T Nation

Increasing Deadlift Max and Form Check



My goal for 2017 is to get my deadlift 1RM to 500lbs. I started at 455lbs. I began Matt Kroc’s 16 week simple deadlift program and felt great for 3/4 of it then suddenly started to feel weak and unable to complete the reps at the scheduled percentages. I checked my nutrition and saw I was not eating nearly enough so increased my intake and finished the program. My max increased to 460 (I’m positive it would have gone up more had I been eating enough throughout the program, not just the last couple weeks). I started the program over and have been tracking my nutrition ever since. I’m a couple weeks from retesting my 1RM and I’m feeling good.

I hope to get 475. I’m looking for recommendations on another program to start after I complete this one, suggestions on accessory work, and critiques and advice on my form. There’s a video of me performing my 3rd set of 5 at 85% of max (probably my toughest time completing the lift in the program), and a video of my 3rd set of 3 at 90%. I appreciate any and all advice.


The only thing I see wrong is the way you pull the bar towards yourself and then get into position. Some lifters do this to build some momentum and they start pulling as soon as the bar reaches their shins, but you set up all over again. It would make more sense to just set up in front of the bar.

The problem with most percentage based programs is that they expect a certain rate of progression. If you at are cutting or have other issues going on then you probably won’t be able to keep up. I would be particularly skeptical about anything from Janae Marie Kroc.


Thank you for the advice. Pulling the bar towards me is definitely a mental thing. I’m not sure when I started doing it but it’s become a pre-lift ritual that helps me prep mentally. Similar to what a basketball player does before a free throw or a golfer before a swing. The only negative I can think of is spending too much time hinged over and loosing some stretch reflex. Is there a particular reason I should not be doing this?

I have felt strong and able to keep up with the percentages of the program now that I am eating enough. With this being my biggest goal for 2017 I have catered my weekly workouts around my deadlifts. I have cut back on HIIT training, biking, and am careful to not involve too much, if any, hips/hamstrings for 2-3 days before I deadlift to save my strength. If not percentage based, do you have any programs you recommend to try next once I complete this one?

And out of curiosity, why be skeptical of Janae Marie Kroc? I don’t know anything really about the person. I found this program on Tnation because I didn’t feel like writing my own program at the time and liked it for its simplicity and progression.


Seems like a waste of time and energy, but it’s not a huge deal either way. I mentioned it because you are looking for form advice and I see nothing else wrong.

It seems like the vast majority of programs are percentage based, so options are limited in a way. If you want pre-written programs then something like 5/3/1 (which is still %-based) or the RTS generalized intermediate program are decent options because of the autoregulation. Basically, for a program to work you need to be able to adjust it based on your capabilities and not what someone who knows nothing about you wrote down.

Seems pretty self-explanatory to me.


Man… tbh form is sexy and doesnt seem to break down at high percentages. Very nice. Anticipating all kinds of strength gains.

Maybe hyper extending a bit at lockout? Unnecessary and bit risky injury wise. Maybe in a meet situation you would to leave no doubt the weight is locked out but other than that not really getting anything from twisting and bending your spine under load at the top.


Also in response to your first paragraph even though its not really a question you seem to be doing pretty well with Fatigue Management. Pretty much just sleeping and eating right will keep you riding that Stimulus Recovery Adaption curve to all kinds of gains… all kindz

I’m unfamiliar with the program you are running but hopefully it peaks you properly to set a big PR. If the HIIT, biking etc. are not included in the program remember they are stressors too that will draw on your recovery abilities so perhaps a well timed deload of these will be appropriate, Fatigue masks fitness and such.


Form looks OK to me except for the rolling of the bar.

As for programming, 5 lbs increase in 16 weeks sucks. I used to train like that and made progress over the years but always felt beat up and usually ended up lifting less in a meet than in the gym. I have switched to conjugate and the first time I ran it for 12 weeks, I got 50 lbs on my conventional. Heres how I programmed it along with the squat.

DE day - Comp squat with 46 lbs of band tension - waves of 24 reps, 22 reps, 20 reps (12x2, 8 x 3, 5x5, etc) at 50, 55, 60 % of raw (knee sleeve) max.
Deadlift with 46 lbs of band tension wave of 10 x 1, 8 x 1, 6 x 1 (60, 65,70%)
Hip hinge movement (RDL, SDL, Good morning) for 30 total reps
Leg curl variation for 40 total reps

Max Effort Day - rotation of Manta ray hi box, hi bar pause squat and deadlifts to 3 diffierent block heights 4", 3", 2" all for max singles.
Supplemental movement - Squat or deadlift variation
Hip hinge
Leg curl

Last heavy deadlift 21 days out, Last heavy squat 14 days out, last heavy bench 7 days out

The last three have squat days I suspended the bar from the rack with bands and did 2 weeks of triples and one week of singles.


Doesn’t take away from anything Matt Kroc wrote when he was still Matt. Probably would still kick your ass and walk off in 4" heels


Well, the program didn’t work out as planned, did it? I’m sure there are plenty of mentally ill people that can beat people up, doesn’t mean that we need to follow their advice.


Disclaimer: I suck at deadlifts, and I’m not a powerlifter.

I like the way Kroc’s program climbs up week by week, then waves back down, then climbs up again. I think waves are great.

I don’t like the way Krocs program has you do multiple “Top Sets” with your heavy weights. Its cool to do 1 serious, heavy, “top set.” Lifting heavier weights every week let’s you know your program is working. The weight goes up, you’re on the right track! Every time you touch a new, heavier weight your body learns to be stronger.

But 3 sets with that weight just tires you out. All those heavy sets build fatigue faster than you build strength. It’s like you’re trying to build your endurance. After 1 heavy top set, I think lighter back off sets are better.

Something like Jim Wendlers “First Set Last” where you do 5 x5 with 20% less weight than your top set for the week.

Or Josh Bryants “CAT Deadlift” where you build speed with 8 sets of 3 fast reps with 60-70%. Or Coan/Phillipi style.

Or 3 lighter sets of 8 in the defecit deadlift for hamstrings like Old School dudes used to do.

Basically, instead of trying to survive to extra heavy sets, you strategically try to build something you lack with lighter back offs.

Also, wearing a belt could really, really help. Its not cheating to use one!


I completely agree. 5 pounds in 4 months is garbage, but this was a 5 pound increase while I was only eating roughly 1200-1500 calories a day. I got caught up with work and life and didn’t realize how little I was eating until I noticed my strength plateauing. Plus my previous max of 455 was something I pulled once with less than ideal form. The 460 went up relatively easy with good form So I was happy my max went up at all considering my intake was basically none existent. I also wanted to give the program another try with proper nutrition to see what kind of increases it yields. If I see a small increase in my 1RM this time around with eating 4,000 calories a day I will never touch this program again.

Thanks for your advice I will look into the conjugate program and consider doing it once I complete this program. Thank you again.


I completely agree, using a belt is not cheating, but part of my goal was to pull 500 without a belt or straps. This goal is completely for my ego and nothing else if I’m being honest. I’m a small guy only weighing about 165. I want to be able to say I’ve pulled 3x my body weight only using chalk. Although some days I really wanna throw a belt on and see what I can do.

I will look into the programs you listed above. Thanks for your help.


Did you lose weight? It’s possible to get stronger while in a caloric deficit as long as it’s not too extreme.


Slightly, I was hovering around 162-165 versus 165-168 while eating 4,000