. But until that day, I love me some deadlifts. It’s really workable either way. Personal preference. So no! you won’t lose anything by pulling every 8 days.

  3. In order to progress without pulling for weeks or months on end, you need to have a firm mastery of technique and be able to feel the groove. Otherwise you’ll lose the ability to efficiently pull by letting the DL sit out of your training for a couple months.

Also, you need to have a firm command of how to address your weak points/muscles in the lift. AND you must never lose sight of those weaknesses and training them throughout the months. If you get distracted or lose sight of what you are doing, you will regress fast! Also, you have to know HOW to attack said weak points/muscles. Without that knowledge you’ll probably regress as well.

  1. I echo above poster’s feelings–You don’t seem to be training very hard. Following is my current training, pretty much WSB template suited to fit my needs/wants. Even if you don’t pull every week, you’re still on the low side of undertraining. Also, YOU HAVE TO EAT A TRUCKLOAD to be able to handle increased volume–even without gaining weight. You have to be able to recover from the workouts. It’s not a matter of overtraining at your weight–it’s undereating. Unless you have some serious prior injuries.

Keep in mind my goal is to STAY in the present weightclass (198 lb), and not move up. The only real difference for me between cutting and gaining is calories, and maybe some GPP/strongman stuff on off days. My current focus is on bettering squat.


ME box squat–work up to 1RM in 6-8 sets. Make sure to have at least 3 pulls at 90% 1RM or higher (including successful PR attempts)

Heavy Supports 120-125% 1RM held for 10, 15, and 20 seconds

Olympic squats 3-5 sets of 5 reps, maybe a top single if I feel good

Dimel Deadlifts 4 sets of 6 reps (1 warmup set)

45 degree weighted back extension 3x8-10

heavy incline abs–about 3 sets of 5-8
a couple sets of side bends

Wed. ME Upper

ME bench variation–work up to 1 or 3 RM

db lat rows-- work up to 2 heavy sets of 5 or more, usually takes 6-7 sets x 5 reps
****(sometimes bent barbell row instead, for 4-6 sets)

A1) Overhead neutral grip db press–3-4 x of 6-8

A2) Pull-ups 3-4 sets, just short of failure

Dips–2-3 sets of 8-12

some lighter ab work or heavier oblique work

Thurs. HSS-100 ARMS

It pains me to say I now have an arm day. I haven’t had one in 4+ years, and made great progress. I just came realization I probably could use some more work on them. I really don’t know why I decided to do it, I don’t really need it. But it’s working for me to actually have training partners one day a week, and I’m still getting stronger. This is the first day to be dropped during a down/recovery week.

5x5 barbell curls
5x5 close grip bench
superset 1 compound and 1 isolation bicep exercise 4x6-8
specialty bicep 3x8
set of 100 reps

superset tricep 1 compound/1 isolation 4x6-8
specialty tricep 3x8
set of 100 reps

Fri. DE Lower

DE box squat + usually add chains. 3 week wave from 55%-66% 1RM 8-10 sets x 2 reps. 45sec rest or so. Quick.

DL from deficit 3x5 after warmup, working up in weight

natural GHRs 4x 6-8

pull-throughs 3-4x6-8

incline abs 3x6-8 reps
side bends 2-3x5 heavy

Sun. DE/RE Upper

A1) DE or RE incline bench 8x3 or 4x8
A2) incline low trap shrugs, dumbell 4x8-12
B1) cable rows 3x12 or so
B2) tricep pushdowns
C1) lat pulldowns or pull-ups, depends on how I feel
C2) 10-2 low trap raises, dumbell. 3x8

That is my training to stay in my same weightclass.


Mon–deadlift - chain pushup - power clean -farmers walk
Sat.–military press - squat - pull up


Really appreciate that lengthy post. And your routine is a good idea, one of a few I have thought about, but forgot about. The dynamic effort/max effort thing seems good. I may try that, but as far as undertraining…I must disagree. I forgot to add one other detail.

On my training days, I just workout throughout the day. It usually ends up being twice in one day.

I will definetely be deadlifting as usual, though.

Two thoughts here_

Never underestimate the value of of simply squatting to improve you DL. Of course, this is especially helpful if your squat style is similar to your deadlift style. But, even if it is not, there should be sigificant carryover.

I believe a strong upper back has a lot to do with how much your squat progress carries over to DL progress. If your squat is blowing up and your pull is stagnant, hit heavy BB rows, DB rows, shrugs, pull-ups/lat pulls, T-bar rows for a while.

Okay, so let me get this straight. You are a young lifter who likes to deadlift. You have been following a program that has, to this point, resulted in your ability to deadlift over two and a half times you bodyweight.

Said program has you hitting relatively low volume, yet you are reporting continued results. Am I missing something(ha) ?

Now you are not sure about the viability of the program that got you the results in the first place?(ha again) We should all be so lucky!

Just kidding there shadow warrior. Seriously, you have received some great responses that should put your mind at ease.

If the dead is what moves you and what you want to target or specialize in, then there is a lot to be said for specificity in training.

Particularly at your age. Remember that in core lifts, there’s more being developed than just direct musculature. Joint strength, flexibility, connective tissue, neural response… all these and much more are benefiting (and need to do so) from the training effect. Not to mention the benefit of honing technique/set-up.

I echo the previous post in that the conjugate has a VERY valuable place with the appropriate niche of lifters. This will undoubtably be you in some time. As for now, keep pullin’ smart.

From the sounds of it, you have a great deal of potential. This potential will be realized with more mass/BW. Particularly if you can continue to increase your core strength proportionally

Yield Not!

[quote]Master Ninja wrote:
could you tell me your basic routine?

I have read that hitting shoulders more than twice a week, especially for strength, is not wise.

no attack taken, haha.

constructive criticism is good.[/quote]


Monday: Max Effort Squat

Max effort lift.
Pos Chain.
Low back

Tuesday: Repeated Effort Bench

Max Reps on Flat Bench, Close grip bench, or flat dumbbell bench for 3 sets.
Heavy chest work

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Repeated effort squat day.

20 rep squats
Unilateral lift
Assistance work.

Friday: : Max Effort Bench

Max effort bench lift.
Tricep work
Upper back.

Saturday: Sled work and GPP

Sunday: off

My max effort bench day is really more of a tricep day than a heavy shoulder day, my RE bench day hits the shoulder and chest more.

But the repeated effort is for mass, I’m a fan of it. I’ve been putting on a lot of mass lately since I switched over to RE instead of dynamic work.

I have my rep schemes go in periodization fashion.

Week 1 is low reps, week 2 is medium, and week 3 is high.

On every 4th week I deload and do olympic lifts and total body 3 times a week to give my body time to recover and rest.

I get about 8.5 hours of sleep every night and another 2 hour nap almost everday.

I eat over 5000 calories on work out days.

Overtraining is something beginners who don’t know how to eat, sleep and deload get.