T Nation

Only Doing Deadlifts, Bench Press and Rows


Hey Guys I have been lifting for a few months now and have got my weight up to 160 pounds at around 8-9% body fat and 6'1. Anyways I have been working on improving the major lifts being Deadlifts, Bench Press, Barbell Rows and Pull ups with some a few sets of curls and side laterals thrown in.I have tried squatting and have received an awesome pump afterwards but they do not agree with my lower back.

So my real question is can I only base my workout on Deadlift, Bench Press and Rows to change up my routine or should I just stick with what I am doing?

I am really keen on the idea of simplifying everything down because I am constantly struggling to fit workouts in my already busy lifestyle.

I would appreciate any feed back you guys have on this idea



Yes, it would work. On the other hand: if deadlifts are fine and squats bother you, you're squatting wrong. Seriously.


I'd add in Overhead presses and Leg presses.


Id recomend it ! If your only doing deads, you might want to see if you can get away with some deficit work, mabey 4on your back off sets, this will give you some more quad work. We use a simple routine for in season hockey players, Squats-Dips-Chins, twice a week. Its surprising how much size, and strength can be gained when you focus on only a couple lifts.

Id recomend everyone try this type of training for awhile at some point in theyre life, it can be a real eye opener. I like 3mth cycles, when it comes to programs, so take 3mths, work hard, and see how your strength, and size respond. In the big picture, 3mths is nothing, and I bet you`ll be surprised how much you gain.

Stuart McRoberts has been pushing these types of programs for 30yrs, and he has a big following, so there must be a reason for it, after 3mths you can go back to regular training. Nothing wagered, nothing gained Goodluck


I think you should do what you suggested.

Not really trying to confuse you further, but here's a few ideas for down the road. I'll second the "may want to add in Overhead Presses" though, only because I like overhead presses.

One of CT's current layer program formats is pretty similar to what you're doing. Slight Incline Bench (from pins), Slight Decline Bench (from pins), Trap-Bar Deadlift, and Snatch-Grip High Pulls. He's said you can add rows and curls too, if you really want.

The high pulls are especially interesting in my experience; they target the mid and upper back primarily, shoulders and glutes secondarily. Using an explosive movement is a nice change of pace, and still leaves me nice and pumped the day of, and nice and sore the day after.

But basically what you're suggesting is a simpler version of that, so I can't see how that wouldn't be good for you. And if/when you get bored with that, you can take a look at CT's approach. It's actually a lot easier than it appears at first.



I'll use this one day :slightly_smiling:


AnytimeJake wrote:
We use a simple routine for in season hockey players, Squats-Dips-Chins, twice a week. It`s surprising how much size, and strength can be gained when you focus on only a couple lifts.

nighthawkz wrote; I'll use this one day :slightly_smiling:

When junior level guys are in season, they spend somtimes up to 30hrs a week on the ice, between games and practices. This can burn them out, so at this level during hectic times (Jan-April) we just focus on keeping body weight, and strength intact
Day 1, Squat 1 hard set of 20reps, dips, chins-5x5 superset (extra weight added)
Day 2, Squat 5x5, dips, and chins 3x failure superset (body weight)
These workouts can be done in a half an hour, if you hurry, and have little stress on body, or mind, and Ive had guys grow and really like this program. Some want to continue it into the off season . Some times less is more, but you never know if you dont try !

OP, as far as the over head, or high pulls, these are great exercises, but your talking about a 3 exercise program for a cycle (I like 3mths) the minuite you start thinking about adding this exercise or that one, the whole thing goes out the window. By only focusing on the bench, row, and dead, youll be doing more volume, and handling more weight than normal. Things like shoulders, and upper back will probably get a growth spurt, without the direct stimulation. Its hard for people that havent done this type of training to understand, but it works. Ive been doing, and coaching this type of training for 20yrs. You dont do it year round, so after this cycle, you can either go back to normal body part training, or pick 3-4 different exercises, and do another minimulist program. High pulls-over head press- squats, might be a good one. The point is you will never know unless you try this type of training. Goodluck !


You do not want to deadlift while skipping the squat... that would create strength imbalance between your posterior chain and your Quads which will lead to injury...

YOU HAVE TO SQUAT, only you don't have to back squat, the front squat in VERY easy on the lower back and in even superior to the back squat when it comes to quads strength and development...

Now about your routine, these exercises are the base on anyone who wants to workout, and only after you've reached a certain level of strentgh with these major exercises do you move to more specialized routines and more "isolation" exercises... most beginners do it the other way around, so I think you are going about it the correct way.


I'm going to respectfully disagree with this, provided his deadlift form also heavily involves his legs, i.e., if his hips aren't rising too fast.

While I think squats are great, and should eventually be reincorporated, I don't believe that deadlifts without squats will lead to injury. RDLs without squats, maybe... but regular deads, I don't see it.


Why are you giving advice here, while at the same time posting questions in the beginer thred. Why are people giving advice, or complaining about a type of training they have never tried. If you havent tryed this type of traing, either try it, or shut up, and let the OP try it for him self. Also Ronald stop getting info from muscle mags, stick to this sight, books, and lifting, mabey in a couple years start giving adviice, when you have some to give. Goodluck, and PRs to all.


I agree the deadlift does involve the quads, but it does so minimally, the deadlift in similar to a quarter squat, you are starting the lift from higher position.

Quote: "The quarter squat position also puts more emphasis on the vastus medialis (the portion of the quadriceps right next to the kneecap) because this part of the quad is responsible for the last degrees of extension, as well as knee stabilization."

Deadlift do include the quads in the lift, but they are not optimal for full quads strength and development, it might not lead to injury right away, but only performing deadlift over a long period of time will lead the hamstrings and gultes to be stronger than the quads, which will create a muscular strength imbalance... the quads to be fully activated need to be worked in the full range of motion as the high position from the deadlift doesn't activate the whole quads in an optimal manner.

I am not saying you should never deadlift without squatting, but u should always have strength balance all over your body, as with the case of the highly common shoulder injury created by many lifter being stronger in the chest (bench press) than the back muscles... strength balance is crucial for healthy joints as any physical therapist would tell you.

Thanks, Ronald.


I was thinking of not replying because of your ignorant attitude...

but anyway, I never said only 3 months of this training will lead to injury, and I don't read muscle mags

and when the hell did I say it wasn't effective? I think you should be the one reading carefully, I only said you need a balanced workout for all your muscle groups so you don't create any strength imbalance, I don't recall saying anything else...

I also said this the correct way to train... so please read carefully as you are being really stupid (no offense)... and for the record I use the EXACT same workout, only I cycle squats and deadlift...

the OP said he was not gonna squat and that's what I was replying to, I never said his training wasn't effective, in fact i said the EXACT OPPOSITE of that, I said it the correct way only he shouldn't drop the the squat from his exercise list.


You could spend your entire life deadlifting without squatting and you wouldn't develop harmful imbalances. In fact, that's what a few old school lifters did.




Ok, let me rephrase...

the deadlift IMHO is not the best way to train the quads, even though it does train them...
and you should squat to train the quads the best way...

that's all I was saying.


I think most people agree with this. However, what you said was 'not squatting = muscle imbalances'. And the retort is: not critical ones. You could never squat and be a very healthy and strong dude; chances are your legs won't look like Tom Platz's, but still.


Ok thanks guys I really appreciate the advice.

There seemed to be a bit of controversy about the squat? I might try and shoot for high reps to keep my lower back happy!

Would it be suitable to squat one week and deadlift the next to allow for a full recovery or is this not enough stimulation?

I am currently thinking of a program that goes something like this:

Day 1: Deadlift, Pullup

Day 2: Incline bench, Barbell Row

I would swap between squats and deadlifts on alternate weeks

Should I swap Pullups for OHP?



OHP = trains your deltoids
PullUps = trains your back.

You should do both, not either-or.


if you can, post a vid of your squat to make sure it isn't a form issue.


Clauden I do know both exercises work different muscles but I was wondering which one would be of most value because I want to keep everything as simple as possible.

And Yes I will try and get a video up of my squat form however I am currently without a camera but hopefully will get one soon