T Nation

Development W/ Only DL's & Presses?


Hello. I have made a similar post elsewhere on this site, but I realised this forum is the better location for this particular question.

Does anyone think that it would be possible to become extremely strong and muscular throughout your entire body while performing just deadlifts and overhead presses? Just those two exercises.

Would this lead to an unbalanced physique? How unbalanced would it be?



Well let's see. You'd be strong in the ass, hammies, low back, delts/traps, and possibly triceps. Everywhere else would be weak and overwhelmed by the progression in those two lifts.


Let me be the first to ask: Why would you limit yourself to only those two exercises?


Sounds like you've been reading Pavel's PTP. Short answer: Yes, absolutely. I've done several of the workouts on this site--mostly Waterbury's and got stronger and more muscular using the "panty-sniffer's" deadlift and 1-arm barbell side press only. Be sure to cycle the weights--i.e. start light and work up over 10-20 workouts. I did add a few exercises--bicep curls, pull-ups and bench press--throughout.

The 1-arm barbell press will get strange looks in the gym but has incredible carryover to push press and military press. Went from a 130 1RM on push press to 190 in < 1 year after doing just 1-arm presses.

If you haven't already, I'd STRONGLY recommend buying 'Power to the People' by Pavel. Remember--heavy but not too heavy, lift often, leave a few reps in the bank and cycle the weights. Best of luck.


I'm now training in my garage, so the only exercises I can perform are those which require just the bar and plates.

It won't be possible for me to fit in a squat rack or a bench in the garage (long story, but basically, cars park in there too, and since I don't own the house/garage, I can't demand that I have the room for more than just the bar and plates).

Any other good exercises with just the bar and plates? The floor's concrete, so I can't drop the bar, so I don't want to do explosive lifts like the Olympic lifts.

Thanks for all comments.


I actually have never read Pavel's writings. It is just coincidence; the reason I ask about doing just those two exercises is because I can't do that much more with just the bar and plates. Perhaps curls as well, but I actually don't like them very much.

Any other good exercises? There are no suitable facilities for dipping or chinning, although come to think of it, perhaps I can try doing dips with a couple of chairs facing back-to-back.


Well just with the bar and plates you can do front squats, hack squats, lunghes, 1 legged squats, bent over rows, floor presses. And being in a garage if the beams are open you could likely figure out away to do chin/pull ups on the beams.


I second all of this. As noted in another post, you can also do floor presses etc.

As for the idea that deadlifts don't strengthen your upper back and abs, as another poster suggested, that is crazy. Heavy deads will smoke almost every muscle in your body, except those primarily involved in pressing. Overhead press takes care of them.


PS you should try this for six months and evaluate the results. I'm willing to bet you won't get smaller and weaker! Just get on with it.


Yes, you are right. The time for talk is over; the time for action is nigh.

I'll stick to deadlifts and presses, whether every day or just every second day or whatever, and just see how much stronger I become in six months. Like you said, I won't become any weaker.

Thanks for your practical advice!


You're welcome. Just remember to give due regard to cycling; balls to the wall 100% of the time won't work.


i'm posting this here because i know this thread relates to your earlier thread in the other forum:

i've worked out in my garage for a year and a half, with only a barbell, sawhorses, and pull-up bar. the only exercise that really can't be done is the bench press, since i don't have a bench. i make up for those by doing floor presses and dips. in order to save the floor and plates, i put down some heavy duty rubber mats that i bought at home depot for a total of $150. because of that addition, i can do olympic lifts and deadlifts. i will eventually need to get bumper plates and squat stands, but so far this set-up has worked very well.

i have to admit, when i first read your posts, i thought you got the idea for your routine from pavel. the lifts, rep/set scheme, rest periods, workouts per week, etc., sound verbatim like what he advocates in PTP. anyway, i tried that scheme to start up from a long lay-off, and it worked, since i was basically starting from scratch. after a couple of months i stagnated, and changed things around, added exercises, and added conditioning.

if you have any questions relating to the garage training, i'd be glad to help you since i was in the same boat you were in not too long ago.

Train Hard!


bent over row front squat power cleans etc


Add chins and tweak your other moves and you are doing CW Next Big Three:



I second everything Raimisch said. You can do all these exercises without problems, and there's plenty of them. I would also add push presses and behind-the-neck snatch-grip presses.

As for O-lifts, you can definitely do power cleans and power shrugs. I train at a gym that doesn't allow O-lifts, so I don't drop the bar to the floor, yet have no problem doing power cleans.

With your current setup, if you have plenty of plates, you can certainly make great progress.

Good luck!


Extremely strong and muscular? No. But if you really work with the parameters and eat properly you might get somewhere. But that somewhere would probably mean regularly deadlifting 500 for 3x8 or so and eating a lot of food etc... And there are shitloads of exercises you can do with just bar and weights, get creative.


I would rather see stone lifts or keg loads and log presses, but I guess I'm just flying high from my first strongman workout.

I would suggest buying some mini bands so you can also do face pulls, band pull-aparts and all kinds of other junk. They're cheap and versatile.