Written by Eric Lilliebridge
When I first started training in Powerlifting at 13 years old, my Deadlift was by far much stronger than my other two lifts. My Deadlift strength just came natural to me. At my very first competition at 14 years old in the 165 weight class, I pulled 400lbs raw at the very end of a full power meet going 9 for 9 on all my lifts. That was a huge mile stone for me in just a year’s worth of training. After my first meet, I had put around 100lbs on my Deadlift every single year all the way up until the age of 18 years old. I made very rapid gains on my Deadlifts as a teenager. A few days before my 19th birthday, I pulled 800lbs raw at around 255lbs body weight. It was by far the hardest pull I’ve ever done in my life. It was one of those grinder lifts from the knees all the way to lock out. I had blood shot eyes for over a week. I wanted that lift more than anything and after all my hard training, I reached a goal of mine that I didn’t think I was going to achieve until much later down the road.
The way I built my Deadlift up over all those years was by simply just doing pyramid training cycles typically for around 8 weeks. Since I alternate my Squats and Deadlifts every other weekend (Squatting and Deadlifting only twice a month) that gives me plenty of time to recover between those workouts. A full 14 days between a heavy Squat and heavy Deadlift. That’s how I was able to go heavy more often in my training. There had only been a handful of Deadlift training days where I pulled for reps, but I never liked doing reps so I stood away from them for a long time. I basically just worked up to 3 sets of singles at the end of every Deadlift workout. I tried to mimic how it would be in a meet, doing like an opener, 2nd and 3rd attempt but instead in training, I just looked at them as 3 working sets adding a little more weight to each set until the final single. Every 2 weeks I would bump up the numbers a little more on those working sets until I hit a new PR, then I would back off for a couple weeks and do another training cycle. I never wanted to stop and switch it up because it was working well for me and was very effective for strength gains every single training cycle. By the end of the training cycle I would shoot for a 10+lb PR and if it went easy I would try for more until I felt like I was fully maxed out for that training cycle before starting over again.
Some accessory lifts that I did and still do to help build up my Deadlift strength are heavy bent rows with a barbell right after Deadlifting. I use a double over hand grip with no straps to help work on my grip and to help build up my forearm strength and size. Usually doing about 3 working sets of 12-15 reps. I also do heavy Lat pull downs, 3 working sets of 12-15 reps, Upright rows with a barbell or on a cable machine usually 5 working sets of 15-20 reps, Leg extensions for 3 working sets of 15-20 reps and Hamstring leg curls for 3 working sets of 15-20 reps. All of my accessory work is higher rep work. I don’t believe in doing very heavy accessory work after a heavy Deadlift or Squat workout because all the heavy work was already done for that lift. I like to do my accessory lifts more like a body builder style, feeling and squeezing each rep and not cheating and swinging the reps to build momentum and lift more weight. The key to a big Deadlift is staying consistent with your heavy training but keeping it under control to where you feel you won’t over train or peak too soon, staying consistent with your accessory work and most importantly, working on good form and keeping the bar in the perfect line with your body structure to get the most leverage out of the lift.Eric Lilliebridge had a top #3 raw total ranking in world in the 275 weight class at just 19 years old. He had successfully totaled 2,065lbs raw in belt and knee wraps and deadlifted 800lbs raw in competition at only 19 years old. Now being the age of 22, he is currently ranked #2 in the world in the 275′s with a 2,204lbs raw total w/ wraps. His best competition lifts up to date are an 881lbs raw squat w/ wraps (World Record at 275s), 529lbs raw bench and an 821lbs raw deadlift. He is currently chasing after the all time world record total in the 275′s held by Jon Cole with a 2,259lbs raw total w/ wraps. Facebook, YouTube