Why Did My Deadlift Stall During Starting Strength?

July 4th 2019

All lifters want to get stronger and having a big deadlift will enable you to maximize your strength gains. However, a frequent problem I have encountered and seen is that many lifters’ deadlifts are stuck when they do Starting Strength. If you do not already know about my experience with Starting Strength, you can read about it here. But to quickly summarize it for new readers, the program initially starts you off with deadlifting three times a week which is then switched off to having you alternate deadlifts with another compound movement. So, essentially, you will be deadlifting three times every two weeks. For more information about the progression, it can be read in the manual.

So, let us answer the big question, why is my deadlifting stalling when I run Starting Strength?

Starting Strength Deadlift Stall, Why?

If your deadlifts are stalled during Starting Strength, it could be due to one or a combination of the following reasons:


  • You are not eating enough
  • You have bad form
  • You are not following Starting Strength


You are not eating enough

One of the biggest goals of Starting Strength is to get you big and strong in the shortest time possible. This means that you will need to sacrifice your aesthetic goals of having washboard abs and have that thought replaced by being a big, strong bear monster.

In other words, this program was created for you to develop your size and power. The most direct way you can influence that is by eating more food. If you are not weighing weight each month, you are doing something wrong.

Sure, you can eat at a slight caloric surplus but you will only get a fraction of the results. So, depending on the lifter’s motivation and drive, a plateau may happen. A plateau may not but know that it is 100% in your control on whether or not you are doing everything in your power in order to get stronger. 

Your form sucks

If you are a beginner or even a seasoned gym goer, your deadlift form probably stinks. Not to say that you did something wrong but you do not have the gym experience necessary to tweak and optimize your form. With that said, I have the perfect video on how you can do a perfect deadlift. 

It is concise and to the point so you do not need to waste any time analyzing if it is a good video or not. If you are unsure about that advice being given here, you can check out Jonnie’s powerlifting numbers to put things in perspective. This man knows what he is talking about and we can utilize his advice in order for us to become better lifters.

You are not following the program correctly

Are you thinking about adding more deadlift accessories? What about adding more deadlift days? If the answer is yes to either of the two questions, knock it off…

One reason why your deadlift is stalling is because you are not following the Starting Strength protocols. In the book, it discusses precisely what lifters should do if they are stuck at a certain weight and if needed, the program should evolve. If you decide to follow Starting Strength, you need to make sure you execute everything in the book, down to the last nitty-gritty detail. It is this attention to detail that really separates the average gym bro to the elite level lifter.

Solutions For A Stalled Deadlift

There are no quick solutions to get your deadlift unstuck. However, following your programming’s deload protocols, eating more and optimizing your form are 3 ways to 100% get your deadlift to another level.

There is no quick fix

Once you internalize that there is no magic pill or technique for you to increase your deadlift by 100lbs, you can finally work on improving your deadlift to produce results that will last forever.

You need to be realistic with your expectations. Your deadlift will not increase 50lbs if you do not work hard. Your deadlift will not grow if you are lazy and mistreat your body.

Follow their deload protocols

Starting Strength has solutions for you to use whenever you are unable to complete 5 reps for your working set. Following their procedures on what to do and you should be well on your way to breaking any previous plateaus.

Eat more and do hook grip

Again, Starting Strength will get you HUGE and strong. In addition to eating, your double overhead grip may fail during your working sets. Do yourself a favor and use the mixed grip or hooked grip. 

Ideally, you will use a hook grip to put your body in a symmetrical position during a heavy deadlift. But depending on your goals, using a mixed grip is not a bad option as it does help all lifters hold onto the bar a bit longer.

Should I be running Starting Strength forever?

Ideally, every lifter would be on a linear progression program forever. However, this is not the case and depending on each individual, your time on Starting Strength could range from several months to several years. There is nothing wrong with not being able to continue on doing linear progression programs, where lifters add weight after each successful workout.

The issue comes where lifters will complain that certain programs are not working because of this reason or that reason. ALL PROGRAMS WORK.

Can I do linear progression forever?

There will always be critiques and reviews about different programs, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. When I was a first starting out, I also made critical mistakes with programming. I would run linear progression style programs even though I was already 5-6 years into strength training. For a long time, I believed that if I just tried to inch my way towards my limits, I would get there. All this got me was crushed hopes and a bit of anxiety.

As your body adapts, your mindset and programming will also need to shift. 

This is exactly why I think 5/3/1 Forever might be one of those evolutions in programming methodologies that all beginner lifters need to experience and understand. 

I am hopeful but we need to be realistic - linear progression will be tough to maintain without running yourself into the ground. So, in order to maintain our mental sanity and physical longevity, we need a program that also allows us to challenge ourselves but not to the extent where we dread to go to the gym. 

In my opinion, 5/3/1 does exactly this and continues to evolve to help all its clients achieve their PRs. 


And there you have it. These are some pointers and strategies all novice lifters can use in order to break through their current deadlift issues. This is even applicable to more experienced lifters as these tips can be used as refreshers to make sure that their programming, life, and training is going smoothly.

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