Ed Coan Deadlift Routine

Ed coan is one of the best powerlifters of all-time and is renowned for his deadlift strength. He currently holds four raw world record deadlifts in four different weight classes dating back as late as 1984. In fact he set over seventy world records and became the lightest man in history to total over 1090kg (2400 lbs). This is one of the many routines he created and used to solidify himself as a champion and one of the strongest men in history.


Ed Coans deadlift routine has added anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds to the bars of many weightlifters. It is one of the most successfully used programs in the weightlifting community and is even commonly used by bodybuilders to add back thickness. The program is ten weeks long and uses a lot of assistance work and speed deadlifts to force an adaptive response to the volume and intensity. After week 6 when the volume is decreased on the assistance exercises your body will have adapted and you will have increased/extra energy to focus on deadlifting. Ed Coan did this purposely to be prepared to lift with a fatigued back in a meet after squatting.

Ed Coan did not create this program with a novice lifter in mind, and you should only use this program if you are an intermediate level lifter or above. Beginners will not do well and will just overtrain or hurt themselves. They would be better suited sticking to a linear progression program such as starting strength.


The Routine

The first thing you need to do is find your current deadlift max, which if you don’t know can be found using this one rep max calculator. Once you have your 1RM (one rep max) you need to determine what you would like your projected max (your max after completing the program) to be. Anywhere from 20-40 pounds will suffice, but 30 is the recommended poundage and what most lifters use. Now that you have your projected max you will plug it into the programming below and find the weight you will be using on all of the deadlifts and assistance work. For example say my projected max is 435 pounds. Since the first week for deadlift worksets is 75%, I will take 435 and multiply it by .75. That comes out to 326.25 lbs and we will round it to 325 lbs since not many (if any) people have half pound plates.

Deadlift Programming

Note:(Do your regular warmups prior to doing the work sets or speed sets.)
Week Work Sets Speed Sets
1 (75%)x 2 reps (60%)8 sets x 3 reps (90 sec rest b/w sets)
2 (80%)x 2 reps (65%)8 sets x 3 reps (90 sec rest b/w sets)
3 (85%)x 2 reps (70%)6 sets x 3 reps (90-120 sec rest b/w sets)
4 (90%)x 2 reps (75%)5 sets x 3 reps (90-120 sec rest b/w sets)
5 (80%)3 sets x 3 reps (65%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
6 (85%)x 2 reps (70%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
7 (90%)x 2 reps (75%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
8 (95%)x 2 reps (70%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
9 (97.5%)x 1 rep (70%)2 sets x 3 reps (Rest as needed)
10 (100%)x 1 rep (60%)2 sets x 3 reps (Rest as needed)

Assistance Work

WEEKS 1-4: Work through the following exercises in a circuit format. Resting 90 seconds between each exercise (DO NOT SUPER SET). Do 8 reps and rest 2-3 minutes between the end of the circuit and beginning of the circuit again. Do this 3 times for a total of 3×8 reps on each exercise.

Exercise Rep Count Rest Interval
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 8 reps 90 seconds
Bent Over Rows 8 reps 90 seconds
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldowns 8 reps 90 seconds
Arched Back Good Mornings 8 reps 2-3 minutes

WEEKS 5-6: You will do the following exercises below for 3 sets of 5.

WEEKS 7-8: You will only do 2 sets of 5 with the exercises listed below.

WEEK 9: You will only do 2 sets of 5 with stiff legged deadlifts.

Note:(DO NOT CIRCUIT, Do one exercise finish all your sets and move on to next exercise. Rest 90-120 sec between sets.)
Exercise Rep Count Rest Interval
Power Shrugs 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Bent Over Rows 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldowns 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Good Mornings 5 reps 90-120 seconds

In the table below you will see what percentage to use on Power Shrugs ONLY. These go along with the other assistance work and they start at week 5. You should do them after your speed deadlifts and before any other assistance work because of the fact you will be handling heavier weight with the power shrugs.

Week Exercise Work Sets
5 Power Shrugs (60% of current): 3×5
6 Power Shrugs (65% of current): 3×5
7 Power Shrugs (70% of current): 2×5
8 Power Shrugs (75% of current): 2×5
9 Power Shrugs (75% of current): 2×5

If that is to overwhelming for you to calculate you can instantly get all of your programming here. As far any troubleshooting is concerned if you fail a week just keep pushing through and see if you improve the next week. A lot of lifters fail there projected numbers (especially week eight) and end up improving the next workout. If however you fail two weeks in a row, you may want to consider dropping this program and moving onto to something that suits your training capacity. If your form is lacking you can check out the video below from an old ed coan training series. The video is entitled “The Deadlift” and goes through much more than just technique and discusses some his personal training philosophies.

Ed Coan The Deadlift

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