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Thread: Stalled Deadlift

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    Default Stalled Deadlift

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    Background:

    Male
    44 years old
    6’0’’, 225 lbs

    Bench Press: 270x5x1
    Press: 175x3x2
    Squat: 315x5x1
    Deadlift: 390x3x2

    I am currently running the four-day Texas Method variant on a two days on, two days off cadence.

    My problem is I constantly seem to hit a wall with my deadlift as I approach the 400-pound mark on my work sets. Last week, I successfully completed 2 sets of 3 at 390 pounds. Today (eight days later) I attempted to deadlift 395x3x2 after hitting a squat PR (315x5x1) and only managed to get one rep in. Rep #2 felt like it was glued to the floor. I waited eight minutes and tried to get another single in at 395 and could not get it off the floor. The same thing happened to me in my pre-COVID training albeit at a slightly lower weight (385 lbs.).

    I think part of the problem is fatigue/weakness in my lower back. Even last week when I successfully completed the 2 sets of 3 at 390, my lower back felt completely shot after the last set. I’ve had many lower back injuries and am confident that is not what is going on here as there is no lingering pain, just an immediate sense of crushing fatigue in my lower back after I set the bar down. I feel like the squat and deadlift are just taxing my lower back to the point where I am not fully recovered in time to try and hit a new deadlift PR on intensity day.

    At this point, am I better off doing a de-load on the deadlift and taking another run at it or should I start alternating halting deadlifts and rack pulls in an effort to strengthen my lower back to the point where this is no longer a limiting factor? I could also experiment with only deadlifting heavy once every two weeks, but I’d really prefer to avoid that option as I think that is not addressing the root of the problem.

    Thanks in advance for the assistance and feedback.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    So both your SQ and DL intensity days are on the same day? You could reset the DL a bit and put the intensity day on the volume SQ day and see how that goes. On a related note, when was the last time you had a DL form check?
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  3. #3
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    I do have my squat and deadlift intensity days on the same day. I followed what was laid out in Practical Programming, although I know some people do move the deadlift intensity day to squat volume day (I believe this is what is laid out in The Barbell Prescription). I have not done that, mainly because my legs feel like jelly after a 5x5 squat session and the thought of trying to hit a new deadlift PR after that is a bit daunting. I am open to trying it though if you think I would be fresher after a squat volume workout versus a squat intensity workout. Is it ever recommended to do deadlift intensity and then squat volume? I always see it the other way around because Starting Strength prioritizes the squat. It has been quite some time sent I sent in a deadlift form check, I will make a point to do that as well. In the past, I had struggled with setting my back properly without dropping my hips. I had thought I had cleaned that up but it is possible old habits crept back in as the weight went up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Miller View Post
    I do have my squat and deadlift intensity days on the same day. I followed what was laid out in Practical Programming, although I know some people do move the deadlift intensity day to squat volume day (I believe this is what is laid out in The Barbell Prescription). I have not done that, mainly because my legs feel like jelly after a 5x5 squat session and the thought of trying to hit a new deadlift PR after that is a bit daunting. I am open to trying it though if you think I would be fresher after a squat volume workout versus a squat intensity workout. Is it ever recommended to do deadlift intensity and then squat volume? I always see it the other way around because Starting Strength prioritizes the squat. It has been quite some time sent I sent in a deadlift form check, I will make a point to do that as well. In the past, I had struggled with setting my back properly without dropping my hips. I had thought I had cleaned that up but it is possible old habits crept back in as the weight went up.
    If I may jump in here, I have tried several combinations over the past few months. First was intensity DL (top triple and two backoffs) followed by volume squats. That worked okay until the volume squats got heavy. I tried reversing that, but that really sucked; I only got 2 reps on my top set and everything else was stapled to the floor. After a consult with a SSC I have moved to a biweekly progression on DL. I start with intensity squats and then do the deadlift, either for volume or intensity depending on the week. So far this is working, although I did do about a 10% reset on the heavy DL when I started that cycle (again, on the advice of the SSC). Time will tell if that continues to work once the heavy DL is back into PR territory.

    One other option we discussed was doing heavy deadlifts the day after heavy squats. I have done this successfully when scheduling has been a problem. So if my normal heavy squat/DL day was Saturday, I would squat Saturday, pull Sunday, and then be back on track to do upper body again on Tuesday. (I try to stick to Tu/W/F/Sa but kids' activities being what they are I have to be flexible).

    There's some room for flexibility and experimentation here, but to echo what Hayden said, it's not a bad idea to do a slight reset when you make those changes. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    All good suggestions from Matt. Ultimately what you're dealing with is that the 4 day TM is rough and not for most people. Even for those that it does work, you will eventually have to modify it to be less aggressive. The biweekly progression is an approach that I have seen work well for Masters athletes. I have also made the progression be less frequent than that, giving a somewhat lighter week before the progression week.
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  6. #6
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    Hayden and Matt, thank you both for the great feedback. I feel like my bench press and overhead press are progressing nicely with the four day TM. It just seems like the accumulated fatigue resulting from the squat and deadlift eventually bite me in the ass as the weight starts to go up and get heavy (for me). It works for a bit and then things will abruptly stall, almost always on the deadlift.

    In the short-term, I will do a modest 10% de-load on both the deadlift and the squat. I will also send in form checks on both the squat and deadlift when I get a chance to clean up any form issues before the weight starts to get heavy for me again.

    When I feel like the fatigue is starting to set in again, I will probably shift to hitting a new deadlift PR every two weeks. Question, in that scenario what would my deadlift workout look like on the intensity days where I am not going heavy and shooting for a PR? For instance, let's say my last deadlift PR was 385x5x1. What would the next deadlift intensity workout look like if I am not shooting for a PR? Matt mentioned volume work and I am certainly open to something like that if it will help lessen the stress a bit and leave me fresher for the next deadlift PR attempt. I know Rip says that older lifters need to be wary of deadlift volume but heavy deadlifts are super stressful for me and I am hopeful that some lighter volume work would represent a nice reprieve.

    Thanks again to both of you.

  7. #7
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    May 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Miller View Post
    Hayden and Matt, thank you both for the great feedback. I feel like my bench press and overhead press are progressing nicely with the four day TM. It just seems like the accumulated fatigue resulting from the squat and deadlift eventually bite me in the ass as the weight starts to go up and get heavy (for me). It works for a bit and then things will abruptly stall, almost always on the deadlift.

    In the short-term, I will do a modest 10% de-load on both the deadlift and the squat. I will also send in form checks on both the squat and deadlift when I get a chance to clean up any form issues before the weight starts to get heavy for me again.

    When I feel like the fatigue is starting to set in again, I will probably shift to hitting a new deadlift PR every two weeks. Question, in that scenario what would my deadlift workout look like on the intensity days where I am not going heavy and shooting for a PR? For instance, let's say my last deadlift PR was 385x5x1. What would the next deadlift intensity workout look like if I am not shooting for a PR? Matt mentioned volume work and I am certainly open to something like that if it will help lessen the stress a bit and leave me fresher for the next deadlift PR attempt. I know Rip says that older lifters need to be wary of deadlift volume but heavy deadlifts are super stressful for me and I am hopeful that some lighter volume work would represent a nice reprieve.

    Thanks again to both of you.
    I'm not necessarily saying this is what you should do, but my volume deadlift is 4 sets of 5 at a little below 80% of my intensity load. For point of reference, I'm 43 and our numbers are fairly similar although my squat is a little higher than yours. One thing I found is that the deload on the deadlift really seemed to allow my squat to continue moving forward. I also managed to clean up a few technique problems along the way.

    You didn't mention power cleans, so I assume you're not doing them. I had to quit doing them due to a shoulder problem, and while I do power snatches once a week, those aren't anywhere near heavy enough to drive progress on my deadlifts. So the extra pulling volume has been helpful, and yeah, it feels like a break.

    I will say that my programming consults with Nick D'Agostino have been money well spent.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2019
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    Thanks Matt, that is very helpful. I work out alone in my garage so it is nice to connect to lifters my age that have gone through some of the same struggles I have experienced.

    No, I don't do power cleans. I do chins and barbell rows on my squat volume day. Maybe that is too much pulling stress in one workout for a guy my age? I'm not sure. If anyone has thoughts on that, I'd be interested to hear them.

    I'm going to a modest de-load on the deadlift and squat, submit updated form checks on both, and eventually alternate between deadlift intensity and deadlift volume to see how that goes.

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