T Nation

Dropping the Plus Set for Deadlifts


Anyone see a problem with only doing prescribed reps for deadlift? I’ve drastically lowered my training maxes after getting responses from an earlier post, but for some reason high rep deadlifts are making me feel like crap, even with light weights. The other 3 lifts are fine and I think I finally got my training maxes where they need to be, getting 10-15 reps on each plus set. I keep going back to Jim saying you should walk out of the gym (garage) feeling better than when you walked in, and I do when I squat, bench and press. Deadlifts though, I feel like garbage, nauseous and generally crappy, which sucks because it’s actually my favourite and strongest lift. Just curious if you all think I can still make decent progress without setting PR’s on that one. Thanks for any input.


Yeah its fine, cap the reps at 5 or 6


The deadlift is a fickle mistress. Enough work and it grows…too little and is stalls. Too much and it regresses and turns all your other lifts to crap.


Any idea why this is the case? Is it just because it’s a full body lift that it’s so taxing? I just find it odd because squats are pretty taxing but I don’t feel wrecked after doing them.


I do just the prescribed reps, however I stick to 3x3 on both other the 5 and 3 week with slightly higher percentages.


You could consider doing 15 singles or something similar with a short rest period in between?.


When I started 531 over a year ago, I too struggled with the DL volume. I had always done heavy, low reps on DLs prior to 531, and BBB sets and even 5x5 were a lot for me. Here’s what I did: started with 5x3 instead of 5x5, built up through the first two cycles to get to 5x5. Then, when the template called for BBB (5x10) sets, I gradually increased the volume from 5x5 up to 5x10. You’re right that the correct TM if crucial.

Other tips: get good at “touch-n-go” for DL’s. Don’t loose control on the eccentric phase. This is a problem I had and you see constantly in the gym. Control it down, kiss the floor, and come back up. This is essential for getting your reps in.


Ben Polkov’s 5/3/1 adaptation drops AMRAP deadlift sets simply “because they suck” so you’re not alone in thinking this.


Thanks for the replies guys, food for thought. I kinda like the multiple singles idea, might just try it that way. Thanks again!!


How long have you been lifting weights and how long have you been 5/3/1? I ask as to get a better idea of your “training age”.

One thing to remember is that as you train longer you can’t go balls out on PR sets all the time. Sometimes you have to cut back and focus on good quality reps without pushing into the red.

I would say switch to doing 5’s Pro and what another poster suggested in working in 3x5 @ FSL. Make sure your TM is at 85%. Follow that for a couple cycles then run Original 5/3/1 and hammer out some PR’s.

I will also state that Deadlifts can just be a massive pain in the a** in general, and they are supposed to be. I would also recommend not always doing touch-n-go reps. I say let the bar come to a dead stop, and then pull then tension out of it before doing a solid clean rep. Don’t rip and grip. Your body will thank you later.


I’m 45 yeasts old. I’ve lifted on and off for years, but don’t really count that since I never got “serious” about it, I was your average new years resolution type lifter. But I have been lifting seriously for about a year, first with strong lifts, then starting strength and now I’m on my fifth cycle of 531. I’ve made good gains in strength throughout all these programs, despite a lot of starts and stops due to work schedule (I work 12 hour shifts, 6 on 2 off on third shift with a long commute) and typical family life. I’ve almost constantly been playing around with 531 to try to make it a good fit, 4 days a week was not working on account of my work schedule, etc. What I’ve settled on now that seems to be working so far is lifting on my 2 off days, squat and bench day 1 and deadlifts and press day 2. Mostly doing Jack shit style for now with some face pulls and pull aparts thrown in, and I’m going to try to add the supplemental work back in next cycle. I’ve backed my training maxes off almost to where I was when I started 531 which has helped, but those deadlifts still seem to wreck me at higher reps. I revamped hopefully for the last time this past weekend and dumped the PR sets for all 4 lifts, but added some rest pause sets for bench and press, a 20 rep set for squats and a set of dorian Yates style deadlifts for 10 reps at 50% TM. I guess I’ve realized that I just prefer lower rep work and instead of rep PR’s ill focus on just upping that weight each cycle until I can’t hit the prescribed reps, then back off again. I hope this is a viable way to run 531, because it just feels like I’ve dialed it in finally after much back and forth, it just feels right. So after having said all that, I appreciate your input, and if you have any input on this new approach I would love to hear it. Thanks!


If you feel they crush you you can drop them out.

They DONT suck though. Going for higher reps (10-20) in my last set has build my DL very well.


Do you have Forever? If you don’t I highly recommend getting it.

There is a lot in there that would greatly help a guy in your situation get the most out of training.

There is a program in there called 2x2x2 that I bet you would like.


I don’t have forever yet, I think the wife is getting it for my birthday next month lol. I do have the original 531 and beyond though. I’ll definitely make sure to check it out though, thanks!