Now, Johnnie Jackson is a real life hero, who has done some amazing things with his life. He has overcome a lot of pain and hardship, which we can all relate to. But more importantly, he shares his journey with us. He is a big inspiration to me.

I have been trying to follow the advice of a man named Johnnie Jackson that I found on YouTube. He has a very impressive deadlift program that I have been trying to follow, and I’ve been struggling with my deadlift. In the past, I’ve pulled a lot of heavy s**t in the past but wasn’t able to pull heavy s**t for the past year, and every time I started pulling heavy s**t I’d get hurt. I’m not going to go into the details of the program itself because you can find that on YouTube, but I’ll tell you what’s been working for me.

Johnnie Jackson has had a great year. With his back to the wall, Johnnie became the only person to successfully pull a 500 pound weight off the ground for reps. His victories have been met with plenty of skepticism including from me. However, Johnnie’s record-setting deadlift feats have been backed up by many of the world’s leading strength coaches, muscle-building experts, and everyday lifters.

One of the most well-known bodybuilders in the world is Johnnie Jackson. Many professional bodybuilding competitions have been won by Johnnie, including the 2017 Arnold Classic and the 2017 Toronto Pro. Johnnie Jackson, on the other hand, is a skilled powerlifter.

In the Raw Unity powerlifting tournament in 2012, Johnnie deadlifted an incredible 832 pounds. Take a look:

That’s an incredible deadlift! Crossing the 800-pound threshold in the deadlift is rare for a powerlifter, but it’s nearly unheard of for a bodybuilder! So, how does Johnnie Jackson’s deadlift routine look?

The truth is that Johnnie works out hard all year, even while preparing for a bodybuilding competition. In their bodybuilding sessions, Johnnie Jackson and his training partner Branch Warren are noted for using ridiculously high weights. When Johnnie wants to put up a massive deadlift, he consults with his powerlifting coach, Josh Bryant, and begins a deadlift peaking program.

I’m going to take you through one of Johnnie Jackson’s favorite deadlift peaking routines in this tutorial. At nearly 50 years old, Johnnie followed this method to put up a tremendous 700-pound deadlift in 2019.

Johnnie’s deadlift peaking regimen was organized as follows:

The Deadlift Peaking Program of Johnnie Jackson

Block 1 of the training

  • Week 1: Triples galore!
  • Week 1: Triples galore!
  • Week 1: Triples galore!
  • Deloading Week #4

Block 2 of the training

  • Week 1: Heavily stacked doubles
  • Week 1: Heavily stacked doubles
  • Week 1: Heavily stacked doubles
  • Deload Week #8

# of Training Blocks

  • Week 9: It’s competition time!

Johnnie separates his peaking program into three distinct training blocks, as you can see. Johnnie puts in three weeks of intense training in a succession. The fourth week is a deload week, during which he lowers the volume and intensity of his activities.

Josh Bryant, Johnnie’s deadlift coach, believes that these deload periods are critical for long-term improvement. These weeks are referred to as “reload” weeks by Josh Bryant because you are recharging your body and preparing yourself for another three weeks of intense training.

Let’s go into Johnnie’s actual deadlift routines now. Johnnie’s deadlift workouts are structured in a certain way: he does one heavy set of 2-3 reps on the deadlift, numerous speed sets, one supplementary deadlift exercise, and several auxiliary exercises.

A general framework for Johnnie’s deadlift exercises is as follows:

  • Step 1: Perform a strong deadlift set of 2-3 repetitions.
  • Step #2: On the deadlift, perform 3-6 speed sets of 2-3 reps.
  • Step #3: Do two sets of fairly hard deficit deadlifts.
  • Step #4: Perform 2-4 deadlift auxiliary movements.

Here’s a nice video of Johnnie Jackson doing a workout like this:

This is a fantastic method to organize your deadlift exercises. Each section of the program is designed to improve your competition deadlift strength.

One of the secrets to peaking your deadlift strength, according to Johnnie, is to gradually raise your training weights over the training cycle.

Johnnie Jackson’s exact training percentages for all 9 of his workouts are as follows:

  • 75 percent x 3 is the first workout.
  • Workout #2: 80% x 3 reps
  • 86 percent x 3 (workout #3)
  • 61 percent x 1 (workout #4)
  • 89 percent x 2 (workout #5)
  • 92 percent x 2 (workout #6)
  • 95 percent x 2 (workout #7)
  • 61 percent x 1 (workout #8)
  • Workout #9 is a one-time 100 percent effort.

Note that all of these percentages are based on Johnnie’s end-of-training-cycle objective deadlift of 700 pounds. As you can see, Johnnie’s training percentages gradually climb as his “testing day” approaches.

Okay, you’ve had your fill of waiting. Here are the precise workouts that helped Johnnie Jackson deadlift 700 pounds at the age of almost 50. Take a look:

Week 1: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 3 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 8 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 2 sets of 3 repetitions of deficiency deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls
  • F1: 3 sets of 3 repetitions of suitcase deadlift
  • G1: 3 sets of 8 reps of wide/neutral grip pull-ups

**Performed at 75% of your anticipated 1-rep maximum.

***At 60 percent of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

This workout’s training video is as follows:

What a challenging workout! The excitement that Johnnie Jackson brings to the gym is palpable. This was a wonderful first workout, according to Johnnie, and he expects his strength to skyrocket from here.

Week 2: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 3 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 8 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 2 sets of 3 repetitions of deficiency deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls
  • F1: 3 sets of 3 repetitions of suitcase deadlift
  • G1: 3 sets of 8 reps of wide/neutral grip pull-ups

**At least 80% of your estimated 1-rep max was used.

***At 60 percent of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

This week, Johnnie increases the weight on the bar by a staggering 5% while making it look effortless. On all of his speed sets, you can tell Johnnie is starting to grow more explosive. If you’re going to train with speed sets, you must explode all the way to lockout like Johnnie Jackson did. If you’re not blasting the weight, you’re not training; you’re just pretending!

Week 3: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 3 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 6 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 3 sets of 2 repetitions of deficit deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls

**At 86 percent of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

***At 60 percent of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

This workout’s training video is as follows:

For this session, Johnnie increased her weight by a significant amount. He increased his main working set by a whopping 6%! Unfortunately, on the last set of deficit deadlifts, Johnnie hurt his upper back and had to cut off some of his accessory work. It becomes simpler to make these decisions about when to push yourself and when to ease off as you gain experience. Josh Bryant discusses Johnnie’s decision to skip some of the accessory work for this session and the value of listening to your body in the following video:

“Johnnie was meant to do pull-ups and suitcase deadlifts, but his lats aren’t going to like that. You learn to draw the line between being a poodle jerk and not finishing, and then simply being foolish as you acquire experience.”

Week 4: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 6 sets of 1 rep conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through

**Performed at 61 percent of your 1-rep maximum.

This workout’s training video is as follows:

This is Johnnie’s first deloading or “reloading” workout of the season. Johnnie finishes up with a few light speed deadlifts and some simple cable pull throughs before calling it a day. Johnnie isn’t slacking off – this was a pre-planned deload session to help his body recuperate from the previous three weeks of intense training. Deloads are, in fact, an important aspect of practically any training program. Check out my article “5 Ways To Deload For Size And Strength!” for more information on how to deload.

Week #5: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 2 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 5 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 2 sets of 3 repetitions of deficiency deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls

**Performed at 89 percent of your 1-rep maximum.

***At 70% of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

This workout’s training video is as follows:

Things are really starting to pile up now! Johnnie resumes his primary working set with 89 percent of his projected 1-rep max for a hard set of 2 reps, picking up where he left off. This was a tad higher than the 86 percent he used in week 3, just before his deload week. Johnnie is cutting back on some of his auxiliary workouts like pull-ups and suitcase deadlifts at this point in the training cycle. Josh Bryant’s method for peaking Johnnie’s deadlifting strength at the end of the training cycle includes this move.

Week 6: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 2 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 4 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 2 sets of 3 repetitions of deficiency deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls

**Performed at 92 percent of your 1-rep maximum.

***At 70% of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

Note: For this workout, Johnnie Jackson did not provide a training video. The weights get heavier and the exercises get shorter as time goes on. To assist his body heal, Johnnie skips one of his sets of fast deadlifts for this workout.

Week #7: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 1 set of 2 repetitions of conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 3 sets of 3 repetitions of speed deadlift***
  • C1: 2 sets of 3 repetitions of deficiency deadlift
  • D1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through
  • E1: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of lying leg curls

**Performed at 95% of your estimated 1-rep maximum.

***At 70% of your anticipated 1-rep max, perform this exercise.

Note: For this workout, Johnnie Jackson did not provide a training video. This is Johnnie’s final hard deadlift before his test day. Johnnie works his way up to a heavy set of 2 repetitions at 95 percent of his 1-rep max. On week 9, Johnnie eliminates one of his speed deadlift sets to aid with his recovery and strength peaking.

Week #8: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

  • A1: 6 sets of 1 rep conventional deadlift**
  • B1: 3 sets of 12 repetitions of cable pull through

**Performed at 61 percent of your 1-rep maximum.

This workout’s training video is as follows:

This is Johnnie’s final exercise before he puts his 1-rep max on the deadlift to the test. Johnnie does a deload workout that is nearly identical to the one he did last week. Johnnie understands that one deload workout will not make him weaker in the deadlift. In fact, the deload will make Johnnie feel stronger than she has in a long time next week.

Week #9: Deadlift Workout by Johnnie Jackson

Johnnie Jackson achieves his aim by deadlifting 700 pounds on a single rep! Take a look:

Johnnie was so ecstatic to have accomplished his target that he attempted a second rep with 700 pounds right away! This wasn’t part of the plan, but 700 moved so quickly that Johnnie couldn’t help herself.

Conclusion

The Johnnie Jackson Deadlift Program!

If you’re searching for a solid training program to help you improve your deadlift, I strongly advise you to try the Johnnie Jackson deadlift program. Johnnie employs tried-and-true training methods including linear periodization, speed sets, and planned deload weeks to get tremendous results in just eight weeks. If you’re serious about improving your deadlift, you should read the following article:

I go into how Josh Bryant trains Johnnie Jackson and other world-class deadlifters in this post. I also go through some of Josh’s top-secret training tactics, such as powerlifting-style isometrics, to help you break through training plateaus. So, what do you think it will be? Are you going to take a piss and grumble about your deadlift progress? Or are you going to use Johnnie Jackson’s 9-week deadlift peaking program to resurrect your deadlift? It’s entirely up to you!

“Sometimes life is about putting everything on the line for a dream that only you can see.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I wish you the best of luck in your strength-training endeavors!

Mike Jansen, M.D.

Thank you for visiting my website! I’m the originator of Revolutionary Program Design, and my name is Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT. You’ve come to the perfect location if you want to achieve your size and strength goals quickly. My ambition is to create RPD the best strength training resource on the planet. So take a seat, sit back, and unwind. There has never been a better moment to lift weights or learn about the science and art of strength training program design.

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