Deadlift Every Day: Pros, Cons, Programming (Science Based)
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The deadlift is a widely accepted exercise across most facets of sport and fitness.
It targets a substantial amount of muscle of the lower and upper extremities, including the; quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, back and arms (1, 2, 3).
The deadlift has most probably been around in one form or another since humans could lift objects off the ground.
Along the way during the 18th and 19th century there were many variations such as the Harnest lift, Silver Dollar lift and Health lift.
So can you deadlift every day? Deadlifting every day has many benefits for all types of lifters. You can get a bigger deadlift and improve technique, however, you can get similar results with less frequency. Deadlifting every day can be incorporated by powerlifters with proper programming to increase strength and myofibular hypertrophy.
Continue reading for more details on deadlifting every day and all its benefits and drawbacks..
Science Behind Deadlifting Every Day
During the deadlift, muscle fibers are activated and degraded (broken down) followed by an elevated response of resistance training induced muscle protein synthesis (muscle building) (4, 5, 6).
It is likely that muscle protein synthesis would exceed muscle protein degradation if other external variables like nutrition and rest are met. Which in turn creates a surplus in net protein balance, thereby promoting chronic increases in muscle cross sectional area and maximal voluntary contraction (4, 5, 6).
In other words, deadlifting can make you BIGGER AND STRONGER!
This response takes the duration of around 5-7 days for beginners. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a shorter 24-48hrs for the more advanced lifters such as bodybuilders and powerlifters(4). Think of it as the time it takes to reconstruct the muscle after those grueling deadlift bouts.
Other chronic physical modifications include increased bone density (7) and motor patterning (8), cumulatively. This allows a lifter to load up the barbell and continue to hit personal records with a fluent technique.
So drawing the current scientific understanding, I would say that deadlifting everyday can maximize all of the highlighted variables. In fact, it is necessary for most advanced powerlifters who intend in competing and can also be utilized by bodybuilders.
Deadlifting Every Day And Powerlifting
I agree with the saying ‘Repetition is the mother of learning’ what does this mean for us as lifters?
In order to teach your body how to deadlift to the best of its ability, you must perform it frequently and even on daily basis under a daily undulating periodization fashion (DUP) (9).
It only makes sense, right? DUP would require you to periodize the deadlift intensity, but prioritizing it depending on your specific goals. For example, if you were training for powerlifting, incorporating more higher intensity strength sessions within a low rep range would be optimal.
Perhaps some lower-moderate intensity deadlift bouts to increase myofibular hypertrophy which also contributes toward strength developments (10).
1. Strength Sessions
Powerlifters could prioritize high intensity strength training of 80-100% within the rep range of 2-5 for 5 sets.
Generally, I would recommend long intra-set rest periods of 2-3 minutes to recuperate from the previous set (10).
2. Myofibular Hypertrophy Sessions
Moreover, you could incorporate some myofibular based hypertrophy session (breaking down muscle fibre) at a moderate intensity of 70-80% with 6-10 reps x 5 sets. You rest period would be 1 minute (10).
This training mode devotes towards a stronger lift and you could think of muscle as a shock absorbing base for high velocity deadlifts (11).
3. Example DUP for powerlifters
A training program for powerlifters would be entirely dependent on the lifter which would be discussed and programmed by a coach.
If I intended to improve my deadlift performance, I would split my total volume across 7 days, for example 35 total sets would give me 5 deadlift sets per day (35/7= 5). Majority of my session would be based around very high intensity training with some myofibular hypertrophy sessions.
All of my sets would be completed to near failure, approached with autoregulation (12). I would alter the load on the bar depending on the reps I complete in my previous set as performance can vary on a weekly basis.
At times I may decrease intensity based on how I am feeling on the day as deadlifting every day can become taxing on the body. My training strategy is very simple yet affected which I have implanted in the past. I have highlighted an example from one of my training weeks below.
4. Deloading For Powerlifters
I cannot stress the importance of the de-load, in most cases it can be programmed by reducing training intensity, frequency and volume (13).
Once again, its programming will entirely depend on the lifters requirements. Personally, I feel as if I need one every 4th week. Deadlifting on a daily basis is likely to overreach the central nervous system (13) and overtime this could increase the risk of overtraining. As a result, it could impair hormones (I.e., cortisol) and cause common structural injuries such as lower back strains and fractures (13).
I would reduce my intensity to 50-60% and may reduce my training frequency/volume to 4-5 days, thereby allowing my body recompose while still maintaining the motor patterning of the deadlift (13).
8 Benefits to Deadlifting Every Day
1. Increased Strength And Hypertrophy
The acute breakdown and re composition of muscle would relay into a chronic modification of strength and hypertrophy. Of course, the other like nutrition and rest are being manipulated accordingly (5).
As I have mentioned, you can mold your physical appearance and performance based on your goals (10). If you are training for bodybuilding purposes, majority of the daily deadlift bouts would be observed at a low to moderate intensity to induce myofibular and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (muscle cell growth and muscle content).
This would typically be amalgamated with other accessory exercises to isolate smaller muscle groups I.e., the biceps and triceps, therefore forming a larger physical appearance.
However, deadlifting daily is more commonly adopted by powerlifters who utilize more higher intensities for strength development. In other words, you can choose if you want to be bigger or stronger based on training intensity and exercise selection (10).
2. Improving Deadlift Technique
Motor unites are complex structures made of neurons and muscle fibers, when you continuously repeat a movement, you will develop the necessary motor units to produce a fluent movement patterning (8).
In the case of the deadlift, you could expect an adaptation in the kinetic chain of the lower extremities. That is plantar flexion, knee extension and hip extension. Thus, producing a more efficient deadlift technique, which is important to load up the bar for the competitive setting (8).
3. Improving Motor Patterning For Sports
Similarly, the same kinetic chain produced via the deadlift can translate into most sports and activities. Such as sprinting, jumping, weightlifting, boxing and may be utilized on a daily basis during strength-speed training phases (14).
In support of the notion, Swinton et al. (14) recruited 23 athletes to perform the deadlift and identify if the exercise is suitable for explosive resistance training.
The participants performed single repetitions at 30, 50 and 70% of their individual 1 repetition maximum with submaximal and maximal velocity on force plates.
The force plates indicated an increased force, velocity, rate of force development and acceleration with maximal velocity of contraction, which translates into sport.
Based on this research, it is safe to say that the deadlift at around 70% intensity with maximal velocity can be utilized during strength-speed training phases, but you should discuss the exact training protocol with a coach.
4. Breaking Through Plateaus
As a newbie to resistance training, you would experience some rapid strength and muscle gains, which begin to slow down and require a greater overload by increasing intensity and/or volume (15).
At a very advanced training level, we can get to the point where it feels as if it is impossible to progress, that is where deadlifting every day can be manipulated as a strategy to break through plateaus.
The deadlift can stimulate most of the muscles of the lower and upper extremities and may even improve other lifts to continue making those training modifications if engaged frequently.
5. Develops Pull Muscles
Have you ever had a training partner or know someone who had been training for only a few months but attained the chiseled shape of a Greek statue?
The reality is that some lifters have great physical genetics to build a considerable amount of muscle and strength with minimal stimulus.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there is the hard gainers who trains tooth and nail for those gains but with nothing to show.
Utilizing the deadlift on a daily basis may create enough stimulus to build the lower extremities and upper extremities those with inferior genetics.
6. Increased Energy Output
The deadlift was rated amongst the top 4 weight room exercises for a metabolic response of energy expenditure by the ACSM in 2016 (16).
The deadlift engages masses of muscle and burns through a lot of energy, more commonly known as ‘calories’ (17). Deadlifting on a daily basis can drastically increase energy output, thereby can be used as a weight loss tool. As well as a method to build overall muscle mass/tone which is the thermogenic tissue (burns more calories), creating a leaner physical appearance in the long term (17).
For lifters who are trying to prevent weight loss, calories can to be increased, but it is important to consult your coach or nutritionist to help program your nutrition based on individual variables.
7. Improved Grip Strength
Increased grip strength is an adaptation to regular deadlift as it activates and strengthens the muscles of the lower arms (1). Repeatedly breaking down and restructuring the muscle on a daily basis from the deadlift can maximize the length of acute resistance training.
This induces muscle protein synthesis which translates into chronic grip strength modifications (1).
To learn more about deadlift grip strength, read my article about Maximizing Deadlift Grip Strength.
8. Increased Bone Mass
The high intensity Deadlift is a load bearing exercise, which stimulates an osteogenic effect on the bones of legs and trunk (bone growth) (7).
Deadlifting everyday would chronically create a larger appearance and increase the potential to load more weight during the lift (7)
Drawbacks To Deadlift Every Day
1. Increased Injury Risk
Deadlifting on a daily basis, like any other exercise can cause structural decomposition at an accelerated rate with an increased risk to subsequent overuse injuries. These include lower back strains and sprains, bone fractures, bicep strains, rotator cuff and shoulder injuries etc (18).
On this basis, I would say it's important not to forget to deload at the end of every meso cycle. If you feel any sharp pains, I would suggest to reduce training frequency as I mentioned in the ‘deadlifting every day for powerlifting’ section.
2. Tedium Effect
Repetition is the key to success, but can also become very boring.
If the deadlift is observed every single day, it can become tedious, thus reducing training motivation (19).
With lowered training motivation, exertions will without a doubt decrease, where progression would halt or can even regress (19).
Who Should Deadlift Every day?
1. Advanced Powerlifters And Bodybuilders
We understand that really advanced lifters experience a short response of muscle protein synthesis lasting only 24-48hr. Therefore, to maximize muscle and other physiological adaptations deadlifting every day may be what bodybuilders and powerlifters need to maximize their potential in terms of hypertrophy and strength.
Once again, lower to moderate intensity would be better prioritized by bodybuilder to pack on as much size as possible and higher intensities for powerlifters (4, 5, 6). However, I do believe deadlifting every day is more important for powerlifters training in preparation for a powerlifting meet.
This is because there are other exercises and training strategies that may be more optimal for bodybuilders such as a mixture of isolation and compound exercises.
2. Lifters with inferior muscle genetic makeup
Even lower-level lifters who have disadvantages in their overall muscle genetic makeup could consider deadlift every day. It will help bring up these muscles as I have highlighted and dig deep to stimulate more muscle fibers.
Who Should NOT Deadlift Every Day
1. Beginners And Intermediates
If you recall, I mentioned that beginners would undergo a significantly longer period of muscle protein synthesis after a deadlifting.
Therefore strength and conditioning benefits could probably be maximized by a single deadlift bout per week. Even 2 sessions for intermediate lifters (4). Training too frequently for these lifters does not offer that many additional benefits.
2. Injury Prone Lifters
The deadlift is a brutal lift and taxing on the whole skeletal system, therefore there are always risks attached to all lifters who are attempting the exercise on a daily basis.
I definitely would not recommend deadlifting every day for lifters who are injury prone for a variety of reasons such as small and weak joints, inadequate muscle recovery, low bone mineral density etc. (20)
Pro Tips For Deadlifting Every Day
1. Warm Up Properly
It is important to increase core body temperature and lubricate the joints with synovial fluid in preparation for a lift or there could be an increased risk to soft tissue injuries (21).
A warm up could be completing a few sets of deadlift at a much lower 40-50% intensity focusing on the movement patterning and warming up the body. Grooms et al. (21) allocated a sport specific warm up on the lower extremities of soccer players and a control group (no meaningful warm up) during a training season.
The researchers identified that the warm up condition presented a mean of 2.2 injuries out of 1000 training exposures with only 52 days of training lost. Whereas, the control group experienced 8.1 injuries out of 1000 exposures with 291 days of training lost.
This study clearly illustrates that a movement specific warm up may reduce injury risk.
2. Optimize Nutritional Intake
Nutrition is a variable that can often be undervalued, but I would say it contributes around 50% to muscle gains and performance.
Firstly, It is important to consume a sufficient amount of protein to maximize muscle protein synthesis.
This will entirely depend on the individual but a rough guideline can be 2-3g/kg of body mass (22).
Protein Throughout The Day
The next variable to consider would be to distribute the total protein across the day.
Ingesting around 30-40g of a high quality protein per meal every 3-4hrs (4-5 meal/snacks) to maximize and elongate acute muscle protein synthesis (building) to exceed muscle protein degradation (breakdown) (22).
It is debatable whether lengthening muscle protein synthesis in this manner can translate into chronic modifications.
However, as practitioner I would say it does not hurt to try it out and it is a good strategy to get all of your protein in, without getting too bloated from a single meal with a bolus of calories and protein.
So what would this 30-50g of protein come from any source? I would suggest high quality sources containing all 9 of the essential ammino acids and a high ratio of Leucine. Leucine is the branched chain amino acid responsible to signaling mTOR phosphorylation and stimulating muscle protein synthesis (22).
The research has shown 2-3g of Leucine to maximize acute muscle protein synthesis (22). Think of it as the fuel to the fire to keep the flames ignited, or in our case it would be to feed the muscles.
Now you may be a bit confused on how to get these protein sources so I have highlighted 7 ‘best’ sources of protein below, but consult your coach or nutritionist to identify a more specific quantity.
Whey Protein Shake
Wheat and Soy Protein
Modified from Wilson et al. (22)
For power based lifters I would generally recommend them to consume calories to match energy balance or create a small surplus to prevent excessive weight gain. However, it has to be sufficient energy to complete training sessions with high intensity.
For the exact carbohydrate and fat ratio it is important to consult a coach or nutritionist.
3. Get Adequate Rest
Recovery/muscle re-composition takes place during sleep, likewise sleep can help normalize hormones to decrease the risk of overreaching early (23).
I would suggest 7-8hrs of sleep per night (23). A top tip that I can give from my experience is not to ingest caffeine 7-8hrs prior to the time you would normally go to sleep as it is a central nervous system stimulant (24).
Moreover, ensure that your curtains are drawn in the bedroom setting and all electronic devises are switched off to eliminate noise and light. These could cause waking up in the middle of the night or degrade the quality of sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
I'm Concerned About Overtraining If I Deadlift Every Day?
Gym based activities don’t tend to cause overtraining, unless you’re training hour on top of hours. However, if you keep overreaching without setting a deload there is an increased chance of chronic overtraining.
Could You Use Another Alternative To The Deadlift?
Recreational lifters and bodybuilders could utilize other alternatives such as the leg press, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift etc.
However, for powerlifters whose main objective is to rack up as many pounds on the bar as possible in preparation for the powerlifting competition. There probably is not a better way than prioritizing the deadlift itself, but perhaps you could incorporate some other alternatives in conjunction.
What Would Happen If I Went From Deadlifting Every Day To Stopping?
You would simply begin to regress in muscle mass and strength, but not to the point where you started training. But then again that depends on how long you were deadlifting and your training level.
You could maintain your strength and muscle gains if you replace the deadlift with alternative exercises. But, this may hinder motor patterning if you are competitive powerlifter as the deadlift is one of the lifts that would be observed.
Deadlifting every day is most appropriate for powerlifters who are preparing for a powerlifting bout.
It probably is not that necessary for bodybuilders and recreational lifters as there are many other alternative exercises and strategies that are superior for building muscle.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for intended for educational purposes only and not as an individualized exercise prescription, therefore no one can be held liable in the occurrence of injuries, damages or monetary losses as a result of the information.
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About The Author
Zack Shakoor Kayani was born and raised in the South East of England/London. Zack has attained a bolus of knowledge regarding biosciences through academia and his career experiences. In terms of his educational background, he has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Hons.), a Postgraduate diploma in sports nutrition with the International Olympic Committee, and a Master’s of Science in Nutritional Sciences. Zack has been fortunate enough to apply his Exercise Science and Nutrition Knowledge to aid Hundreds if not Thousands of Patients and Athletes, providing 1-1 consultation, Personal training, Information sheets, offering recommendations to collate nutrition and exercise programs, etc. Not to mention, in 2020, he authored a book called ‘Obesity Decoded’.