I Will Show You How I Added 180lbs to My Deadlift Using a Simple Weight Lifting Program

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

It’s REALLY hard to get REALLY strong.

Or is it?

Well, it turns out, you can dramatically improve your strength by utilising one neat trick…

And I’m going to show you in how it worked for me following a super simple weight lifting program…and how in 3 steps you can do the same.

How I Accidentally Discovered the Secret to Building aWeight Lifting Program

Before I show you how, let me share a quick story with you.

My deadlift was struggling for over 2 years. I’m sharing my personal deadlift figures below, you can clearly see my problem:

Deadlift Graph vs Bodyweight

Deadlift Graph vs Bodyweight (weights in kg)

Up until my eureka moment it’s pretty flat and lame, huh? (It actually DECREASES for a whole 6 months!! WTF?)

While I was spending hours and hours training each week I just wasn’t getting consistent results.

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From my first workout to my eureka moment, my deadlift increased from 66kg to 99kg… A paltry 1.3kg/month increase.

As you can see, the rate I was adding weight to the bar was pretty slow.

But here’s the thing:

I already had the old adage about “newbie gains” seared on my brain.

I just didn’t know HOW to exploit these gains…

…I even tried PAYING a personal trainer online to make me a program… TWICE! The results are INCLUDED in the above… Pretty lousy, huh?

630% Increase in Deadlift Rate due to my weight lifting program

630% Increase in Deadlift Rate

But then I had my eureka moment and I’ve added 82kg to my deadlift in less than 10 months – 8.2kg/month!

That’s a 630% improvement!

Here’s what happened to realise that gain:

Weight Lifting Routines Don’t Work Unless They Have This

Think about it:

How many times have you seen a personal trainer or routine online that screams: “Get ripped quick”? And another helping you to “bulk”? Another to help you “cut”? You name it, a personal training is trying to sell it.

And how often do you actually see results? How often have you met anyone that has SUSTAINED their results following a weight lifting program?

Hardly ever, right?

That’s when it hit me – I had been too distracted to make any progress. I’d been reading too many dud articles online conflicting with each other, leaping from one idea to the next.

What I needed was focus.

I needed focus...

I needed focus…

Instead of trying to get strong, lean, athletic, ripped, shredded, big arms, big neck, a 50″ vertical jump, an MBA and a kitchen sink all at once, I needed to hone in on one goal.

Workout routines do not work unless they have a single, well defined goal.

…and I mean very well defined! Any slack or ambiguity will throw you off track!

Remember my eureka moment:

At that point I set myself a single SMART goal – and the rest is history!

That goal was:

To have a projected one rep maximum powerlifting total (squat/benchpress/deadlift) of 850lbs (385kg) by the end of 2015.

Your Goals Aren’t Pointless… They Just Aren’t SMART Enough

All goals we set in life should be SMART (which is an acronym by the way). I actually stumbled across this method a few years ago at work (the 9-5), but it never occurred to me to bring it into my personal life until last year!

SMART goal setting

So I combined some corporate lingo from my day job with my personal life…

What does this mean:

  • Specific – the more specific the goal, the more likely the outcome will be exactly as we want. I could have simply set a goal to “get strong” – but how would I know when I was strong? How long do I have? Is a 50kg bicep curl strong? I needed to remove all the slack from my goal, or I would be able to cheat my way to achieving it.
  • Measurable – I removed all doubt from my goal – I actually wrote down a cold, hard number! We need a scale to measure out achievements. As a strength trainee I wanted to focus on the weight lifted. All other stats are secondary to the weight on the bar.
  • Achievable – Why did I go for 850lbs? Because at the time, my current total was a paltry 590lbs. Sure I would love to lift 1,000lbs one day – but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. 1,000lbs seemed completely unrealistic – I would never have managed to motivate myself to keep getting under the bar knowing how far away I was from my goal. Given at the time I was 5’7″ and 160lbs, 850lbs seemed achievable – if a bit of a reach being a 50% increase!
  • Relevant – I wanted to get strong. Setting a goal of 12% body fat would be irrelevant and go against our aim. Marathon pace? Irrelevant. Go on three holidays? Irrelevant! I honed in on the ONE thing that mattered – WEIGHT LIFTED during BIG COMPOUNDS.
  • Timely – I needed an end point in mind to push myself towards. I focused on the end of a calendar year… Because why not have a new goal for a new year?!

Set a goal. Write it down. Seriously!

Why not take my goal and change the target weight & deadline?

My results are in…

And you know what? I achieved that goal on the 11th June 2015! Six and a half months early!

Deadlifting Double my Bodyweight

Here’s me deadlifting 162.5kg – that more than double my bodyweight at the time of c.79kg!

Have I sat back now I’ve achieved my goal?

No. Instead I am focusing on trying to reach 1,000lbs now! I’m ready at 920lbs, and increasing each and every workout.

This feels so awesome, I’m now aiming to hit a figure I couldn’t have dreamed of before sticking to the same weight lifting program I love!

Now I’ve achieved my goal, I can show you how I did it…

How I Added 180lbs to My Deadlift in 10 Months Doing Less Than 20 Reps a MONTH!

Yep, that’s right – less than 20 reps A MONTH! I added 180lbs in 10 months, performing only 197 reps IN TOTAL.

Most trainers send people off on wild volume based routines doing 25+ deadlifts PER DAY!

How much volume do we really need?

How much volume do we really need?

Have you any idea how exhausting 25 deadlifts are? I do because I was on one of those silly weight lifting programs before my eureka moment!

A deadlift is an enormous lift… The strongest compound exercise you will likely be able to perform. To do 25 of these a week is madness – your nervous system will cr*p itself quite frankly!

If you did 25 deadlifts, then 4 days later another 25, then another 25 4 days after that… Eventually your body will become exhausted. Better to avoid that exhaustion in the first place than to try and dig yourself out of it.

TRUST ME, I know! I’ve been there, done that.

So how can you emulate my success with the deadlift? I guarantee the following 4 steps will add massive value to your workouts, adding weight to the bar and saving you hours of wasted training.

I wish I had been given these FIRST!

Step #1: Get Your Form Nailed With 8 Powerlifting Pointers

The deadlift is essentially picking up a loaded barbell from the floor until you are stood vertically with the barbell hanging in front of you just below waist height (with your arms straight.)

Sounds easy. And it is – until the weight ramps up!

Click play below to watch a super short video of me deadlifting 162.5kg at a bodyweight of 79kg following the 8 points I’ll show you in a minute:

Now form is a personal thing… But I find the below works wonders for me:

  • Starting height of the barbell is important to get the correct lifting position. If using less than 60kg (being an Olympic barbell & a 20kg plate on each end) you will need to prop each side up on spare plates to get it to the correct height.
  • Think about it – we want to move a heavy barbell straight up and down. Any sideway motion is just a WASTE! To keep our balance we need the barbell to be over the middle of our foot – otherwise it literally WILL NOT lift up!
  • Step up the bar – set up so the bar crosses the middle of your foot as you look down. Set your heels around 8″ apart and have your toes going out at a natural 30 degree angle or so.
  • Keep your legs straight, but bend down and take a grip on the bar just wider than shoulder width.
  • From this position, gently bend your knees until your shin touches the bar
Getting the bar position correct is crucial

Getting the bar position correct is crucial

  • Take a deep breath before straightening your back and raising your chest up. Look at a point straight ahead.
  • Now we begin to lift. Squeeze the barbell up. Push your hips forward which will naturally drag the barbell up your shin and over your knee following a perfectly vertical path. As your hips are straightening you will need to straighten your back angle to keep the bar over the middle of your foot. Keep straightening until you are standing vertical.
  • Do the reverse to lower the weight back to the start position. Exhale at the end.

The barbell is always in contact with your body!

Step #2: Eat More (Milk & Meat)

Lifting weights and nutrition are interlinked. We need strength to move heavy weights, we need muscles to provide this strength and we need FOOD to grow those muscles!

This is my fridge right now (milk selfie - possibly a first?!)

This is my fridge right now (milk selfie – possibly a first?!)

Remember when I set my goal I made it relevant by focusing on strength only?

That’s because when I was floundering making no progress I kept getting distracted by different diet fads. I wanted to have my cake and eat it (excuse the pun!) by getting strong and losing loads of body fat.

Again it comes back to my goal and focus.

Now with my very clear aims, I knew I needed to eat more to support my goal.

So that’s what I did.

And you know what? I’ve never looked better with all the extra muscle mass!

Because I was ramping the weight up so aggressively but still giving my body plenty of rest (more on this in step 3) my body was busy making loads of high quality, dense muscle tissue when I wasn’t training.

Now how should we feed ourselves?

We don’t want to go overboard – nobody wants to look obviously overweight.

I've added nearly 3" to my chest since changing my routine & eating more

I’ve added nearly 3″ to my chest since changing my routine & eating more

That’s when I got lost in the obscure world of nutritional training… Let me tell you something right now:

Nutrition for weight lifting is easy! Let me break it down into 3 facts:

  1. Our body needs energy.
  2. Food contains energy which is measured in calories.
  3. There are 3 components of food – protein, fat & carbohydrate.

Because I want to gain weight I need to put more energy in than I take out.

But how much energy do I take out? No-one knows for sure, but it’s easy to estimate:

  • My starting bodyweight (148lbs) in lbs x 13 = 1,924 calories

I was desperate to go up in weight (148lbs was way to scrawny on my frame!) So I knew I had to eat a surplus. Because my lifting was going to improve so quickly I knew I could gain weight fast and not get fat.

I ate a surplus of +500cals a day! That’s a total consumption of 2400 calories each day.

The secret recipe to gaining weight...

The secret recipe to gaining weight…

BUT we need to get a mix of macronutrients to make sure our body has the building blocks to grow! Think about Lego… You need all the right bricks to create the perfect creation.

Without bogging down on the detail… We need a blend of protein (to build & repair muscle tissue), fat (to make sure our body absorbs vitamins & minerals) and carbohydrates (provide raw energy) to grow.

But how many of each do you need?

Well I followed a super simple method which works for me:

  • Protein = bodyweight in lbs * 1 = 148g * 4cals = 592 calories
  • Fat = bodyweight in kg * 1 = 67g * 9cals = 603 calories

That left me with 1,204 calories for carbohydrates…

BUT I didn’t always eat 1204 calories of carbohydrates – as long as I hit at least 148g of protein & at least 67g of fat I ate WHATEVER I WANTED to get up to 2400 calories a day!

Think about the Lego analogy… You need the right bricks to build the perfect creation – but you can get 90% of the way there with most of the right bricks

...YES!

…YES!

I will be honest – my diet is pretty good anyway due to my other half and her cooking! Most of my calories come from single ingredient products – chicken breast, carrots, milk, steak, salmon, potato, etc. but I often struggle to eat all my calories… Those days I just drink extra milk!

And it worked wonders!

I’m 175lbs and still growing every day! But I do have to spend extra on milk now 🙂

Step #3: Stop Overtraining NOW!

Remember what I said about training volume? I’m doing less than 20 reps a month, where many do 25+ reps PER WORKOUT!

That’s nuts!

Let me tell you why…

The deadlift should be your strongest lift. It engages a massive amount of your muscles to lift through a pretty short range of motion – the perfect combination to crank up the weight.

Your central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for sending messages to your muscles. It’s yelling “lift!” to your body when you’re squeezing up a deadlift.

Due to the weight involved each rep puts huge pressure on your CNS. Just like a muscle, the CNS fatigues over time.

And just like a muscle, it needs time to RECOVER in order to come back STRONGER. Muscles and strength are built when we rest & recover.

Overtraining by not leaving sufficient recovery between workouts

Overtraining by not leaving sufficient recovery between workouts

If you do 25+ heavy deadlifts then 4 days later do the same again, your body CAN NOT recover in time to set new personal records.

So what can we do?

Now this might seem unnatural, but it WORKS! (Remember my eureka moment from earlier?)

We are going to drop volume so we do only one set of deadlifts for five reps every second workout.

You’re probably skeptical – how can you progress doing a measly 5 reps a week?! Well we are doing less volume, but we are adding LOTS of weight to make progress.

I want you to add 5kg each time you deadlift for as long as you can! When that stops, add 2.5kg each time. I still add 2.5kg a week to my deadlift, it’s awesome!!

If you do this your deadlift will rocket up!

Try it and see…

Sure doing 25+ reps might work for a while… But it will grind to a halt super quick. Dropping the volume and increasing the weight will make your deadlift shoot up like an unstoppable rocket!

What About the Squat & Bench Press?

I know we’ve zoomed in on my deadlift progress, but as you’ll remember from my goal squat and bench press are equally as important.

So how have they progressed?

Well, judge for yourself:

Squat and Bench Press Graph

Squat and bench press progress graphed over time

You can see squat follows the same trajectory – heading upwards after my eureka moment.

But the benchpress graph is a little flat initially. What caused that? And how did I get through it?

I can show you that (and a lot more neat tips), too.

So, here’s what I want you to do…

So lots and lots of words, and lots and lots of information. But what does this mean for you? And how can you emulate my progress?

In a nutshell:

  1. Set a SMART goal
  2. Nail your form
  3. Stop overtraining

Now for the easy bit… I can help you with points 2 & 3! Read on…

I Will Send You My Strength Routine

I’ve compiled everything I’ve learnt into a 52 page book – if you liked what you’ve read here, you will love the book.

It’s packed full of useful knowledge to save you trawling books, research papers & the internet for hours on end (like I had to!)

Get Strong: My book!

Get Strong: My book!

It contains chapters dedicated to:

  • Why the powerlifting compounds are CRITICAL to strength development
  • A chapter EACH on the squat, deadlift, benchpress, press, chin-up, bent over row AND power clean(!) with way, way more detail than what we covered here
  • How to program effectively to keep progress from stalling (MASSIVE advantages in here!)
  • What equipment you need to strength train effectively
  • How to pull everything you learn together into a coherent routine

Not to mention it contains Excel templates for a 3 phase strength routine – the exact one I followed!

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