T Nation

Help My Deadlift Please


My deadlift is horseshit someone please help me!!

I am willing to answer any questions, post extra videos, alter technique, change anything, shit, I'll even grow a beard and live in the wild for a month if that's gonna help me pull something respectable!

So I'm 23 been lifting for 6 years, I'm 5foot6 188lbs and currently my best ever pull is 160kg but that was on a relatively good day and sometimes I struggle to hit 150kg.

For comparison I can squat 150kg, bench 135kg and over head press 85kg

I had a goal of conventionally pulling 180kg this year, however the possibility of achieving that ambition has long since vanished.

I followed 5/3/1 for 12 months in the hope that the programming would fix my pulls. However I stalled several times, reset several times and couldn't make any progress, so after 12 months I've been playing around with trying to hit multiple sets of anything from 5,4,3,2,1 reps.

I generally warm up with 60kg, then work from 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and by that time my low back is fried!

I've tried working up to a higher end weight in less sets but to the same results, fatigued low back and an embarrassment of a pull.

I've tried adjusting my set up, but being slightly shorter than the average joe it's hard for me to compare. Might be worth noting that I don't generally feel a lot of tension in my hamstrings...

Would really appreciate some advice, criticism, hard truths? Apart from give up I have no idea how to make this work.

I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a deadlift session, every week without fail I get wound up and depressed because my measly pull is showing no signs of improving.

That being said I have deadlifted every week without fail, as I was of the impression that repetition would sort my issues. I've even deadlifted multiple times per week, on consecutive days... I tried taking 2 weeks off from deadlifting, trained today and no difference.

Please someone show me the error of my ways, I would love to try a powerlift meet one day, but until I can post some respectable numbers I don't think I will embarrass myself.

I've uploaded a few videos of me deadlifting to my YouTube channel, hopefully you can see them through this link, I only have a few deadlift and squat videos. Please any advice or help to get me out of this rut would be hugely appreciated, it's really getting to me!



I don't think my YouTube link will post, so I'll try and upload some vids tomorrow, or if anyone has any luck you could try and search for me on YouTube... Harvey morcom


I think this should work for a playlist link:


Go try some intensity man, act like someone kicked your puppy or something. You look like you're more ready to take a stroll through the park then a 1RM deadlift lol

Other than that have you tried using a mixed grip? What about doing sumo deadlifts?


^^^ word,,,you have to make deadlift day a miserable day,,,if you got pissed off and in the mind set to gtrind you could pull 50 pounds more than you did right there


It took me 3 years to get to 195kg. I feel you pain brother. Some changes. . . .
- intensity
- more intense gym
- training partners that are knowledgeable, accountable, and stronger than you
- you are not using your glutes to drive your groin forward. once the bar clears you knees slam your package into the bar
-switch grip

You will get there you just need more aggression


programming is important to. I think your glutes and hams are weak and that is why you are stalling out. I would take a look at the westside system. They are all about bringing up your weak points, lots of good mornings and box squats, those will make your deadlift go up without deadlifting. this guy has a 900 deadlift , listen to him


Over the past 12 months of training 5/3/1, can you list out your training maxes and estimated true maxes for DL from each month? How often were you pushing to failure on the top sets and how often were you leaving 1-2 reps in the tank each week. What did you do for assistance work? Do you have a video recording of an attempt at 165-170 kg or a weight where you failed?


Have you ever lifted something so hard that you ruptured blood vessels in your eyes?


Even though I shouldn't be glorifying failing reps, because it is one of the reasons I had to take a "mandatory deload"...

I fucking love that he goes for a double. The pure greed is awesome. He literally pulls what very few people in the history of humanity have ever even had a shot at touching, and he goes for a double haha.




LoRez - Thanks, your link worked perfectly!

Tylerkeen42 - I know what your saying, its just that i go in nowadays almost already knowing that im going to be pathetic and it completely ruins the workout before ive even stepped inside the gym! I have tried using a mixed grip, i just prefer to double overhand as much as possible to work on my grip strength. If i thought that it was just the grip holding me back i would swap to mixed, or use straps. A friend of mine suggested that i try sumo, but i dont want to give up on conventional, just because im poor at it. Why would sumo be any better for me? Im certainly willing to give it a try, like i said anything you guys suggest can only benefit me im sure.

Reps for Ozzy - haha it is a miserable day, just for the wrong reasons!

Max8950 - I trained last night with a friend of mine who hasnt deadlifted in over a month and he pulled 160x3. I have another friend who rarely trains legs at all and has pulled 180 at a bodyweight of about 70! I cant for the life of me see why im so unable to deadlift?

Intensity, fine, thats a mindset ill have to change for next time, sumo, ill attempt and see how it feels...

Useful cue there max, thanks i shall try and focus on doing that!

I was implementing barbell hip thrusts and stiff legged deadlifts for assistance, to try and strengthen my glutes/hams. I think you are right though, perhaps a weakness or inability to properly recruit those muscles.

Lift206 -

reps weight 1rm
1 155 160
5 145 169
8 137.5 174
5 95 110.5
2 150 160
5 142.5 166
7 135 166
3 145 159.5
7 137.5 169.5
9 130 168.5
1 157.5 162.5
2 150 160
3 142.5 156.5
1 155 160
3 145 159.5
7 137.5 169.5
1 155 160
5 145 169
5 137.5 160
2 150 160
5 142.5 166
5 135 157.5
1 145 150
3 137.5 151
5 130 151.5
1 140 144.5
3 132.5 145.5
5 125 145.5
5 87.5 102
3 137.5 151
4 130 147
8 120 151.5
5 85 99
3 135 148.5
5 125 145.5
7 120 147.5
5 80 93
5 130 151.5
7 120 147.5
9 115 149

rarely did i manage to lift more than the specified number of reps, some days it was a struggle to hit the required minimum. slightly random deloading, but i was deloading from time to time. Like i said, for assistance i was using hip thrusts, RDL and occasional front squats.

I dont have a video of me failing a pull, but i will get some next week, are there any other things you would like to see on video? Some sumo pulls?

Trivium - no, not quite that hard, however i have emptied my gym through passing gas, thats symbolic of a lot of effort surely?


I'm built differently than you. But a couple ideas.

Try "leaning backwards" throughout the lift. Think about falling backwards with the bar in your hands. Try to keep the balance of the weight to the point where you're almost about to actually fall backwards; you should be able to find a sweet spot right around there.

Try pushing the floor away, like a leg press, instead of pulling the bar up. You can do this while focusing on leaning backwards.

Work on lifting explosively. Try to accelerate the bar from the floor and throughout the lift. Lots of ways to approach this... bands, chains, or even a more olympic lift approach. E.g., high pulls, regular or snatch grip, accelerating with your legs and hips, not your arms. Or the "olympic deadlift" variant per Amit Sapir: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/olympic-deadlift

Don't do so many warmup reps so close to your max. Try to not have a warmup set any higher than about 80% of whatever you're doing that day, and don't do any more than a double. Do a few light sets of 5s, then a set of 3 around 75%, then maybe a single or double at 80%. And then your top set at 100%. Percentages are all relative to your planned work set.


Well start getting mad about it instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Doesn't it piss you off that you put in all the effort you do and you don't get results? Or if it really does have you that discouraged try to focus on another lift and come back to it later. Most likely if you get your squat up your deadlift will go up also. Nothing wrong with out squatting your deadlift. I said sumo because you seem to have very short arms and it should let you get into a better position. It might take a while to get used to but at the very least I'd do both for a few months and see how it goes.


I really don't see a problem with your progression. You're assuming that you haven't gotten stronger because you're only hitting 150-155 on the week of your single, which is in the final week of the cycle where you have accumulated the most fatigue. Your true max is likely closer to 170-175 if you ran a short peaking cycle.

If you take a look at the trend in your progression, your predicted max is continually increasing. Your average for the first cycle was 149.3 kg. Your average for your last cycle was 167.7 kg. That's a gain of 18.4 kg over 40 weeks, which would put you at a rate of 23.9 kg per year. Even if you were able to hit 160 kg before you started 5/3/1, it's very unlikely you would be able to hand an equivalent set intensity for 3 weeks in a row before running the program, hence why your average predicted maxes were at 149.3. Going from 9 x 115 to 8 x 137.5 is a huge improvement - rep PRs are important too. Eventually you'll be hitting 160 for reps on your working set so be patient. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and look at the overall picture.

Yes you aren't deadlifting as much as you want but you are making consistent gains and will eventually get there.


Ok your right about my shirt arms unfortunately I wasn't blessed with height, I'll read around on sumos for technique and set up etc and I'll try them out for a few months, if that is really the way I need to proceed then I would rather pull sumo than not at all.

I'll try and get some vids of my sumo attempts and post them up next week if your interested in seeing that. Maybe you could advise me...

Lift206 - when you say it like that it's clear that I have made some progress and having someone else explain it to me has helped me appreciate it. I know it's a slow game but I just couldn't wrap my head around why I'm this bad to start with when I've seen guys pull way more than I can and they rarely train deads or even squats for that matter!

I think I will try sumo and see if this change helps, otherwise would you suggest getting back on 5/3/1?


Also lorez good tips there, lifting explosively is something I really need to do as even my light weight pulls are slow.

I try and visualise the lift as a leg press as opposed to a hinge.

My low back fatigues very quickly when I pull, I think it's because of my limb lengths, the angle that my back makes with the floor, is practically parallel and so my low back is the centre of the strain. Don't get me wrong I never pull unless I'm confident I have my lumbar in a neutral position but is there any way to strengthen or rely less on my low back? As it appears to be the real weak link (or one of).


I think that the PUSH vs HINGE debate has a lot to do with leverages. It is not unanimously one way or the other, and many people have used different cues successfully.



For this guy, I don't see a ton of HINGE. It is there, but this is more of a push.

Same for this guy...

The whole 'deadlift is not a pull' thing is just a matter of how you look at it, but personally I can never seem to understand why we call it a pull. That being said, I still say things like 'today is my pulling workout.'


For this guy, I see a lot more HINGE.

Same for this guy...

Maybe I am just being imaginative, but I see two sets of lifters, both using the same style, with different leverages, using different motor patterns to move the bar the shortest distance from the floor to lockout.