Review of Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift Program

Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift Program

By Jonathan Pietrolaj

 

Deadlifting has never been a strong point of mine.  Over the years I have tried everything to bring it up.  I did have some success using the Westside Principles about ten years ago.  Westside took my deadlift from 570lbs to 650lbs in less than a year.  However, I was never able to repeat the success I had when I tried the principles again a few years later.

I have gone out and spent thousands of dollars on equipment, like the Reverse Hyperextension and Glute Ham Raise machines, in hopes it would bring my numbers up to a respectable level.  I’ve read hundreds of articles on Deadlifting and the mechanics of Deadlifting.  Physically, I feel I am built to pull big weights.  I’m 5’11”, 310lbs, have long arms and have done a 730lb raw Box Squat.

 

 

Back in February of this year I bombed a 675lb Deadlift, badly.  I was so angry and frustrated with myself I wanted to quit lifting forever.  I thought for sure I was going to break a PR that night.

 

In the weeks leading up to my max Deadlift night, I was hitting PR after PR on every Deadlift variation I was cycling.  I was doing Wide Stance Speed Box Squats to work my hips, Reverse Hyperextensions to strengthen my lower back, all kinds of heavy abdominal work and set after set of Glute Ham Raises. Literally I would crawl out of the Basement of Destiny after every lower body workout.  So to miss a weight I assumed I would easily get, just took everything out of me.

A few days later after I calmed down and the anger subsided, I went back and started reading all the Deadlift articles I have saved on my computer.  I came across one in particular that peaked my interest.

The article was on the Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift Program.  I had read the article several times and always wanted to try it, but I never did because I felt I couldn’t handle the volume.  However, at this point I was willing to try anything.  The program is as follows:

 

Week 1

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%

2X2 @ 80%

1X8+ @ 70%

 

Week 2

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%

1X2 @ 80%

1X2 @ 90%

1X8+ @ 70%

 

Week 3 – If you hit all your reps in Week 2, add 10lbs to your weights in Week 3.  If not, repeat Week 2 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs

 

Week 4

Do something other than Deadlifting.  I squatted heavy.


The percentages are based on a projected max.  I picked a conservative starting weight, 655lbs.  My goal was to not miss a rep.  I went through the above cycle once.  A few weeks later I decided to try a max Deadlift.  I worked up to 675lbs.  It flew off the ground to lockout.  I couldn’t believe how easy it felt.  At that point I decided I was going to repeat the program, but do a few cycles back to back.

 

I ended up finding a 12 Week version of the program online.  I’m not sure if its official, but I liked the way it was set up.  It’s not that different from the original program.  The 12 week version looks like this:

Example weights are based off a max Deadlift of 675lbs.

 

Week 1

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%    Ex:  475lbs

2X2 @ 80%    Ex:  540lbs

1X8+ @ 70%  Ex:  475lbs

 

Week 2

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%    Ex:  475lbs

1X2 @ 80%    Ex:  540lbs

1X2 @ 90%    Ex:  610lbs

1X8+ @ 70%  Ex:  475lbs

 

Week 3 – If you hit all your reps in Week 2, add 10lbs to your weights in Week 3.  If not, repeat Week 2 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs   Ex:  485lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs   Ex:  550lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs   Ex:  620lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs Ex:  485lbs

 

Week 4

Do something other than Deadlifting.  I squatted heavy.

 

Week 5 – Week 5 you use the same weights you did in Week 3

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%    Ex:  485lbs

1X2 @ 80%    Ex:  550lbs

1X2 @ 90%    Ex:  620lbs

1X8+ @ 70%  Ex:  485lbs

 

Week 6 – If you hit all your reps in Week 5, add another 10lbs to your weights in Week 6.  If not, repeat Week 5 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs   Ex:  495lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs   Ex:  560lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs   Ex:  630lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs Ex:  495lbs

 

Week 7 – If you hit all your reps in Week 6, add another 10lbs to your weights in Week 7.  If not, repeat Week 6 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs   Ex:  505lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs   Ex:  570lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs   Ex:  630lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs Ex:  505lbs

 

Week 8

Do something other than Deadlifting.  I squatted heavy.

 

Week 9 – Week 9 you use the same weights you did in Week 7

Warm up

4X4 @ 70%    Ex:  505lbs

1X2 @ 80%    Ex:  570lbs

1X2 @ 90%    Ex:  630lbs

1X8+ @ 70%  Ex:  505lbs

 

Week 10 – If you hit all your reps in Week 9, add another 10lbs to your weights in Week 10.  If not, repeat Week 9 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs   Ex:  515lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs   Ex:  580lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs   Ex:  640lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs Ex:  515lbs

 

Week 11 – If you hit all your reps in Week 10, add another 10lbs to your weights in Week 11.  If not, repeat Week 10 weights.

Warm up

4X4 @ 70% + 10lbs   Ex:  525lbs

1X2 @ 80% + 10lbs   Ex:  590lbs

1X2 @ 90% + 10lbs   Ex:  650lbs

1X8+ @ 70% + 10lbs Ex:  525lbs

 

Week 12

Do something other than Deadlifting.  I squatted heavy.

 

I ended up stopping after Week 8.  I was going to continue through till Week 12, but I was feeling so strong week after week, I wanted to see if the program was working for me on a max basis.

 

So did it work? 

 

 

Conclusion:

On Week 8, I squatted.  Using just a belt and Rehband Knee Sleeves, I hit a 740lb Safety Squat Bar Box Squat with a Shoulder Width Stance.  This was a 10lb PR.  I know if I would have tried 750lbs I would have gotten it.  The next week I attempted a max Deadlift.  My best Deadlift at that point was 705lbs with a belt and straps.  This was done in December 2010.  I hadn’t pulled a 700lb Deadlift in over a year and a half.  On my max Deadlift night, August 6th, 2012, I ended up hitting a 710lb Deadlift using just a belt and straps.  Is that anything special?  No, but it was a 5lb PR.  If you want to get technical you could say it was a 35lb PR seeing as I was bombing 675lbs roughly four months before and hadn’t hit a PR in the Deadlift in over a year and a half.

 

Now before you go out and give the program a try, I want to give you some guidelines I followed while using the program.

 

First, I will not lie to you.  This program will kick your butt.  My entire back and posterior chain would be fried for a week after each Deadlift session.  I am a natural lifter and almost 35 years old.  I really had to listen to my body while on this program.  I cut out almost all lower body assistance work.  I would do the Deadlifting, hit a few heavy sets of abs and maybe a few sets of Reverse Hyperextensions and that was it for the week.  I also went from training four days a week down to three or even just two days a week depending on how I was feeling.  This is something you will have to figure out for yourself.  It all depends on how you recover.  Everyone is different.

 

Second, since my goal was to bring up my Deadlift, I did no event training during the eight weeks I was on the program.  I wanted to keep my back fresh for the next weeks Deadlift day.  If you want to bring up a weakness sometimes a strength has to suffer a little.  If you wanted to keep event training in your program, I would suggest not going heavy on things like Yoke, Farmers Walks and Stones.  Instead focus more on speed and conditioning.

 

Lastly, I did tweak the program when it came to the all out set of 8+ reps and the 10lb weekly increases.  Instead of going all out and taking my body to failure on the last set each week, I stopped at 8 reps and left some energy in the tank.  Also, on some weeks, instead of making 10lb jumps I only did 5lbs.  This goes back to the point I made earlier of listening to your body.  If my warm ups felt a little heavy or physically I just wasn’t feeling 100%, I would only do 5lbs increases.  Again, my goal was not to miss any reps.

 

For me, the Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift program worked.  In eight weeks, I hit PR’s in both the Deadlift and the Squat.  The program was easy to follow and what I liked most about it is I didn’t have to think.  I picked a max weight, calculated the weights based on the prescribed percentages and just pulled.  Also, what’s nice about it is, if all you have equipment wise is a bar and some plates, that’s all you need to increase your Deadlift.  I will definitely be using the Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift program going forward.

 

If your Deadlift is stuck and holding you back; give the program a try.  It worked for me.  Hopefully, it works for you too.  Thanks for reading.

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12 Responses to Review of Magnusson/Ortmayer Deadlift Program

  1. billy reds August 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Hey man congrats on your pr.had to feel awesome after being stalled for do long.as far as a 710 pull not being a big deal for a 35yr old natural lifter what planet do u train on? Lol.

    • Jon Pietrolaj August 23, 2012 at 3:16 am #

      Billy,

      Thanks. When your friends with guys like Lou and Mike Jenkins who do 800lbs+ and do ten reps with what I max, it really isn’t a big deal HAHA!!

  2. Cole Lawson October 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Congrats Jonathan! I know it feels great!
    I have just decided to do my first PL meet today. I’ve trained off and on for 5 years now. back on for 2 solid months. Used to compete in LW strongman in 09. I’m going to be competing at 181 on Dec. 8th. My goal # would be triple BW 540. I pulled 505 very cleanly 2 weeks ago. I think this 4 week program would work perfectly in prep for a meet Dec. 8th. I trained DL today from 1.5 inch deficit. hit 485 easily. (I am not training with a belt) Do you think this program would work well for a meet 5 weeks away and I plug 540 in as my goal weight.

  3. Cole Lawson October 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Congrats Jonathan! I know it feels great!
    I have just decided to do my first PL meet today. I’ve trained off and on for 5 years now. back on for 2 solid months. Used to compete in LW strongman in 09. I’m going to be competing at 181 on Dec. 8th. My goal # would be triple BW 540. I pulled 505 very cleanly 2 weeks ago. I think this 4 week program would work perfectly in prep for a meet Dec. 8th. I trained DL today from 1.5 inch deficit. hit 485 easily. (I am not training with a belt) Do you think this program would work well for a meet 5 weeks away and I plug 540 in as my goal weight.

  4. power November 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    First congrats on your PB!

    This article and deadlift program is awesome!

  5. jgreystoke December 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Great work on the PRs. And great review. Very clear laying it out for anyone to follow. Thanks.

  6. Michael Carroll April 24, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Great article, thanks for writing it, may give the program a try at some time. Quick question. Did you squat on another day during the week or was the deadlift session the only lower body work you did each week?

    Thanks

    • Jon Pietrolaj May 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

      Michael,

      Most weeks the Deadlift was the only lower body workout I did. My goal doing the program was to bringup my Deadlift. I only squatted heavy on the 4th week and like I mentioned in the article, my Squat went up as well. You use the same muscles to Squat and Deadlift. If those muscles are being worked hard doing the Deadlift, in theory you shouldn’t lose anything on your Squat.

      If you’re worried about not Squatting, I would suggest doing Wide Stance Speed Box Squats on the weeks you Deadlift. Really focus on Speed NOT weight. Getting your hips stronger will help your pull off the floor.

  7. Leslie May 20, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    Should I do this routine with or without straps? Please someone reply

  8. Devin Hamblet May 25, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    I love the article, I’m a natural lifter too @ 6’4″ and 303 lbs I’m a little taller. A few weeks ago I pulled a 605 and now I want to take it to the next level and I also lift three days a week now but I do my deadlifts with legs but I will give this program a run. KEEP PULLING!!!!

  9. Terry Godwin September 20, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Started Last night. 45 yrs old, lower back issues in the past. Dead lifting w/ hyperextensions have helped tremendously. 3 rep max is 250lb. Here we go.

  10. devin hamblet February 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    I’ve replied before back in 2013 and now I’m back but this time I switched to sumo style, I want a 675 or 700+ by my 4th birthday in 7 months.

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