Any time I've joined a CrossFit session at my friend Ben's gym, I'm always impressed with the combinations he comes up with for a CrossFit deadlift workout.
It's one of those workouts that, when done the right way, can transform your body.
But Ben, who is a CrossFit coach, told me that so many people get the combinations wrong and end up focusing way too much on just doing lower body exercises with squats and leg extensions.
To help you better understand how best to plan a deadlift workout, Ben gave me his nine favorite combos.
- The nine CrossFit deadlift workouts designed to be challenging are "The Basic Routine," "The Fat Burner," "The Magnificent Seven," "Death By Deadlift," "Timed Deadlifts," "The Widow Maker," "The Tillman Routine," "The Fast AMRAP," and "The Rollercoaster."
- These workouts cater to varying skill levels, offering a spectrum from beginner-friendly exercises to more intense challenges, tailored to enhance strength and endurance.
- According to the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, proper CrossFit training aids in developing muscle memory and helps prevent common back injuries.
- In my view, these workouts effectively combine intensity with variety, offering a well-rounded approach to improving fitness and deadlift skills.
9 CrossFit Deadlift Workouts To Bring On The Burn
Here are the nine deadlift workouts that Ben uses on a rotating basis for athletes of different skill levels.
1 - The "Basic" Routine
In my early coaching days, I found this 'Basic' Routine ideal for beginners. It's simple with just three exercises.
The goal is 5 rounds for time, but don't worry if you can't complete the full rounds/reps on your first attempt.
- 15 deadlifts
- 25 pull-ups
- 25 box jumps
2 - The Fat Burner
In my training sessions, 'The Fat Burner' effectively keeps the heart rate up. I've seen many clients thrive by monitoring their heart rates during this workout.
The idea here is to do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes.
- 15 deadlifts
- 12 kettlebell swings
- 12 Burpees
- 200-meter sprint
3 - The Magnificent Seven
Yes, I love old Western movies, but this is one deadlift workout where the last thing you'll be thinking about is a movie.
Having coached 'The Magnificent Seven', I've observed it's key to track weight and time across the 7 rounds for optimal progress.
- 7 deadlifts
- 7 kettlebell swings
- 7 weighted pull-ups
- 7 spiderman planks
- 7 thrusters
- 7 deadlifts
- 7 box jumps
4 - Death By Deadlift
From my coaching experience, 'Death By Deadlift' starts by finding your max deadlift weight.
That's the amount you can handle to finish one full movement. From there, you reduce the weight to 60% of the maximum.
You then set a repeating 1-minute timer, and in the first minute, you complete one rep, the second minute 2 reps, etc. You keep going until you can't finish the goal for that minute.
Yes, this workout gets faster and faster, and most people will struggle to get close to 10 minutes.
- 1 deadlift in the first 1st minute
- 2 deadlifts in the 2nd minute
- 3 deadlifts in the 3rd minute
Also Read: How to Perform Dumbbell Deadlifts
5 - Timed Deadlifts
In 'Timed Deadlifts', a workout I often recommend, choose a weight to collectively lift 20,000 pounds as quickly as possible.
- 20,000 lb lifted in the shortest space of time
6 - The Widow Maker
In my sessions, 'The Widow Maker' has always been about pushing limits with AMRAP, increasing weights and box jumps.
It's a challenging yet rewarding part of our routine.
- 10 deadlifts (50% maximum)
- 15 box jumps (15 reps)
- 10 deadlifts (55% maximum)
- 15 box jumps (18 reps)
- 10 deadlifts (60% maximum)
- 15 box jumps (21 reps)
- 10 deadlifts (65% maximum)
- 15 box jumps (24 reps)
- 10 deadlifts (70% maximum)
- 15 box jumps (27 reps)
7 - The Tillman Routine
Drawing from my experience, 'The Tillman Routine' honors Pat Tillman's legacy and challenges athletes at every level.
Repeat 7 rounds of these workouts.
- 8 deadlifts
- 200-meter sprint
- 15 weighted pull-ups
- 30-second rest
8 - The Fast AMRAP
From my coaching, 'The Fast AMRAP' is about maximizing effort in 20 minutes, a tactic I've found effective for building endurance.
- 10 chest to bar pull-ups
- 6 deadlifts
- 8 burpees
9 - The Rollercoaster
In my experience, 'The Rollercoaster' is intense, with many unable to complete it initially. It's a real test of endurance and resilience.
You start with a higher rep count and slow things down. Then speed it up again like a rollercoaster.
- 13-9-6-6-9-13 Deadlifts
- 20-18-15-15-18-20 Burpees
How Many Deadlift Exercises Should You Do In Every CrossFit Session?
A typical CrossFit workout that includes a deadlift routine will cover at least 5 rounds with a short rest between rounds. But how many repetitions you do will very much depend on your goals. You could have a WOD with 9 reps for time and another WOD where you gradually increase the repetitions.
Before embarking on your deadlift routine, it's crucial to engage in dynamic stretching and foam rolling, as these warm-up exercises significantly reduce the risk of injury and adequately prepare your muscles for the intense workout ahead.
Here are some general tips and guidelines.
You don't want to do or need to do a deadlift workout every day. You'll probably find that it causes back strain, and you'll have better muscle responses by giving your back and core a regular rest.
Gradually Build Up Your Skill
From my personal and coaching experience, I emphasize building core strength to support good form before intensifying your deadlift workouts. Don't go for full power from the get-go, but rather get used to the movements.
It's essential to progressively increase your deadlift weights for continual improvement, while being mindful of common pitfalls such as rounding the back or overlooking the need for adequate recovery, ensuring a safe and effective strength-building journey.
Be Careful With Speed
Going for fast repetitions is common in CrossFit workouts, but you have to get the movements perfect . Work with your coach, and don't do this every day to allow for adequate muscle recovery.
What Are The Benefits Of CrossFit Deadlifts?
Deadlifts feature high on the workout plans I create for clients, and the approach that CrossFit takes to the traditional deadlift can bring you some additional benefits.
When you are doing a certain number of reps for time, which is common for a CrossFit workout, you constantly push yourself to improve the number of repetitions.
This is a great way to build up strength in the body and tone the lower back.
I also like the way that some of the above workouts force you to adjust the speed of the movement. This changes the time under tension, and that can transform your body composition, according to the Mens Journal .
"Time under tension (or TUT for short) is commonly used in strength and conditioning and bodybuilding. Essentially, it refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set of 10 reps for an average lifter will take anywhere from 15-25 seconds, depending on lifting speed. By putting a muscle under longer bouts of strain, you can cause extensive muscle breakdown leading to sleeve-busting muscles."
- Jeremey DuVall, M.S., C.P.T., MensJournal.com
A typical deadlift workout is pretty straightforward. But I like the fact that CrossFit brings variety into it by changing the workout strategy a bit.
As you can see above, there is a mix of increasing repetitions per round, or increasing weights per round, or maximizing the rounds for time.
That's a clever way to change how the body reacts to the movement, and it makes every deadlift workout more interesting and fun.
Every CrossFit WOD is designed to make you break into a sweat as fast as possible. And that intensity for burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, and deadlifts pays off very quickly.
Most newcomers will notice that they make a lot of quick progress in the first few months, allowing them to power through each workout.
Read Also: AMRAP Workout Meaning
Are There Downsides To CrossFit Deadlifts?
Rapid progression to advanced CrossFit deadlift techniques can be risky, especially for beginners.
The key is to build strength and fitness gradually, as accelerating pace or intensity too quickly may increase injury risk.
It's advisable for beginners to focus on perfecting posture and alignment under the guidance of a coach, initially practicing with just a barbell without plates.
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