Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple chart you could look at that would provide guidance as to how many reps you should train with and what kind of weight you should use for each competitive lift? You have probably seen Prilepin’s chart – which attempts to do that, but there are 4 big problems with Prilepin’s chart.
- That chart was set up to guide the training of Olympic Weight Lifters, not powerlifters, and those two sports are not the same.
- It gives a decent guideline of what to do in one specific workout, but it doesn’t say how often one should perform that workout.
- It is not specific to what lift it is referring to: Clean and Jerk or the Snatch, and those two lifts are quite similar. In powerlifting the 3 lifts themselves are quite different, you don’t train a deadlift the same way you train the bench.
- It doesn’t take into account your training age. Training will obviously vary if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter.
It is my goal to solve those problems. I want to provide you – the lifter – with a clear and easy to read chart. This chart was made for powerlifting, this chart will provide a weekly guideline for total volume, and there is a specific chart for each lift (squat, bench, and deadlift). In addition there is a section on each part of the chart based on what your training age and experience are.
How to Read the Chart
You start by classifying where you are with the lift. Don’t let your ego get in the way and use the following guidelines:
- New to the lift (may not be new to lifting however)
- Hasn’t trained the lift consistently for 6+ months
- Must completely learn new form on the lift
- Has not hit a plateau on the lift
- Has trained the lift consistently for at least 6+ months, often up to several years
- Has achieved at least a decent level of performance in the lift (note this can vary significantly)
- Has hit at least one plateau on the lift
- Has been training the lift consistently for 5+ years
- Performance is significantly above initial levels
- Has hit several plateaus on the lift and may be in one now
Once you have your correction classification, you will then find your total weekly volume suggested for the lift. A range is given, generally start at the minimal suggested volume or in the middle, I would not suggest starting with maximal volume as that should be something you work towards over time with your program.
You need to decide how often you want to train the lift each week. For the deadlift, 1 time a week is the most common recommendation. Some lifters prefer to deadlift two times a week (often with one heavier day and one lighter/speed day). Others – often more advanced lifters – will only deadlift every other week or every third week. As you can see from the chart, your level of advance will dictate how frequently you should deadlift. In addition the frequency and intensity that you program your squat will affect how you should program the deadlift as the two exercises are taxing similar parts of the body. In general the more often and more intense you squat, the less often you need to deadlift.
Once you have your total weekly volume and your overall frequency, now simply divide that up as you see fit. Of course if you are lifting just once a week, you will hit your suggested volume all in one workout. If you are doing two or more sessions per week for that lift, then divide it up. An even division of the workload works fine but it is not mandatory to do that. If you decide to less frequently than once a week, use the suggested guide as the volume per workout, you don’t have to do extra volume to make up for the lower frequency.
Here are 2 sample workouts using the chart so you can see how this plays out. Our sample lifter is an intermediate level male lifter who can currently deadlift 555 and hopes to hit 585 in 10 weeks.
In the first program he will deadlift once a week on Tuesday.
Program 1 – Change in Training Weight Occurs Every Week
Tuesday: 405×8 3 sets
Note: 24 reps performed at 72.5% this week
Tuesday: 430×6 3 sets
Note: 18 reps performed at 77.5% this week
Tuesday: 455×5 3 sets
Note: 15 reps performed at 82.5% this week
Tuesday: 485×4 3 sets
Note: 12 reps performed at 87.5% this week
Tuesday: 515×3 2 sets
Note: 6 reps performed at 92.5% this week
After week 5 add 10-20 lbs to all sets and repeat
In the second program he will deadlift twice a week on Tuesday and Friday
Program 2 – Change in Training Weight Occurs Every Workout
Tuesday: Workout 1: 405×8 1 set
Friday: Workout 2: 430×6 2 sets
Note: 8 reps at 72.5% and 12 reps at 77.5%
Tuesday: Workout 3: 455×5 1 set
Friday: Workout 4: 485×4 1 sets
Note: 5 reps at 82.5% and 4 reps at 87.5%
Tuesday: Workout 5: 515×3 1 sets
Workout 6-10: either 10 lbs and repeat OR use the progression listed below
Week 3 continued
Friday: Workout 6: 405×10 2 sets
Tuesday: Workout 7: 430×8 2 sets
Friday: Workout 8: 455×6 1 set
Note: 16 reps at 77.5% and 6 reps at 82.5%
Monday: Workout 9: 485×5 1 sets
Thursday: Workout 10: 515×4 1 sets
Note: 5 reps at 87.5% and 4 reps at 92.5%
In addition to the routine this lifter follows for the deadlift, they might want to include some assistance work. The more traditional deadlift work you do (the higher your volume is on the chart) the less assistance work you should do and vice versa. If the lifter is deadlifting twice a week that is likely all the deadlift work they need. If they are deadlifting once a week they might consider including another exercise that emphasizes the lower back or mimics the motion of a deadlift. Once again the squat is a great assistance exercise for the deadlift so if you are squatting regularly and intensely you are training the deadlift.
If this lifter followed the first program they could include one or zero additional deadlift/lower back related exercises. These might work on a weak point in the lift or they might focus on the muscles involved. Good choices might include:
RDL’s; Stiff Legged Deadlifts; Sumo Deadlifts; Rack Pulls; KB Swings; Reverse Hypers; Hypers; etc
How these are programmed are up to you, 1-3 sets of 4-8 reps would be pretty common for the bigger exercises; 1-3 sets of 8-20 reps for the more isolation or smaller exercises.
To see that concept fleshed out, the Deadlift part of the training program might look like this:
Deadlift Plan Deadlift Plan (optional second day)
If that was part of a larger workout routine this lifter might choose to do a push/pull routine as follows:
|DB Incline||Deadlift||Incline||Front Squat|
|DB Incline Fly||Lunge||Cable Xover||Leg Curl|
|Mil Press||Pull-ups||DB Mil Press||Barbell Row|
|DB Lat Raise||DB Row||DB Rear Delts||Hammer Strength Row|
|Pullover Skullcrusher||EZ Curl||Kneeling Tri Pushdown||DB Curl|
|Overhead Rope Tri||DB Hmr Curl||Bench Dips||Reverse Curl|
The goal in providing the above workout is to serve as a sample that you could follow if you wished to do so, it is not something set in stone by any means. In my opinion, one of the strengths of the Deadlift Chart is you can apply the guidelines it provides into a program of your own design.
Use the Deadlift Chart to help program the lift. Classify your level of advancement, find your desired volume for the week, create your program, incorporate progressive overload as you see fit, and enjoy adding plates to the bar.