WATCH: How Would You Program for a Deadlift Only Meet?

TAGS: competition training cycle, program for deadlifts, deadlift only, goggins force, Specialty Bars, steve goggins, program design, deadlift

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If you wanted to train for a deadlift only meet, you could always use a program for a full-power meet and then choose to only deadlift the day of the competition. You'd train each lift, see improvements across the board, and would only have to do one lift at the meet. But what if you wanted to be more specific and alter your training to really focus on the deadlift? Could you sacrifice bench press or squat progress to push your deadlift further? In this video from Steve Goggins, he responds to a reader-submitted question about this situation:

"How would you program someone doing a deadlift only competition?"

Goggins begins his answer with the assumption that the lifter in question is physically able to squat but chooses to a deadlift only competition. This means that there aren't physical limitations, injuries, or disabilities that making squatting a problem. The reason this is so important is Goggins' belief that your deadlift helps build your squat and your squat helps build your deadlift. The number one thing is to keep training your squat heavy and hard, even if you won't be doing it in competition.

You can then organize a daily split in many different ways, but Goggins has one he prefers:

  • Monday — Bench Press
  • Tuesday — Squat
  • Friday — Deadlift

You could of course move days around and, for instance, squat on Monday, bench press on Wednesday, and deadlift on Friday. It wouldn't make a significant difference, but Goggins still has good reason for his preference: if you're preparing for a deadlift only meet, it may be helpful to get the bench out of the way at the beginning of the week. Sometimes tight pecs can cause an issue when deadlifting, and by doing bench at the beginning of the week you can avoid this issue and get the upper body soreness out of the way early on. Then for your squat you can use specialty bars and altered movements so it doesn't interfere with your deadlifting on Friday.


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These three days should be sufficient for a competition training cycle. Goggins doesn't believe in doing a lot of extra work than necessary when preparing for a deadlift only competition. He refers to this as his "old school powerlifting" training preferences and says that he likes a program best when the lifter only bench presses once a week, squats once a week, and deadlifts once a week. Outside of a 12-week training program, Goggins says that you can add in extra days of bench pressing or squatting with much lighter weights and that he would actually recommend this at the right time — just not when you're getting ready for a competition such as the one in question.

During this time period, on your squat day, you should still be squatting heavy. Nearer to competition, anywhere between 10 and 15 days out from the meet, you should pull your squat from the rotation and just focus on the deadlift for the final two weeks. If you aren't physically able to squat, you should still be doing a lot of assistance work for the squat on that training day.

There numerous other factors that are unique to the individual lifter. As in any program, these factors must also be accounted for, but this is Goggins' general programming layout for a deadlift only meet.

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