T Nation

How Often To DL


I read alot of 'mature' lifters only deadlift every 2 weeks or some say they only DL once a month. I am wondering what the reasoning is behind this? I've been DLing at least once a week and am wondering if I should'nt be for some reason...


A thought on this. If you leave it two or more weeks between really heavy lifts, you give your body a greater opportunity to not only recover, but also help in the muscle fiber transition (Type IIA to IIB fast twitch and all that jazz). I recall reading an article that discussed this in a roundabout fashion - sometimes leaving several WEEKS between lifts, yet making gains; or so they said. I don't disbelieve it, but I sure as hell have no intention of training that way, as it does not meet my goals.

I must have the article somewhere. It might be one I bought, so not sure if I can post it, but I could probably email an excerpt if not the whole thing. PM me if you're interested.

But I also refer you to Chad Waterbury's Perfect 10 article (including the Circus strength-demonstration "artists" described therein). I bet you could perform DL's using Chad's precsribed method if you wanted to - it just depends upon your goals.



I think its because holding a weight in your hand is very taxing for your CNS, especially if you are an advanced lifter.


I,m 51 and compete at 181.I tried every other week for my DL but my strength level went down.I train my DL every week and i just started trainig my DL seperately.I was traing my Squat and DL on the same day.I cycle my weghts down to 60% and then back up to 100% to 110%,about 3 times a year.In the interim i train with less intensity and weight to give my body a rest.But I never stop training my lifts,I work on form, speed of execution,breathing,setting up.Hope this helps.TRAIN HARD! JIMMY T


Best results ever: once a week, every Saturday. Only lift I did was DL, no assistance work. Total volume 10,000 lbs. Did it all in no more than 40 minutes.
I'm convinced that is all I can do when I'm healthy. Any more will quickley result in me being over trained. (By the way I'm 49)
Good luck.


This seems to be highly dependent upon the individual.

I like once per week heavy deadlifting or squatting ... but not both heavy in the same week ... and not for more than 4-6 weeks without a back-off period.



I like to alt with stiff legs and Romanian deadlifts as well, alt speed day will work them and on max effort go back to deadlifts. Frequency depends on my sleep quality and as Dan pointed out it is variable depending on the indivdual.


Agreed completely . . much like Waterbury's work, I weekly squat, dead, romanian dead and stiff dead . . .simply control the set/ rep parameters so as to get the stimulus but not overtrain . .

Look at his:
and ART OF Waterbury prog.'s

Keep doing what works for you . .there are construction workers/ carpenters that do lighter, off centered deads all day, 5x/ week . .with great backs, traps and forearms :wink:


i have done only 2 in a nine weeks. i went up 30. so now im going to do its 3 times in 8 weeks. and we will see what it dose for me . i have read alot of shit about cnn, but i think it all had to do with u and what u like. the lift will be speed max effort and they will be diff lifts. will let u know how it gose


I was only concerned because I've had to deal with alot of pain from lifting in my upper body...shoulder, elbow, wrist, but so far my posterior chain, back, legs, knees have been good (touch wood). Just want to avoid anymore mistakes. Not lifting for 40 years and now trying to build on it...well its rebelling big time.....


what dan said...

my best results ever in progress in the squat and pull was recently while at diablo barbell, i went to training my low body once a week, squat and deadlift the same day, alternate between squating heavy one week, and pulling light, the next week squat light and then go to heavy pulls. moved my deadlift from 600 to 665, and a near miss at 685, and my best below parallel box squat with briefs and belt only went form 515 to 600.

every fourth week i would take a max pull, the 5th week, i would backoff and do reps on the ham calf glute machine or belt squats, just to give my back a break, and then start over.


We have started training deadlift heavy every other week and squatting heavy the week between. This coupled with box squats one week and higher reps the other. So we are squatting in some form 3 times every 2 weeks. Will see how this works. I found that pulling heavy every weeks was way to taxing on the erectors and seemed to hurt the squat. Many old lifters used to only deadlift every other week, and made great progress.


Pavel's idea of deadlifting 2x5 5 times a week didnt work that well for me, on top of the other things i was doing (O-lifting, martial arts etc) i got knee tendonitis.

I learnt this. If you must deadlift often, make sure you do it at like 50% most of the time.

Incidentally, as part of the recovery (after some rest), the physio prescibed me this workout for legs.

3 x 8-12 incline single leg squats(to 90 degrees)
3 x 8-12 getting out of a chair with one leg
3 x 8-12 bodyweight drop lunge

Tempo: slow

each exercise performed successively. thats 90 single legs movements for each leg. He also said to do it 2-3 times a day.


A lot depends on the loading and other exercises both primary and assistant. If you're doing a lot of box squats and good mornings, there's probably a lot of carry over to the deadlift so it doesn't have to (and maybe shouldn't) be worked as often.
And deadlifts just tend to beat you up a little more than other exercises.



Heavy dl's make me hungry!!!! I'm still a beginning pl'er so I squat on Mon. and DL on Fri's. I do doubles at 50%, 5-8 sets for speed and warmup, then work up to a max, usually a 5rep, 3 rep, double, in that order, backoff a week, and do it again. Still trying to work out my backoff though.


Very good point, I myself do DL once a week on Monday with SLD and RLD on wed/fri if I'm doing 3x a week full body or do SLD or RLD on Thur if I'm doing a upper lower split. seems to work fine and I'm 52


Over the years, and trying many different routines, I have gravitated back to DLing once per week for roughly 30 weeks out of the year. The other 19 weeks, I deadlift twice per week using the Finnish Deadlift routine I saw published in PLUSA about 15 years ago. That gives me two weeks of no DLing. When DLing once per week, I usually push for some kind of PR, whether it's a 1RM, 3 RM, 5 RM, or multiple sets with 1 minute rest in between, or a heavy single attempt with a 50 pound backoff for a triple, something that I can PR in compared to previous workouts in my training log.

The Finnish DL routine is roughly 6 weeks of stiff-legged DL's off a 5" block, twice a week, one light, one heavy, then 6 weeks of regular DL's off 5" block, twice per week, one light, one heavy, then 7 weeks of regular DL's on floor, twice per week, one heavy, one light. I have done the routine probably 24 times, and can't physically do the twice per week workouts off the floor.

I have never been able to recover enough between workouts along with all the other workouts gear toward other lifts. So I modify the last 7 week part to just once per week using the suggested, percentages, reps, sets scheme prescribed. I like DLing! I find it to be a comfortable exercise. I like doing it completely raw in both my workouts, and in competitions. I truly believe it is a 'true' test of one's maximal strength. Good Luck in trying to find what works best for you.


I only started deadlifts in the fall, as the name and reputation as a back destroyer led me to sissify my workout.

For over a month, my 3x weekly routine has been like so:
-Weighted chins and Dips alternating, rep scheme either a 5x5 with 45-50 lbs, or 3x12 at bodyweight
-Deadlift and SLDL, rep scheme volume based with high reps at 6 to singles, total volume 15-30 reps
-Incline Press, an OHP, curls, burpees. Whatever reps I feel like, usually 4x6 or 3x10-12

For Deadlifts, I added 5-15 lbs every other workout if I felt good, and hit 375@bw 175 last week. I've decided to cut back on the volume and frequency. I'm due for a pft and need to focus on running anyways, and having a stiff back on my run days is not pleasant.
I'm planning on doing deadlifts once a week, with a 5x5 "warm-up" leading into singles. Goal is 405@175 asap.


i happen to agree with the Poliquin principle that it takes 10 days to recover from a very heavy or max effort back workout

in the past i did make progress with heavy deadlifting back to back but i wouldnt do that type of training often....

i dont think its very good to overload your muscles every once in awhile, i have found it very useful when transitioning into a speed phase where you train with lighter weight and your body recovers in the later weeks from the stress you put on it earlier.....

i think even the most advance lifter can benefit from becoming periods of very heavy loading and volume. the old idea of breaking your muscles down, healing them in order to make strength gains is out-dated.

the bulgarian olympic teams in their dominant years didnt train this way and they made constant progress. now most coaches agree in the dual factor theory where continued periods of heavy loading even while sore can bring about strength gains.......if one week you make a personal best 3 sets for 3 reps in an exercise, try doing 4 or 5 sets the next week even if your still sore


depends on intensity, you could crack out 5 reps here and there with little problem, but a mammoth session needs some serious rest