#340 – Which Deadlift Track Works Best for You?


Coach Matt and Coach Niki outline three different deadlift programming “tracks” for lifters, based on their sex, age, size, level of training advancement, and long-term goals as a lifter. Over time, Matt and Niki have observed that, depending on these factors, most lifters will thrive in one of three tracks, or programming models.


  1. Very high intensity / very low frequency with lots of supplemental lifts
  2. A block style model with moderate to high intensity and moderate volume
  3. A DUP style model with moderate intensity, high frequency, and moderate volume.


Track 1 tends to work best for large, strong (600+) male lifters, who struggle to recover after heavy deadlift workouts. Popularized by Westside barbell, this track calls for a heavy day of max effort deadlifts in a low rep range, followed by one or more (depending on level of advancement) speed days, which primarily consist of deadlift variations tailored for the lifter’s individual weak points. The variations may be a deficit deadlift, rack pull, RDL, conventional deadlift pulled with accommodating resistance, etc.


Track 2 works for the majority of (male) lifters, the middle of the bell curve. Most of these lifters are not strong enough to drive strength adaptation long term with very infrequent heavy pulling, so in this track they will follow a block model in which they transitno from higher volume, moderate intensity deadlifts to low volume, high intensity deadlifts over the course of a training cycle, perhaps peaking with a meet at the end. Matt notes that, typically, deadlift volume will mirror squat volume but most lifters will end up pulling one fewer set of deadlifts than they squat (if the lifter squats 3×5, he will likely program 2×5 deadlifts).


Track 3 tends to work best for women, smaller men (under 200lbs), and younger athletes with high recovery capacity. This track calls for high frequency (3-5 slots per week) pulling with moderate volume and moderate intensity. Matt notes that even very strong deadlifters of smaller stature (think 600lbs pullers weighing 200lbs) tend to tolerate the higher frequency in this type of training better than their larger, heavier counterparts.




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