Workout Routines

Strongman Inspired Deadlift Routine

Learn from the first World’s Strongest Man about moving heavy-ass weight.

Deadlift barbell at gym
Duration 3 Days
Exercises 11
Equipment Yes

Some of you younger lifters might not know the name Bruce Wilhelm - the winner of the first two World’s Strongest Man contests in 1977 and 78. Although I wasn’t born yet, I grew up in a house full of iron freaks and can remember watching VHS tapes of those Strongman contests.

Bruce was also an accomplished weightlifter, finishing 5th in the 1976 Olympic Games and bringing home a Silver in the 1975 Pan American Games. He was also the first American to snatch 400 pounds. Oh yeah, he also threw the shotput 66 feet and ¼ inch and was the Pac-8 wrestling champion in 1965. The dude is a badass and was a true renaissance man of the Iron Game. He could do anything that involved moving heavy weight.

Bruce Wilhelm Inspired Deadlift Workout

Using Wilhelm’s main tenets of Olympic movements and squats, what follows is a deadlift program inspired by this legend. As lifters it is always important to remember and acknowledge the Iron Warriors that came before us. Bruce Wilhelm is one of the all-time great all around strength athletes, and if you are looking to add some pounds to your deadlift consider giving his routine a try.

Bruce's Notes

The lack of actual deadlifting and the preponderance of Olympic style lifts may have people shaking their heads in disbelief, but Bruce has this to say, “I know that there are many lifters who feel that it’s crazy to do power cleans, power snatches and other Olympic lifting assistance exercises to improve the deadlift, but they do work.” You can’t argue with results!

Bruce also espoused the importance of squatting in his deadlift training, “Squatting has a strong influence on one’s success in the deadlift. The leg strength derived from this exercise really helps when moving the weight off the floor.”

The Workout Day 1

Exercise 1

Barbell Snatch You'll need: Barbell How to
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5 sets
2 reps
-- rest
Don’t drop under too far. Emphasize the pull

Exercise 2

Snatch Pull
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3 sets
3 reps
-- rest
Pull as high as possible

Exercise 3

Straight-Leg Deadlift
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3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
As heavy as possible while maintaining form and getting all reps

Exercise 4

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
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2 sets
3 reps
-- rest
As heavy as possible while maintaining form and getting all reps

Day 3

Exercise 1

Clean You'll need: Barbell How to
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5 sets
2 reps
-- rest
Emphasize the pull. Catch in a 1/2 squat or above position.

Exercise 2

Clean Pull
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3 sets
3 reps
-- rest
Pull high and hard.

Exercise 3

Bent-Knee Good Morning
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2 sets
3 reps
-- rest
HEAVY as possible while maintaining technique.

Exercise 4

Good Morning You'll need: No Equipment How to
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2 sets
3 reps
-- rest
Knees almost straight, long range of motion, and light.

Day 5

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
8 sets
1 reps
-- rest
Work up to a max weight for the day

Exercise 2

Snatch Deadlift
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4 sets
3 reps
-- rest
Strap up and go as heavy as possible.

Exercise 3

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
-- rest
Weight should be hard, but you should achieve all reps.
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