The 5-Week TSC Deadlift Plan

Did you suddenly decide to compete in the TSC and realize your deadlift is not where it needs to be?

All is not lost. If you have decent technique and you have been faithful about building your base with sets of five, the following five-week plan will give you more than a fighting chance of a PR.

The 5-Week TSC Deadlift Plan

The plan is built around heavy singles and this is why it is not for everyone. Soviet experiments showed that intermediate lifters have the most to gain from near-max lifts. Beginners tend to get hurt with such heavy weights and the advanced burn out.

For the purposes of our plan, your max pull needs to be 1.25-1.75 times your bodyweight if you are a lady and 2-2.5 times if you are a gent. If you are weaker or stronger than these numbers, you need a different program.

The plan is built around a progressively heavier single each Saturday—four Saturdays before the TSC:

1. 85% 1RM
2. 88%
3. 91%
4. 94%
5. TSC: Max

Work up to the listed single using low reps and large weight jumps. For example:

50% x 4
60% x 3
70% x 2
75% x 1 (optional)
80% x 1
85% x 1
91% x 1

After the heavy single rest for a few minutes, take 5% of your 1RM off the bar, and do one hard back-off set. All the reps must be done from a dead stop. Grind—but stop before your form gets compromised. Never let your lower back go into flexion!

John Inzer Deadlift
John Inzer, who pulled a historic 780 at 165lbs of bodyweight, trained with heavy singles followed by tough back-off sets.

StrongFirst’s standard operating procedure of terminating a set as soon as the reps start slowing down does not apply to this program. You must grind these deads to prepare yourself to fight through the sticking point on the TSC day. Not to be abused over a long term, this combination of a heavy single and a hard back-off set of 6-10 reps is a very powerful short-term tactic.

There is no back-off set on week four, after the 94% single. With the back-off sets your plan looks like this:

1. 85% x 1, 80% x RM
2. 88% x 1, 83% x RM
3. 91% x 1, 86% x RM
4. 94% x 1
5. TSC: Max

If you are an explosive puller, add a speed day on Tuesdays, e.g., 65% for 10-15 singles. If you are a grinder, do no more pulls than listed.

Power to your pulls!

Pavel Tsatsouline
Pavel Tsatsouline is the CEO of StrongFirst, Inc.

4 thoughts on “The 5-Week TSC Deadlift Plan

  • If I were using the StrongFirst Symmetry & Contrast Cycle for 8 weeks and took a week for deloading, would it be smart to use this training before the TSC?

  • Pavel, great post! About ten years ago your book PTTP revolutionized my training outlook. At a BW of 165, I went from a 275 lb deadlift to 395 in about 4 months. I never have progressed much beyond this despite now weighing about 180. Your article indicates that this program may not work well for someone like me who is pulling more than 1.5 times BW. Why? Would it be due to CNS fatigue?
    I would appreciate your insights! Thanks!

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