My deadlifting background
Before I share the Jujimufu way of deadlifting, please note:
- I am not a powerlifter, but...
- I have been deadlifting for over 10 years now.
- I have fairly long arms suited for deadlifting.
- I have good genetics for back strength which helps.
- My everyday max has been around 500 lbs since 2007 (20 years old).
- The most I’ve ever deadlifted is 635 lbs at 230 lb body weight.
- I love deadlifting but…
I continue to trick, body build, do martial arts and gymnastics. These take energy away from deadlifting. I'm no pro. I think I’m doing pretty well with what I’m working with so far though, considering I'm playing this difficult balancing act. I think that's why people ask me about my deadlifting: they realize I'm excelling in it while balancing everything else I do. So here are some things I think I know about the deadlift from experience.
Some things I think I know about deadlifting:
- In general, the heavier you are, the more weight you will deadlift. Although the deadlift is not as affected by your body weight as squat or bench.
- The deadlift is about the worst movement to train when you are hungry or fasted. Intermittent fasters: please eat at least two large meals before deadlifting, not just a scoop of BCAA. Jeeze.
- Deadlifting appreciates carry over from other training more so than other lifts.
- Ring strength helps with deadlifting (from grip and back strength carry over).
- Tricking helps with the deadlift, given weight remains high. (from the exposivity carry over). Tricks like aerials and kicks really affect the body in a way that helps increase deadlifting speed and explosiveness.
- Auxiliary exercises like glute ham raises, pistol squats, good mornings, whatever: the deadlift likes them all as well I think. The deadlift likes just about everything, it’s not nearly as particular as other exercises regarding carry over.
- So far, the greatest exercise for deadlifting carry over I have found is the front squat. Every time I've spent effort increasing my front squat for a period of time, I have noticed my deadlift would increase along with it automatically.
- The deadlift responds so well from carryover training, and yet it still responds well to direct training of itself.
- The deadlift is pretty forgiving in terms of training strategy: it enjoys both variety and extreme simplicity.
My deadlifting goals:
I want clean deadlifts. I define deadlift cleanliness as dominating a weight at a personally acceptable weight range. For me, personally, anything above 500 lbs makes me happy. You may have higher or lower standards, but I would rather do a SUPER CLEAN 500 lb deadlift than a sketchy 515 lb deadlift... Just like I would rather be able to do a clean ch. 720 kick than an ugly ch. 1080 kick. I want my deadlifts to look as good as my tricks.
I want my deadlift to be compatible with my other goals: I'd rather be able to do a 500 lb deadlift and still trick like a king and look sexy and jacked, than sacrifice my tricks and physical appeal to deadlift 700 lbs. If I'm going to deadlift that much weight everything else has to be coming up with it... So I don't believe fractional increases in poundages should be the only criteria for judging the awesomeness of a lift unless we're competing in powerlifting. What else do we have going on other than the deadlift? To me, that matters.
Jujimufu's deadlifting routine
This routine will clean up your deadlifts and, if you trick, be compatible with your tricking. You can do this sumo style or conventional, pick your favorite.
- Warmup with less than 30% of your average 1 rep max (not your PR) for several sets of 3-8 reps. Rest a minute or so between these sets (maybe like, 6 sets). Do them fast and clean.
- In between these sets do mobility movements, get into the deadlift deep and back out of it.
- Front squats are great for warming up the deadlift too, clean the weight and do a few sets of 4 reps pausing at the bottom.
- Increase the speed and quality of your reps as you progress through the warmup.
- After 20 minutes of this warmup, no sooner, begin increasing the weight to 70% of your mixed grip, average 1 rep max (not your PR). (70% 1rpmax is your training weight for the whole workout.)
- Use the double over hand grip with no straps. No hook grip. (You will notice this will make your 70% of your mixed grip max more difficult).
- Chalk is a must!
- Stop and go deadlifts only, not touch and go.
- Do 3-6 repetitions for 7-12 sets at this weight.
- Focus on QUALITY, SPEED, BEAUTY, POWER, AGGRESSIVENESS.
- Rest 3-5 minutes between sets.
- Terminate each set when your rep quality drops. Even slightly drops. Typically it takes about 6 reps before you begin to feel a slow down on the rep speed when training this way at 70%. If you can only do 3 reps and it already slows down terminate the set there. Increase your rest period to the max of 5 minutes if your rep quality drops after only 3 reps for any particular set. Don’t decrease the weight.
- Preferably use bumper plates so you can minimize the eccentric portion of the lift: (with bumpers you can just fall from the top and follow and let the weight hit the floor hard. Gently touching the weight back to the floor with iron plate weights is fatiguing and not necessary in my opinion, so use bumpers if available.)
- Use an ammonia inhalant every workout on your last set or two and do as many reps as you can the last set.
That’s it. If done correctly it will take you just about 1 hour from warmup to finish. That’s your entire training session, don’t do anything else. Go take a shower and eat a real meal. Do this two times a week, do not increase your reps beyond the 3-6 rep range. Space these sessions out with a few days between. Rely on carryover from your other training activities to support your deadlift beyond these deadlifting sessions. After two months test your max again when you feel up for it.
It's a deadlifting session
When you train deadlift: deadlift only. Nothing else. That’s the Jujimufu way. You’ll become a believer in this way of deadlifting too if you try it a couple times. Just try it, seriously, you’ll like it, I promise. Sometime next week just have a “deadlifting” session. Don't even think about sneaking in an extra exercise or two! DEADLIFTS ONLY FOR AN HOUR. Try my routine above, you have nothing to lose (unless you abuse ammonia inhalants like me, then you’ll lose some brains.)
How to measure progress with this deadlifting approach
Deadlifting this way is a step away from the objective approach of measuring progress. We aren’t using numbers, we aren’t budging or tweaking them or using maths. We are instead measuring progress based on subjective appeal, just like the way we do for tricking. So measure the subjective appeal the same way you measure the subjective appeal of your tricking: film your best sets.
So we're judging the deadlift the same way we might judge your 540 kick. What makes one 540 kick good and one bad? It's pretty simple, one is clean and powerful with great extension, it's fast and aggressive. A bad 540 kick is dinky, barely landed, and things are bent and late all over the place. So with that in mind, what makes a good deadlift at 300 lbs and a bad deadlift at 300 lbs?
Why I like this routine
Actually, this is the only way I’ve been training my deadlift directly since October 2011. For me, there is no other way anymore. It’s perfect for me. It does everything for me. It’s shot up my personal record on the lift, has built my back musculature up even more, has made the deadlift more fun, and has not once hurt me. A few years ago I was doing this routine up to 5 times a week for a couple months during the winter, and I was still not hurting myself deadlifting with this frequency! This routine is magic, and it’s also the most agreeable way to deadlift in conjunction with tricking during a typical week’s worth of training. I have never discovered a training routine for anything that always works and never stops working... except this one. This routine works, always, and has never stopped working for me. I will be using this deadlifting routine the rest of my life.
So it’s been almost 3 years now since I started training the deadlift this way exclusively. I max out a few times a year and am always pleased. Since training this way, I realized you don’t have to work near your max to increase your deadlift, nor do you need to kill yourself deadlifting to oblivion to make progress on the deadlift. Training this way is also less intimidating. When deadlifting is less intimidating and doesn’t scare you, it’s easier to will yourself to go do it… And do it more often. Which will inevitably increase your deadlift. Duh.
Changing up the routine for variety
Don't change it. If the routine stops working it's because of under eating, under sleeping, new stresses in your day to day life, illness, a newly developed underlying medical condition, too much fatigue from other activities, not enough carry over from other activities (under tricking or under lifting in general) or injury. Fix everything else in your life first before tweaking this routine and you will find it will begin working again.
My preferred methodology for deadlifting a max
I only test my max maybe 8-12 times total a year. The rest of the year I don’t even approach it remotely. So when I actually do test my deadlift max, I prefer a long warm up just like the one in my deadlifting routine. Then I begin working upward, so let's say my previous max was 540 and I want to test it again.
- 2 minute rest
- 2 minute rest
- 2 minute rest
- 2 minute rest
- 2 minute rest
- 2-3 minute rest
- 2-4 minute rest
So as I get closer to my max, my incremental increases are smaller. Some people jump quickly to their max in 50-100 lb increments, I have never had success with that. Not only do I approach my max in smaller increments, sometimes I pause on a certain weight and do another single set with it before moving up again. I guess I can theorize that this works for me because all of these singles really fire up my nervous system. I need that lengthy warm up. Kind of like how I throw my best tricks 15 minutes before my tricking session ends, I pull my best deadlifts after a longer series of non-fatiguing, single reps.
How deadlifting affects tricking
I’ve noted in a previous page that past 2x your body weight the deadlift will not positively affect your tricking performance. I stand by this number. I also stand by all the observations I made for how tricking positively affects your strength. In short, deadlifting takes resources away from your tricking beyond a certain point and I would do less of it when you’re tricking more, and do more deadlifting when you’re tricking less.
Some more features of my deadlifting efforts
I wear a certain type of pants to avoid shin scrape. I’ve bled enough with the deadlift so far in my life, so I put on some pants and like it better. I also feel comfortable in them, they’re like a mild compression garb as opposed to shorts. Experiment and find your own lucky deadlifting pants.
I don’t believe the eccentric portion of the deadlift is really necessary to get a lot out of the exercise in terms of both strength and muscular development, so I prefer training with bumper plates and dropping down with the weight at the top of every rep, instead of setting it down. I believe this is not only more comfortable, but healthier for the back too.
I don’t train deadlifts touch and go anymore. When I stopped doing that I noticed my recovery between sessions was better and my progress became better. I also stopped feeling as much pain from the exercise.
I don’t use a belt because, actually, it throws off my balance in the exercise. I feel more comfortable without a belt deadlifting so that’s why I don’t wear a belt when I deadlift.
Ammonia inhalants are essential. I'm serious about these things, you need to be using them when you deadlift. Use at least one per deadlifting workout right before your most promising set.
Jujimufu's secret for deadlifting more
Voodoo. Style. Ammonia. Ritual. Passion. My psyche out and pre-lift prep and passion for the deadlift is fairly notable and unusual, yet its impact and effect on my deadlift is profound. In fact, I think my deadlifting strength is nearly proportional to how practiced I am as a crazed ritualist when deadlifting. I think it's my big secret. I bet most people just think it’s OCD, or entertaining, but it’s actually very helpful. I don’t deadlift any other way. I recommend everyone cultivate their own deadlifting voodoo. Their own ritual.
The deadlift is interchangeable not indispensable
For those who know my obsession with deadlifting, this should be an unexpected statement for me to make, but it’s true: you don’t have to deadlift to be successful as a body builder, as a strength athlete, as a trickster, or as a human being. You don’t have to deadlift to prove your manhood in the gym. You can be hardcore whether you deadlift or not. It’s not indispensable. Some people respond to the exercise better than others. I respond extremely well to it, others do not. For them they can find other exercises to do.
I use to be elitist about my deadlifting obsession, but I’ve grown out of my deadlifting elitism and my hunt for finding reasons why deadlifters are better than everybody else. I deadlifted my head out of my ass. I don’t judge others anymore regarding the deadlift. If you don’t deadlift, you’re okay in my book. It’s interchangeable, you can find other means of developing your back and getting primal strong. But if you don't deadlift because you don't like it, at least try it the Jujimufu way, try my routine above, see if you change your mind about the deadlift.