T Nation

High-Rep Deadlifts

Hi guys!

Just a quick question. I dunno if this has been answered already, but I’d like to know the benefits and disadvantages of high-rep deadlifting. I’ve read somewhere that you should not go beyond 5 reps per set, but is there any merit at all on doing high-rep, light weight DLs?

Thanks in advance.

Westside uses higher rep deadlifts as part of their “speed deadlifts.” Of course, they aren’t using heavy weights.

If you are working out with 80% or more of your max, then I would keep the reps low. If you want to do lower-weight deadlifts, you could always do higher reps.

Read some of Dave Tate’s stuff as well as Joe DeFranco (i.e. Westside for Skinny Bastards).

Thanks for the quick reply Nate. I guess another question on this matter would be, would it hurt the lower back if you do this kinda protocol? Of course, I guess adding one high-rep session of DLs as an assistance movement wouldn’t hurt, right?

Thanks again!


high rep deads are torture!!! for real, get ready to puke unless you are feeling 100%. then go for it! great pumps too

To clairify, I don’t beleive Westside uses high rep DLs, except for Dimels. On speed days they will do 10 sets of singles with 50% of contest max and 30 seconds between sets. Usually the highest rep scheme I’ll train in the DL is sets of 5.

This is from Tate’s “The Dead Zone”.

Mistake #7: Training with multiple reps

Next time you see someone doing multiple reps on the deadlift, take note of the form of each rep. You’ll see the later reps look nothing like the first. In competition you only have to pull once, so you need to learn how to develop what’s known as starting strength for the deadlift. This is the strength needed to get the bar off the floor without an eccentric (negative) action before the start.

In other words, you don’t lower the bar first and then lift the weight as you do with the squat and bench press. When you train with multiple reps you’re beginning to develop reversal strength, which isn’t needed with the deadlift.

These two reasons are enough to keep the deadlift training to singles. If you’re using multiple reps with the deadlift, then stand up in between each rep and restart the lift. This way you’ll be teaching the proper form and be developing the right kind of strength.

Any time I do more than singles, I reset after each rep. And I don’t think I’ve gone over 5 in a couple years…

Oh, and go check the Q&A over at EliteFTS.com… There is a DL question section.

I will do high rep deads every once in awhile, but only use about 60% of my 1RM, and sometimes a little lighter. I can get the first 10 out with good form, then take 30-40 sec rest/pause between sets of 5 until i hit 20-30 reps, usually shooting for 25. After that i will take a 3-5 min rest. I find resetting after every 5 reps later in the set keeps my form in check. The rest however doesn’t make the set any easier, try it and see how it goes.

Westside do advocate a version of highish reps.I picked this up in 2000 and use it from time to time:-
It is from Louie Simmons, archives.
Monday Core Lifts.
Deadlifts for speed. 5 weeks
Week 1 : 15 singles with 65% of 1RM,
Week 2 : 70% for 15 singles,
Week 3 : 75% for 12 singles,
Week 4 : 80% for 8 singles,
Week 5 : 85% for 6 singles.

When i do this routine, i stand up and reset between each lift and after about 20 secs do the next single.
After the 5 weeks i don’t attempt deads for 2 weeks and then go for a PR on the 3rd.It has worked for me in the past.

All of the replies here seem geared toward powerlifting, and more specifically, Westside style training. Which is great, unless you don’t give a crap about competing in power lifting.

Deadlifts with continues reps (no pause to reset) are a fantastic mass building exercise! And for me, more productive than the squat.

High rep deads are brutal, but can be very effective. Try high reps deads once a week for six weeks. I guarantee you’ll see a difference in your physique.

Definately a killer workout, especially if you do them till your ears ring.

Advantages - just like any other high rep exercise, possible increase in muscular endurance. This is great for strongman type training for events like the car deadlift for reps. Also, for hypertrophy, the repetition method is evident and as the last guy pointed out, you’re probably gonna get pretty thick.

Disadvantages - A deadlift has a pretty high risk for injury, especially when one is fatigued from doing said high reps. Functionally, most of the time you are only gonna lift an object once, so it makes sense to use singles like the others have already said here. And most of the westside stuff I have ever read and talking to Dave at an elite seminar, if you use repetitions, reset after each like Matt said.

My opinion, if you wanna do them and they suit your needs go for it. Btw, to the last guy, I hope you are getting more development in the back from deads than squats and not legs. If you are getting more in the latter, you should reevaluate your form.

The main problem with high rep deadlifts, as mentioned before on this site is the there is usually a dramatic change in form between the first rep and nTh rep. This change in form leaves the lifter succeptible to injury. This is why the DE approach works better for this exercise over a pure high rep endurance approach. It is all about traning smartly and protecting yourself especially as you get older. F-up your lower back and you won’t even be able to train like Richard Simmons.


My question would be why are you doing the high-rep deadlifts? What training effect are you looking for and is this the best way to obtain it?

thanks for all the intelligent responses guys. you’re right, wtf; I am trying high-rep deads to thicken up. Never tried this before since I’ve always done reps of 3 with heavy weight and multiple reps.