Back in late 2012 at the age of 23 years old, I did my first deadlift ever.
I had already been doing daily cardio, dieting, and losing weight and spent a lot of time studying self-proclaimed fitness experts on YouTube.
I was getting great results, but anything was an improvement from the lifestyle I had before the gym (sitting around all day, drinking often, eating junk).
And even though I didn’t have a clue how to deadlift properly, I felt amazing after.
135lbs for 8 reps.
I remember it like it was 5 years ago. Because it was. Ha.
My First Major Deadlift Mistake
Within 6 months of my first deadlift, I was able to pull 225lbs off the floor.
My training program was terrible, and my form was just as bad, but I was able to make it happen.
I was pretty hyped, but it wasn’t enough.
It was around this time that I had my sights set on a 405lbs deadlift.
My impatience lead me to my first debilitating injury attempting 235lbs about a week later.
I got overconfident, yanked the bar off the floor, heard an actual pop, and felt searing pain and tightness in my lower back.
(if I knew what I knew now, I would have kept moving with air squats and air deadlifts)
This pain resulted in me deleting my old YouTube channel, “quitting” lifting, and feeling sorry for myself.
It was pathetic.
After a couple weeks of lazing around and recovering, I finally cheered up a bit and decided to get back to the gym.
But first, I spent some time looking on the internet for a better way to make progress in the gym.
This is where I started my current YouTube channel.
Getting Smarter(ish) About The Deadlift
After days of research, I decided to use the Stronglifts 5×5 program which helped me rebuild my strength pretty quickly.
All that pain I was in was magically gone, but I still wanted to be smarter about training.
I started over at 135lbs for 5 reps, and within 2 months I was up to a 265lbs deadlift for 5 reps with much better technique.
Not even 2 weeks later, I hit my first 315lbs deadlift.
The rate of progress was amazing to me, and I was starting to really get a hang of this whole deadlift thing.
Or so I thought.
By the end of 2014, I had messed up my back again but this time it was much more serious.
Barbell squatting, deadlifting, sleeping, and sitting all caused consistent pain for months.
Even bench press caused issues if I got loose.
It was a mess.
The Cycle Repeats Itself
In April 2014, I got back on my trusty Stronglifts 5×5 program again, but this time I started with the empty bar for all the exercises.
Each session, I added 5lbs to the squat, bench, row, and overhead press and added 10lbs to the deadlift.
It seemed like it took forever, but eventually the crippling back pain I had started to go away.
Things were going so well, that by mid-June I was able to deadlift 365lbs for the first time.
It was unbearable to watch, but it happened.
Not too long after this I had messed up my back again, took some time off the deadlift, then rebuilt it.
Around mid 2015, I was able to pull 375lbs and weeks later, I seriously injured my shoulder benching too heavy too often.
I ended up taking two months off the gym altogether.
During this time, I figured I should start dieting (no use being overweight and not lifting) and went from a beefy 210lbs all the way down to 178lbs and lost about 3 years worth of muscle in the process.
The First ‘Not Caring’ Phase
From the time of the shoulder injury in mid 2015 until late 2016, I didn’t really care about the deadlift much.
I still trained it when it was in my program, but wasn’t trying to push it.
Mediocre effort led me back to around 3 plates per side over the course of a year, and I was content with that.
I started to kick in up a notch before the end of the year, but still wasn’t stronger than I was before the shoulder injury.
Then in early 2017, the bug hit me again.
I got on a powerlifting peaking program and within 5 weeks, I was able to hit a 390lbs deadlift.
This was the most I had ever done, and it felt amazing.
How I Wasted 9 Months Of Deadlifts
After that PR, I started another diet and got pretty lean within 12 weeks.
My body felt great and I looked pretty good, but I lost a lot of strength on the deadlift for 2 reasons:
I didn’t train the deadlift for a month and
I didn’t train the deadlift for a month while dieting
Yet again, for the thousandth time, I had to rebuild my deadlift.
You’re probably sick of hearing about how I keep doing this, so I’ll cut to the chase.
I trained the deadlift 1-2 times per week for the rest of the year until recently, when I switched to my current minimalist style program.
It Finally Happened
Let’s quickly go over my deadlift training since starting my new program mid-December.