How To Build A Dynamic Deadlift

WRITTEN BY Eric Bach

No lift is a better indication of brute strength and determination than possessing one hell of a dynamic deadlift. Conversely, no exercise leaves a trail of busted backs and plateaus quite as often as deadlifts.

The culprit?

Faulty technique and haphazard programming.

Today, we’re going to fix both and leave you equipped with the tools and specific program to take your deadlift from stagnant to superior and prepare you for a P.R. in the next ten weeks.

But there is a catch: this isn’t for beginners. I’ve used this with one client to take his deadlift from 600 pounds to a competition lift of 683lbs. You need an accurate idea of your current max and the fortitude to step up to the plate.

Are you ready?

If you are, let’s do it.

Dynamic Warm-Up

The biggest problem areas for most deadlifts originate from poor hip mobility and glute engagement. To prevent debilitating injuries to your back it’s imperative to attack these areas at the start of every single training session.

I think of this as building a tower:

  • Mobility provides the basic structural foundation.
  • Activation provides the support to build a bigger tower to withstand wind, forces, and support hundreds of millions of pounds.
  • Without a foundation of mobility or reinforcements from activation, the tower is unsafe. Your body works the same way, especially when you’re hoisting weights meant for a small crane at the end of this program.

Follow the warm-up drills in the playlist for 1×8 daily, even when you’re not in the gym to for pain-free performance.

Power Up Your Central Nervous System (CNS)

Squat jumps are performed first to utilize the powerful effects of potentiation and neural recruitment. Post-activation potentiation primarily occurs in type 2 fast twitch muscle fibers, so this advanced technique is best used to maximize the performance of explosive activities like weightlifting and sprinting (1,2).  Basically, this improves how many muscle fibers you’ll recruit, how quickly you can recruit them, and how many muscle fibers “fire” simultaneously.

Altogether, you’re giving your body a jolt of additional horsepower.

Submaximal Training

Most trainers run through the gamete of workouts pushing damn near every workout to maximum intensity. Heck, if you’re not lifting as heavy as possible how can you expect to make gains, right?

Wrong.

The goal of any sound program is to build strength and improve, not chronically test limit strength and fizzle out. Trust me, I fell into the same trap only to be met with injuries, plateaus, frustrating sessions, and countless hours learning changed this. Training isn’t about putting your body through the most hell possible. Training is about maximizing each rep and each session while minimizing risk. Progress is the goal, not putting yourself through the ringer so you can brag on Instagram.

That’s a recipe for date in your local physical therapy clinic, not the gym. Now, I base training maxes off of 95% of competition max, similar to 5/3/1 philosophy to spare the nervous system, train speed and decrease injury risk. As a result, you’ll be building strength and leaving workouts better, not beaten down.

Exercise Selection

dynamic deadlift

When it comes to exercise selection there are two sides of the spectrum. Too little variation and you’ll plateau, suffer overuse injuries from redundant movement patterns, and revert to scanning Instagram between sets out of pure misery.

Alternatively, too much variation prevents progress and keeps you weak, puny, and suffering from workout ADD.

We’ll combat both in this program. You’ll be using a combination of snatch grip deadlifts, dead pulls, deficit deadlifts, and of course, conventional deadlifts to obliterate weak points while optimizing the deadlift movement pattern.

Training Calculations

Let’s assume a 450lb deadlift.

450x.95 = 427.5lbs = Your Training Max

Max = 450 Training Max = 428

  • 95% = 406
  • 92.5% = 395
  • 90% = 363
  • 85% = 363
  • 80% = 342
  • 75% = 321
  • 70% = 300
  • 65% = 278
  • 60% = 325

Assistance Work

You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: Accessory work is meant to assist, not be your focus. No one cares how many glute ham raises you can do or what you leg press.

Select auxiliary exercises based upon weaknesses and sticking points, picking two to four exercises for two to four sets of eight to fifteen reps per set.

With this much variation, I am leaving this up to you, but will provide the explosive work and main movers for this program.

Bio-mechanically lever arms and torso to limb lengths must be taken into account when selecting assistance exercises. Conventional deadlifts require a greater range of motion and begin the pull with greater hip flexion, creating a higher demand for lower back strength. In this case, good mornings and reverse hypers would be a phenomenal exercise choice.dynamic deadlift

Conversely, sumo deadlifters pull from a more upright posture and avoid higher lumbar loads that are associated with horizontally included positions. In this case, I’d hammer front squats or Anderson front squats (front squats from the pins) to train your lower body but give the spine a bit of a break.

A Sample Program


This is a sample program for your major compound lifts. Additional tweaks will be needed for your specific weak points.

Week 1 (Preparation)

The first two weeks are some preparatory work. Nothing fancy.

Warm up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%

  1. Bodyweight Squat Jumps 3×6 reps
  2. Deadlift 3×3, 75% Rest 3-5 minutes
  3. Romanian Deadlift 4×8, rest 2 minutes

Week 2 (Preparation)

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Bodyweight Squat Jumps 3×6 reps (10-15 lbs max)
  2. Deadlift 5×3, 75% Rest 3-5 minutes
  3. Romanian Deadlift 4×8, rest 2 minutes

Week 3

Weeks three through five ramps up the intensity, using both pulls from blocks and deficit pulls to up-regulate the nervous system and provide variety without de-training the movement pattern.

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Dumbbell Squat Jump 3×5 (15-20lbs max)
  2. Deadlifts from blocks (2 inches): 4×3 @80%. 3×3 @85%                     

Week 4

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Dumbbell squat Jumps 4×5
  2. Speed Deadlift: 5×1@65%, 1×1 @70%, 1×1 @75%, 3×1@ 80% Rest 1-2 minutes                                                                                                     

Week 5

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Box Jumps 3×3 (increase height)                                                      
  2. Deficit Deadlifts standing on a 1-inch mat: Singles Up to 92.5%                  
  3. Dead pull 3×5 w/70% 1-RM, rest 90 seconds

Week 6

Week six is a deload using the snatch grip deadlift. The greater range of motion and difficult grip require a lighter load to be used. Make no mistake, these are still difficult.

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Box Jumps 5×2 37inches                                                         
  2. 2 Inch Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift: 6×5  @70-75% (straps allowed)
  3. Dead pull 3×5 w/70% 1-RM, rest 90 seconds

Week 7

Don’t wet yourself in excitement, but week seven is all out. Suit up if you wish and work up to singles as high as 105-110% training max. If preparing for a meet find your opener with this workout. Hit a PR, slap hands with your buddies, and go kiss pretty girls.

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Explosive Work: Box Jumps 4×2 40 inches
  2. Max Effort Deadlift: Ramp singles to 105-110% training max *Full suit, find an opener.

Week 8 (14 Days Out)

If planning for a meet week eight would be fourteen days out. Suit up and do ramping singles up to 90 or 95% training max. Don’t grind reps, stay explosive!dynamic deadlift

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perf

orm three or four ramping sets 

30-60%.

  1. Explosive work: Box Jumps: 3×2 40 inches
  2. Speed Deadlift Full Gear: 4×1 @ 70%, 3×1 @80% 
 2×1@ 85%, 1×1 @90-95%                                            

Week 9 (7-10 days out)

Tapering being in week nine, as pre-deadlift box jumps become optional. Not feeling fresh? Don’t sweat it and skip the jumps. Suit up and pull explosive singles up to 80% training max but no higher.

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

  1. Explosive Work: Box Jumps 3×3 40 Inches *Optional, based on freshness
  2. Speed  Deadlifts Full Gear  4×1 @75%, 2×1@80%                                         

Week 10 (Meet Week)

Week ten is meet week OR max-out week. Dial things back until your big day, work up to 60% for three sets of two if necessary three days before. The only training goal is to feel some weight and get mentally ready.

Warm Up sets: Take care of dynamic speed work. Lift each rep as if it’s your max. Perform three or four ramping sets 30-60%.

Optional: 1×1@60%, 2×1@70%, 1×1@80%

Week ten is meet week OR max-out week. Dial things back until your big day, work up to 60% for three sets of two if necessary three days before. The only training goal is to feel some weight and get mentally ready.

Wrap Up

The deadlift is the purest form of strength in sports. But if you abuse it, you’ll be beaten, battered, and frustrated with your lack of progress.

That ends today.

Incorporate intelligent loading, a dynamic warm-up to minimize injury and maximize CNS function and you have a winner. Heed this program and you’ll be on your way to a new deadlift PR in ten weeks.

Resources.

1.) French DN, Kraemer WJ, Cooke CB. Changes in dynamic exercise performance following a sequence of preconditioning isometric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):678-85.

2.) Hilfiker R, Hübner K, Lorenz T, Marti B. Effects of drop jumps added to the warm-up of elite sports athletes with a high capacity for explosive force development. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):550-5.

Author: Eric Bach
Eric Bach, CSCS is the owner of Bachperformance.com where he helps busy guys retake their athleticism and look better naked.
You can find Eric Bach at http://www.bachperformance.com

Get your hands on my cheat sheet for setting up training programs that took a 132lbs. skinny weakling from not being able to bench the bar to deadlifting 3x his own body weight and winning silver at the nationals.

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