Why Only One Work Set of Deadlifts?

Might be a stupid question but hey. So Starting Strength specifically prescribes only one working set of deadlifts, saying that any more would be too taxing (even for a beginner). I’m currently only using a single work set as well, but I’m wondering if this is enough. I certainly don’t feel too smashed afterwards… which is probably for the better, but I digress.

I know that deadlifts are taxing on the CNS etc., but I can’t think of any other exercise where one set twice a week would cut it. Are deadlifts just too taxing to mess around with, or can you add more volume? Should you add more volume, or do the risks outweigh the rewards?

The reason why is because Mark Rippetoe is a silly man whose strengths are as an author rather than a producer of athletes.

You can do more sets of deadlifts if you want to. Follow a program that does.


I don’t get it either. There is an argument for keeping deadlift volume low, but there is no reason you can’t do more than one set.

I like at least 3 work sets for DL’s, personally. 5 ideally.

Isn’t that one set of deadlift after 5x5 on two other big lifts? I don’t really remember SS that well though.

As a general rule, absent any knowledge of the rest of the program, it cannot be said that more than one workset of deadlifts per week is too much.


If you’re going for failure (which is not wise to do on deads), then one set is enough. But there’s no reason you can’t do 2-3 challenging sets of deads, granted that your form is on point.

It depends what intensity youre capable of putting in… 99% sure you can’t put enough if youre asking :wink:

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Best asking in the Starting Strength forums (or searching there as this has been asked before).

It depends on how you train and which program you run. Take “super squats” for example. If you’re doing the program right you will not be able to perform another set. Similarly with 531. If you’re doing it right you can’t do another work set, or at least theres no need to.

Working up to a “hard” top set and hitting back off sets of a set % (day 80-85% of top set) for 3-5 sets of 3-5 Reps depending what you want and what works for you And what % you settle on is a great easy way to regulate a lift and get practice on it. You just have to find what works for you.



Thanks for the advice everyone, appreciate it!