How to deadlift like a champ

Photo credit: Pete SimmPhoto credit: Pete Simm

Photo credit: Pete Simm

On 27th November, gym owner Sam Murphy will be attempting to break the 24 hour deadlift record by attempting to lift 10 reps of 60kg every minute over 24 hours, to make the new record of 600,000kg. We spoke to Sam to find out how to train like a record-breaker.

How are you training for the deadlift record?

Until about 2 months ago, my training was just time spent trying to figure out how best to maintain the required pace to break the record.

It was then establishing longer and longer stints at this pace till I was happy. The two methods I will be switching between on the day is 10 reps at 60kg every minute for 50 minutes at a time with a 10 minute break a total of 20 times, or 10 reps at 66kg every minute for 40 minutes with a 5 minute break just under 23 times.

So my weekly training consists of 1 longer deadlift stint at that pace (usually for around 2 -4 hours in total), 1 shorter more intense deadlift session of higher rep ranges for example 25 sets of 25 reps or 10 sets of 50 reps all at 60kg and one more training session that is significantly less total reps but the weight lifted is around 100-140kg to maintain a more strength related component.

Until about a month ago, on top of these main “deadlift” days I maintained training bench press and upper body almost as normal with 2x 1 hourish sessions a week.

Mobility work is a staple part of a given training day also, generally following 15-20 minutes of joint maintenance work. 


How many days do you train a week?

Specifically for this -3-4 days a week

Outside of this 1-2 sessions for other “supplementary” goals

What do you eat while training?

A mixture of easy to digest carbohydrates like orange juice, white bread and jam, rice pudding, bananas, or supplemental carbohydrates in the form of gels and shakes (although I haven’t been training with these very much yet so that is something new to experiment with) small amounts of protein and some fats in the form of nuts/ nut butter etc.

The main concern on the day is being able to continually fuel myself through the event, so I have been practicing training with a half belly full of food (jam sandwiches and fruit usually).

Do you have treats/cheats? If so, what?

I TRY to eat what my body needs to be healthy and functioning first, or at least plan that food first for the day. Then depending on how much total food that is,  and how much activity I have done that day will depend on how much “supplementary” things I will give myself. Anyone who knows me will know I don’t shy away from many foods. I eat all your normal “treat” foods like ice cream, pizza etc but I do try to put them to the back end of my daily eating habits.

Photo credit: Pete SimmPhoto credit: Pete Simm

Photo credit: Pete Simm

Obviously we can’t all train like you- but what would you advise someone trying to get into deadlifting?

If you are interested in learning how to deadlift properly, then firstly have a firm understanding WHY you are doing it. The deadlift is the best exercise for improving the ability to deadlift, and it has SOME  carry over to other activities like being able to pick up your suitcase, carry your shopping etc.

Here’s some myths and misconceptions: 

  1. The deadlift is NOT the “ultimate” exercise – it is a finite exercise with a list of benefits which will be repentant to the person performing the exercise and their history.

  2. Not everyone NEEDS to deadlift – The traditional deadlift is the most effective way to practice picking up a symmetrically weighted object from the ground with straight arms. If you need to practice this activity, then the Deadlift is your best option.

  3. Deadlifting is good for your back – Deadlifting (correctly) will enable you to be able to brace your spine to be stiff for the short period of time that you are performing the lift and develop the musculature associated with this. This can be a useful skill to learn,  for some it maybe beneficial to develop and I have observed it helped some people with their back issues (when their back issues stem from a lack of understanding how to brace, however if their back issue did not stem from a lack of bracing ability then getting better at bracing with more and more weight probably wouldn’t have solved their issue). 

 So my advice is, understand WHY you want to deadlift, and then if your reasonings are good, find someone who has been deadlifting consistently for 10+ years with no back issues and they are probably doing it ok. Alternatively find a good coach (I hear the lads up at Fusion Barbell are pretty decent…)