Ed Coan’s 10 Week Deadlift Routine Review

Deadlift.

One of God’s finest creations – the ultimate test of strength, static power and badassery.

An exercise that even your average gym newb can safely attempt and reap generous gains rather than wasting their time on pointless machine exercises.

Deadlift is also the blue riband event of the powerlifting meet – the crescendo, if you will – and an exercise that is as brutal as it is simplistic.

While I’m not an international standard powerlifter, deadlift has always been my favourite exercise and I aim to train it once per week following various different programmes like Stronglifts 5×5 and 5/3/1.

Yet over the past six months my deadlift had hit a bit of a plateau.

I tried mixing things up with deficit deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, varying stances and some supplementary work (good mornings) but nothing seemed to work.

It was at this juncture I stumbled across Ed Coan’s 10 Week Deadlift Programme.

Ed Coan

Edward “Ed” Ignatius Coan (and I really haven’t made that up) is an American powerlifter.

Having set 71 world records during his career, Coan is widely regarded as the greatest powerlifter of all time.

At 5’6″ and 220lbs Coan’s best single ply lifts are as follows:

Squat: 1,019lbs (462kg)
Bench: 584lbs (265kg)
Deadlift: 901lbs (409kg)

These incredible feats of strength gave Coan 6 IPF world powerlifting gold medals between 1984 and 1995.

As you’ll probably agree, he seems like a fairly decent deadlift sensei.

Background

Ed Coan created this deadlift programme for friend and fellow powerlifter Mark Phillipi.

And although there is no evidence that Coan ever performed this programme himself, Phillipi credited this 10 week routine for increasing his deadlift from 505lbs to 540lbs.

Then again, looking at Phillipi and knowing he won America’s strongest man in 1997, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think he should’ve been lifting more than this anyway.

Still, 35lbs in 10 weeks is not to be sniffed at.

The Routine

Everything around this 10 week programme centres around deadlift.

Your primary exercise is deadlift.

Your secondary exercise is deadlift.

Your accessory exercises are composite parts of the deadlift.

The ideology is simple – specificity.

If you want to get stronger at a particular exercise, then you need to be practising it regularly in a variety of different sets, reps and speeds.

Lat raises are noooooo gonna improve your military press.

Each session will start with a set of heavy deadlifts at an increasing % followed by speed deadlifts at a lower weight.

You’ll then do a ‘circuit’ of accessory exercises to build up lower back, hamstring, glute, lat, trap, and grip strength.

The programme is to be performed once per week alongside your regular training programme (I’ll come onto this a bit more later).

The routine works out as follows:

Work Sets

 Week % Of Desired Max Sets  Reps
 1 75% 1 2
 2 80% 1 2
 3 85% 1 2
 4 90% 1 2
 5  80% 3 3
 6 85% 1 2
 7  90% 1 2
 8 95% 1 2
 9 97.5% 1 1
 10 100% 1 1
 11 New PR Attempt 1 1

 

Speed Sets

Week % Of Desired Max Sets Reps  Rest (secs)
 1 60% 8 3 90
 2 65% 8 3  90
3 70% 6 3  90-120
4 75% 5 3 90-120
5 65% 3 3 120
6 70% 3 3 120
7 75% 3 3 120
8 70% 3 3 120
9 70% 2 3 As needed
10 60% 2 3 As needed

 

Assistance Work

 Week Exercise Sets Reps Notes
 1 – 4

Stiff Legged Deadlift

Bent Over Row

Underhand Lat Pulldown

Arched Back Good Mornings

3 8 Perform as a circuit with 90sec rest between exercises
5 – 6

Power Shrugs

Stiff Legged Deadlift

Bent Over Row

Underhand Lat Pulldown

Arched Back Good Mornings

3 5 DO NOT perform as a circuit, 90-120sec rest between sets
7 – 8

Power Shrugs

Stiff Legged Deadlift

Bent Over Row

Underhand Lat Pulldown

Arched Back Good Mornings

2 5 DO NOT perform as a circuit, 90-120sec rest between sets
9

Power Shrugs

Stiff Legged Deadlift

2 5 Rest as needed
10 None / /  /

 
For ease, I have created a helpful spreadsheet which you can use to calculate all of your lifts for the duration of this routine.

Effectiveness

Ed Coan’s 10 Week Deadlift Routine works, there’s no two ways about it.

If you commit and follow this programme to an absolute T then you will hit your deadlift goal and more.

Personally, my “desired max” target (200kg) went up with all the ease and speed to a 14-year-old school boy’s hand when the teacher asks if anyone wants to help the Scandinavian exchange student Bjork Hugeracksen with her German oral revision.

I.e. very, very quick.

Furthermore, the week after I finished this deadlift programme I was able to lift 205kg.

Cashback!

Putin Clapping gif

A lot of this will simply come down to structure – if you turn up to the gym with an exacting plan then you’re far more likely to hit your goals than just turning up and lifting stuff.

But, in the main, this is a fantastically constructed deadlift programme structured around the requisite parts of the movement.

The sense of satisfaction in having completed the 10 week programme gave me every confidence that I could lift more weight.

Personal comment

Ed Coan’s 10 Week Deadlift Routine is designed to be a no holds barred, balls out, gut busting test of strength and character.

In simple terms, welcome to the pain train.

The lower back and hamstring DOMS in the first few weeks of the programme were insane, and this certainly impacted on the rest of my training.

My squat in particular suffered, to the point were I just went light for a couple of weeks to avoid any risk of injuring myself.

That said, having completed the 10 week programme, all my main compound lifts have improved, particularly the squat.

Also, the new found grip strength has massively helped my all round lifting and grabbing game.

Think Popeye but without the grotesquely bulbous forearms.

Now, I’m clearly not qualified enough – or that much of a self-righteous cunt – to offer any alterations to this deadlift programme, but here are two things that improved my user experience.

1) Walk

Your average powerlifter ain’t going to be doing too much cardio but for me a great way to ease the lower back and hamstring DOMS was to do at least 30 minutes of walking the day after a deadlift session.

It will also ease the strain on the joints which will almost certainly be aching.

2) Eat

Fairly obvious, I know, but I’m going to hazard a guess there are no more intense deadlift programmes in the powerlifting ether than this one.

So make sure you’re upping your calorie intake in the days before/after each workout.

Conclusion

This is certainly not one for the faint hearted.

If you don’t think you’re cut out for this programme, you’re right.

It’s a mental test as well as a physical one that’s for sure.

Expect a sore lower back while driving, hamstrings burning to pick up everyday items, and wrists shaking as you cut through your evening steak.

But, above all, expect to do some serious damage to your current deadlift PR.

This is without doubt the best deadlift programme around designed by one of the greatest deadlifters of all time.

If you commit and follow this programme to the letter you will not be sorry.

ed coan deadlift

Over to you

Have you tried Ed Coan’s 10 Week Deadlift Routine? If so, what’s the verdict?

Are you thinking of giving this routine a go?

Any other comments or questions?

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!