The Isometric Deadlift Cycle That Took My Deadlift to 800 Pounds in 22 Months

 

 

For years I was frustrated with my deadlift. I came out of the gate very fast, deadlifting 675 at 220 in my second meet. But from that point in 2002 until 2014, I was stuck between 675 and 710. Finally, after some knee problems that lead to surgery, I was able to make some progress. This was the turning point in my training.

 

This is the point where I implemented isometrics. I was looking for some improvement but not at this rate. My deadlift jumped from 711 in March to 740 in November (eight months later). By December of 2015, I dropped down to 219 and increased my PR to 760. Fast forward to December of 2016 where I leveled up with 800 at 239. Every training cycle has been slightly different, but since 2014, isometrics have been included in my meet prep and my progress has not stopped.

 

There is nothing good about isometrics except the strength gain. You won’t get a good muscular pump except in your low back. The set-up takes time and breaking it down afterward is worse. Then you have the brain pain. Your head is guaranteed to feel like a volcano that is about to blow. Isometrics are so terrible, in fact, that I am going to give you the exact cycle I use. If you are willing to go through everything I lay out, I am willing to give it away.

 

On a serious note, isometric deadlifts can help you blast through sticking points. For those looking to stay in a weight class, your body weight will change very little. You can set the positions specifically needed to build the exact spot in your deadlift. And lastly, the only equipment you will need is a bar, rack, and some weights. I have run this cycle with little manipulations for my last five meets with amazing success. Each run has been slightly different but each cycle has set me up to easily break my personal record.

 

I listed a few reasons for doing isometrics but there are two that I feel are most important. Heavy deadlifts will give you, at most, a half second at any specific position. Isometrics will give you five to six seconds at the one specific position that will also produce results at 15 degrees above or below that point. Multiply that by six repetitions and you have done 30-36 seconds of work in that position opposed to less than six seconds for six full max effort reps.

 

Another benefit that people overlook is being able to make corrections while doing isometrics. When you pull into the pins, if you’re forward you can arch into it, flex your lats, and pull the bar into you. Your training partner will have six seconds to look at, evaluate, and help you adjust the position. This is feeling and thinking while you do it. Often we go on autopilot or we slow way down. With isometrics, you just need to keep pulling like a madman and make technical corrections as you are coached. So when you perform a max effort pull for a record, you can course-correct as you get out of position.

 

Before I go into the details I want you to watch the video of my last isometric workout so you have an idea of how they are structured. This specific workout is a little different because I take singles at the end, but what I want you to see is the rotation between isometrics and speed deadlifts. The singles were done at the end rather than taking a heavy single the following week. I did not take an opener or any other heavy single after this workout at 22 days out from my meet.

 

The Cliff Notes

  • The isometrics replace both dynamic effort and max effort work. My second lower body day is just assistance work.
  • This peaking cycle consists of two, two-week cycles.
  • I use two different pin positions changed weekly. I use Pin 2 and Pin 3 for the first cycle. I then use the same pins but stand on a half-inch mat for the second cycle.
  • Pin positions are at and slightly below my sticking point.
  • Each isometric is five to six seconds long.
  • I do four to six isometric deadlifts per workout.
  • One to two speed (CAT) deadlifts are done between isometrics.
  • Each isometric is a max effort pull against the pins.
  • I use a deload the week before starting each isometric cycle.

 

The Setup

In an elitefts rack with the one-inch hole spacing, I will set the bar in the bottom of the rack if pulling into Pin 2 or on Pin 1 if pulling into Pin 3. About 60% bar weight is used for the isometric deadlifts. It needs to be light enough that you can apply maximal force for the full six seconds but heavy enough that you don’t tear a callus when the bar slams the pins.

 

Tearing a callus can be a major problem if you use a bar with extreme knurling or you pull too far from the start into the pins. This is why the pins are set up as such. You must also take care of your hands. If you tear a callus this close to the meet, you might not heal enough to hold a PR weight. I recommend having the Ript Skin System on hand just in case you do get even a small tear. It happened on one of my first isometric cycles. Don’t make the same mistake as me.

 

 

The Program

This is written as my program with my pin selections. I typically missed three to five inches off the floor and this is used improve my pull off the floor. It has taken me five cycles to complete all six pulls in each of the four workouts. I use this cycle twice a year. I do my isometrics on Friday so I have all weekend to recover. I do not list out my assistance for my non-isometric day but it is important that you know that it is there.

 

Week 1 (50 Days Out)

Superset Three to Six Rounds

Isometric Deadlift Against Pin 2

60% x 5-6 seconds
Start counting once the bar hits the pins.
Rest two minutes.

Speed/CAT Deadlift

55% Bar Weight
10-20% Accommodating Resistance
Two singles with 20 seconds rest or one double (reset, not touch and go)
Rest two minutes then repeat.

 

Assistance Work

Superset:

  • Yoke Bar Good Mornings, 4×12
  • Band Leg Curls, 4×15

Reverse Hypers, Long Strap, 5 x 25

Split Squats, 4 x 12 Each Leg

Ab Wheel, 4 x 10

 

Week 2 (43 Days Out)

Superset Three to Six Rounds

Isometric Deadlift Against Pin 3

5-6 seconds
Start counting once the bar hits the pins.
Rest two minutes.

Speed/CAT Deadlift

60% Bar Weight
10-20% Accommodating Resistance
Two singles with 20 seconds rest or one double (reset, not touch and go)
Rest two minutes then repeat.

 

Assistance Work

Superset:

  • Yoke Bar Good Mornings, 4×12
  • Band Leg Curls, 4×15

Reverse Hypers, Long Strap, 5 x 25

Split Squats, 4 x 12 Each Leg

Ab Wheel, 4 x 10

 

Week 3 — Deload

Dynamic Effort (39 Days Out)

Only assistance work.

 

Max Effort (36 Days Out)

Good mornings for multiple sets of six. No deadlifts.

Assistance work for low back, hamstrings, quads and abs.

 

Week 1, Cycle 2 (29 Days Out)

Superset Three to Six Rounds

Isometric Deadlift Against Pin 2

Stand on half-inch mat.
65% x 5-6 seconds
Start counting once the bar hits the pins.
Rest two minutes.

Speed/CAT Deadlift

55% Bar Weight
10-20% Accommodating Resistance
Two singles with 20 seconds rest or one double (reset, not touch and go)
Rest two minutes then repeat.

 

Assistance Work

Reverse Hyper, Short Strap, 4-6 x 15

 

Superset:

  • Leg Extensions, 4 x 12 (two-second squeeze)
  • Back Raises, 4×12

Pulldown Abs, 5 x 15

 

Week 2, Cycle 2 (22 Days Out)

Superset Four Rounds

Isometric Deadlift Against Pin 3

Stand on half-inch mat.
5-6 seconds
Start counting once the bar hits the pins.
Rest two minutes.

Speed/CAT Deadlift

65% Bar Weight
10-20% Accommodating Resistance
Two singles with 20 seconds rest or one double (reset, not touch and go)
Rest two minutes then repeat.

 

After the four isometric/speed deadlifts, I worked up taking a heavy single that was close to my opener. In this workout, I pulled 711 plus some chains, and my opener was 730 at the meet.

 

Assistance Work

Reverse Hypers, Short Strap, 4 x 15

 

Superset:

  • Leg Extensions, 4 x 12 (two-second squeeze)
  • Back Raises, 4 x 12

Pulldown Abs, 5 x 15

 

At this point I started my taper going into the meet, doing only dynamic deadlifting. After this session, I did not need to take an opener, as my heavy single was included in the workout. I knew that from this point forward I would not get any stronger but I could hurt my progress if I got greedy. I was also a grumpy bastard and knew I needed some rest. It all paid off in the end.

 

The Results

The results speak for themselves. Adding that much to one lift after years of stagnation is enough proof that isometrics are worth their weight in gold. I was too hard-headed to quit and kept looking for answers. Thankfully, I found it before I quit. Now before you jump into a similar cycle, you need to think about a few things.

 

Considerations and Recommendations

Before you think about trying this cycle, all the pieces need to fit together. I have not pushed my squat while I have been doing this cycle. I did enough to squat 600 in briefs in a full meet but I am most likely done with heavy squatting due to the knee issues it causes me. I have never done circa max squatting in the same meet prep. So, for those of you who will do circa max or other heavy squatting, you may want to do this as a two-week cycle and not four.

 

For those of you who want to peak for a deadlift meet or who are taking a token squat, you can run this as is, only adjusting the pin settings. You must also consider everything I have done over the last 13 years before I started isometrics. Your GPP and recovery levels need to be high enough to recover from this intense work. You might not be ready for this cycle but a cycle modified for you could be done. If you have any questions or need help setting up your cycle please contact me at [email protected] Good luck!

 

Source: https://www.elitefts.com/education/the-isometric-deadlift-cycle-that-took-my-deadlift-to-800-pounds-in-22-months/

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