Increasing your deadlift by 100 pounds is possible, but you must fulfill certain conditions to meet that goal. How quickly and efficiently you get there will depend on various variables.
So how can you increase deadlift strength by 100 pounds? You need to make sure you have the technique dialed in by choosing the convention vs sumo stance, focusing on the weak portion of your range of motion, and starting with good hip and shoulder position. You also need a sensible training program with frequency, volume, intensity, and accessory exercises most appropriate for you.
In this article, I’ll show you how quickly you can increase your deadlift strength and how to program your routine so you can put 100 pounds on your deadlift.
Is It Realistic To Increase Your Deadlift By 100 Pounds?
Increasing your deadlift by 100 pounds is realistic whether you are a beginner or advanced. Increasing your deadlift will take a combination of choosing the right deadlift style (i.e. conventional vs sumo), improving technique, and appropriate training programming to increase performance.
Improving technique is the first and most important aspect of increasing your deadlift. It will improve how efficiently you deadlift and maximize how much weight you can get your body to deadlift in its current state.
Good technique will also minimize your chances of injury, hindering your progress to increasing your deadlift and maximizing your work capacity for training programming.
Choosing the right deadlift style for you will be important because many people will be stronger at one versus the other. However, some individuals will perform similarly on both the sumo and the conventional stance.
Check out my guide on conventional vs sumo deadlifts to determine which one is best for you.
The last thing to consider is programming. A hard program can give you gains faster than an easy program, but the best program for you is not necessarily the one that pushes you to absolute fatigue. Having a sensible distribution of training frequency, volume, intensity, and a relevant selection of accessory exercises matching your weaknesses are important.
How Quickly Can You Gain 100 Pounds On Your Deadlift?
You might wonder, ‘how much can I increase my deadlift in a year?’ The answer to this question depends on several factors.
How quickly you gain 100 pounds on your deadlift can depend on your leverage, your training experience, your grip strength, your sex, your training programming, your lifestyle and recovery, and your body weight and height. Generally speaking, you may be able to put on 100 pounds on your deadlift in as quick as 4 to 8 months, but many others may take over 1 year to achieve that.
How Does Sex Affect How Quickly You Can Increase Your Deadlift?
Men will gain 100 pounds on the deadlift much quicker than females, as males have higher testosterone and other physiological qualities that increase their potential for muscle mass and strength.
For example, studies show that men have larger muscle fibers than women, which accounts for them being able to increase the total weight lifted.
How Leverages Affect How Quickly You Can Increase Your Deadlift
If you have advantageous leverages, such as long arms, you may find that you can increase your deadlift much quicker than someone with shorter arms. Longer arms mean that your range of motion is shorter for the deadlift.
Learn more about why short arms put you at a disadvantage for the deadlift and how you can still achieve a big deadlift if you have short arms in Deadlifting With Short Arms: 4 Tricks for Bigger Pulls.
How Training Experience Affects How Quickly You Can Increase Your Deadlift
Novices will have a faster rate of gain in strength performance when compared to advanced lifters who have more years of experience. This is often referred to noob gains, newbie gains, or the novice effect.
Research shows that novices gain strength very quickly in the early years because the changes that happen within the body during weight training occur more in the nervous system than in the muscles. But as you progress, more of the changes will begin to happen in the muscle fibers instead.
We dove more into the research behind newbie gains in How Long Do Newbie Gains Last? (Science-Backed). Check it out if you’re a new lifter to find out when you can expect your newbie gains to wear off.
How Lifestyle Affects How Quickly You Can Increase Your Deadlift
Training is a stressor for your body, which is important in triggering your body to adapt to get stronger. Your lifestyle needs to allow you to recover from that stressor in order for gains in strength to happen.
Regarding how to improve deadlift strength significantly, lifestyle factors should be taken into account. Lifestyle factors refer to qualities such as sleep duration and quality, work-life balance, and nutrition. A detriment to these qualities can reduce your speed of recovery and rate of performance improvement.
If you have a manual labor job and are trying to figure out how to balance it with powerlifting training, check out these 10 tips for powerlifting with a physical job.
How Body Weight Affects How Quickly You Can Increase Your Deadlift
If you are a novice lifter, you should allow your body to increase muscle mass and body weight. This will dramatically increase your rate of improvement, as research has shown that long-term strength performance is influenced by muscle mass.
For example, research done by Appleby et. al showed that training programs need to continuously stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass for continued strength gains in athletes.
Simply trying to gain weight as quickly as possible isn’t ideal because you’ll inevitably gain fat and muscle mass. And while you may be able to add weight to your deadlift in a short amount of time, you may still have a weak deadlift overall in relation to your body weight.
We cover more about the relationship between body weight and strength in the article Will Powerlifting Make You Fat? (No, Here’s Why).
How to Get Better at the Deadlift: 7 Quick Technique Wins to Increase Deadlift Strength
Increasing your deadlift by 100 pounds does not mean exclusively relying on a training program to get you there. It requires a combination of a good training program and improving the finer details of your deadlift technique.
Wondering how to deadlift more? Here are 7 quick deadlift tips to build optimal technique and increase deadlift performance:
- Choosing Whether You Are Stronger Pulling With a Conventional or Sumo Stance
- Focusing Exercise Variation on Weak Portions of the Range of Motion
- Cue “Push the Floor Away”
- Start With a Good Hip and Shoulder Position
- Increase Your Arm Leverages
- Pull the Slack out of the Barbell
- Keep a Flat Back and Brace Well
1. Choosing Whether You Are Stronger Pulling With a Conventional or Sumo Stance
Some people may be stronger with either a conventional or a sumo stance, but others may be equally competent at both. Knowing how to add weight to a deadlift relies on you knowing which stance is optimal for your body.
If you are equally competent at both, the best thing to do is to stick to the stance that you have already been training with.
The most practical way to figure out which one works best for you is to train both styles on separate days and see which one increases in performance more over several weeks or months.
According to some data collected from the IPF Classic World Championships 2016 by MyStrengthBook, there is a correlation between the athlete’s preferred deadlift stance and their weight class.
The heavier and taller the athlete, the more likely they will choose a conventional stance. The lighter and shorter the athlete, the more likely they will choose a sumo stance.
Contrary to popular belief, sumo deadlifts aren’t considered cheating. Learn why they’re a perfectly legitimate way to deadlift in Are Sumo Deadlifts Cheating? (No, Here’s Why).
2. Focusing Exercise Variation on Weak Portions of the Range of Motion
Choosing exercise variations that focus on the weak portions of the range of motion will be an important exercise technique consideration.
Most people will have a sticking point in the deadlift, whether it’s just off the floor, at the knees, or at lockout. If the rest of your technique is good, but you have one of these weak points, you should consider training a partial range of motion with block deadlifts, doing paused deadlifts, or doing tempo deadlifts by lowering the bar to the floor to a count of 3 or 5 seconds.
If you implement a pause in the deadlift execution, it should be just before you reach the sticking point, which occurs right after you have already decelerated the barbell. For example, if your sticking point is at the knees, you should pause 2 to 3 inches below the knees.
Check out the following guides to learn more about how to deadlift heavier and overcome common sticking points in the exercise:
- 10 Tips to Improve Your Deadlift Lockout
- Is Your Deadlift Weak Off the Floor? (Try These 7 Tips)
- Is Your Deadlift Weak at the Knees? (Try These 5 Tips)
- 18 Exercises To Improve Deadlift Strength
3. Cue “Push The Floor Away”
Even if you have a solid start position and good posture in the deadlift, a poor mental cue can make the weight feel heavier than it is. It can also cause technique problems if you think about executing the deadlift in a less-than-optimal way.
A common problem is that lifters think about the deadlift too much like a pull. Subsequent deadlift problems that this can cause are hips rising too soon, pulling your shoulders behind the bar (meaning the barbell digs into the shins or legs as you execute the deadlift), and underusing the quads to push off the floor.
The deadlift extends the hips and the knees, not just the hips. If you want to lift heavier, a good cue such as “pushing the floor away” is an excellent way to engage the quads, glutes, and hamstrings altogether. Soft-soled trainers can help with this cue by bringing your feet closer to the ground and enabling you to ‘feel’ the ground more easily.
Even though I recommend the cue of pushing the floor away, the deadlift is still considered a pulling exercise. Find out why in Is The Deadlift A Push Or Pull?
4. Start With a Good Hip and Shoulder Position
Your hips and shoulders need to be in an ideal position to minimize the work your muscles must do. The hips need to be as high as possible but as close to the barbell as possible. The shoulders need to be slightly in front of the barbell where the armpit is vertically above it.
Having hips that are too low means that the quads will unnecessarily do more work. Bringing the hips forward too much from the barbell means that the glutes, back, and hamstrings will do more work.
If your shoulders are behind the barbell, the bar will cause friction with the shins, making the execution harder. If your shoulders are too far in front of the barbell, the barbell will swing forward, and you’ll risk losing balance and being unable to lift heavier weight.
For more information about hip position in the deadlift, check out some of my other articles:
- The Best Hip Position for Deadlifts for Your Size & Build
- How to Fix Hips Shooting Up in the Deadlift (5 Tips)
5. Increase Your Arm Leverages
This very subtle technique change will help you instantly reduce your range of motion. A common mistake is to retract your shoulder blades to keep your back flat. Instead, you should think about lengthening your arms as much as possible.
Retracting the shoulder blades is an inappropriate cue, especially when deadlifting heavy weights because your shoulder blades will naturally get taken out of the retracted position as you pull the weight up.
What you need to do instead is “lengthen” your arms as much as possible, so you don’t have to bend down to the barbell as much. This will subsequently reduce the overall range of motion.
A good cue is to think about reaching toward the floor while staying as tall as possible. You should execute this when you are standing upright in your chosen stance before you hinge and bend down to grab the barbell.
You should feel a slight stretch in your upper traps and engage your lats without squeezing them together. This will help keep your back tight and the barbell close to your body when you hold it.
Not sure how wide your hands should be when you deadlift? Check out Deadlift Grip Width (Complete Guide With Pictures).
6. Pulling the Slack Out of the Barbell
Pulling the slack out of the barbell is a way of reducing the range of motion and pre-engaging your whole body to prepare for a heavy load. It requires three steps:
- Grab the barbell and take a deep breath in to brace while keeping your hips high but shoulders above the barbell
- Push away from the ground so that the barbell bends without the plates coming off the ground
- Drive your legs to the barbell to reach your starting position before you lift the barbell
You’ll need great grip strength to properly pull the slack out of the bar. If you’re struggling to grip the bar properly during a set of deadlifts, consider using lifting straps until you can build your grip strength and start to lift heavier.
If you’re still unsure if you’re pulling the slack out of the bar correctly, check out my comprehensive guide: Deadlift Technique: Pulling The Slack Out Of The Bar.
7. Keep a Flat Back and Brace Well
Keeping your back flat with a braced core is a commonly overlooked component of a strong deadlift. Many lifters become very complacent about organizing their posture well and understanding what a good brace feels like.
The problem with not keeping your back flat and allowing it to round is that it will lead to you being in a position near the top where it is harder to lock out the weight. Allowing your back to round will put your hips and glutes in a poor position to extend and lock out at the top.
Instead, the tension is pushed onto your lower back muscles, which are smaller and weaker. This can cause back pain, which is a common but not normal occurrence in many lifters.
Bracing well as a consequence of using a Valsalva maneuver well. Bracing will improve deadlift form by improving rigidity in your core so that your back maintains its flat postural shape throughout the execution. Even if you start with a flat back, not bracing well could cause you to lose posture during execution.
Learn more about bracing and breathing correctly in the deadlift in How to Breathe Properly In The Deadlift.
How to Improve Deadlifts: 5 Things To Focus On
Once technique is established, having a good program will be key to improving deadlift weight by 100 pounds. There are 5 things you need to focus on when you’re trying to figure out how to deadlift more weight and create the optimal arrangement for an effective program:
- Exercise placement
- Training frequency
- Training volume
- Training intensity
- Exercise selection
1. Exercise Placement
Exercise placement refers to where you put an exercise within a workout and within a training week. Research from Spineti et al. has shown that exercise order matters when training an exercise for strength performance. You should put an exercise near the start of the training program if you want to prioritize its performance.
Knowing how to increase your deadlift isn’t just about the time you spend in the gym. It’s also about taking adequate time to rest and recover. You should also consider managing your training days so you have at least one rest day before your deadlift days.
Looking for the best movements to do after you complete your deadlift sets? Check out What Else Should I Do On Deadlift Day? (5 Examples).
2. Training Frequency
Training frequency refers to how frequently you perform the deadlift or deadlift variations throughout the week.
Novices will benefit from training more frequently, with 3 times per week as a good place to start. Novices can deadlift 3 times per week because they generally have a low work capacity, and their training should be more technique-focused. Novice deadlift training sessions are easy to recover from as well.
Intermediate to advanced lifters should deadlift 2 times per week, as they can pack in more training sets through each session and easily add more weight to their deadlift.
With that said, how often you should deadlift is highly individual and depends on a lot of other factors. To determine the ideal deadlift frequency to help you lift heavier, check out my article How Many Times A Week Should You Deadlift?
3. Training Volume
Training volume refers to how many training sets, rep ranges, and total reps are done. Training sets and total performing reps are good markers for how much work is done for each session. If you’re practicing 1 rep max, you’ll probably train with a lower volume but higher intensity, but if you’re deadlifting within a 10-12 rep range, your training volume is likely to be higher.
For the purpose of strength training, higher intensity is superior. Therefore, lower rep ranges should be used. As a rule of thumb, aim for 1 to 6 reps as a rep range for increasing deadlift strength.
For novices, starting with 2 to 4 sets per session is a good place to start and keep consistent through every training week. For intermediate to advanced lifters, 3 to 6 sets per session is a good place to start.
Regarding the total number of sets done per week, use a lower number of sets to assess your tolerance and recovery rate before you consider trying to lift heavier. When you do increase the number of sets per week, try increasing them by 1 set at a time to see how fatigue feels in subsequent weeks.
Too much deadlift volume can negatively affect your performance and lead to a lack of motivation to train or aches and pains that you didn’t have before. Check out my article Are You Deadlifting Too Much? 16 Signs To Know if you think you may be deadlifting too much.
4. Training Intensity
Training intensity can refer to the training load intensity relative to your 1 repetition maximum and how hard your sets are. Some ways to measure training intensity are to train based on your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) or leave repetitions in reserve (RIR) for each set.
With regards to training load intensity, research has shown that the more experience a lifter has, the higher the intensity that they should be training with.
Novices or untrained lifters will benefit most from load intensities averaging around 60% of their 1 rep maximum. Novices generally will not know their 1 rep maximum, so I recommend starting with a weight that you can do for 10 to 15 reps with moderate ease.
Intermediate to advanced lifters will benefit most from load intensity averaging around 80% or more of their 1 rep maximum.
5. Exercise Selection
Exercise selection refers to the choice of deadlift variations and other accessory exercises that may assist with other muscle groups that are relevant to the deadlift. You can also use other compound lifts and deadlift variations to improve deadlift strength, such as Romanian deadlifts.
To be good at an exercise, you need to train for that specific exercise. This is the SAID principle, which stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. This means that you should have at least one training session per week with your chosen deadlift stance, whether it is conventional or sumo.
However, you may also choose other deadlift variations depending on your weaknesses. Good examples may include:
- Paused deadlift – use if you are weak below the knees
- Tempo deadlift – use if you are inconsistent in your technique
- Romanian deadlift – use if you are weak at the knees
- Deadlift from blocks – use if you are weak below or at the knees
- Deficit deadlifts – use if you are weak off the ground
You can also practice additional exercises to improve deadlift strength, such as those that target the upper back or lower body muscles.
For more information and tips for deadlift programming, check out these other deadlift training articles:
- Can You Deadlift Every Day? (Pros, Cons, & Sample Program)
- Deadlift Day After Squats: Should You Do It?
Best Ways to Increase Deadlift – Action Plan
Knowing how to improve deadlift strength can be tough when you’re unsure where to start. To help those of you who want to gain deadlift strength, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter, here is a general action plan that you can follow.
Perfect Your Deadlift Set-Up
Without a great setup, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Follow the steps below to set your deadlift up correctly so you can lift heavier and avoid injuries:
- Load your barbell up to your desired weight
- Stand behind the bar with your feet slightly narrower, shoulder-width apart. The barbell should be resting against your shins or very close to them.
- Take a deep breath and lower your upper body to grab the barbell with both hands. Use a shoulder-width, overhand grip.
- Keep your head and spine straight, and push your hip back as you lower yourself down. Avoid squatting down, as this only makes it harder for you to lift the bar off the ground (this is a common mistake many lifters make).
Pulling the Bar Off the Ground
Once you’ve adopted the perfect starting position, it’s time to pull the bar off the ground. Here are some key things to consider when you’re lifting the barbell:
- Pull the slack out of the bar by contracting your lats and gripping the bar tightly.
- Drive your body upward and push through the ground as you do so. Keep your lats contracted and your core tight to avoid rounding your shoulders or lower back.
- Keep the bar as close to your body as possible as you pull it off the ground. Your hips and shoulders should be moving upward at the same time.
- To end the eccentric phase of the exercise, push through your hips to stand up straight.
Lowering the Bar Back Toward the Ground
After lifting the bar to a fully standing position, pause for a short second while you lockout before lowering the bar back to its starting position on the ground. To correctly lower the bar, follow these steps:
- Begin by pushing your hips back as though you’re about to sit on a chair or box.
- Keep your spine and neck neutral and lower the bar under control back toward the ground (avoid relying on gravity to do the work for you!).
- When the bar makes contact with the ground, you can either go straight into your next rep or pause for a second before preparing for the next repetition.
Techniques to Make Your Deadlift Stronger
When you’re learning how to improve deadlift strength, you can use various techniques to help you maintain perfect form. Here are some great things that you can do to get a stronger deadlift:
- Improve your grip strength
- Don’t neglect your mobility
- Perform deadlifts at the start of your workouts
- Prime (activate) your lats before you start deadlifting
- Avoid overtraining and make sure you get adequate rest in between your workouts
- Consider using pause reps to overcome deadlift sticking points
How To Increase Deadlift By 100 Pounds: Sample Workouts
Now you know how to get better at deadlifts, you can start programming the exercise into your strength training routine effectively. Below shows 2 sample workouts for a novice lifter and an intermediate lifter.
Sample Novice Deadlift Program
This sample novice program relies on a linear deadlift progression, where the increase in weight increment is consistent on a weekly basis with a similar rep range throughout. Choose the smallest weight increment you can access and add it to your deadlift prescription each week. As a rule of thumb, choose 5lbs if you are a lighter male or female lifter or 10lbs if you are a medium to heavier male lifter.
- Deadlift – 3×6 @ 60% 1RM
- Lat Pulldown – 3×10, leaving 3 to 6 reps in reserve
- Barbell Row – 3×10, leaving 3 to 6 reps in reserve
- Deadlift – 3×6 @ 60% 1RM
- Hamstring Curls – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
- Glute Bridges – 3×12 @ bodyweight
- Deadlift – 3×6 @ 60% 1RM
- Squat – 3×6 @ 60% 1RM
- Plank – 3×30 seconds
- Side Plank – 3×20 seconds
Sample Intermediate Deadlift Program
This sample intermediate deadlift program uses the application of daily undulating periodization.
Periodization refers to the deliberate manipulation of training variables such as volume and intensity to maximize gains in specific areas. A daily undulating periodization program means that the variables change daily.
For example, your first week of training may look like this:
- Deadlift – 4×4 @ 80% 1RM
- Lat Pulldown – 4×10, leaving 3 to 4 reps in reserve
- Barbell Row – 4×10, leaving 3 to 4 reps in reserve
- Plank – 4×45 seconds
- Deadlift – 3×6 @ 75% 1RM
- Romanian Deadlift – 2×10, leaving 3 to 4 reps in reserve
- Hamstring Curls – 4×10, leaving 3 to 4 reps in reserve
- Glute Bridges – 2×20 @ bodyweight
- Side Plank – 3×30 seconds each side
In subsequent weeks, you’ll increase the deadlift weight by 1% to 2% every week.
Most people can increase deadlift strength by 100 pounds by improving their technique and following the deadlift cues mentioned earlier in this article. You can use all of the tips and tricks and the sample workout plans in this article to build muscle and a stronger deadlift within months.
However, you must consider your genetics when determining how to quickly increase deadlift strength. Your genetics dictate how strong you can be, how well you respond to weight training, and your limb lengths. Two people following the same exact program may respond differently due to factors they have no control over.
As such, it’s also important not to compare yourself to others when measuring your deadlift progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Exercises Increase Deadlifts?
Exercises that work the same muscles as the deadlift (your glutes, quads, hamstrings, upper back, and forearms) are ideal when you want to increase your deadlift. Some of the best accessory exercises to improve deadlift strength include barbell rows, wide grip pull-ups, barbell hip thrusts, Romanian deadlifts, squats, and lunges.
Why is My Deadlift So Weak?
There are several reasons why your deadlift might be weak. The most common reasons are having weak or underdeveloped muscles or lacking proper deadlift form and technique.
Is Deadlift Easy to Increase?
The deadlift is one of the main compound lifts, requiring your whole body to work in coordination. As long as your form and technique are perfect, and you have effective programming, you should find it relatively easy to increase your deadlift.
How Quickly Can I Increase My Deadlift?
When it comes to improving your deadlift, you need to focus on strengthening the relevant muscles, perfecting your form and technique, and improving your grip strength. You'll also need a great training program with suitable exercise selection, frequency, and volume.
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting, and 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 coaching various lifters, from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Alongside coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com