The "PlusFifty Deadlift Program"
Recently, after years of training the deadlift and enduring a nearly year-long plateau at 545 lbs., I decided I needed to do something different for my next training cycle.
I still wanted to use the basic template that had been successful to that point, but it was time to also address the longstanding weakness in my conventional deadlift (I normally deadlift sumo), which I was convinced would transfer gains to my sumo pull. As it turns out, I was spot on.
After just 12 weeks on the program, I pulled 600!
Given this increase, I somewhat whimsically decided to call this the "Plus Fifty" deadlift program.
(Before I move forward, allow me to state one obvious but important disclaimer: I’m not promising a 50-lb. increase in your pull with this program, since results will vary from person-to-person and program-to-program. However, I am confident that if you run the program as outlined, you will add pounds to your pull, and perhaps break through persistent plateaus as I did. Perhaps even more dramatically).
The Nuts and Bolts
I started with a program I'd asked Brian Schwab (one of the world's best and most iconic powerlifters in the 165 and 181 classes) to develop for me a few years ago, which very cleverly sequences waves of progressively heavier weights through various ranges of motion to lead you up to your target/goal max (or a meet if you're competing).
I wanted this to be the basis of the new program as well, simply because it works.
I've used this methodology for all of my lifts, and it consistently produces great results, for me and for those with whom I train.
(By the way, Brian clearly and expertly outlines this training methodology in great detail in his Minimalist M2 Method eBook, which you can find here. I highly recommend picking it up, for it delineates his methodology (the essence of the program I highlight here) for the squat, bench and deadlift, and hands you the road map to program it over the number of weeks indicated.)
With respect to the deadlift, persistent weaknesses that had gone ignored over time, I believed, were the leading cause of my stalled progress, not the program design. So I kept the framework, but then modified it specifically to address my weaknesses.
So, what did I do to alter it?
Simple: I added in the conventional deadlift as an assistance lift, after I'd performed the main lift (the sumo pull) on deadlift day, using the same methodology of progressively heavier weights over greater ranges of motion.
How It Works
The exact 12-week program I followed (including my weights) looks like this:
Rather than break this down row-by-row with percentages, I decided to make my template (exactly as shown above, except without my weights and with blank input fields for 'Projected Sumo Max' and 'Projected Conv Max', where you will enter your targets) available to you via free download (see below).
The challenge I had with this exercise was in converting the Excel file I used to produce my training log, which performed calculations, to a dynamic PDF file that also contained embedded formulas (and input fields) for computing training weights (so that, as noted, you can simply enter your goals in the indicated fields, click enter and have the entire 12-week program presented to you, numbers and all, based on your target maxes).
I ended up achieving this with the Adobe Acrobat form presented above, and I love it ... It works perfectly.
Additionally, in the PDF download, you'll notice "Program Notes" (Page 1) preceding the template (Page 2) to expound a little on the program methodology I described above.
So, please just do me a favor if you decide to download and run the program for 12 weeks: let me know in the Comments how many pounds you add to your pull!