T Nation

Deadlift Struggle! Peaking and Recovery Advice

Hey! I just repeated the failure that happened a couple of months back with my deadlift.
My training for almost the whole year has looked like this for squats, bench, and deads:

Monday - Heavy Squat, Heavy Bench, Rep Deads
Friday - Heavy Deads, Rep Bench, Rep Squat

It’s an 8 week cycle - heavy days taper from 4x4 to 1x1 with increasing weight. Rep days the weight goes down whilst sets and reps go up. It has been working incredibly well and I’ve been hitting projected maxes spot on throughout the year.

However, last time (my first competition) I had a problem with the deadlift. The program has me pull my previous PR for a single on week 8, which is supposed to be up to 2 weeks out from a meet where I will shoot for a new PR. It is supposed to feel easy, with the possibility for extra reps and boost confidence for the meet. It has worked this way for squat and bench very well every time.

On the last cycle, I pulled my PR for 5 reps 10 days out and couldn’t get a 95% opener on meet day. Chalked it up to recovery time. This time I went for 16 days and the same thing happened again. I pulled my PR for 5 reps 16 days ago and couldn’t pull 95% today. Granted, those last heavy pulls don’t have squats before like they do in a meet.

Just wondering what I should change up. I’m thinking I need to deadlift less often, but even then I feel like I need to do something to adjust the peaking. Not sure how. I know if I had tried 16 days ago I could have pulled a new PB of around 107% which is what I was aiming for today (and succeeded, in squat and bench).

Cheers for any advice!

I can’t pull heavy at all before a meet. 95% for a single 3 weeks out and done. Deadlifting kills. Even in training I only pull heavy off blocks and 80% of the time I never go over 405 for speed.

I haven’t tried this much, but last meet my last two deadlift workouts were reverse bands and I pulled a PR.

I think this helps with recovery and you still get the feeling of a heavy weight in your hand at the top.

I don’t remember the exact loads, but I think the workouts were 2-3 doubles with my second attempt on the bar going from reverse light bands to reverse mini bands.

Thanks! Yeah, I’m guessing I would have been best off sticking to the lighter triples etc that I was running before lifting my old max in the last weeks. Whilst recovery week to week has been fine, seems that last single can really ruin things!
That program looks interesting. Incredibly tame compared to the %s I’ve been working with. But results are results, I’ll give it a go!

Since deadlifts are so taxing on your body, you might want to consider heavy singles in place of repping out your previous max (like that deadlift program suggested above). Go by how it feels and the bar speed rather than weight. If you end up only working up to 90% for singles but the reps are faster (e.g., the bar speed improved by 30%) then you hit a PR because you increased your power output for that weight which likely means you’re stronger. I’m only referring to power output at heavy weights (85+%) and not light weights (<70%) since power output at light weights might not have a high correlation with maximal strength. Remember that training PRs can be judged by the quality of the attempt in addition to the actual weight being lifted.

You only need to work up to a weight heavy enough that it prepares you for heavy lifting at the meet. If working up to 90-95% is enough to prime you for a PR two weeks down the road, then why go any heavier when hitting a PR before the meet doesn’t actually matter. If I were you then I would stick to the same program that has been working and only change the work for that last heavy session before the meet. Keep up the good work! Hitting a PR for 5 reps after only 2 months is damn impressive.

I think you’re just not used to lifting in pre-fatigued state. In training you have three full days of recovery before pulling, whereas in a meet it’s a full day of heavy lifting. Hopefully tou hit PRs in squat and bench, which will take a big toal on your body. If you miss a lift or two it becomes even worse. Try putting your heavy pulling at the end of your seasion. That way you will have more realistic view on your deadlift strenght, and in time your body will adapt to pulling while tired. Because I highly doubt that you need more than two weeks rest before meet

In one program I ran I needed at least 2-3 weeks of recovery after hitting a PR for a lower body lift at the end of a training cycle where I accumulated maximum fatigue. My upper body recovers a lot faster from PR attempts. I still trained during the recovery weeks but there’s just no way I would be able to repeat that PR within that time.

If I did a peaking cycle where I tapered off the volume before hitting a PR then it would take less time to fully recover. Running a lower volume program like 5/3/1 wouldn’t take that long to recover either. It just depends on the volume and intensities the OP was using leading up to the max attempt and meet, and also his recovery abilities.

Thanks guys great advice! Looking forward to seeing what happens this time around - if I do it right I should smash it as that PR was set so long ago compared to my squat/bench