Deadlifts are 1×5 on StrongLifts 5×5. You Deadlift one heavy set of five reps after your warmup sets. You don’t do five sets of five reps like on the Squat. 5×5 Deadlifts on top of 5×5 Squats 3x/week is too much. It doesn’t accelerate your progress but can slow it down.
Why Only 1×5 Deadlifts on StrongLifts 5×5
On StrongLifts 5×5 you do five sets of five reps on every exercise except Deadlifts. Deadlift is only one heavy set of five reps after your warmup. You don’t need to Deadlift for 5×5 because 5×5 Squats, Bench, Press and Rows increase your overall strength. They strengthen the muscles you use on Deadlifts. Your Deadlift increases doing just 1×5. And your StrongLifts 5×5 workout B stays short because it’s only one set of five at the end.
5×5 Deadlifts are unnecessary. You’re Squatting for 5×5 three times a week on StrongLifts 5×5. You’re also Benching, Pressing and Rowing for 5×5. These exercises strengthen your whole body. They strengthen your legs, back and arm muscles you use on the Deadlift. That’s how your Deadlift can increase to 140kg/300lb in six months, 180kg/400lb in 12 months, despite doing only 1×5 every StrongLifts 5×5 workout B.
5×5 Deadlifts after 5×5 Squats doesn’t work. You’re already tired of Squatting and Pressing. The Deadlift weight is heavier and each rep starts from a dead stop. Heavy 5×5 Deadlifts after heavy 5×5 Squats will beat you up. It won’t accelerate your progress, it will slow it down. You might fail reps during your next Squat workout. And the bar might not want to move off the floor next time you try to Deadlift 2.5kg/5lb more.
What If 1×5 Deadlifts Doesn’t Feel Enough
If 1×5 Deadlifts doesn’t feel enough, the weight is too light. This is normal the first weeks of StrongLifts 5×5 if you’ve lifted before or are stronger than average. But the weight increases every workout. You’re adding 2.5kg/5lb per workout on Squats. 5kg/10lb on Deadlifts (until 100kg/220lb, 2.5kg/5lb after that). In three months you’ll be Squatting two big plates, Deadlifting three plates. It will be enough then. Be patient.
If 1×5 Deadlifts really feels too light and you’re impatient, go for quality not quantity. Instead of adding sets, increase the intensity by adding weight. Switch from adding 5kg/10lb on Deadlifts each workout B to 10kg/20lb per workout. Your Deadlift will now increase by 60kg/120lb per month. You won’t be able to sustain this progression though. Once your Deadlift feels heavier, switch back to 2.5kg/5lb per workout.
Strong lifters know 5×5 Deadlifts after 5×5 Squats is madness. Ask anyone Squatting 140kg/300lb for 5×5 if he would Deadlift heavy for five sets of five reps after that. Few lifters will say yes. It’s too brutal. Most lifters will Deadlift 1×5. The few who do 5×5 Deadlifts will dedicate a day to it (more on that below). And when you’re Deadlifting 140kg/300lb you’ll understand why. You’ll be happy to end workout B with only 1×5.
Deadlifting More Than 1×5
One drawback of Deadlifting only 1×5 is that it gives you little Deadlift practice. You only have one heavy set of five reps to practice Deadlifting with proper form. But proper form is key to increasing your Deadlift because it increases effectiveness. Your Deadlift will increase because your Deadlift muscles get stronger from 5×5 Squats, Bench, Press and Rows. But 1×5 Deadlifts isn’t ideal for mastering proper form.
The easy fix is to warmup for Deadlifts, and warmup with sets of five reps. You must warmup to avoid injuries and to practice proper form. Start with 5x60kg/135lb. Then add 10-20kg/20-45lb per set until you reach your heavy set of five reps. Do five reps on every warmup set. This can cause some fatigue for your work sets. But it gets you more practice Deadlifting with proper form. And it’s less fatigue then doing 5×5 Deadlifts.
The StrongLifts 5×5 apps for iPhone and Android have a warmup calculator that does exactly the above. If you Deadlift less than 140kg/300lb, you’ll warmup with sets of five reps. This gives you more practice Deadlifting with proper form. Once you’re over 140kg/300lb, the reps of your warmup sets go down to avoid fatigue. Download the app for iPhone here, or Android here, and unlock the warmup calculator.
If you insist on 5×5 Deadlifts, it will only work when the weights are light. 5×5 Deadlifts is overkill after 5×5 Squats. Especially when Squatting three times a week for 5×5. You can do 5×5 Deadlifts when the weights are light. But the closer you get to 140kg/300lb, the more it will become obvious that it’s just too much. It will feel too heavy. And you’ll naturally start cutting the workout shorter by calling it a day after 1×5.
Some people have asked what I think of Squatting 1×5 on workout B so you can do heavy 5×5 Deadlifts. I don’t like it. It complicates StrongLifts 5×5. If you do 5×5 Squat 100kg Monday and 102.5kg 1×5 Squat Wednesday, what do you do Friday for 5×5? 105kg? But you didn’t do 102.5kg for 5×5. Now you can add weight every other workout or so, in the end all that matters is adding weight. But this isn’t simple. And I like simple.
Plus you can Deadlift heavier with 1×5. Your best 1×5 is 20% higher than your best 5×5. If you Deadlift 5×5, each additional set is harder because you get tired. This limits how heavy you can go and your progression. Deadlift for 1×5 to go heavier and demonstrate the strength you’re building with 5×5 Squats, Bench, Press and Rows. You’ll also be out of the gym faster after workout B because Deadlift is only one heavy set of five.
Switching from 5×5 to 1×5 Deadlifts
You may have misread the StrongLifts 5×5 guide by Deadlifting for 5×5 like with every other exercise. If so, switch to 1×5 Deadlifts next workout B. You don’t need to deload by lowering the weight. Keep adding weight as if you had done 1×5 all the time. Example: if you Deadlifted 100kg/220lb for 5×5 last workout B, Deadlift 102.5kg/225lb for 1×5 next workout B. Warmup with 2-3 lighter sets of five before your 1×5 work set.
Once you switch, Deadlifting for 1×5 will be easier than when you were doing 5×5. This is normal: you’re doing four sets less than before. But you will increase the weight each workout as you always did. And after a couple of workouts, you’ll Deadlift a higher weight at 1×5 than you did at 5×5. The intensity of your Deadlifts will be higher which will make them challenging again. Until then, focus on practicing proper Deadlift form.
1×5 vs 5×1 Deadlifts
1×5 Deadlift is one set of five reps. 5×1 is five sets of one reps aka five singles. On StrongLifts 5×5 you Deadlift one heavy set of five reps with about a second rest between reps. You don’t Deadlift five sets of one rep with a minute rest or more between sets. If you can’t Deadlift the weight without resting more than five seconds between reps, it is too heavy. Consider it a fail. Try again or deload next time. Don’t switch to singles.
Switching from 1×5 to 5×1 when you fail on Deadlifts is short-term thinking. The weight IS easier to Deadlift if you rest five minutes between sets to do singles. But it only delays the inevitable. You’re adding weight each time you Deadlift. This eventually makes the singles heavy too. What will you do then? Nobody can add weight each workout forever or we’d all Deadlift 1000lb like Andy. Sooner or later you have to deload.
Deadlifting for 5×1 only makes sense with hexagonal plates. Some gyms don’t have round plates to Deadlift but only hex plates made for machines. If you Deadlift with hex plates, the corners will land on the floor. This will mess with your starting position by rolling the bar away from the middle of your feet. You should do singles in this case so you Deadlift each rep from your mid-foot. Or get round plates and do fives.
When Deadlifting 1×5 on StrongLifts 5×5, rest about a second between reps. You can rest three to five minutes between sets. But don’t rest longer than five seconds between reps. If you have to, the weight is too heavy. Don’t switch to singles to make it easier. Don’t bounce the weight off the floor between reps either. It’s a fail. Try again next time or deload. Stick with fives and pull each rep from a dead stop. No need to regrip.