How He Deadlifts 3X His Bodyweight! (THE PLAN)

Today, we are talking about Jesse and how he deadlifts 3x his bodyweight. In this video, Jesse and I explain exactly how he was able to progress his deadlift to elite level strength.

The start of Jesse’s deadlift journey began with fixing his foundation. What this means is working on his postural, mobility, and flexibility limitations, which he was suffering from excessively. Now, I always say that strength is the base of the pyramid, but the root system beneath is stability, mobility, and flexibility which, if compromised, may undermine the entirety of the pyramid.

Spending time fixing Jesse’s posture and other limitations came before even practicing the lift itself allowed him to build a strong foundation to work off of. I feel, as a strength coach and a physical therapist, that by addressing these issues first you will be able to progress through your lifts much quicker and safer.

If you want a big deadlift, like Jesse; you need to incorporate accessory work to address your weak points. He made use of these exercises to strengthen the weakness he had in each component of the deadlift. The lifts that Jesse made use of included straight arm pushdowns, Romanian deadlifts, high pulls, hip thrusts, lat pulldowns, and power shrugs. These deadlift accessories helped Jesse to get stronger in order to use smaller muscles that were causing him to fail in the first place – especially at lockout. Each one of these exercises, added to his training program, helped Jesse to get a super strong deadlift.

Jesse built a strong deadlift by also strengthening his grip. A weak grip can lead to the issue of not being able to hold onto weight that you may otherwise be able to lift without a problem. What he has done to help get a strong grip and a big deadlift was to perform weighted carries often in his training program. Not only that, but Jesse also incorporated dead arm hangs into his routine. Both of these exercises helped Jesse deadlift more than 3x his bodyweight.

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So, what was the programming that Jesse followed to get such a big deadlift? He actually followed one our ATHLEAN-X training programs called Old School Iron. With the first three phases of the program including dedicated strength work, he was able to progress his lifts quick and steady.

The first phase of Old School Iron followed a 3×5 scheme 1-2x per week, depending on the schedule. Every time the deadlift appeared, Jesse added 5 lbs to his lift. Working on his basic strength foundation and progressing through it in a linear fashion allowed him to add weight to the bar each workout. He actually repeated this phase twice, performing it for a total of 3 times until he noticed his strength gains starting to slow.

Moving onto the second phase, his workouts were based around contrast wave loading, with percentages of the lifts increasing each time they appear. The way this is structured is 5/1/5/1/5/1 – with sets of 5 using 80% of your 1 rep max and the sets of 1 increasing in percentages with each rep and each workout. With a new training stimulus; Jesse was able to experience getting a stronger deadlift as he moved through each workout.

The third phase of Old School Iron that Jesse performed included a commonly performed scheme of 5×5, something that is often prescribed for getting stronger. While a similar stimulus to the 3×5 training in phase 1, the added volume allowed for increased strength with each workout. This was built into an educated bro split that also had a greater frequency on hypertrophy than the first two phases.

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Jesse’s training plan was significant in building an elite level deadlift that weighs more than 3x his bodyweight and is available to everyone on the ATHLEAN-X website which I will link below!

One of the most important aspects of Jesse’s deadlift was the fact that he treated every rep that he performed like it was a one rep max. By utilizing power and explosiveness off the floor and through the deadlift’s lockout, he was able to recruit muscle fibers that grew accustomed to the movement. This allowed for those muscle fibers to get used to the power in order to get stronger with each max lift that he performed. Jesse credits this approach to helping build such a strong deadlift.

It is worth noting that Jesse was able to get stronger at both the squat and the bench press at the same time by following these points.

If you are looking for a training program that puts the science back in strength to help you to get bigger and stronger, check out the Old School Iron training program via the link below.

For more videos on how to get stronger, be sure to subscribe to this channel here by clicking the link below and don’t forget to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a video when we put one out.

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31 thoughts on “How He Deadlifts 3X His Bodyweight! (THE PLAN)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    • Jc0 says:

      My legs are far stronger than my back. Everytime I lift heavy (deadlift/squat) my lower back always goes nuts the day or two after from lower back pain (lower disc inflammation). How would you suggest training the low back to handle heavy lifting?

  2. SpaghettiNoob says:

    Congrats, from one hard gainer to another. I’m not moving as fast, still need to work on foundation/ground work. It really makes all the difference. Hit 275 which is more than 2x my weight.

    • J. L. says:

      @Meysam Ghaderyan in the concept of strength and hypertrophy, a “hard gainer” is referred to someone who makes slower progress due to morphological limitations compared to those who don’t have the limitations. These are usually ectomorphs.

      Take 2 untrained individuals of the same age and weight. One is a tall lanky ectomorph and the other is a shorter stocky mesomorph. Put them through the same beginner strength training program and you’ll see that the ectomorph will progress at a slower pace and hit a plateau sooner than the mesomorph. Factors working against him: lower bone density and lean body mass, higher metabolism, short insertion points, less fast twitch muscle fibers, poor leverages, etc.

      Now take the same 2 individuals and put them on an endurance sport training program, like long distance running. The mesomorph will be at a disadvantage and will progress slower than the ectomorph.

      In the world of strength training, a person leaning towards ectomorph will always be at a disadvantage compared to others, hence the term “hard gainer”.

  3. Ramblr says:

    I been doing Old School Iron and then to All American Muscle. My deadlift last years was 265 and now its 425. No belt no straps. 5 plates down the road. LETS GO!

  4. Steve Sorensen says:

    That’s incredible!! Kudos to Coach Jeff and the indomitable spirit of Jesse to push it to that level.

  5. fuertoneria says:

    The way Jesse has progressed is one of the many reasons why I continue to hit it hard and make my workouts intense with continuous progressive overload.

  6. Eric Rogers says:

    Congrats on 540 Jesse!! When I get discouraged about my lifting progress, I keep in mind Jesse’s transformation over the years and how much time it took him. It’s not an exaggeration to say you’re an inspiration to us skinny guys.

    I would love to see a breakdown of the progress with dates of each lift. It would really help put into perspective the time invested and a realistic growth of a natural lifter.

    • Aiden Jordan says:

      Well said. It definitely doesn’t happen overnight.

      He’s an inspiration to us fat guys too. Time, diet and hard work. It’s the universal constants for all fitness goals.

  7. P.J says:

    What you (Jeff) said here about having the right foundations, is exactly what I said about Crossfit 10+ years ago when people like me went into it with bad foundations and hurt myself good. I didn’t have the flexibility, mobility and stability so start doing heavy stuff, but on top of that, Crossfit “forces” you to do power movement which in my case made me injured my back and my shoulders really badly. Only a few years after I’ve stopped doing it did I understand that, and also me being at the time over 40 didn’t help either.
    Crossfit for already established athletes is something else because they have mostly their foundations, but for normal Joe like me, it was a recipe for disaster.

  8. Conrado Scalassara says:

    it really makes me happy to see jesse like this, it is a statement to the character and teaching ability of jeff

  9. maniek1111 says:

    The best transformation over the years was his boost to character and self confidence thanks to all the hard work he put in.

  10. Zeb Sharp says:

    Question: how do I know when I have a solid foundation and am ready to progress? What you’re saying makes great sense to me…now I just need to understand how I’ll know when I’m ready to progress. Thanks Jeff!

  11. Bryant Mettler says:

    I’m curious to learn more about the “root system” development. In the past you have published workouts (sets and reps); something similar to the workout videos and explanations for flexibility, stability, and mobility.

    Thanks for the work you do and education you provide!

  12. David D says:

    Love this type of content. I think I speak for everyone that uses your programs when I say that we appreciate you further elucidating the concepts and ideas behind the programs on your YouTube channel.

  13. D Ferreira says:

    Jesse´s progress actually got me in the gym XD Impressive, dude. And kudos to Jeff, that can SHOW the results of his training programs with a REAL subject starting from scratch.

  14. Jared Jordan says:

    Love this! Jeff and Jesse just assertively stuck the haters feet right up their own asses. All pettiness aside, I don’t know many at Jesse’s bodyweight that can lift those totals. Jeff truly is at the top of the heap as a strength coach. He’s not just a great physical therapist. Bravo to you both. Jesse you are a beast!

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