The last tip I have to share with you is based on the following experiences:
First, over the course of the past year of training I have made a lot of gains utilizing sub-maximal training. Consistent improvements on my work between 65 and 90% led to PR’s at 100% in all 3 lifts. That being said, there was a bit of a breakdown between what my rep maxes were telling me and what my 1RM efforts were. This was less of the case when I was weaker, and more of the case as I got stronger. This did not apply to my deadlift at all. In fact, my rep maxes would have led to believe I was weaker than what I was able to pull in a 1RM effort.
There is probably a fancy explanation for this, but I’ll just explain it you as I see it. First and foremost, I view this as a mental weakness more than anything. That being said, there are many differences between squatting and benching in comparison to deadlifting. The one I want to stress is the lack of an eccentric, or lowering phase in a deadlift. More specifically to my point, you don’t feel the weight before a deadlift. In a squat you get a taste of 500lbs on your back before you drop with it. In a bench you get to feel 300lbs in your hand before you attempt to press it. With the pull your body has no idea if your about to put a max effort of force into 135 or 600lbs until your intent meets the end of the bars slack or tension (which won’t fully occur until the plates break the ground, if you have enough in you to make it that far).
In a sub maximal approach you may be setting yourself up to lift a weight 50-100+lbs heavier then anything you had moved in training. Many lifters are not affected by this jump. They are able to mentally apply what they know under a load they have never attempted, or even worked within 10% of. At this point I am not that lifter. I agree with their approach, and know that over time I want to make myself better at this.
Therefore, and talk about a lengthy introduction to my tip, one great help for me is learning how to feel weight while training sub maximally.
I had to find a way where I could get the best of both worlds. I needed to feel heavy weight on my back or in my hands, but at the same time train sub maximally and build strength way more often than I tested it.
So my strategy has gone like this:
In a 4 week block, have one to two weeks where you work to a single (ONE single) at a percentage about 10% higher than your working weights. For example, if you are working multiple sets of 3 – 5 reps at 75% work to a single at 85% before you get that going. It’s not something that needs to be done every week, and I have had success with just one in four weeks taking this approach.
Another thing that I have had success with is playing with traditional “deload”. Often when I am working sub maximally, the volumes are very high. So instead of dropping volume and staying at a low intensity in my deload, I will drop volume WAY down and bring the intensity way up. For example here is how I recently set up my deadlift 4 week block:
wk1 : sets of 5 at 60%
wk2: sets of 5 at 67.5%
wk3: top set of 75%
wk4: work to a single at 85% and shut it down.
If you are someone who struggles to handle heavier weights without touching them first, these are some ways for you to work around it.