Deadlifting is a powerful and compound exercise that can work wonders for your strength and overall fitness. But the question arises: How often should you deadlift? The answer isn't one-size-fits-all! It varies for everyone and depends on factors like your training history, goals, and the type of deadlift you’re performing. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of deadlift frequency to help you determine the right approach for your fitness journey.
How to Do a Deadlift
Before we jump into the frequency, let's first understand the basics of performing a deadlift correctly. Proper form is crucial to maximize gains and minimize injuries.
Step 1: Set Up
- Position yourself by the barbell with your feet at shoulder-width, or adjust as per your comfort and experience.
- Your feet should align with the bar, and your shins should be close or touching the bar.
- Now, hinge at the waist, push your hips back, and reach down to grip the bar on both sides of your legs.
Step 2: Grip
- Hold the bar with both hands using an overhand grip.
- Maintain a hip position lower than your shoulders, and engage your core while squeezing your shoulder blades together to activate your lats.
- Keep your neck in a neutral position, and avoid tilting your head up.
Step 3: Lift
- Press your feet against the floor and lift the weight while keeping the bar near your body.
- Return the barbell to the ground with controlled motion.
How Often Should You Deadlift?
Generally, you should aim to deadlift 1-2 times a week. The frequency also depends based on your goals. Factors like age, training history, and overall deadlift programming all play a part in determining how often you should deadlift.
Factor 1: Age & Training History
It’s crucial to consider your training history and experience level. Are you just getting started, somewhere in the middle, or do you consider yourself a seasoned athlete? When we talk about training age, we're referring to the amount of time you've dedicated to formal training with barbell-specific back exercises.
Individuals with intermediate or advanced experience levels tend to have a better grasp of how their bodies respond to more frequent training demands compared to beginners. This understanding can be a valuable guide when it comes to establishing reasonable starting points for adjusting your training frequency, whether you're looking to increase or decrease it.
Your deadlift frequency should be tailored to your experience level.
If you're a beginner, it's better to start at a slower pace. Begin with a moderate deadlift frequency to ease your body into the exercise, avoiding overexertion and reducing the risk of injury.
Conversely, seasoned gym-goers familiar with the ins and outs of deadlifts may consider a more frequent approach. This could entail performing deadlifts up to five or six times a week, as their bodies are well-conditioned and need shorter recovery periods between sessions.
Factor 2: Training Goals
Your workout frequency for deadlifts should be in sync with your fitness goals. If you’re a weightlifter, increase your deadlift frequency to 5-6 times a week before competition. If you want to build strength, deadlifting 1-2 times every week can help you reach most strength training goals.
On the other hand, if you want to maintain your current strength level, dedicate one day a week solely to building and sustaining that strength, with moderate repetitions and volume.
Factor 3: Overall Programming Structure
Before you build a routine with deadlifts, check your overall program structure. You might need to tweak things to fit more deadlifts in.
Starting strong on day one and feeling sore on day two is a common story. It's not motivating and can slow progress and raise injury risks.
When you think about how often to do deadlifts, explore different deadlift variations. This keeps things interesting and helps with recovery and progress.
When you change one aspect of your training program, it often impacts another. If you want to boost your deadlift frequency, you should consider how it fits with your exercise choices, training intensity, and overall volume. Start with lower levels and gradually ramp them up over the week. Consistency here prevents overtraining and potential injuries.
You need to also consider which day you do deadlifts. Should you dodeadlifts on leg day or back day? That all depends on which muscle group you’re focusing on. Figure out your training goals first and then work them into the weekly programming.
How to Increase Your Deadlift Frequency
You might want to deadlift more consistently, but your body isn’t letting you. If this is the case, then follow some of our tips so that you can increase your deadlift frequency today.
1. Let Your Body Recover
We're all familiar with how our bodies communicate with us, especially after a long workout or stressful week. Listen to your body and get the rest you need. Deadlifting before your muscles have had time to recover is a recipe for injury.
Get the nutrients you need while resting, focus on keeping your muscles healthy, and you’ll be ready to attack the deadlift next time you hit the gym.
2. Vary Your Weight, Reps, Sets & Deadlift Types
To reduce the risk of injury and avoid overdoing it, mix up your routine on different training days. Adjust the weight, sets, reps, and types of deadlifts to maintain a balanced approach. For instance, to boost your strength, consider a schedule like this:
- A day with fewer reps but more sets for higher volume.
- One or two days with more reps but fewer sets for lower volume.
- Introduce variations on the other training days of the week.
Always keep in mind that sustainable training is the key. Avoid pushing yourself too hard and, as mentioned above, let your body recover.
3. Use Deadlift Variations and Accessory Exercises
You should also think about incorporating other exercises that work the same muscle groups used in deadlifts. This will help you bolster certain muscle groups while also working on certain parts of the deadlift movement.
For example, rack pulls are a variation exercise that helps you master the latter half of the deadlift. Rack pulls also target your back muscles and strengthen the hips, both of which are critical for lifting the bar off the ground. For a detailed breakdown,read our article comparing rack pulls and deadlifts.
Consider also including compound exercises like front squats, pull-ups, bench and barbell presses, and row variations to complement your deadlift regimen.
Related:Squat vs. Deadlift
How Many Times a Week Should You Deadlift? 3 Scenarios
How often you deadlift depends on why you’re doing the exercise in the first place. The most common reasons are strength training, maintenance, and perfecting the form. Let’s take a look at deadlift frequency for each of these scenarios.
1. Strength Training
Since everyone has their own strength training history, deadlift frequencies will vary. Both high and low-volume reps can help you achieve the goals you want. Generally, beginners can start with a lower frequency since deadlifts are great at building strength.
However, as you move upwards and become an intermediate/advanced lifter, you might need to increase how often you deadlift since there’s a higher threshold for both keeping your muscle and growing.
For most, deadlifting 1 to 3 times a week can suffice.
2. Muscle & Strength Maintenance
To consistently increase strength, it’s recommended that you deadlift 8-14 reps per workout at 2-3 workouts per week. All deadlifts should be performed at 75-80% of your 1RM and after two months, you should see significant progress.
However, this is for building strength. If you want to simply maintain your current level, use this as your baseline. We recommend deadlifting at a similar intensity 1-2 times per week for muscle and strength maintenance.
3. Perfecting Deadlift Form
Perfecting deadlifting form is typically pursued by lifters who want to learn how to deadlift properly or focus on a specific point in the deadlift. For most lifters, increasing the frequency of deadlifts can be useful when the goal is to acquire deadlift skills. More frequent exposures can lead to better and faster gains, but you should also lighten your load and keep reps at a respectable level. Otherwise, you risk injury with how often you are straining your back and legs.
Generally, we recommend deadlifting around 4-5 times a week. However, this should not just be deadlifts. Instead, try to split up your programming as follows:
- 1 day for strength training
- 2 days for focusing on deadlift form (higher reps at a lower volume)
- 2 days of deadlift variation exercises (this will help you fix any problems you have at certain points in the movement)
4 Deadlift Variations to Mix Up Your Workout Split
Adding variety to your deadlift routine can keep things exciting and challenge your muscles differently. Here are four deadlift variations to consider:
1. Romanian Deadlift
Romanian deadlifts resemble the standard deadlift but with a different motion. In this version, you initiate with the weight at waist level and lower it to the ground. This variation targets the hamstrings, glutes, and forearm flexors.
Related:Deadlifts vs. Romanian Deadlifts
2. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Unlike the Romanian deadlift, the stiff-leg deadlift has less knee flexion, emphasizing hamstring and lower back strength. It primarily works the hamstrings, erector muscles, lats (with a snatch grip), and the gluteus maximus.
3. Resistance Band Deadlift
This variation targets and strengthens your hamstrings and glutes while enhancing stability. To perform the resistance band deadlift, stand on the band, hold the ends with your hands, and then bend your chest towards the ground and back up.
4. Sumo Deadlift
The sumo deadlift, often used in powerlifting, involves a wide stance with toes pointing out and a grip inside the legs. It works the hamstrings, glutes, and upper back/traps, and provides extra emphasis on stretching and strengthening the adductor and hip muscles due to the wide stance. For a better breakdown of the exercise, read our article comparingsumo deadlifts versus conventional deadlifts.
In conclusion, how often you should deadlift depends on a variety of factors and is uniquely tailored to your interests. Remember that consistency is key, and it's essential to prioritize proper form to prevent injuries. Whether you're aiming for strength, hypertrophy, or good technique, adjust your deadlift frequency accordingly to achieve the best results for your fitness journey.