Can You Increase Your Deadlift By 240lbs In One YEAR?!
April 17th 2020
If you were wondering how much you can increase your deadlift by in one year, I will stay outright that it is very difficult to estimate, and it depends on a lot of factors.
How much can I increase my deadlift in a year?
How much you will progress will depend on factors such as your weight, what your current level of activity is, nutrition, sleep, etc.
For instance, in a perfect linear progression program that increases your deadlift by 5lbs each week, you can increase your deadlift by 240lbs in one year.
Some of these factors you cannot control while others you can.
Regardless, rather than focusing on the number itself, you would be better off focusing on whether you are working hard enough, and training in a way to maximize your strength and size gains in one year.
This will take you a lot further and will allow you to accomplish your goals rather than stop short at an arbitrary number for an arbitrary period of time.
With that being said, we will discuss what the progression will look like for those on starting strength or 5/3/1, as well as the various factors that play into how fast you can progress in one year.
If you were following starting strength...
If you are following Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, you will know that the program is set so that you can progress workout by workout, slowing increasing the weight over time.
This is known as linear progression.
If you are following starting strength properly, you know that you will be increasing your deadlift by 10 lbs. each week initially.
Gradually, this should decrease down to 5lbs.
Then, 2.5lbs etc.
You get the point.
If you just started, you might think that this is a low number, or that this is a slow rate but in actuality, it is not.
In fact, it is actually a very high rate of progression.
If you were able to progress by 10 lbs. each week, then you would technically be adding almost one whole plate in total.
So, if you started off with no weights on the bar, by following the progression plan, you should be deadlifting 3 plates by the end of your sixth month.
Not too shabby… but...
Sounds unrealistic right? That’s because it is.
This isn’t to criticize Mark Rippetoe’s program (in fact the program was purposely designed this way).
The reason why is because the program was designed for you to train at a light weight and progress week by week until you reach your plateau, the point at which you cannot progress by 10 lbs. anymore.
Then, you add 5lbs until you cannot progress anymore.
If you bought fractional plates or have them lying in your gym, you can then go to 2.5lbs increments.
Once you’ve reached your plateau, you are supposed to “deload” which means reducing the weight by 70% and then restart, adding 10 lbs. each week until you reach another plateau.
Overall, every time you step forward, you will also need to take a few steps back.
But over a long period of time, as long as you are following the program and are training consistently, you will still make progress.
Strength isn’t something that is easy to develop.
You can’t simply go in the gym, lift heavy weights and expect to be able to lift 900 lbs a week later.
It will take time, hard work, and dedication.
What if you were following 5/3/1...
Now how would your deadlift progress look if you were following another program, let’s say 5/3/1.
For those who are not aware, 5/3/1 is another popular strength training program that has you work in rep ranges ranging from 5 to 3 to 1 as the program progresses.
This program was specifically designed for powerlifters wanting to increase their 1 rep max in the main compound movements.
Now don’t get me wrong, following starting strength which has a 5x5 protocol will still make you stronger.
But if your goal is to improve your 1 rep max, you should be training relatively close to your 1 rep max.
This is why some athletes believe that 5/3/1 is not suitable for beginners who have yet to learn how to perform the deadlift properly as poor form and heavy weights will lead to injury.
However, in my nearly one year of running 5/3/1, I found it to be one of the best programs I ever ran.
I am continuing to gain strength each cycle while not suffering any injuries.
And we all know that once you sustain an injury, you cannot progress because you cannot train hard.
But enough about why 5/3/1 is awesome, let us go into the what if you chose to do 5/3/1 for a year to increase your deadlift...
Similar to Starting Strength, 5/3/1 also has you reach a certain intensity and then deload, and like starting strength, you will also eventually reach a plateau.
So if your goal is to get a stronger deadlift, your best bet is to optimize your training so that with every workout you are maximizing the amount of strength and muscle that you can develop so that you can prolong your progress and delay the inevitable plateau.
In 5/3/1 Forever, there are different cycles you can run to “keep it fresh” if you have training ADD.
But if you just want to train for strength and be strong, 5/3/1 Forever has got you covered as well.
There are plug-ins for a wide array of goals.
Our next section will dive into this and the other factors that will affect your progress over the long run.
Factors that affect your deadlift progress
Because there are so many different factors that will affect how much you can progress in your deadlift in a year, I thought to write a section on some of the most important factors that influence this.
With that being said, some factors will be completely out of your control (such as body proportions) while others will be totally up to you (diet, sleep, etc.).
If you want to speed up your deadlift progress you will want to optimize your training so that you are building the maximum amount of muscle and strength as possible.
With that being said, here are a couple of factors that will affect your progress:
Where you start out from
Weight, body proportions, and your current level of activity will affect what weight you start out from.
If you weigh 130 lbs. and haven’t touched any weights yet, you will most likely start at a very low weight and will progress slowly.
On the other hand, if you played football, grew up on a farm, or stand over 6 ft and 200 lbs., you will most likely have an easier time when you start out deadlifting.
It’s not uncommon to see these types of lifters progress a couple of hundred pounds in a year.
You can’t really change any of these factors so I wouldn’t focus on it too much.
But just know that if you were to compare yourself to somebody else who just started and is already able to deadlift 300 lbs., this might be one of the reasons, simply because we are all different
Nutrition, sleep, and recovery
One of the most important ways to ensure that you are maximizing the amount of muscle you are building is by optimizing your nutrition, sleep, and recovery.
While you are lifting weights in the gym, you are giving your body the stimulus it needs to grow.
However, this growth only occurs at night while you sleep.
If you are getting inadequate sleep or have poor sleep quality, you are severely impeding the amount of muscle and strength your body can build which will lead you to progress a lot slower.
In addition, how much protein you are intaking will also play a role in how quickly you can build muscle.
If you are not taking in enough protein, even if your body has the stimulus to grow, it simply cannot grow, or it will try it’s best and will barely grow.
So, drink your protein shakes, and make sure that you are taking in the adequate amount of protein you need in order to maximize your progress.
How much effort you are putting into the gym
Something needs to be said about the mental side of lifting weights.
And that is, those who lift weights to get by will not progress as fast as those who really put in the work during their workouts.
This doesn’t mean you should be killing yourself with every workout, but one way to gauge if you are working out in the right intensity is how much more you have left in the tank.
If you feel like you can give more effort during your workout, what’s stopping you? After all, putting in more effort will result in greater gains, isn’t that what you want?
So reevaluate the mental aspect of lifting and look within to see if you are working at your full potential or not.
Elephant in the room answer but there is some validity to it.
Some people are just more naturally inclined to build strength, muscle, power or a combination of the three.
You can even see live results of this in your own personal gym.
What genetics does NOT control is your mindset, discipline and willpower.
There are also plenty of athletes that did not have the best genes but still entered the realm of strength training.
And they developed brute strength to overcome their own personal limits.
Are they the best of the best?
Maybe not but they can certainly be better than a genetically gifted athlete who does not optimize and utilize their talents.
Should beginners focus on their rate of progress?
Beginners should focus on whether or not they are making progress in the long term but they should not be focused on the rate of progress.
The reason why is simply because as you get more experienced, the rate at which you progress will decrease.
As with everything in life, there is a concept known as diminishing returns in that over time, as you become more proficient at something, you will need to spend longer and longer time in order to improve.
Just look at the top sprinters. Sprinters spend all their life running, only to try and improve their 100 m by 0.1 seconds or even less.
The fact of the matter is any progress is good progress and you should not be focused on how fast you are achieving it.
I hope you all learned something from the article.
Unfortunately, lifting is not black and white and there are no magical formulas in order to calculate how much progress you could make.
Instead of focusing on numbers, focus on the process and in doing the things that you need to do in order to succeed.
This is one reason why I thoroughly enjoyed 5/3/1 Forever.
Instead of chasing numbers and PRs in the gym, it is about learning how to build strength rather than chase a short term goal.
This does not mean you shouldn’t train hard.
Quite the opposite.
It means you should give it 100% intensity while training smartly.
And hopefully, while you continue to focus on building your deadlift max, you will see how valuable it would be if you can avoid injury and continue to train with a heavy enough weight.