Supersets & Struggle-Sets for Advanced Deadlifts

Posted on 03 Jun 2015 22:44


I am about to make some radical changes to my training and I wanted to update you with my plans.

First off: I will not be posting individual workout training videos because this is taking up too much of my time and I am going to be dedicating a lot more of my time to growing the LiftBIGNow YouTube channel. Instead, I will be including footage from my workouts in the LiftBIGNow videos to assist my voice-overs. The only workouts I am going to be featuring as individual training videos are deadlifts.

I am now armed with a new plan for Deadlifts. I have truly hit a plateau on this lift because I am able to do a lot of volume in the 90%+ range but I am unable to break through 507 or thereabouts. So I am going to be experimenting with a bunch of different techniques to get the job done. A lot of this is advanced stuff and I say this not as a badge of honor but because this stuff can make me or break me and I need to be really cautious with how I go about this.


Before I begin detailing these changes, I want to give you a layout of my current workout plan. I cover 6 workouts in 10 days.

Workout 1: Deadlifts (Main)
Workout 2: Back & Biceps
Workout 3: Legs & Triceps/Press
Workout 4: Back & Deadlifts
Workout 5: Back & Biceps
Workout 6: Squats & Triceps/Press

I will be incorporating two new techniques for deadlifts: supersets and struggle sets. The first is something I have never done before and the second is something I am repeating after 3 years.


Supersetting Deadlifts and Back Exercises

I will be starting with 207.5 kgs 457 lbs and doing singles or doubles with this weight. I am choosing this weight because it is 90% of my 1RM of 230 kgs 507 lbs and therefore a good place to begin at. I will superset each of these deadlift sets with one back exercise. I will rotate through 3 back exercises and the exercises I have chosen for this cycle are: dumbbell rows, high to low band rows and band shrugs. The rep ranges for the back exercises are 10-20 reps and mostly to failure. For example, my first workout may look something like this:

DL 207.5 kgs x 2 reps
DB Rows 35 kgs x 15 reps
DL 207.5 kgs x 1 rep
High to Low Band Rows No. 2 x 20
DL 207.5 kgs x 2 reps
Band Shrugs No. 2 x 15

I will be progressing by adding tiny bits of weight to the bar for some (if not all) of the sets for Deadlifts every week. This technique goes on Day 1 which is the main Deadlift workout.

Graduated Deadlift Struggle Sets

The second technique I am going to be using after 3 years. I will be doing Graduated Deadlift Struggle Sets and this will go on Day 4 of the routine. I will be placing the bar at various heights inside the cage and then deadlifting the bar till it hits the safety rods which will prevent me from achieving full range of motion. At this point once the barbell goes against the safety rods which will be placed at shin level, at knees and at thighs (I will be moving the rods after each set so for example the first set will have the rods placed at shin height then for the second set it will be placed at knee level) I will continue to pull against the bar thereby adding in the “struggle” bit. I am going to be ultra careful and start relatively light. So what this workout will look like (for example) is:

175 kgs x 5 seconds @ Pre-Lockout
175 kgs x 5 seconds @ Knee Level
175 kgs x 3 seconds @ Shin Level

Each one of these is a separate “set” with regular rest intervals between them and all 3 of these is one round. I will probably do 1-2 rounds per workout and the goal will be to add weight to the bar each week. After the graduated deadlift struggle sets I will use the same weight of 175 kgs and/or perhaps lighter at 155 kgs which is 67% of my 1RM and do 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps for “volume” work.

This workout will fall on Day 4 of the layout and I will not be doing any particular back training following this because I expect this to be severely taxing.

Initial Impressions

This is going to be a very exciting challenge and my main concern is to play it as safe as possible so as not to reinjure myself or irritate past injuries. However, I am sure that this type of change will really help push my deadlifts. As a caveat to this I want to mention that with all the increased back work on these two days I will be reducing some of my volume on back training days for the rest of the 4 workouts. I am very excited to try this out.

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