Why It’s Only 1×5 Deadlifts And Not 5×5 Like on Squats

A common StrongLifts 5×5 mistake is Deadlifting for 5×5 instead of 1×5. Some guys Deadlift more sets because they missed my explanation on page 43 of the 5×5 report. Others do more sets on purpose: they’re stuck in more-is-better-world and think 1 set of 5 reps is not enough for Deadlifts.

The reason you don’t want to do more than 1×5 Deadlifts is so you don’t start hitting plateaus all over the place. What I’m about to explain can be challenging to grasp if you’ve just started lifting and don’t yet realize that the Deadlift is a different beast than the Squat, but here’s how Deadlifts differ:

  • Deadlifts Work More Muscles. Although Squats work your upper-body too, you’re using a lot more muscles when doing Deadlifts.
  • Deadlifts Allow For More Weight. Because you’re using more muscles and starting from a partial Squat like position on each pull.
  • Deadlifts Drain Your CNS. Deadlifts starts from a dead stop, there’s no bounce like on the Squat, and that makes them harder on your CNS.

Add that it’s a pretty known fact by advanced lifters that the lower back takes longer to recover. With Squats/Rows/Presses also working your lower back, you understand why 5×5 Deadlifts after 5×5 Squats every other workout and with more weight than last time, is quite simply asking for plateaus.

Yes you can get away with 5×5 Deadlifts if you’ve just started StrongLifts 5×5. But as my StrongLifts Members will tell you: once you’re Squatting 300lb, you’ll be happy to end your workout with only 1 set of 5 Deadlifts. Obviously, you need to experience 5×5 Squats with 300lb first to really get this.

The most important thing to realize is that the Squat and Deadlift work similar muscles. That’s why you don’t need 5 sets of Deadlifts – 5×5 Squats 3x/week will boost your Deadlifts but without draining you like 5×5 Deadlifts would.

If you’ve been doing 5×5 Deadlifts until now, just switch to 1×5. You don’t need to lower the weight, just keep adding 5lb/workout. 1×5 will feel easier because you’re doing less sets but it will get challenging as you get closer to 1×5 400lb.

If Deadlifts are your favorite exercise as it is for me, do 5 reps for your warm-up sets: 5x135lb 5x180lb 5x205lb 5x235lb. This gives you more technique practice without causing plateaus on your other lifts like 235lbs for 5×5 would.

When in doubt, stick to StrongLifts 5×5 as laid out.

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