How Many Times A Week Should You Deadlift?

both beginner and advanced lifters will benefit from training deadlifts 1 to 3 times per week

In my coaching career, I have programmed powerlifters to deadlift with both higher and lower frequencies. It is traditionally not a lift that individuals enjoy performing often though because it’s more taxing than squatting and benching. Training frequency for deadlifts depends on multiple factors.

So how many times a week should you deadlift? Both beginner and advanced lifters will benefit from training deadlifts 1 to 3 times per week. There can be a case for deadlifting more frequently, for example, if you’ve hit a plateau in strength or want more technical practice, but you should manage the difficulty and volume of those workouts carefully.

In this article, I will break down what you need to take into consideration when deciding how many times per week you should deadlift, and pros/cons to deadlift more frequently. 

Make sure to check out my other training guides on: How Many Times Per Week Should You Squat and How Many Times Per Week Should You Bench Press

What You Need to Know about Training Frequency for Deadlifts

6 factors to consider when deciding how many times per week you should deadlift
Deadlifting frequency

Before we delve into training frequency for deadlifts, we need to discuss training frequency for muscle groups and exercises in general.

There are 6 factors to consider when deciding how many times per week you should do a particular lift: 

  • How much volume you do
  • The objective of the current training phase
  • Your personal preference
  • Your other lifting frequency
  • Training experience
  • Availability to train

1. How Much Volume You Do

Volume is the main contributor of fatigue within your training program.  So measuring volume in your training is important to making sure you have adequate recovery.  By volume, I’m referring to: Total Reps X Load Lifted.

The body of evidence suggests that higher frequencies of training may contribute to more strength gains due to being able to load more working sets. However, when volume is equated, strength gains do not seem to favour any particular frequencies between 1x to 3x a week.

In other words, yes, higher frequencies of training can lead to greater increases in strength; however, it’s not necessarily because you increase the number of days you lift, it’s because you’re able to potentially do more training volume.  

If you can handle just as much training volume in fewer training sessions, i.e. 2 workouts versus 3 workouts, the research suggests you would get just as strong doing the lower number of deadlift sessions. 

2. Objective of Current Training Phase

The objective of the training phase may vary from lifter to lifter, which may place more or less emphasis on a particular lift or outcome.  

Objectives may include: to maintain or progress a specific lift, to improve technique, to focus on hypertrophy, or to develop maximal strength.

3. Your Personal Preference

Sticking to your program because you enjoy it will allow you to see greater gains in the long run.  

Therefore, incorporating elements into the program that you prefer, which may include more or less frequency of a particular lift, will allow you to adhere to the workouts and see better results. 

You might be interested in an article I wrote on Are Deadlifts Back Or Legs and what day you should consider putting deadlifts on when it comes to powerlifting training.

4. Your Other Lifting Frequency

You may not want to include more frequency of one lift if you’re already performing high frequency of another lift, especially if those two movements are similar in nature. 

For example, if you want to increase your deadlift frequency, you need to take into consideration how much squatting frequency you’re already doing. 

The squat and deadlift are both heavily reliant on similar muscles.

The ability to recover is a zero-sum game. That means that if you push on one, you end up limiting the ability to push on the other.

Therefore, you need to decide whether:

  • You want to push squats
  • You want to push deadlifts
  • You want to push squats and deadlifts evenly

Read more about programming for deadlifts in my article on How Do Powerlifters Train Legs?

5. Training Experience

Training experience usually determines your optimal training frequency. 

More experienced lifters may reach a certain point in training where they need to increase frequency to increase volume.

More novice and newer lifters are able to benefit plenty from training deadlifts with lower frequency ie. 1 to 2x per week.

6. Availability to Train

Availability to train is going to be an important consideration, taking into account the fact that most people don’t train full-time.  

Therefore, training frequency is usually restricted by how many times per week you can go to the gym in the first place.

Reasons to Increase Deadlift Training Frequency

6 reasons to increase deadlift training frequency

There are 6 reasons to increase deadlift training frequency, here are the reasons:

  • Increase training volume to break plateaus
  • Improve on technique
  • Prioritizing deadlift over squats
  • Implementing more variations
  • Training availability restricts you to shorter sessions
  • You prefer to train deadlifts more frequently

1. Progressive Overload to Break Plateaus

If you’ve hit a plateau in deadlift strength, then you can increase your training frequency, and at the same time, your training volume, in order to reach new levels in strength. 

Over time you may be accumulating more and more training sets per session and you adapt to it. 

It may continue to happen until you reach the point whereby you find yourself training closer to failure by the final sets. This may be undesirable if this fatigue contributes to technique breakdown, a detriment to subsequent exercises or sessions.

So this may be a trigger for you to decide to increase training frequency as a means to spread training volume over sessions.

2. You Want to Improve on Technique

Whether you are a new lifter or a developing intermediate lifter, you may find yourself in a phase of training where you need to improve your technique. Deadlifting more frequently can increase your technical understanding of the movement.

One of the things we need to be careful with if you are training to improve technique is that we do not want to be training in a way that reaches fatigues and therefore technique breakdown. 

Thus we ultimately want to be training in a way of low training stress per session in order for us to focus on our technique.

Difficult and long deadlift sessions would not be ideal and so we may want to spread our deadlift training over more sessions.

I wrote an article on Squat, Bench Press, And Deadlift 3 Days Per Week, and whether that’s the best approach to powerlifting training. Check it out if you’d like to learn more!

3. Training Prioritize Deadlift over Squats

Squats and deadlifts train many of the same muscle groups but in different fashions and you may want to be prioritizing progress with deadlifts more than squats.

Since recovery is a zero-sum game, we need to be careful how we manage the training distribution over squats and deadlifts.

So if you have decided that your deadlift is a weak point in your powerlifting performance, you may decide you need to program accordingly.

You may also have the philosophy of cycling training phases where you alternate whether you push squats in one phase and deadlifts in a subsequent phase.

Regardless of the reason, if your training phase is to prioritize deadlifts over squats, you may decide to increase deadlift training frequency.

Check out my article where I discuss whether you can squat and deadlift on the same day.

4. You Want to Implement Different Variations

When it comes to programming, you should choose variations to fix certain weaknesses and avoid overuse on certain movements. As such, you may want to increase training frequency if you want to implement more deadlift variations

We may also be in an off season phase of training and so we may need more variability rather than specificity. Variability may mean having a higher number of variations in your training.

For this case, we may decide to increase deadlift training frequency.  Check out which deadlift variations you should prioritize based on where you’re weak in the deadlift:

5. You Only Have Availability for Short Training Sessions

It is important to acknowledge that most people who train for powerlifting may not be full time powerlifters.You may have a busy schedule that means you can only train for shorter training sessions.

We need to take training availability into account of the training programming. This could mean that you may not be in a situation where you can afford to design long training sessions.

But you may be in a situation where you can train over more sessions but with a shorter duration.

You then may be forced to increase your deadlift training frequency.

6. You Prefer to Spread Volume over More Days

For intermediate to advanced lifters who need to increase their training volume to get stronger, it would be impossible to get the necessary training volume required in a single session.  

As such, you will need to increase deadlifting frequency in order to accumulate more volume. You will also reap the benefits of lower inter session fatigue by not doing one massive deadlifting workout, but rather, spreading that work over multiple days.

In addition, enjoying the training process is a huge portion of the driver for adherence to a training regime. If you are a lifter who enjoys training a movement and want to train it over more sessions, you may choose to do so.

Reasons NOT to Increase Deadlift Training Frequency

6 reasons not to increase deadlift training frequency

There are 6 reasons not to increase deadlift training frequency, the reasons are:

  • Don’t fix the training if it is not broken
  • If you are nursing an injury or prone to injury
  • You want to deload the lower body
  • You want to prioritize squats over deadlifts
  • Being overzealous with training hard
  • You are in off season training

1. Don’t Fix It If It Is Not Broken

If you are currently training at a sustainable level and you are still making quite good progress, there is a chance that you probably do not need to make a dramatic change to increase deadlift training frequency.

As a newer or intermediate lifter, you will be able to see good progress with a moderate amount of work.  

Introducing an increase in deadlift training frequency may risk increasing training quantity to the point beyond what you may recover from. This may mean slower gains, plateauing or even risking injury.

2. If You Are Currently Nursing an Injury or Are Prone to Injury

If you have just recovered from an injury or are currently nursing an injury, there is higher risk of injury. You want to give your body more rest days so you should not implement more deadlift sessions.

One of the strongest predictors of future injury is previous injury. This is a common piece of wisdom across many other sports – not just powerlifting.

You will need to pay particular attention to good technique and managing pain or discomfort at the level of training frequency you are currently dealing with.

Being patient and honest with your situation will be important as driving up the training frequency for deadlifts from impatience may lead to worse outcomes.

Injured muscle groups will have reduced work capacity that needs time to bring back to baseline.

If the current level of deadlift training frequency is not helping or worse, causing pain or discomfort to become worse, then you must consider decreasing deadlift training frequency. If in this situation, you are already training deadlift once a week, it may mean regressing the deadlifting to a more basic hip exercise so you can get the movement pattern right first.

3. You Want to Deload Lower Body

Whether this is the end of a training cycle or post-competition, you may want to deload deadlifts or lower body training stress in general.

This may simply involve decreasing volume and intensity, but you may decide that after a hard period of stressful training you want more rest. 

This may mean reducing how many days you train per week and subsequently may mean you reduce deadlift training frequency.

Deloading is not just about decreasing physical stress but mental stress as well.

4. You Want to Prioritize Squats over Deadlift

As mentioned before, it is important to balance squat and deadlift training load due to the muscle group crossover of the two movements.

If you prioritize everything you prioritize nothing. So if you want to push squat training, it may mean having to manage volume and/or decrease deadlift training frequency. 

5. You Are Overzealous with Training Hard

Being overzealous with pushing the training volume happens very often with very keen novice or even intermediate lifters. Being overly keen on training hard is not a reason to push deadlift training frequency.

As a newer lifter, you will see considerable increases in your performance every 2 to 3 months of training. 

You may find that increasing the training frequency leads to a higher rate of progress. 

Naturally, this may reinforce the idea of continuously pushing training frequency to be associated with a higher rate of performance gains.

Unfortunately, this false idea might lead to diminishing returns in training if you keep pushing training frequency.

Eventually you will train to a point that cannot be mentally sustainable and lead to mental burnout.

If that doesn’t happen first, then the training quantity may pass your maximal recoverable amount. This will lead to overtraining and dramatically increase your risk of injury.

6. You Are in the off Season

The off season is often associated with a lower specificity of the competition lifts, meaning training movements that are different to the competition lifts. Training in the off season may mean doing less deadlifts while focusing on other elements of your training. 

A good idea may be to reduce how frequently you deadlift but still incorporate movements or exercises that tackle similar movement patterns or muscle groups.

This way you can still do meaningful work that will ultimately lead to better deadlift performance long term without training through the same movement.

Sample Training Splits for Deadlift

sample training splits for deadlift

Here are some ideas of how you can structure your training week/microcycle for training deadlifts 1x, 2x and 3x per week. Use this to give you ideas as you will need to consider your own personal position to decide what is best for you.

1 Time Per Week Deadlift  

Day 1

3 to 5 sets of 3 to 6 reps
70% to 85% of 1rm
3 to 4 RIR (reps in reserve)

Option A – (For hypertrophy focus)
Deadlift Variation

2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
55% to 70%
3 to 4 RIR

Option B – (For technique focus)
Deadlift Variation

2 to 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
55% to 70%
5+ RIR

Option C – (For strength focus)
Deadlift Variation

2 to 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
65% to 75%
4 to 5 RIR

2 Time Per Week Deadlift 

Day 1

3 to 5 sets of 3 to 6 reps
70% to 85% of 1rm
3 to 4 RIR (reps in reserve)

Day 2
Option A – (For hypertrophy focus)
Deadlift Variation

3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
55% to 70% of 1rm
3 to 4 RIR

Option B – (For technique focus)
Deadlift Variation

4 to 5 sets of 4 to 6 reps
55% to 70% of 1rm
5+ RIR

Option C – (For strength focus)
Deadlift Variation

3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps
65% to 75% of 1rm
4 to 5 RIR

3 Time Per Week Deadlift  

Day 1 – Max Effort Day

3 to 5 sets of 3 to 6 reps
75% to 85% of 1rm
3 to 4 RIR (reps in reserve)

Day 2 – Easy Effort Day

3 to 5 sets of 2 to 4 reps
70% to 85% of 1rm
4 to 5 RIR (reps in reserve)

Day 3 – Moderate Effort Day
Option A – (For hypertrophy focus)
Deadlift Variation

2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
55% to 70% of 1rm
3 to 4 RIR

Option B – (For technique focus)
Deadlift Variation

3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps
55% to 70% of 1rm
5+ RIR

Option C – (For strength focus)
Deadlift Variation

3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps
65% to 75% of 1rm
4 to 5 RIR

Related Article: 10 Tips For Powerlifting With A Physical Job

Final Thoughts

As a rule of thumb, you should select the minimum necessary number of deadlift sessions per week that will get you stronger, starting from 1x/ week. 

The reason why this is a better option is because if you need to push the deadlift sessions if you are plateauing, then you can always manipulate the program for that day. If you are still not progressing after that then can you add a higher number of deadlift sessions a week.

The problem with deadlifting too many times and working down a number sessions per week is the risk of overreaching and increased risk of injury. Overreaching causes fatigue that impacts training performance negatively. It takes time to reduce the impact of accumulated fatigue.

Other helpful guides on high-frequency training:

About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at