Sample Deadlift Training Cycles of StrongFirst Athletes

There are many ways to train for a deadlift only event. You can find some great preparatory cycles and training methods in many of Pavel’s books, the best being Power to the People Professional and Deadlift Dynamite, co-authored with deadlift king Andy Bolton. Marty Gallagher’s Purposeful Primitive has also proven an invaluable resource in my own, as well as many other lifters’ training.

The following are a couple of different approaches to deadlift training cycles used by the StrongFirst Deadlift Team’s members.

Derek Miller’s Deadlift Cycle

Sample Deadlift Training Cycles of StrongFirst Athletes
Derek Miller, SFG II and member of the StrongFirst deadlift team

Week 1
Front Squat (FSQ)—2×5 (2 set of 5 reps) @ 305 (75%)
Sumo Deadlift—5 @ 315, 405, 495, 525 (79%), 465 (70%)
Bent Row—5 @ 205, 255, 255
Two Hand Kettlebell Swing—5×10 @ 40kg

Back Squat (BSQ)—5 @135, 225, 315, 365(65%), 315
Conventional Deadlift (Cv DL)—5 @ 225, 315, 405, 455 (70%)

Week 2

FSQ—5, 5, 3 @ 305
Sumo—5 @ 315, 405, 495, 545 (82%), 465
Bent Row—3×5 @ 205, 255, 265
Left out the swings because ran out of time

BSQ—5 @ 135, 225, 315, 365, 405(73%), 365
Cv DL—5 @ 225, 315, 405, 475 (72%)
Barbell Lunge—10 each leg @ 115, 115, 115
Kettlebell Snatch—10 each @ 24kg, 24kg

Week 3

FSQ—5 @ 305
Sumo DL—5 @ 225, 315; 3 @ 405, 455, 495, 560, 560; 5 @ 465
Bent Row—5 @ 225, 225, 265
Two Hand Kettlebell Swing—4×10 @ 48kg

BS—5 @ 135, 225, 315, 365, 405; 3 @ 455(82%)
Cv DL—5 @ 225, 315, 405, 455 (70%)
Chins—3×10 @ bw
Kettlebell Snatch—10 each @ 24, 28kg

Week 4

FSQ—5 @ 135, 225, 275; 3, 3, 3 @ 315 (78%)
Sumo DL—5 @ 225, 315; 3 @ 405, 455, 495, 545, 575 (87%), 575, 465@5
Bent Row—5 @ 205, 245, 275
Double Kettlebell Swing—5×10 @ 24kg

BSQ—5 @ 135, 225, 275, 315, 365, 405; 3, 3 @ 455
Chins—3×10
Barbell Lunge—3×10 @ 135
Kettlebell Snatch—2×10 @ 32kg

Week 5

FSQ—5 @ 135, 225, 275, 315 (78%)
Sumo DL—5 @ 315, 405; 3 @ 455, 495; 2 @ 555, 600, 600, 600 (90%)
Bent Row—5 @ 225, 245, 295
Double Kettlebell Swing—5×10 @ 24kg

BSQ—5 @ 135, 225, 275, 315; 3 @ 365, 405, 455; 1 @ 475, 495 (89%)
Barbell Lunge—10 @ 115, 115, 115
Kettlebell Snatch—2×10 @ 32kg; 5 @ 40kg

Week 6

Sumo DL—5 @135; 3 @ 225, 315, 405, 495; 1 @ 615, 615, 615(93%)

Week 7
Meet—Pulled 660 at 255 bodyweight on 3rd attempt.

Aris DeMarco’s Deadlift Training

Sample Deadlift Training Cycles of StrongFirst Athletes
Aris DeMarco – 417.5 @ 137

Deadlifts only for seven weeks. Reason: food choices at home limited recovery, so I decided to specialize. Pull twice weekly, once working on power off the floor; once training lockout (my main weakness). I went almost entirely by feel. Too many variables (uneven and/or wet floor, no chalk, etc.) to put together a meaningful percentage-based cycle.

Sample Week:

  • Session 1: Beltless speed pull doubles in 2-3 progressive waves of 3-4 sets (e.g. 215×2, 245×2, 275×2; 235×2, 265×2, 295×2, 315×2). Many sets were videotaped; the goal was to deadlift the heaviest weight possible in 1 second.
  • Session 2: Either ramp up to a top deadlift set of 3-5 with a belt, or a heavy double-paused single (pause just off the floor, pull to knee, pause again, explode to lockout). Double-paused top single was often followed by a set of 5-10 in the beltless RDL.
  • Best training sets: 335×2 speed pull, 360×4 belted deadlift, 365×1 double-paused belted deadlift, 300×5 beltless RDL. Took 8 days off and pulled 412.5 weighing 137, raw and wrap-less, i.e. belt only. 17lb PR, first triple bodyweight deadlift, first place 148lb class, unofficial IPA state record.

How You Should Train the Deadlift

I would strongly encourage all of you, even if you haven’t quite attained your qualifying poundage for the StrongFirst Deadlift Team, to pick up one of the previously mentioned books, find an experienced powerlifter, and get access to a barbell and set of plates so you can start pulling. You’ll never know what you’ll unleash until you try.

Also, the following SFL instructors, all experienced competitive lifters, are available for paid distance consultations for meet preparation and the design of deadlift training cycles:

Jason Marshall
Master SFG, SFL, SFB
Jason Marshall is the owner of a performance training studio in Lubbock, Texas called Lone Star Kettlebell. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science from Texas Tech University in 2001. He is currently a Master Instructor with the StrongFirst organization. He also holds a Certified Personal Trainer designation from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Jason trains athletes and students of strength from all walks of life ranging from many different populations for fat loss to improvement in movement quality for a better life. Jason has been involved with competitive athletics via many sports since his childhood. He is still competitive as a drug-free, unequipped powerlifter, with competition bests in the 181lb weight class of: 463 squat, 319 bench, and 617 deadlift.

Jason can be contacted by email for coaching and consultation via email at lonestarkettlebell@gmail.com.
Jason Marshall on FacebookJason Marshall on Youtube

2 thoughts on “Sample Deadlift Training Cycles of StrongFirst Athletes

  • For the Derek Miller deadlift cycle, do you have suggested weights to use for a female of 135 pounds? The percentages help but there are not percentages noted in each place (see week 1 conventional and sumo dl weights).
    Thank you.

    • Aug 2 2014 the ymca o greater flint mi. Is holding a charity deadlift competition, for a deceased member of the powerlifter team, I’m a 64yr old instructor at the y and looked over your chart on deadlift the weigh seems a little high for starters I’m sure you have a novice weigh . I spend 26yrs in the Army I run 10miles under 2hours it’s the younger members never have but want to compete in the charity the y will give the family’s dollar per pound , could you suggest something for me. Tom Salvador S.F.C Retired Army thank you .

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