“If something is important. Do it every day.”—Dan Gable.
The most feared and revered barbell lift.
The most neurologically taxing exercise.
The “king of all lifts.”
The list of ways to describe the barbell deadlift goes on and on.
In December of 2021, the question that wouldn’t leave my mind was:
“Is it possible to deadlift a barbell every day? Without overtraining?”
The quest ensued.
However, before I share how the journey ended. It’s important you know how it started.
I’m just a regular guy.
A husband, father of two, and a Jiu-Jitsu junkie with 21+ years of mat experience. Everything I’ve ever done “athletically” over the last 20+ years was to gain an unfair advantage on the mat and be a better dad.
Then I found the deadlift (or it found me).
For years, I was terrible at it.
I started deadlifting in 2013 in preparation for the first SFL certification in Tucson Arizona. I enrolled without knowing the standards (smart move buddy, smart move).
Little did I know… I had to deadlift two times my body weight to pass (which put me at 405lb).
This has always been my MO. When I know what I want, I just get started and figure things out along the way.
I went to a colleague’s gym and asked if I could use his barbells to do a strength test.
(At the time, I only used and taught kettlebells at my gym.)
I barely pulled 350lb and left shaking my head.
How was I going to add 55lb to my deadlift in four weeks?!
I found Pavel and Dan John’s book, Easy Strength and used the “Justa’s Singles” program for four weeks.
At the SFL certification in Tucson, I ended up pulling 405lb (wipes the back of his hand across his forehead. Phew!).
And that’s where my deadlift stayed: 405lb.
From 2013 until late 2014 my deadlift didn’t move.
It didn’t matter how many powerlifting programs I ran. How much coaching and cueing Jason Marshall gave me… My deadlift wasn’t improving (even Easy Strength stopped working).
Mid-2014 Pavel asked several instructors if we wanted to test some experimental deadlift plans for a project he was working on.
I jumped on the opportunity.
And the end result?
My deadlift jumped from 405lb to 440lb in eight weeks.
But I was still terrible at deadlifting.
In late 2014, Pavel announced Plan StrongTM.
A system of strength training faithfully adapted from the Soviet weightlifting model, outlining how to leverage the system for kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight programming.
(Also, the same system he used to write the experimental plans we tested earlier that year).
Then in 2015 I attended a two-day barbell collaboration between Pavel and Andy Bolton.
There during a Q+A session, I heard Pavel give a profound answer to a question about using “assistance exercises” to build a bigger deadlift.
“Don’t worry about assistance exercises, you have nothing to assist.”
It has stuck with me to this day.
From that day on… I committed to first getting stronger and better at the skill of deadlifting.
And everything changed.
Within a five-year period, by following the Plan Strong system and focusing on the skill of deadlifting.
My deadlift exploded from 405lb to 639lb.
Without a belt, straps, or assistance exercises.
Without interfering with me being a husband and father.
Without sabotaging my efforts on the BJJ mat.
Basically… without training like a powerlifter.
I just did two things:
- Followed the Plan Strong system.
- Only trained the deadlift.
Now, let’s revisit the question I asked in December of 2021.
I hadn’t followed a deadlift plan since pulling 639lb in April of 2018.
And because getting better at the deadlift was the cause of my success, I asked myself…
“What would happen if I deadlifted a barbell every day?”
I’m always looking for ways to challenge my mind and emotions. And what better way to do this and grow in virtue than to deadlift a barbell every day?
… and that’s when the “Deadlift Daily” experiment began.
The first set of plans I wrote was for 30 days.
Deadlift Daily Framework
Note: “Heavy” is in reference to volume. Intensity peaked on day 3 of Cycle A.
Cycle A: Day 1-3
Cycle B: Day 5-7
- Technical Day
Technical Day: This day I practiced the skill of deadlifting. Focused on improving posture, positioning, leverage, speed, etc. I also used this as an “active recovery” day.
I began with a “conservative approach.”
I established some rep ranges based on the central weights I was going to use (65%, 75%, and 85% of my 1RM) and an “auto-regulated” approach to “ease myself in.”
On day seven I crashed and burned.
Prior to this, I had never experienced what it was like to “overtrain.”
I don’t recommend it.
And wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
(The question popped in my head again… is it possible to deadlift a barbell every day?)
That first week I had pulled 172 reps.
(FYI: In the Plan Strong system, 150 to 250 lifts are recommended for the month. I pulled that in one week.)
I wasn’t ready to give up.
I went back to my roots and what I learned from Pavel and the Plan Strong system.
At the end of the 30 days, I completed 400 lifts and added 50lb to my “training max” (from 505lb to 555lb) with plenty of juice in the tank.
Traditionally after pulling a max attempt… you want to take a break for about 4+ weeks.
The next day I was back to pulling 500+ lb.
For month two, I wanted to see if I could pull a little more volume. I scheduled myself for 500 lifts.
After 60 days… I added another 40lb to my “training max” (555lb to 595lb) with juice left in the tank.
The last month, I pulled 600 lifts (insane volume for the deadlift!).
In total… I pulled for 85 straight days (92 including the initial seven days) and closed with 575lb for a triple.
Aesthetically I dropped 15lb and 2% body fat. My endurance on the mat is the best it’s ever been.
My resting HR is around 39-45 BPM.
And all I did was deadlift every day following the Plan Strong system.
(Well, that’s not 100% true. I did throw in some dips and chin-ups in month two.)
If you want to know how to put a series of training plans like this together for your favorite kettlebell, barbell, or bodyweight exercise, I encourage you to attend the next Plan Strong event.
I’ll be leading the next event alongside my colleague and Strong First Certified Master Instructor, Fabio Zonin.
I will reveal the exact series of volume and intensity “variants” (such as the Roman’s 2-4 1986 variant) which allowed me to pull up to 600 deadlifts in a month without overtraining, staying as fresh as possible, and not interfering with my vocation as a husband and father.
As a bonus I’ll be giving away the exact “Deadlift Daily Protocol” I wrote to add 90lb to my deadlift along with my personal training log to all attendees of the next Plan Strong event.
It will give you the framework to build your first Plan Strong program for your favorite barbell, kettlebell, or bodyweight exercise.
One thought on “How to Deadlift a Barbell Every Day”
Great article, Hector.
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