It can be hard designing your own training sessions, knowing if you’re using the appropriate amount of sets and repetitions to create an effective training session. After this article you will have a good understanding of how many sets of deadlifts you should be performing in a session and throughout the week.
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One to two sessions per week
When discussing optimal training volume, it is important to understand these four concepts to make the best training decisions.
Maintenance volume is the amounts of working sets that need to be performed to maintain current levels of strength and muscle mass. This will change for individuals and muscle groups within an individual, though roughly it is usually around 3-6 sets per week.
The minimal effective dose is the amount of volume required to create adaptation (of either strength adaptations or hypertrophic adaptations). This typically ranges from between 5-8 per muscle group or movement pattern but again will depend on the muscle group.
The maximal adaptive volume is the amount of volume that creates high levels of adaptation, this is a very effective amount of volume and will create very good results. This kind of volume will require good levels of recovery.
Maximal recoverable volume is the maximal amount of volume that can be performed before starting to risk injury. This means that volume in the muscle group or movement pattern is extremely high and recovery protocols will need to be excellent. This sort of volume cannot be maintained for long periods of time without a deload.
Using the concepts we can say that optimal volume will oscillate between minimal effective dose and maximal adaptive volume. When we deload we will be in maintenance volume and when we decide to really push forward we might creep towards maximal recoverable volume. Lets say your new to training and for your maximal adaptive volume you only need 8 sets per week, then you might write a training block like this:
Week 1 : 5 Sets
Week 2 : 6 Sets
Week 3 : 7 Sets
Week 4 : 8 Sets
Week 5 : 3 Sets (deload)
These sets would ideally be split across two sessions.
This however for a very experienced lifter may only be there minimal effective dose and therefore it wouldn’t be an effective programme. However for a beginner, performing this number of sets for either strength or hypertrophy goals would be extremely effective.
There is a dose response relationship between strength training and hypertrophy, meaning the more we train, the more we adapt. However we all have to be wary of the maximal recoverable volume, because if we cross that, then we get injured and our results crash towards the floor. This dose response relationship continues to a point and then the extra volume just become superfluous.
We also need to take other movements into account, resistance training involves a huge number of movement patterns and muscle groups that need to be trained. So you cannot just put emphasis on one lift. This needs to be taken into account when designing your programme otherwise you will become extremely fatigued. We cannot do 3 deadlift sessions and 3 back squat sessions in the same week, so it is important to create a proper plan with goals and volume landmarks for each movement category and muscle group.
Perform between 3 to 6 sets per session of deadlifts. This is true if you are training for strength (1-5 reps) or training for hypertrophy (6-12 reps). If you do this twice a week and perform 8-12 sets of high quality deadlifts a week you are bound to see great results over time.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.