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Deadlift Volume Training


Hey all. After a few sessions with some pretty strong dudes it turns out my deadlift technique is solid. However my upper back is a weak link and my hams and glutes don't activate fully.

Essentially the problems are:

A) It's all in my mind. Instead of lifting the damn bar I THINK too much about the right technique and the right muscles to activate and what is wrong bla bla bla. Overthinking everything.

B) Every time I deadlift my back is always thrown into over extension because that's how I learned to deadlift. So now if ever my low back goes out of extension it FEELS like it's rounding even though it's not. I legit feel like quazimodo and yet everyone says my back is straight. Huh.

Ok, anyway, I have to throw some weight off the bar and do a lot of deadlifts to relearn how to deadlift now with proper back/posterior activation.

The question: What is an excellent way to throw volume onto a deadlift? I feel like 5x5 won't be enough. GVT? Ladder? Anyone have any experience with using heavy volume with deadlifts that worked for them? I guess I'm looking for a concrete template.


Jonnie Candito’s 6 week program has a lot of volume in the first few weeks. It mostly worked in sets of 6-8. I’d stick at around 75% and do sets of 8. Also throw in some accessory movements like pendlay rows and hyperextensions to help strengthen your back. Pendlay rows have REALLY helped my pull from about my knee up. Romanian deadlifts also helped. Just keep do what you’re doing, working with lighter weight, reinforcing the correct pattern. Stay in the higher rep ranges, I used to do sets of 20 with a really light weight to strengthen my lower back, making sure to dead stop every rep and perfect my form. Goodluck!!!

  1. Give us a video to comment on your concern over lockout position
  2. Frequency. Rather than trying to cram tons of volume in one workout, deadlift twice or three times a week.


Agreed on the frequency. Multiple sessions, training the right pattern a few times a week may be better than just doing 10 x10 in the deadlift on 1 day.

You could try Romanian deadlifts to learn to use your hams and glutes more. If you add bands to the bar, it gets more difficult to lock out at the top of an RDL. This really taught me to finish by pushing my glutes through instead of extending my back. The extra “weight” added by the bands makes you get the hips in and under. I got this from the power lifter Chris Duffin. He’s got a lot to say about glute activation, abdominal pressure and proper hip position if you’re interested.

My favorite lifts for upper back strength are bent rows and shrugs, but when I had my own over-extension problem it was difficult for me to set up for these exercises. I would always arch too hard over extend, and end up using my middle back/erectors to kinda heave the weight and take the stress of my upper back. Chest supported rows and seated rows on the cable helped. Really let the weight stretch you at the bottom, then use the upper back, not the lower and middle back to start the pull.

I’m not sure what first caused my to start to over extend my back, but when I started trying to fix it I leaned my obliques were really weak compared to my back and “front abs.” I tried sidebends and stuff, but 1 Arm Farmer’s Walks worked way better.

A template might look like

Medium Grip Pulldowns
Seated Cable Rows

1 Arm Farmer’s Walk
45 Degree Back Raise
Hanging Oblique Leg Raises

Romanian DL
Chest Supported Row

A. would be your deadlift day.
B. could be your warmup on an upper body day, just some abs and back raises to practice driving the hips/glutes.
C. you could just do your squat workout, and make sure to finish up with some RDL’s for hamstrings.