The deadlift is an incredibly effective strength exercise for anyone… and shouldn’t just be seen as something reserved for strongmen and powerlifters.
It’s a compound movement that packs a punch in terms of benefits, and improves strength, muscle mass, bone density, athletic performance, and weight loss.
So, if you’re completely new to lifting… or want a challenge to mix up your regular weightlifting routine, this deadlift challenge is for you.
Instead of just trying to hit a new 1 rep max personal best, this challenge is about total volume lifted over quite a long period (30 minutes to be exact). This not only helps develop strength, but also improves muscular endurance.
We’d included some weight recommendations, but you can adjust the weight to best suit your fitness level and to keep it challenging yet achievable.
Good Technique Over Everything
When it comes to deadlifts, good technique trumps everything. So, ensure you can maintain proper technique for the duration of the challenge, or consider lowering the weight. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to lift heavy weights just to compete with others around you… this could lead to injury and isn’t a sustainable approach to getting stronger and fitter.
Deadlift Challenge Summary
|Primary Goal||Strength and Muscular Endurance|
|Primary Muscles Targeted||Back, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Core, Traps|
|Training Level||Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced|
|Workout Length||30 Minutes|
|Recommended Weight||Your bodyweight (or 10RM)|
|Total Reps||60 (1 rep every 30 seconds)|
|Required Equipment||Barbell (or Dumbbells)|
Deadlift Challenge Details
For this deadlift challenge, you’ll be completing 1 repetition every 30 seconds, for a total of 30 minutes. This means you’ll do a total of 60 reps.
The beauty of this type of challenge is that it can be adapted to suit any level, simply by changing the weight used. As a general guide, using your body’s weight is a great place to start… but you may find you can actually lift much heavier weight (perhaps your 10RM), or that you need to drop the weight down to perhaps half your bodyweight (or less).
If you’re new to deadlifting, play it on the side of caution and focus more on your technique than trying to lift heavier weight… and if you’re experienced and fancy a challenge, your 10RM will certainly do that. But remember, this isn’t about absolute strength, so don’t get carried away with excessive weights. This is testing your muscular endurance and technique, not your 1RM. You’ve got 60 repetitions to complete, so you risk injury by opting for unnecessarily heavy weights.
You might find the first 10 minutes relatively easy, and consider increasing the weight… but again, remember, you’ve got 60 repetitions to do, so your muscles will start to tire and that’s when you’ve got to dig deep and push your muscles into places they don’t often go.
The aim of this challenge is to create an all-round workout that improves both strength and muscular endurance. The total length of the workout will mean your muscles will get put through their paces (especially if you usually just do 6-10 rep traditional weightlifting workouts).
This can be a great way to get into deadlifting and other compound lifts… as well as a way to add a bit of variety into your normal routine. It’s likely you probably do either a powerlifting or hypertrophy routine focused on reps and sets, so mixing it up with a 30 minute challenge will force your muscles to adapt.
Using Deadlift Variations
If you prefer doing Romanian deadlifts, Sumo deadlifts, or any other variation, feel free to use that technique for this challenge too. It won’t change the structure of the challenge (you may just need to adapt the weight you choose).
You’ll need either a barbell with plates, or dumbbells for this.
Barbells are usually preferred for deadlifts, but there’s no drawback to using dumbbells… you’ll probably just find, if you lift heavier weight, it’s easier with a barbell, both in terms of technique and convenience.
Having some type of alarm to beep every 30 seconds might also make this easier to follow.
You may also want to use chalk or deadlift straps to help with grip too.
Selecting Your Weight
Ultimately, the main factor that will determine the difficulty of this challenge is the weight you decide to lift.
There are a few methods you could follow to help you try and decide what weight to select.
- Use your weight
- Half your weight
- Use your 10 rep max.
If you’re an experienced lifter, you may aim for a heavier lift… but again, remember you’ve got 60 repetitions to do, so we would sit on the side of caution.
Equally, if you’re new to lifting don’t be put off to just lift extremely light on your first go. There’s nothing wrong with getting to grips with this compound movement. It’s better you go a bit too light on your first attempt than go too heavy and end up injuring yourself through poor technique.
Compared to other deadlift workouts, you are only doing 1 rep, so don’t rush things and focus all your energy on making that single repetition the best deadlift you’ve ever done… and then do the same again the next 30 seconds… and again… and again… and, well you get the point.
If you are relatively new to lifting weights, you’ll likely see big improvements over the first few months… so even if you start with half your body’s weight on your first attempt, within a few months you might shock yourself at how much more you can lift.
Calculating your weight
You may find apps like Fitbod or Alpha Progression are useful when it comes to calculating metrics like 1 rep max and 10 rep max, based on your regular workout performances. These tools can make doing other workout challenges easier as you have a better understanding your current level.
It’s important to stretch and warm-up before any sort of strength training routine.
For this deadlift challenge, a movement like fulcrum deadlifts (which is an off-set loaded variation) is a great way to fire up the core and get your muscles going through the deadlift phases without tiring them out.
We’d also recommend really stretching out your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings and calves) as well as including hip opening movements, like Asian squats, to prepare your body for the challenge. Hip airplanes are another great hip opening exercise to get the hips moving and primed for heavier lifts.
Ultimately, this is a fun and different way to deadlift and although the purists may be unable to part ways with their 1 rep max weightlifting routines, for the rest of us, this could be a nice little way to either get into deadlifting or mix up our regular workouts.
Especially if you don’t normally do compound lifts such as deadlifts, you’ll likely really feel the difference and impact of this sort of movement… so again, keep things light if you have any doubts.
Make sure you follow correct form during the lift. This video shows a good example of what you should be doing for a conventional barbell deadlift.
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