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Deadlift Advice for Starting Strength Program


Hey all,

I'm 34 and was very athletic in my teens and college..... and then more or less tried to "maintain" for the next 10 years. "Maintain"means on and off exercise, staying somewhat bulky, but putting on an average of 5lbs / year from 200 lbs at age 22 to 255 at 34. OK time to hit RESET.

I started Rippetoe's "starting strength" program and it's going great. The reason I realized I was a "beginner" was that my 1 rep max deadlift was 395, but I was in fear of getting stapled down by anything over 195 on squat (real full squats). On Rippetoe's program my 5x max squat has gone from 185 up to 280 in 5 weeks. My other lifts have gone up too, but by more like 20%, not 50%. My weight has stayed right at about 250, but my % fat is down from 33% to 27%. So far so good. The thing is, though, I simply don't have the energy to deadlift any real weight on the same day as I pust a 3x5 PR squat. I got really down about this - I know I could pull 405+ if I were fresh, but just yesterday I couldn't even get 315 off the ground because I was just so gone from squatting. I had to cut down to 285, which I did no problem, but was then pissed off because it was too easy. I'm pretty delighted with the program but feel like somehow I've got to change something to make the deadlift aspect work. Any suggestions?



If your diet and sleep are sub-par then make them better.

If they are fine then I would start adding creatine/protein or some "energy" drink for electrolytes and such. See if those help after a month or so of taking them. If not, then I don't know. You just might need to increase your body's ability to handle volume or just keep a seperate day for deadlifts.

Still its very weird that 3 sets of squats would get you so very tired. Along with some upper body exercize inbetween the squats and deadlifts its very weird.


Easy - don't deadlift on the same days as you squat. I'm not familiar with all the aspects of SS, but if I were you I would find a way to modify the program to do these lifts on separate days. DL's are very taxing if done properly with high enough weight, and should be done as close to the start of a workout session as possible assuming you are properly warmed up.


you are doing 1x5 deadlift rather than a max single - right? that is what the program asks for. what you can pull for 5 reps with minimal rest between (though i do a full reset otherwise my hips creep up) will of course be a lot lower than what you can pull for 1 rep.

similarly, what you can pull for 1x5 if the deadlift was before the squats will of course be different from what you can pull when you do your deadlifts last on a given day. that is cool, though, because you would find yourself squatting less weight if you did your deadlifts first.

just think what powerlifters might be able to pull if they hadn't done 3 squat attempts and 3 bench attempts already (plus the associated warm-ups).

are you progressing at all on your 1x5 deadlift?

different lifts can stall at different times (that is what i'm learning anyway). might still be beginners gains (linear progression) to be had on one more more lifts even though one or more lifts have stalled on the linear progression. reducing the weight increases can be one way of drawing out the linear progression for as long as possible. e.g., instead of a 5kg increase try a 2.5kg increase or even a 1kg increase.


The thing is, though, I simply don't have the energy to deadlift any real weight on the same day as I pust a 3x5 PR squat. I got really down about this - I know I could pull 405+ if I were fresh, but just yesterday I couldn't even get 315 off the ground because I was just so gone from squatting. I had to cut down to 285, which I did no problem, but was then pissed off because it was too easy.

This confuses me. What weight did you pull for the 1x5 the last time you trained (when your 3x5 squat was done with a lighter weight)? Yesterday you should have pulled just a little bit more - e.g., 5kg more or 2.5kg more or whatever. Why on earth did you cut the weight on your dead down to 285? Where does that stand in relation for the weight you pulled last time you trained deadlift? If 285 was too easy then that is good because you should be capable of adding 5kg or 2.5kg or whatever to it next time.

Am I failing to understand the problem or are you deviating from the Starting Strength program in some way??


i can do heavy triples squat/dead if deads are first, try that


move on to Texas Method or 5/3/1



IF your linear progressions have stalled then it is indeed time to move to another program for deadlifts.

I'm really puzzled on how all of a sudden out of the blue you are too tired to dead after your squatting and benching, though. I mean... that is the way things have been for the entire time you have been on the program, yeah??


Hey Alexus,

Thanks for the posts - I've only been on the program 5 weeks. I'm doing the program as close to as-written as possible - the only difference being that I'm not doing the gallon of milk a day thing, but am otherwise really focusing on quality high-protein nutrition. For the first few weeks my deadlift actually went down, and now they're going back up (slowly).

I am now making progress on deadlifts, but It's going up about 5 lbs per "A" session, meaning at the rate of 15 lbs every 2 weeks, whereas I'm putting on 20 lbs on my squat every week, so 40 lbs every 2 weeks. This seems weird - and I'm at the point now where my squat is about to cross my deadlift weight. I thought you're supposed to deadlift about 20% more than you squat! Maybe I just shouldn't worry about it I'm just concerned I"m getting out of balance or something........


hi. i'm doing starting strength, too :slight_smile:
my first love is olympic lifting but since i've never done starting strength i thought i should see about maxing out whatever linear progression might be found.
i'm not doing the gallon of milk a day thing, either, but trying to eat up my protein, and follow the program otherwise.

if you have been lifting a bit before starting starting strength then i think there is a bit of a problem in figuring out what weights one should start out the program with.

was that why your deadlift went down? because it took you some time to revise down the weights so you started out with weights that seemed appropriate for the program?

remember... the main point of starting strength is to draw out the linear progression (adding weight to the bar every single time you train) for as long as you can. if you start out barely being able to lift the weights for the required reps then that isn't so conducive to adding weight to the bar every single time you train. it sounds to me like you might have started out with asking too much from your deadlift weights. better to start with them feeling a bit easy and add weight every time you train... i think you end up lifting more that way (because you do still make some strength gains training with submaximal weights - especially if you work really hard on your form and on tightening up the appropriate things appropriately for every rep). hopefully you still have some neurological control / technique gains to be had, too, so even if you start out with a light deadlift you might (though the sheer number of reps you get to do over the weeks) end up someplace better with your deadlift than if you start out with too high an estimate and find very quickly you can't add weight each time.

how about picking a weight for them that feels like work if you work it (if that makes sense). of course it won't feel terribly hard... but then add weight every time you train them.

you might be built to squat rather than deadlift (e.g., relatively short limbs). or you might be cutting your squats high? you might have form issues on your deadlift. i don't know. vids would help. sounds like... you haven't been training your deadlift according to the program, though, with REDUCING the weight on them...