Thank You to Robert Wildes!
The following 12 week, 3 workout per week training cycle emphasizes the deadlift, but is well rounded enough to be used as your fundamental powerlifting program. It is suitable for use over a broad range of capabilities, from the advanced novice to the world class competitor, but should NOT be used by anyone recovering from a back problem.
For this article, I will assume a maximum starting deadlift capability of 600 pounds and project a 30 pound improvement at the end of the cycle.
To obtain maximum benefit from this cycle, it's necessary to APPRECIATE ITS HERITAGE. You should pay mental respect to and derive strength from the long line of champions that have contributed to it.
Bob Fortenbaugh, my first team coach, laid the foundation for the revolutionary strength programming at Black's Health World. Bob had tremendous influence on Hoss the Boss and mself, enabling Hoss to take over the reigns as coach of one of the strongest teams in the history of powerlifting. Hoss was so successful he went on to become manager for the North Coast Power Shop, where he has helped many with his strength coaching abilities.
Joan Fruth, a great lady and former world champ came to visit Black's and ended up staying for weeks, committing hundreds of hours to writing training programs and assisting the team at meets all over the country. During this period, many great lifters influenced my personal training program and shall always have my respect and gratitude: Jack Sideris, Fred Hatfield, Lou Simmons, Rick Gaugler, Matt Dimel, Steve Wilson, Tony Fitton, John Florio, Bob Wahl, Vince Anello, Dave Waddington . . . the list goes on and on.
Learning from them and adding my own experience has resulted in the following program. It is geared to the big deadlift. Let's face it, many contests are won by bodyweight and it's sure nice to have an ace in the hole.
As in all training, proper warmup and stretching is extremely important. For the deadlift, pay particular attention to the hamstrings and back. REMEMBER, protecting yourself and others from injury is your primary responsibility during the workout.
Your workout days can be any three-day combination during the week as long as there is at least one recovery day between workouts. I like a Mon/Wed/Sat schedule. I also happen to use the conventional style in the deadlift.
Since this article deals specifically with the deadlift, I will only list the progressions of weight for the deadlift. To maintain a sense of perspective for the overall program, however, I will show the number of reps performed for all exercises.
1) Squats, light weights, 70% of Day 3 level.
2) Bench Press, medium weights, 90% of Day 3 level.
3) Seated DB Press.
4) Alternating Over-the-Head Front and Rear Barbell Press
(just clearing top of head).
5) Lying Triceps Extensions, EZ Curl Bar
6) Weighted Dips
7) Barbell Curls
8) Weighted Crunches (3 x 15 every workout).
Of the above, 1 and 2 follow the Day 1 Rep Schedule all the way through. Numbers 3-7 keep the same.
1) Deadlifts, on platform so that the bar is ankle height at bottom of lift.
4) Bentover BB Row.
5) Leg Extensions.
6) Leg Curls.
7) Calf Raises (4 x 10 each workout).
8) Inclined Weighted Situps (3 x 25 each workout).
Of the above, the deadlifts follow the Day 2 Rep Schedule all the way through. Numbers 2-6 keep the same reps (8-6-6-4-4) starting in Week 6.
2) Bench Press
As you can see, there are not a large number of different exercises being used in this program. More is not better in this case. What is important is to maintain a high level of concentration and intensity at all times while maintaining strict form.
Here's a few personal training tips:
1) Think only of the rep you are on; never let your mind drift to the last rep until you get there.
2) Don't rush the reps. Control the weight down as well as up, the slower the better, with absolutely NO BOUNCING.
3) Reposition after each lift. That's right, I said at each and every rep, not just between sets. This doesn't mean that you release and re-approach the bar. You stay tight, fully within the series of reps, but take just an instant of mental effort to verify that you are fully satisfied with your form. I would rather see someone attempt 8 reps but only get 6 good ones than do all 8 poorly.
I cannot emphasize total concentration on perfect execution enough. If you find that you cannot maintain good form, then you should back off and work on execution. To do otherwise is to fool yourself and cheat your body our of its true potential for improvement and risk serious injury.
Start a little light on the high rep sets and steadily increase the weight as much as possible on each subsequent training set.
The one-rep-at-a-time method should be used throughout the program with particular attention being paid to correct form on these very critical maximum effort lifts.
I hope you are successful with this workout. Many people before you have achieved significant gains with it. If you take to heart my advice on strict form and execution, you will too.
NOTE! The above deadlifts are performed just as if your feet were on ground level. DO NOT make them stiff-legged. I suggest that you wear a heavy sweatshirt for all platform deadlifts. The increased depth makes abrasions between the arms and thighs likely and you don't need that kind of annoyance detracting from your concentration.
Enjoy Your Lifting!