Deadlift Struggle Sets w/ VIDEO (6 July 2015)

Posted on 07 Jul 2015 14:34


Struggling against the racks to lock out the deadlift is extraordinarily grueling!

What is a Struggle Set?

A struggle set is when you block the barbell from being lifted any farther at some predetermined height in the deadlift, such as mid-shin, or knees. The best way to do this, for those who are able, is to use a squat rack or cage. The bar goes underneath the pins, which are set at the height at which you want the bar to be arrested.

When you lift the bar, you lift as normal. Then, once the bar reaches the pins, it is blocked from moving any further, unless you're superhuman and can lift the weight on the bar plus move the entire squat rack. If you can do this, you are probably cheating on the bar weight!

Now, once the bar reaches the stopping point and you can't lift it any higher, you don't stop. You keep on "struggling" to lift the immovable bar. The great thing about this is that your position doesn't change. You are in the position you would have been at this point in the lift, had you lifted it normally. But now, the bar is arrested, and you are forced to continually exert force against the bar at this immoveable position. This is of great advantage to the advanced deadlifter! It teaches you to maintain force output for an extended period of time. For maximum deadlifts, this is crucial. The longer you can exert maximum force against a heavy bar, the more you can lift, given time.

It only makes sense to have the bar stop at different points along the barbell's path, so that you train to exert yourself at the various points, which are all slightly different, mechanically. In the following workout, video below, I've stopped the bar at three levels: pre-lockout, knees, and mid-shin. This is why they are called graduated struggle sets.

The Workout

This is last night's Deadlift workout. Being that it is a major workout, I definitely have some thoughts I'd like to share with you. First off, I began training on an empty stomach and I don't think that was too good an idea. I should have eaten something but I didn't and to curb my chronic acid reflux I sipped on a Coke during the workout. I love my intra workout drink ahaha!

So the workout was really good. I was able to pull 190 kgs 418 lbs for all 6 sets. Last week I had used 185 for the first 3 and then 190 for the last round - so I was able to progress by adding 5 kgs to the first 3 sets. The deadlifts that I did afterward for 3 sets of 3 reps were really good and I had good speed on them. My plan for the future is to bump up the weight from 190 kgs to 195 kgs on the second round for the graduated sets.

I used a wide grip on the final set of 125 kgs 275 for 12 reps just for pure bodybuilding purposes. This was an utterly grueling set though - my back and hamstrings were on FIRE by the last rep and I know I could have gone for a good rest pause set till 25 reps were done. But, I don't want to push myself and I am debating doing a set of deadlifts after all my back work today as well - just for growth.

I am choosing to take the real slow and steady path to progress. I could just attempt 205 kgs and more but I don't want to rush things. I am actually very relieved and happy that my lower back is holding up so well. The advanced deadlift supersets I am doing coupled with these struggle sets make for two KILLER workouts and that is one of the biggest reasons why I am adding weight only a little at a time. It would be foolish to rush things and hurt myself. Plus, I am here to enjoy the ride and I think this is fun as ever.


Graduated Deadlift Struggle Sets:
190 kgs 418 lbs @ 82% of 230 kgs 507 lbs 1RM
Pre-Lockout (PL) @ 12 seconds
Knees (K) @ 10 seconds
Shins (S) @ 6 seconds
PL @ 15 seconds
K @ 10 seconds
S @ 6 seconds

190 kgs x 3 x 3
125 kgs x 12 wide grip

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