T Nation

How to Modify Hepburn Layering for the Deadlift


Hey CT,

I really liked your approach for combining Hepburns method of progression with your layer system on your Thibarmy Blog.

  • How can I change the Deadlift while continuing on with the principles? I have a bad lower back and I know for a fact I cannot handle the crazy volume of work. Generally speaking, 5x5 is the max volume I can handle


I would say you can’t. just follow the programme but keep the deadlift to something you can manage.I have used layers before, but with a different progression for deads. 915, power look etc or a regular Hepburn method.


That was definitely my first thought. But specifically with this program 90% of the work is coming from the main lift of the day because of the volume. I suppose only doing say a 5x3 won’t kill anybody but because of the nature of the program the posterior chain would be severely lacking in work, which so happens to be the weakest area for me. Maybe I could do straight up Hepburn progression for the DL working up to a 8x3. All of those thoughts are what led to my question. Thanks for the input.


Search for the strength-skill circuit method on Thibarmy, it uses the Hepburn method and has deadlifts in it.


What if you substitute the deadlift with rack pulls below the knees or switch to sumo? Or sumo from pins 2-3" from the floor?


Currently I am doing just that. A while ago I quit with the Deadlift and do exclusively rack pulls from below the knees (as you pointed out in a blog video… I didn’t die :joy:). My problem usually comes from squatting and then deadlifting 2 days after. It’s simply not enough time for my low back to recover (it just won’t freaking act right since my injury about 3 years ago). I can only train Mon-Fri so that’s not so possible. And because I feel like I have to compromise and make a choice. I choose to give more to the squat. Maybe I’m just over complicating it but hey, thats what I do. Any thoughts?