Powerlifting Deadlift Program


For those who aren’t into powerlifting or haven’t quite come across it yet, it is a sport made up of three exercises and three attempts in each of them.

So, each competitor is judged upon a total made up of the best of their three attempts across these three lifts. Often, the deadlift is the lifter’s strongest and heaviest lift. Adding 300kg and upwards to some peoples’ totals.

So, if you can add this much to a total with one lift, you will definitely need to know how to pack on as many kilos to it as you possibly can.

The Deadlift

Now, there isn’t much point in me going over the intricacies of deadlift programming if you don’t know what a deadlift is. So, I’ll briefly explain it here.

This is the exercise where you will simply lift a loaded barbell up off of the floor and to a position where it hangs from your arms with yourself in an upright position.  You can do this in two styles –

  • Conventional Deadlift – where your hands are outside of your feet and you pull by loading the back and hamstrings.
  • Sumo Deadlift – where  you take a wide stance and keep your hands in side your feet, and you pull via loading your glutes more so than your back.

The Set Up

For the conventional deadlift you will want to

  • Stand over a loaded bar so that you are in the middle of the bar (you will be surprised by the amount of people who do this wonky).
  • Then you want to check your foot stance. The width of your stance will be largely individual, so this is difficult to go over in depth here, find what works best for you.
  • Stand a little back from the bar. Don’t start with your shins on the bar, you’re just adding resistance to the movement instantly by doing this. Have it so that the bar is roughly over your bottom shoe lace or bottom of your toes.
  • Bend down to the bar keeping your back straight, grab it either side of your feet and so that your arms are straight down by your side.
  • From here push your hips and knees forward so that your knees are just ahead of the bar, while also pulling into the bar to pull your hips into position this correct position.
  • Once you have this position, pull the bar up as your hips come forwards.
  • Return the bar to the floor.

The sumo is largely the same teaching points except for –

  • Feet wider, to the point where when you bend your knees you can keep your shins vertical.
  • Hands inside of the feet, but again, straight down.
  • Use the bar to pull your hips into position, as above.
  • Dig your heels in and push. Don’t jerk the bar off of the floor.
  • As the bar crosses your knees, lock them and then shoot the hips forward.


There are various ways to program a routine. When it comes to programming one lift, make sure that it fits in with all of your other programming, otherwise it’ll interfere with recovery and you won’t get as strong as you’re hoping.

A quick google search will show you how many programs there are in the world. Some great, some terrible but all of them will need to be individualised.  Some people won’t suit training at high percentages for large parts of training, others will only progress with such training.


When it comes to powerlifting it is worth remembering that while it is about getting stronger, it is mainly about you lifting that one heavy rep on a platform. In the deadlift’s case, its lifting it after doing heavy reps of squat and bench press also.

For this reason, I like to include heavy single work in my programs. Generally, the heavy single will be what is known as an @8, which should be akin to an opener.

The reasons for this is that it gives the lifter practice at doing one single cleanly, rather than trying to warm up into their form as they do more and more repetitions.

As well as this, when they get onto the platform they’ll think “hey, I’ve done this 1-2x a week for the last few weeks now,” and have even more confidence going into the competition.


Deadlift Training Volume

While practicing this single is important for specific sport practice, you won’t be building any strength with just this single. This is where you need to add volume.

There are many ways to include this. It could be 5×5 at a particular percentage, it could be 8 sets of 3 with a particular RPE.

I will include a sample towards the end of this, but what is important is that the volume is doable but also a challenge, meaning that it shouldn’t be easy but you should be able to push it a bit the week, or coming weeks, after.

Deadlift Training Frequency

Some people might only be able to train this lift once a week, others might be able to do so up to four times a week.

This will take some trial and error to figure out.

Due to the amount of muscles, and effort, used in a deadlift it takes the longest to recover out of the big three lifts. I’d still recommend you getting used to training them once a week and then as you build up your strength adding in a couple more days, but at a lower intensity to the rest.


Sample Plan

Putting all of the above together you can get something that looks a little like : –

Note – this is only 2 days as not many people will be going above that.

Week 1 Day 1

Deadlift – 1 x 1 @8 (should look and feel like an opener, or as though you could do 2 more reps)

5 x 3 @8

Week 1 Day 2

Deadlift –

5 x 5 @75%

Week 2  Day 1


1 x 1 @8 (if last week was a true @8, add 2.5-5kg to this)

6 x 2 @9 (could do 1 more rep)

Week 2 Day 2

Deadlift  –

5 x 3 @80%

As I said, its very individual. Give it a try and see!

James Wilks

Hey guys, thanks for reading. This website should help you cut through all the BS and make an informed choice with supplements. I was like you 2 years ago, trawling the internet looking at review, after review, after review. But now that's changed, I've taken my years working in the supplements industry and created this website to help you make the right choice. If you like something please share on social media! Or drop me a message. Always good to hear from you guys.

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