One of the best ways to rapidly increase your strength or skill is to practice an exercise more frequently. Strength training performance, especially in the deadlift, is often a product of competing adaptations. One side of the coin is strengthening individual muscle groups, while the other is combining them into a full-body technique. Both require adequate time invested to really see appreciable progress.
Recovering from a muscle-building workout is usually less taxing than a hard deadlift session, but is there a way to cleverly use different programming guidelines to push your performance on a daily basis?
Here’s how to deadlift every day to make massive progress — without getting completely demolished in the process.
What to Consider Before Starting
Make no mistake — daily deadlifting isn’t for the faint of heart. While training the same movement on a very regular basis can be familiar territory for high-level Olympic lifters or advanced powerlifting competitors, ultra-high-frequency training can exact a toll on anyone’s body if not tightly managed.
If you want to try your hand at deadlifting daily because it sounds cool, power to you. Training should be about more than pursuing strength goals or achieving a chiseled physique. That said, advanced protocols like daily pulling are not relevant for every trainee. There are more practical ways of making gains, especially if you’re just getting started on your fitness journey.
Normal workouts require a solid diet — and a well-stocked supplement cabinet to boot. When you amplify your workout frequency, your recovery needs to kick up a couple of notches as well.
Before jumping into a deadlift-every-single-day regime, make sure that you have the time and means to rest up adequately. Daily training, even when properly designed, is very demanding on the body. If you’re highly stressed at home or work, or are in a caloric deficit to cut weight, you might want to consider passing on this style of pulling.
Deadlifting every day is about more than literally grabbing a barbell every 24 hours. One of the best ways to avoid hitting the proverbial wall is to vary your pulling technique regularly. However, this means having access to different kinds of equipment to run a daily pulling program successfully.
If you work out at home and only have a barbell, you may want to consider waiting to try daily pulling until more comprehensive resources are available to you.
The Benefits of Daily Deadlifting
Becoming a professional puller has one colossal and obvious benefit — you get to deadlift a lot. The deadlift can be one of the most challenging and yet satisfying movements you can perform in the gym, but personal fulfillment isn’t the only perk on offer.
If you’re tired of being a jack-of-all-trades, specializing in the deadlift exclusively is incredibly effective at gaining raw strength in that area. When it comes to getting strong, you can only cover so much ground at once. Picking a lane and staying in it allows you to accelerate your deadlift strength faster than you otherwise would be able to.
Despite what some think, lifting weights isn’t a savage practice. There’s an element of artfulness to most exercises, and the deadlift is no different. While it may not be as intricate as a snatch, a proficient deadlift takes years to develop. You can’t shortcut your way to good technique, but practicing every single day is a damn good way to speed up the process.
If you’re a chronic program-hopper, staying on track with your training gets a lot easier when you’re only focusing on one specific quality. There’s a certain charm to making the deadlift your trade for a period of time. You don’t have to worry about balancing too many elements or missing out on certain muscles — the deadlift works you out from head to toe.
The Importance of Variation
If improving your deadlift is your main goal, you need to develop both skill and strength without going overboard every day. To avoid fatigue accumulating via excess weight or volume — thus hampering your recovery — while still pulling every day, you should incorporate plenty of pulling variation.
Furthermore, one of the major training aspects that enable a daily-deadlifting program in the first place is a lack of eccentric components. Most deadlift variations have no eccentric portion — the weight is simply let go from a standing position. Since eccentric lifting accumulates a high amount of fatigue, eliminating it from large swaths of your weekly workouts allows you to perform much more often than you otherwise would.
Common deadlift variations that you can work into your daily training to build your standard pull include:
- Conventional Deadlift
- Block Pull
- Romanian Deadlift
- Deficit Deadlift
- Trap Bar Deadlift
- Dumbbell Deadlift
- Kettlebell Swing
The conventional deadlift assumes a hip-to-shoulder width stance, with toes pointed forward or slightly out. Body type and limb lengths ultimately determine your leverages, but the back, hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and core serve as the prime movers and stabilizers of this exercise.
The “meat and potatoes” of the technique is a hip hinge with a bit of knee bend to accommodate quadriceps involvement and different body types in order to retain a neutral spine.
Note: If you prefer to pull with a sumo stance, you can simply swap out the conventional pull for sumo work at any point in a daily deadlifting regime. As a side benefit, sumo pullers can utilize the conventional deadlift as an accessory movement (and vice versa).
The block pull is a conventional deadlift with the starting position altered by placing the barbell on an elevated surface. Whether with actual blocks or even bumper plates, the block pull allows the lifter to train the upper half of the range of motion to reinforce deadlift technique, particularly at lockout.
The Romanian deadlift, or RDL, is a top-down style of partial range of motion deadlift. The RDL allows for eccentric loading. The lift begins from the top position and descends through a pure hinge. The RDL range of motion should stop prior to the knees bending beyond their starting position angle.
The deficit deadlift acts in opposition to the block pull. Whereas with the block pull the barbell itself is elevated, the deficit deadlift elevates the lifter themself. Only a few inches of elevation is necessary to challenge the lifter with extended range of motion and greater degrees of knee flexion.
The deficit deadlift requires less loading than the block pull or conventional deadlift to see a training effect, and also challenges leg drive off of the floor.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift utilizes a specialty bar to reduce the degree of stress applied to the back when compared to the standard conventional deadlift position. The trap bar allows the lifter to “step inside” of the bar, as opposed to straight-bar deadlift styles, which force the lifter to always have the bar subtly in front of their body.
Deadlifting with dumbbells allows you to get some bonus technique work in while also providing extra range of motion, similar to deficit pulling. By placing the weights at your sides instead of anteriorly, deadlifting with dumbbells should provide a bit of respite from the heavier work with the barbell or trap bar.
The kettlebell swing is the quick and dirty cardiovascular version of a hip hinge. It can be thought of as a ballistic RDL. The main goal is to retain full posterior chain engagement and allow the weight of the kettlebell to drag the body into the bottom position of an RDL. A controlled but explosive hip hinge should be performed to propel the weight back to the starting position.
The Deadlift-Every-Day Program
Most training programs follow the idea that when intensity goes up, volume must go down. Deadlifting daily is no different. In order to sustain a full week of regular pulling, you need to temper your total workload and move from more specific to less specific each day.
This is especially important when dealing with hinge techniques, as the eccentric loading on the posterior chain has the capacity to generate some serious delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). As the week progresses, each day moves slowly away from more intense pulling while still drilling proper technique and reinforcing the major components of the deadlift, without significantly increasing overall recovery cost.
It should also go without saying, but in a program as specialized in deadlifting every day, there will be little room for other exercises. That said, you need to do a bit of work for your secondary muscles — the quads, lats, and upper back — to stay in fighting form. These accessory movements should augment the deadlift variation you’re performing on a given day.
- Front-Foot Elevated Split Squat: 2 x 10 per side
- Cable Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 x 10
- RKC Plank: 3 x 15 seconds
- Single-Leg RDL: 2 x 10 per side
- Conventional Deadlift: 5 x 5
- Cable Straight-Arm Pulldown: 2 x 10
- Back Extension: 3 x 10
- Dead Bug: 2 x 10 per side
- RDL: 2 x 6
- Block Pull: 3 x 8
- Paused Counterbalance Squat: 2 x 10
- Front-Foot Elevated Split Squat: 2 x 10 per side
- Kettlebell Windmill: 2 x 10 per side
- Kettlebell Front Rack Step-Up: 2 x 8 per side
- Deficit Deadlift: 3 x 6
- Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown: 2 x 10
- Glute Bridge: 2 x 10
- Quadruped Row: 2 x 10 per side
- Trap Bar Deadlift: 4 x 5
- Standing Isometric March: 2 x 10 per side
- Goblet Squat: 2 x 10
- Single-Leg RDL: 2 x 10 per side
- RDL: 3 x 8
- Thread-The-Needle: 2 x 10 per side
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge: 2 x 10 per side
- Single-Arm Farmer’s Carry: 2 x 20 steps
- Dumbbell Deadlift: 3 x 10
- Kettlebell Swing: 5 x 10 – 15
- Elliptical or Treadmill: 15 minutes
How to Recover
In traditional training programs, taking two or three days off a week is usually enough to adequately recover from whatever you’re throwing at your body. With daily training of any kind, this is obviously not possible, as you don’t have dedicated time away from the gym.
However, your body is extremely resilient and adapts well to almost anything you throw at it. After a period of acclimation, you should be able to recover well enough from every-day deadlifts.
That said, you should be extra diligent about the other dimensions of resting up. Make sure you’re getting enough high-quality sleep, and cover your bases in terms of both caloric intake and macronutrient composition. Daily pulling can work if you’re eating around maintenance, but you should thrive if a caloric surplus is present.
How to Progress
As you get stronger, each session — or training week — will inevitably require more attentive recovery. As such, to drive progress forward, you shouldn’t be afraid to take rest days when you feel it is necessary.
Otherwise, your best bet to make gains on your one-rep-max deadlift is to work on incrementally pushing your weights forward. Since a daily deadlift program can’t periodically ratchet up the volume, gains must be made by taking slightly heavier weights over time while developing picture-perfect technique.
Since you’re pulling daily, it may be wise to consider each training week as its own microcycle. Instead of comparing your efforts on Day 1 to that of Day 2, look week-over-week to see where you can improve. If you’ve not pushed yourself on the trap bar pull in several weeks, adding a few pounds there or really focusing on your technique can help improve your main deadlift when the time comes.
How to Transition
Fortunately, transitioning away from deadlifting every day is simple enough. Keep your main pull in your weekly regime, and then select one or two of your preferred variations to use as complementary exercises in whatever your next training program may be.
Note that the more specialized your training is, the more weak spots in your overall performance may present themselves when you go back to “standard” lifting. If you’ve deadlifted exclusively for a few months at a time, some regression in your bench press or squat technique is totally normal.
With patience, practice, and the right accessory moves, your overall capabilities will return just fine. They may even be stronger than before.
Practicing a test is the best way to improve your performance on a test. While deadlifting every day may not seem like the most traditional means of getting stronger, it’s hard to argue against the impact of frequency on skill.
Short bursts of extreme specialization in training can accelerate your performance, especially if skill is a sticking point for you. That said, with an exercise as grueling as the deadlift, smart execution is critical.
Listen to the cues your training sends. When moving through your daily sessions, mind that skill development is the primary goal and absolute load is secondary. Balancing your intensity and volume is crucial, and allow the variations to support your strength. Formulate an exit plan, and you’ll have a world-class pull in no time.
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