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How Many Reps/Sets for Deadlift?


Im gonna start incorporating deadlifts into my back workout and I was just wondering, as I've never done them before, what is a good rep/set range for them? I do 3x(6-8) in all other compound movements, in fact in pretty much all my exercises period.

Also any advice regarding form? I've been practicing my form at home the last day or two with just an empty bar, videoing myself to see if im keeping my back straight, etc. And I seem to be doing them fine when I compare it to the videos ive seen all over the internet. As a rule, am I right in saying that you should squat down just far enough so that your back is still straight when picking up the bar? Or should you squat down further? I've seen instructional videos that show both. Should your knees be bent enough so that they go over the bar before you straighten up?



1 set

6-8 reps




  1. 3x8 works. so does 5x5 and 8x3. i personally like 5x5 (good for strength+mass gains).

2.when you squat down to pick up bar, make sure your back is straight. Working with empty bar is different. Once you have 45lb plates on the bar, you don't have to squat down nearly as deep to pick up bar.

  1. My knees are just a bit, but not too much (i know this is vague lol) over the bar - sometimes I just scrape by them as i'm lifting.

  2. If you are really into it, get Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.

deadlifts rule. lol



Everyone's anatomy is different and that'll play a large part in how you look on your setup and how far down you squat and how far forward your knees come.

My knees don't come very far forward and I don't squat down very far, but I've got that 'deadlifter's build'. Too bad it hasn't translated to a decent deadlift yet lol


I've had a really hard time incorporating deadlifts into a BP split routine. I find for me they hit way too many groups at once to just use on a leg day or back day without interfering with the other workout.
Give them a try, but if you have the same problem you could try rack pulls for your back.

That said, when I started out and was using full body workouts, I liked 5x5 for deadlifts alot.
As with everything in this sport though, you can't just sit around planning it out forever. You need to get into the gym and give it a try!


5x5 straight sets (if you can do all 5 sets of 5 its too light, up the weight) worked well for me for years. Recently, I've started doing one top set of 4-6 and one to two lighter sets of 6-10 just to see what happens.

But if you can bang out 5 sets of say, 5,5,4,4,3 with 500+ - you'll have a decent back, at least decent spinal erectors and traps, anyways.

Allows for strength and size gains, and the amount of volume, in my case, allowed me to pretty much bullet proof my low back and really solidify maintaining form - as long as you START OUT with proper form (for you)

As far as form goes, I'd just keep watching videos, and keep practiciing. I'd also avoid heavy singles for a good while until you're confident in your technique.

I also agree that everyone's structure is different so while all the research will give you an idea, you will also need to learn your body and how to perform the lift.


I think it was Stu (and I know everyone is different) who suggested to not do full ROM heavy deads, that he only does them up with light weight for a full ROM, otherwise he'll use rack pulls with really heavy weight.

What are you guys' thoughts on that?

Obviously "heavy" means something different for everyone, so assume I'm talking % of 1RM (e.g. 85% and up).

And that was not to put Mighty Stu on the gallows :slightly_smiling:

(Hope you're tearing it up at the show, buddy!)


or lots of singles and doubles, shooting for a set no. of total reps. my fav


Depends on the reasoning behind it.

Previous injury?

Not wanting to bulk up the waist? (has not been the case at all, in my situation)

Fear of future injury?

Simply uneccessary risk/reward ratio as compared to rack pulls DONE AT THE PROPER HEIGHT ?



I believe that was the logic.

All I know is the DL is my fave exercise. People look at me like I'm an alien when I'm in the power rack doing rack pulls. I've only ever seen one other guy do them.


NEVAH FROM THE FLOOR! I'm a rack pulling kinda of guy now. In the front of back day I shoot for 4 sets from 12 to 6 reps with 2 warm up sets. And when I do them in the end of a back day I shoot for 3x15 with 135 or something like that. Just mainly for the squeeze and stuff.


as far as bodybuilding purposes, since thats where this is posted, i dont think lots of volume or lots of singles is going to get him the size he's after.


Well, you'd be wrong.

Though 5x5 and similar isn't "lots" of volume.


I love to DL; love, love, love. There are lots of variations of the DL. Sumo, Conventional Powerlifting, Rack Pulls, RDL's .... My current default favorite is the Snatch Grip Deadlift. When I am doing heavy conventional DL or heavy rack pulls, I usually stick to a 3X8 or 3X10 scheme because any more and my form can get sloppy. With the snatch grip DL or lighter rack pulls, I might use a 5X5,4X6, or 10X3 scheme.

As far as form goes, You always want to keep your chest high. If your hips are coming up faster than your chest, your form has broken down. How far you bend your legs really depend on how your built, your arm length, leg length, torso length, ...

The DL is a fantastic exercise and very safe if done correctly. Conversly, you can injure yourself pretty severly if you don't know what you are doing. Don't let this scare you off but do your research and read the articles on this site before you start.



i cant really argue with you since you have a 700 pound deadlift

but i just think ramping takes the cake


Most of my deadlifting since I started has been low rep, high sets. Sometimes I work with a weight I can only do 2 reps with, sometimes 4, and I'll often do between 8 and 10 sets this way.

What I found happened after a while, was that I got a lot stronger, but my body didn't seem to adequately grow to compensate for that strength, so my form started breaking down as I got into a certain weight range, and I began to feel a lot more unsafe doing the movement.

So I took a couple of months where I did lighter deadlifts in the 6-8 rep range, for as many sets as I could(usually about 4) and only just recently got back into pulling heavier, and as a result my max is up and deadlifts feel better all around(as though my form is no longer compromised.)

The moral of the story is. The deadlift is a somewhat complex movement pattern, and because of this, it is very important to practice practice practice practice practice. So, my advice, if you are just getting started, err on the side of more reps to fewer, at least for a while, as you train your body in how to do the movement.


Isn't it kind of imperative that you post what your goals are? I mean, size = strength, sure, but if you're shooting for the highest number you can get at a PL meet, that would drastically change how you should prepare.

I, personally, love deadlifts. However, for actual back development, I think rack pulls are awesome, because they're not so taxing on the CNS. Also - You can go really freaking heavy. In 10 weeks I went from rack pulling 315 x 10 to 415 x 10. All the same benefits of a deadlift without the useless ROM (as long as you're hitting your legs properly.)



Whatever allows you to add a considerable amount of weight to the bar for moderate reps the fastest in the long run (LOL, hope that makes sense).

Some people can get away with using straight sets, others like "ramping". Give straight sets a try for a few months and see how that works for you. Then try "ramping" for a few months. By that time you should be able to judge which method works better for you.

As far as form, you want your shoulders to be over (actually slightly in front of) the bar at the beginning of the lift (on the floor). Your shoulders should remain higher than your hips, and your hips should be higher than your knees.

Your lower back should remain arched, but some thoracic spinal flexion (upper back rounding) is acceptable on maximal lifts/towards the end of a set.

You should drive into the ground with your legs (called "leg drive") as you stand up; remember that the muscles of the hips/legs are also a big part of the lift, it's not an all back exercise. Also, don't hyperextend your hips at the top of the lift. Just come to a fully standing position and retract your shoulder blades at the top of the lift.

Whether you do "touch and go" or re-set the bar between each rep is up to you.


I do 4 sets of 8-12 reps. I always try to increase the reps from the week before and up the weight when I get to 12 reps.

Sometimes I'll do 3 sets of 8-12 reps and a 4th set of something a little heavier for 3-4 reps.

Take that for what its worth.


10 x 3