Whether you’re a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or simply want to get swole, the deadlift should be a staple movement for you. Given that this is such a taxing exercise, most experts recommend deadlifting no more than twice per week.
Yet, a few years ago, a guy named Daniel McKim popularized a program called ‘Deadcember.’ Following on from ‘Squatober,’ it involves deadlifting every day for a month and doing it in the month of December. As a veteran personal trainer who’s been ingraining the importance of rest and recovery in my clients for 30+ years, my initial reaction was, ‘That’s not a good idea.’ Still, with a few of my clients wanting to take on the challenge, I decided to put aside my initial skepticism and do a deep dive into the subject. Read on to find out whether taking on the Deadcember challenge is something that should be on your ‘to-do’ list.
Define Your Goal
The first question to ask yourself when you’re weighing up whether to jump into a deadlifting daily for a month program is, ‘What is my training goal?’ Or, to put it more simply, are you a bodybuilder or a powerlifter? In my experience, many trainers don’t know the answer to this fundamental question. As a result, they follow a shotgun approach that combines frequencies, set, and rep ranges that simply don’t make sense.
If your goal for going to the gym is to make your body bigger, stronger, and leaner, then you’re in the bodybuilding category. It doesn’t matter that you don’t ever plan to step on a bodybuilding stage. Bodybuilders use the deadlift as a tool to build muscle. That is completely different from powerlifting, where the exercise is the goal. It’s all about how much weight you can lift with proper form. So, which one are you?
If you’re a bodybuilder, then you should not deadlift every day. You are deadlifting to make your lats, traps, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back bigger and stronger. Yet, when you walk out of the gym, those muscles are weaker due to the stress you’ve put on them. If you’ve worked them hard enough, the target muscles will actually have micro tears in their fibers. What they need now is rest and protein. These will stimulate muscle protein synthesis by which the muscle damage is repaired and made slightly bigger and stronger. If you were to go into the gym the next day and start deadlifting again, you’d be throwing a spanner into the works as far as your recovery process is concerned. By sabotaging the recovery process, you’ll negate your hard work from the previous day. You don’t want to do that!
A 2016 meta-study by Brad Schoenfield examined ten previous studies on training frequency. These studies had participants working out from once per week to three times per week. Brad’s analysis showed that a frequency of two to three times per week is ideal for muscle growth.  In other words, if your goal is to add mass to your body, you need at least a day’s recovery between working each muscle group. That makes deadlifting daily out of the question.
Deadlifting Daily for Powerlifting Gains
Deadlifting daily shouldn’t be part of your normal powerlifting practice. Even though your goal is not to build muscle, you still need to moderate your frequency to allow for muscle recovery. If you don’t, you’ll end up overtraining, and your strength gains will stagnate. However, there is merit in mixing things up occasionally. A Deadcember daily deadlift program can have value as a way to inject an element of challenge and excitement into your training. A whole support network has been built up online where people from all over the world encourage one another to succeed in their quest to deadlift daily for an entire month. Deadlifting daily is as much a mental as it is a physical challenge. You’ll discover things about yourself that you never knew. You’ll build resilience and persistence as you push through those days when deadlifting is the last thing you want to do. Doing the deadlift for a month challenge with a partner, or a group of buddies, will make it more enjoyable.
Benefits of Deadlifting Daily for a Month
Technique development: If you are just learning the deadlift, doing it every day for a month will help ingrain the technique. If this is the case for you, use a load that is around 50% of your one rep max until you are confident with your form, and then switch to the program detailed at the end of this article.
Plateau Buster: If you’ve been stuck on a weight that you just can’t get beyond for several months, you could probably benefit from a shake-up. Deadlift daily could be just what it takes to shock your body into renewed strength gains.
Challenge aspect: We all love a good challenge. It can motivate us to dig deeper than we thought we were capable of. Add in the social media aspect of programs like the Deadcember challenge, and you could just have the perfect recipe to finish the year on a deadlift high.
Drawbacks of Deadlifting Daily for a Month
Time-consuming: Unless you do your deadlifts at home, you’re going to have to get your butt to the gym every single day to complete this challenge. That can be a problem, especially on the weekends. In fact, you may find that getting to and from the gym takes longer than your actual deadlift workout.
Increased Injury Risk: When done properly, a daily deadlift program will regulate volume and load to avoid overtraining. However, you can’t avoid a degree of cumulative fatigue. This may result in poor form, especially towards the end of the week when you’re lifting your heaviest. Poor form increases injury risk.
Negative Impact on your Overall Program: If you deadlift every day, you will obviously be deadlifting on the same days that you’re squatting and bench pressing. Do your DLs first, and you…