T Nation

Overcoming 3 Year Deadlift Plateau

Right, I’ve decided to face the hordes and ask for advice on overcoming a deadlift plateau I’ve had since 2008…

I started weight training in 2005 at a lean BW of around 70kg. In 2008 I hit a deadlift PR of 200kg at about 80kg. At the time my other lifts looked something like:
Squat 1RM @ 130kg
RDL 4x6 @ 110kg
Military press 1x6 @ 55kg

Between 2008 and now I’ve suffered several shoulder dislocations and a torn hamstring but have managed to increase my BW to 97kg. Over the years I’ve rotated through Thib’s Beast Building, Wendler 5/3/1, Smolov base cycles and Crossfit every now and then. My lifts now look something like:
Squat 9 reps at 137.5kg
RDL 5x10 @ 110kg
Military press 1x6 @ 60kg

In this time I’ve made several attempts to deadlift above 200kg, but I never get it off the floor. Not even 202.5kg. I’m sure this must be a mental barrier but I just can’t seem to break it. Its as though my body refuses to put effort in off the floor.

Does anyone have any tips on overcoming such a (possibly) mental barrier?

definetely a mental barrier, since your squat has increased. Rack pulls, starting 2 inches above knee, and lowering every week is what I would suggest.An 8-week cycle would suffice. Feeling heavier loads at first, and as time time passes by getting nearer to the floor seems just right in your situation. Hope I helped :slight_smile:

Are you suggesting I keep the weight the same, and lower it in height each week? I presume to challenge the idea that 200+ is too heavy for me I’d have to work with something like 205/210.

Yah. I would start with it like right over the knee cap and work up to a 2-3 singles at the goal weight of say 210. Then lower the bar only about 1 inch each week for whatever 8 weeks ish until its on the floor. For the last couple weeks you may only want to work up to 1-2 singles.

This is one approach and not a bad one.

I personally think you probably have a problem with form if you are stuck at 200kg. So, I think that doing a sheiko style routine might work better. I don’t mean doing like the full routine (though you could if you feel up to it), but I think maybe doing 2 sessions per week, 1 deadlift and the other either rack pulls or deficit deadlifts. Work up to 60-90% (reserve the 60% for deficits and the 90% for rack pulls) 1rm then do somewhere from 3x2 (85%) down to maybe 4x6 (65%) and any of the other massive variety of combinations. For these, make sure every rep is fast and your form is PERFECT. That is the key. Tight, fast and with flawless form. I think that you may want to run these percentages off of like 175kg to start then you can up it as you feel good. I think 8 weeks of this and you will jump in capabilities. O and another thought, try sumo if you never have, you may find you like it!

Even if you stick with conventional, adding in some sumo deads might help. I know the westside guys like to train a lot using the opposite stance used in competition.

Start lifting in pounds…mental barrier goes away and you get an instant 2.2x PR…problem solved…

On a serious note…if you’re positive its just a mental barrier, I have seen some people say to smash through it (i.e. go for 210 kg, skipping the baby steps) or to load up the bar with odd sized plates (not just 20 kg plates)…so maybe my advice to lift in pounds wasn’t so bad after all!

I’ve been looking back at my logs as I remember dabbling with rack pulls a few months ago. From just above the knee as a few of you have suggested, I hit 230kg for 5. So I think i’ll start a period of weekly rack pulls and see where that leads.

Also, I’ve been incorporating snatch grip deadlifts for the last two months, when i start to plateau on these I think i’ll give sumo a try. By this point i should have spent a while heavy rack pulling and then will be the time to try my deadlift again I reckon.

Cheers for the thoughts guys.

Sign up with Josh Bryant . I found out I wasn’t working enough. He quickly put a stop to it .

Dynamic Effort Pulls help to focus your power off the floor. I have done this sort of Progressive Movement Training idea described above and liked it and had good results (went from 405 lbs to 475 lbs in 7 weeks). There is a good article by Chad Waterbury on this site outlining this sort of program. Honestly though if your issue is at the floor there isn’t much point in starting up so high in my opinion. At the most I’d raise the bar six inches and work your way down. Deficit pulling could be a really good option for you. Use small deficits 1 to 2 inches and strict form (try switching sumo and conventional as mentioned above).

Also, are you abs strong enough (they never are and are often neglected)? Is your upper back strong enough (it never is)? Post a video and let folks check your form out (use 90% or more of max for evaluation). There are some strong folks on here that I am sure would help you out.

My two cents… Good luck.

After finally pulling more than 200 kg today I thought I’d better top and tail this thread.

Tore 205 kg from the ground today, felt so good that I jumped to 215 kg. This came an inch or two off the ground but by that point I’d knackered myself so it got no further. However, I now feel much more energised that I can grow my deadlift :smiley:

Since starting the thread, I’ve worked through Chad’s PMT plan but gained little from this. I then took a look at my weaknesses again and implemented speed deadlifts at 50-60% once per week, added good mornings as my assistance lift in 5/3/1 and have been hitting (natural) glute-ham raises hard.

Checking some of Dave Tate’s videos as well I’ve focussed on pulling my chest up and back from the start of the lift.

So, it look me three years to find the answer, but I got there! Now on to 500 lbs…

Have you ever used any chains or resistance bands? Use these for all deadlifts workouts for 4 weeks and you’ll be ripping it off the floor.

Or here’s another half-joking way to break through a mental barrier. Have a training buddy load the weight up with unconventional plates without you looking…and not telling you how much weight is on there. Walk up. Pick it up. That way you do’nt know whether it’s 3rd set, 4th set…that you are PRing on. He can even lie to you…lol…and on the drive home be like, “yea, you totally had a PR already by set 4, set 5 was even more! I just didn’t wanna spoil it for you!”