Barry Ross Deadlift Protocol

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Aswilli4, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Aswilli4

    Aswilli4 Double-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Something I have always wondered and not sure if I have missed it or not but the Barry Ross Deadlift program states: "Do 2 or 3 sets of 2 or 3 reps each (85-plus percent of your 1-rep max), and then follow each set with plyometric exercises"

    While I love the approach I've never understood how one would build a program on this? Let's say for example the athlete is beginning his or her season (ie let's say 12 weeks or 3 months). For simple math, let's say their deadlift max is 100 lbs.

    It doesn't make sense to me that the athlete would lift 2 or 3 sets of 2 or 3 reps at 85 lbs every session (especially if they have 36 training sessions over the season (3/week for 12 weeks); as the law of accommodation would kick in. Would the program be structured to
    1) wave the load between 85-95 every few weeks
    2) linear progression ie (cycle 1 85,90,95 cycle 2 (add 5 lbs) 85, 90,95, etc.
    or perhaps some other variation?

    Hope that question makes sense and would love to hear how others view this program. Thanks in Advance!
  2. More than 500 posts

    Post Activation Potentiation Training, PAP

    This is a Conjugate Training Method (combining two different type of Strength Training) in the same training session.

    It is also know as...

    1) Contrast Training

    This uses the same exercise for Limit Strength Sets and Power and/or Speed Sets. Essentially, you Super Set the Strength Set with the Power and/or Speed Set.


    1) Limit Strength Exercise: A Fairly Heavy Deadlift.

    As Ross stated, the load at some point need to be above 85%. However, as you, I am a proponent of a progressive training cycle that start off lower and increases each week. More on that in a minute.

    You then rest 30 seconds to over three minutes. Then perform a...

    2) Power Strength Exercise: A Plyometric Exercise like a Jump Deadlift with a Light to Moderate Load. A Jump Deadlift essentially is an Olympic Jump Pull

    You then rest 30 to 3 minutes then perform a Heavy Limit Strength Squat.

    2) Complex Training

    The same principle applies as with Contrast Training.

    However, the difference is the movements are similar in nature but completely different exercises.


    1) Limit Strength Exercise: A Fairly Heavy Deadlift. Same protocol as listed above.

    2) Power Strength Exercise: A explosive exercise like an Olympic Pull or Kettlebell Swing with a light to moderate load.

    The Reason for Post Activation Potentiation Training

    Research shows that when a heavy movement is performed first, then followed after a rest period with a Power or Speed Movement, greater Power Output is produce; you are more explosive/faster.

    Valid, Excellent Points

    The foundation of my training is based on Post Activation Potentiation Training (Complex Training). I've employed this method since 1998, posting my best Powerlifts.

    My best lifts, years ago, were produce with the PAP/Complex Training Protocol in Powerlifting: Squat-562 lbs/255 kg, Bench Press-380lbs/172.5 kg, and Deadlift-617 lbs/280 kg at a body weight of 208 lbs.

    The take home message is the research information presented is back up with my personal experience.

    The Law of Accommodating Resistance

    Evidently, Barry's method has been effective. However, I believe a greater training effect can be elicited by implementing some type of progressive overload Periodization Training Cycles, you indicate.

    As you noted in your post above. I have determined that the "Law of Accommodation" (The General Adaptation Syndrome) does kick in.

    The greatest result are achieved when progressive loading occurs with both the Limit Strength Movement and the Power/Speed Movement with an Undulating Periodization Training Plan.

    "Building Strength and Power With Complex Training"
    Building Strength and Power With Complex Training - World Class Bodybuilding Forum

    This co-written article for Powerlifting USA in 2001 provides my presentation of the research data and my practical experience the Complex "PAP" Training based on a year of employing it.

    Article Correction

    Charles Poliquin was one of the smartest, great Strength Coaches of our time; one of the pioneers of Undulating Training.

    However, the information in my co-written article that quoted Poliquin on Ben Johnson (the Canadian Sprinter) performing Heavy Squat prior to Sprint is incorrect.

    After my article was published, Charlie Francis (one of the world's best Sprint Coaches) categorically stated Johnson never use PAP; performing Heavy Squats prior to his Sprints.

    The take home message from that is validate your resources; which I learned the hard way.

    Alternative PAP Limit Strength Methods

    Two other Limits Strength Methods that are effective at eliciting greater Power Output that follows in your Power and/or Speed Exercise is...

    1) Isometrics: Performing a maximal or near maximal 3 - 6 Isometric prior to your Power/Speed Movement is effective.

    2) Eccentric Movement: Performing a fairly Heavy Eccentric prior to your Power/Speed Movement works.

    The benefit of in performing an Isometric or an Eccentric is that both expend less energy than a Concentric Contraction.

    Kenny Croxdale
  3. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    There's a lot of Barry Ross material out there but as far as I am aware he doesn't train powerlifters or even weightlifters and his emphasis on lifting is how to get his athletes strong without interfering with their sport specific training. So Ross minimises fatigue and recovery by keeping the volume low. This means the weight goes high. Because his athletes still have their primary training to complete he stays below Prilepin guidelines which are designed for weightlifters. I think it was maybe Tim Ferriss said Ross had Maria Sharapova doing a single set of deadlift triples. Not enough for a weightlifter but plenty to get a tennis player strong
  4. More than 500 posts

    Reading Thing Into It

    You are reading thing into it. The same principle and application applies regardless of the sport.

    One of the primary keys is understanding the concept.

    The emphasis for Post Activation Potenitation Training for Powerlifter, Olympic Lifters, etc is to increase their Limit Strength and Power without interfering with their sport. That is the foundation of all training for sports, regardless of the protocol utilized.

    The Volume Vs Intensity Training Protocol

    Chris Thibaudeau's Volume Vs Intensity Training Protocol
    Chris Thibaudeau's Neuro Training Type

    I provide Cliff Note on Chris Thibadeau's video podcast on the above site.

    The Cliff Notes of the Cliff Notes is that some individual respond to Higher Volume Training while some respond to High Intensity Training.

    My PAP Training

    My PAP Training Session are low in volume and high in intensity; performed over a three week training cycle. That because I respond to low volume, high short intensity training.

    Maintaining Weekly 85% plus of 1 RM Deadlift

    The recommended Limit Strength Exercise needs to around 75% or more to elicit optimal force production in the Power or Speed Movement.

    However, the Law of Accommodation Resistance/The General Adaptation Syndrome eventually come into play, as AsWill4 stated.

    The General Adaptation Syndrome

    This means that eventually the body adapts. Progress stops. Continuing to push ends up leading to Overtraining; a regression in your strength, power, recovery, etc.

    Periodization Training

    This is a more optimal plan. Progressively loading with the final week of the training cycle being an all out effort; which is then followed by a new training cycle with a lighter load, Active Recovery.

    Abbreviated In Season Training

    In season training for every athlete needs to be abbreviated.

    So, this abbreviated training method would work for a tennis player and other athletes.

    Off Seasoning Training

    However, the off season program, even for an athletes that respond better to High Intensity Training would need to involve additional sets and and exercises.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    Same principles, yes; same application, no. Training primarily for strength or, for that matter, another physical attribute is different than training for a sport other than lifting.

  6. More than 500 posts

    Yes, the same principle.

    The application is essentially the same. One of the determinate factors is determined on the the sport.

    Individuals in Speed Sports should have an emphasis on following a Limit Strength Movement with a Speed Movement. Speed is best developed with loads of 10-40% of 1 Repetition Max, with approximately 30% of 1 Repetition Max appearing to be the sweet spot.

    Individuals in Power Sports should have an emphasis on following a Limit Strength Movement with a Power Movement. Power is best developed with loads 0f 48 - 62% of 1 Repetition Max.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

  8. More than 500 posts

    The program that I read on Ross' Training is fall into Post Actitvation Potentiation.

    Kenny Croxdale
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    IDK what that is but if memory serves, his runners would do their partial DLs and then they’d run.

  10. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    Alysson Felix training protocol
    Barry Ross 2003

    "Conventional deadlift to knees, 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps @ 85%...Plyometrics are performed
    immediately after the end of each set (box jumps of various heights x 4 -6 reps) Take five
    minutes after each set, with the five minute countdown starting after plyometrics."

    4 Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferris
 likes this.
  11. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    "Conventional deadlift to knees"

    So only a partial movement!?!?!? That's an awkward place to stop on the deadlift but a lot of Ross's training techniques seem to be about putting the body under stress in awkward positions. For example he has his track athletes train by walking their event as fast as possible (ie at the speed where the motion is ungainly)
  12. More than 500 posts

    Post Activation Potentiation Training

    Post Activation Potentiation Training is compose of perform a Limit Strength Exercise and then followed by a Power and/or Speed Movement.

    It doesn't matter if you perform a Full Range Movement or a Partial Range Movement.

    Thus, a Partial Range Deadlift (Limit Strength Exercise) and then a Sprint or Jump (Speed Movement) meets the definition.

    My PAP/Contrast Training utilizes Heavy Partial Range Movements followed by a Power Movement.

    1) Heavy Partial Range Good Morning/Power Kettlebell Swings

    2) Partial Range Belt Squats/Power Box Squats

    3) Heavy Partial Range Incline Press/Power Bench Press

    Kenny Croxdale
  13. More than 500 posts

    Partial Range Movements

    Partial Range Movements allow you to work and engage muscle differently in a movement.

    Evidently, Ross has a reason for using a PAP Limit Strength Haulting Deadlift prior to a Plyometric Movement for a reason.

    Hauting Deadlift

    Rippetoe demonstrates the Haulting Deadlift to the knee area. It is an effective exercise dependent on your training objective.

    An example is...

    Anna's Conventional Deadlift

    Anna has a strong Conventional Deadlift, 300 X 3.

    Conventional Deadlifters are traditionally strong off the floor, encountering the sticking point in the knee area.

    Anna's has a slow pull off the floor and is strong at the top.

    Anna used Haulting Deadlift to increase her Deadlift...

    Reporting Back

    "Yesterday I pulled 300x5 (a long time goal!) and it moved so much faster off the floor."

    "I've been doing the Halting deadlift...from the Mark Rippetoe video, to just above the knee ..."

    Source: Post #130
    Strong swing, weak deadlift - how to bridge the gap?

    Anna's much stronger and moving the weight dramatically faster with her 300 X 5 than she did 6 months prior with her 300 X 3.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
    Philippe Geoffrion and Anna C like this.
  14. Aswilli4

    Aswilli4 Double-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Glad the forum generated so much discussion. Anyone have any thoughts on that percentage and how it intelligently placed into an athlete's season as noted in the original question?
  15. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Good reporting, Yes while I can't say for sure that it was all due to employing that version of the Halting deadlift, I do feel like it helped and I definitely made deadlift progress in that training cycle. Also, credit of course to my coach at the time, @Bill Been -- following his guidance I got a lot stronger in the barbell lifts (which also carried over to kettlebell and bodyweight) from March 2018-March 2019 and had zero injuries or setbacks. Details are in my tranining log.

    Edit/Add: Today, being 1 month out from a major abdominal surgery, I feel that deadlifting helped me more than anything else! Having a strong back to hold you up is absolutely priceless when your front is compromised. From the first day post-op when the nurses were amazed at how easily I got out of bed, to the week following where I could walk and move with relative ease, to now a month out I've been back to work for almost 2 weeks and can sit/stand all day with no problems... a strong back is where it's at! And deadlifting is the way to build it.

    As for the original question...

    I don't know anything about the program other than what you quoted here, but I would take it to mean increase your weight such that you're always lifting about 85% of your 1RM. Most lifters know what that feels like without actually testing your 1RM. It should go up over time.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  16. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Over and above the excellent advice you've careful mixing sprinting and deadliifting at intensity. In season v off season is a very real consideration.
    When a young elite Olympic athlete achieves a result it does not imply that it would be a good fit for an older athlete or less experienced or less strong one. Tempting though it is, and certainly do not want to discourage anyone who wants to get faster, be wary of the total neural load. Messing too much will possibly make you slower with the 'it depends' variable....context.
    World record holding athletes are different from the rest of us muppets. I know many top elite level sprinters who are not strong strong and know some who look they have the build and power but their form is not up to scratch.

    I did deadlifts last year and had a calender mishap where dls intensity crept up alongside more intense sprinting....not a good idea. But I'm old. Just an example, not to be extrapolated to apply to all.

    I can't answer or offer any insight into weight room speed applications if seeking speed purely in the weight room but if seeking speed for sprinting then take a cautious approach.

    Perhaps modify it? If doing speed work, keep that volume low or lower than intended both session wise and weekly.

    Or do activities which reap some rewards of dl and plyos with a lower cns demand? Swings?Sprinting is repeated plyos at 1 rep max at max intensity. To recover from that and to stay fresh to sprint fast again is the priority in season.....will a dl or any activity impact that? That's your question, right? For most people who are not 21, it will. In off season, given rest from previous season, then maybe that's the time. Doing sub max sprinting? Where and when are you in a training cycle....short to long, long to short?

    Is it sprint speed for track or speed for sport?

    Sorry, more questions than answers.....
    LukeV likes this.
  17. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I have no experience with or prior knowledge of Barry Ross's training program, but a quick Google search for "Barry Ross Deadlift" turned up this thread from Charlie Francis's forum where Barry Ross discusses this. The link below goes to the post that I pulled the quotes from, but the whole thread has some interesting discussion.

    My quick takeaways:
    -- He runs his strength program more or less independently of the athletes other training or competition schedule.
    --Lifts should be heavy but "easy" as he defines below. That is, the bar should not hit a significant sticking point at any time. However, I don't see anywhere where he specifically discusses how he decides on poundages.
    -- For his athletes, avoiding the negative of the DL (dropping the bar without tension) is important.
    -- For his athletes, the plyos are an important complement to the DLs (he discusses this more in other posts in the thread).

    Barry Ross question about deadlift - Page 4

    But, Bear, if I am not mistaken you don't worry about this kind of thinking before competitions, or at any other time for that matter, as you don't seem to have a "structured" weight programme in the more traditional sense, if you want, but guided more by the feeling of the athlete, no?
    Barry Ross Response:
    In a

    I'm not a touchy-feely quy in the weightroom. A lift falls into 3 categories: easy, good or missed. Easy is, well ... easy. Good is a made lift in which the weight does not maintain a steady upward progress, regardless of speed. There is should be no hesitation once the bar begins to move. Missed is self-explanatory. The feeling of the athlete is not a consideration. If they had a good lift or a missed lift because of some mental or physical problem, I might take that into consideration when designing the next session.

    [Steve W. comment: It appears that "good" by this definition is NOT desirable.]

    It would be interesting to hear, however, how this works with your athletes before races; is there an element that varies in your programme (e.g., nature/volume/intensity of jumps, etc)? And how?
    Barry Ross Response:
    Only on the final goal meet of the season. They might get a break from scheduled lifting and stop as much as 3 days before the meet.
    Here's a case study from a high school coach who has used Ross's program, with some interesting additional discussion about the relationship between strength training and running speed:

    The Less-Traveled Road: Frans Bosch’s Path to Contextual Strength Training - SimpliFaster

    Aswilli4 likes this.
  18. jonnyt

    jonnyt First Timer

    I read Ross' book Underground Secrets to Faster Running and visited his website regularly while it he was still posting on it. I also had a few email exchanges with him. As far as I know, Ross has been retired for several years and is not in great health.

    Regarding the protocol mentioned in the original post, Ross stopped having his athletes do plyometrics not long after the original articles. The rationale for the partial lifting was to prevent injury and fatigue. The bar was dropped just above the knees as he felt it would stress the hamstrings. He was strictly interested in rate of force development. As has been mentioned, he was primarily training amateur sprinters at the high school and college level. The training only occurred in-season.

    His site,, is still active and run by one of his associates, Ken Jakalski, although it is not updated much. A great article on the evolution of the protocol can be found here: The Less-Traveled Road: Frans Bosch’s Path to Contextual Strength Training - SimpliFaster
  19. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    @jonnyt, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.


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