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Build Strength, Size and Detail
With This Targeted Deadlift Routine

Goals: Size, Strength, Fat-Burning
Bodypart: Whole Body

Anyone who has ever spent time in the gym trying to get freaky strong can (and should) tell you that your gains start and end with the deadlift. If you're not familiar with the deadlift, it simply involves lifting a loaded barbell from the floor. Taxing the lower back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, traps, forearms and upper back, the deadlift recruits more musculature than you have probably considered. That's why it is a fantastic choice when trying to add size and strength. Progressively overloading your muscles through various compound lifts triggers the release of more growth hormone (GH) which makes you bigger and stronger over time. Those new to deadlifting often find that since they're utilizing so much muscle with each session, strength comes quickly. But as popular as the deadlift is for building -- or simply demonstrating -- brute strength, it can also be an effective tool for improving overall body composition, regardless of the rep range you're using. The bottom line is that if the deadlift is not part of your current routine, it should be.

Heavy Deads (Less than 8 reps)
Heavy deadlifting, as alluded to above, floods your body with more GH, which leads to more muscle in the long run. And the more muscle you carry, the higher your resting metabolism will be. Training in the 6-8 rep range with less than 60 seconds of rest has been shown to burn more calories during your workout while also elevating your post-workout metabolism higher and for longer than 12-rep sets. And because of its head-to-toe nature, you can expect that regular heavy deadlifting will lead to a drastic increase in lean muscle.

Heavy Deads Tip: Use a mixed grip and keep your shins flush against the bar at the start of the lift. The mixed grip gives your forearms a longer time to fatigue, allowing for more reps. Keeping the bar against your shins, while uncomfortable, allows the bar to keep a vertical path on the ascent – allowing it to get away from your shins means more pressure on your back and diminished strength on your pull.

Moderate Deads (8-12 reps)
If you're not able to train in the 6-8-rep range, the 8-12 range will still do you just fine. It's a well-established fact that hypertrophy is maximized in this range, so by deadlifting for 8-12 reps per set, you are still getting the metabolic benefits of this full-body lift because your body will burn more calories at rest as you build muscle.

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Moderate Deads Tip: Drop your glutes down with each rep. As you fatigue, one common mistake is to keep your glutes high rather than allowing them to drop down at the bottom of the lift. Doing so will compromise your back and reduce strength, forcing you to reach failure (or injury) sooner.

Light Deads (More than 12 reps)
Powerlifters will scoff at the idea, but even if you're performing deadlifts with lighter loads that allow you to complete 15 reps or more at a time, you are still training a great amount of muscle against resistance, which is tantamount to a cardio/weights hybrid activity. If you can deadlift 225 pounds for 10 reps and are not a fan of cardio, you can finish off your deadlift day by dropping down to 135 pounds and simply going to failure. Training to failure, even at lighter loads, has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis -- key for improving body composition -- for 24 hours after your workout. Or, if you're just not comfortable with heavier training but still want to get lean, select a weight that allows you to get 15-25 reps and perform a few sets in place of cardio.

Light Deads Tip: Don't make it about speed. With lighter weight, the body naturally wants to move through each rep faster. While some of this is unavoidable, focus on making each rep technically perfect. Training your body to maintain strict form on the lighter loads will build good muscle memory when you start adding weight.