How To Build A Bigger Deadlift for The TSC - Strong As Hec

How To Build A Bigger Deadlift for The TSC

After you participate in your first TSC (Tactical Strength Challenge) you can't help but start thinking of the next event and the first order of business on your mind will likely be how to build a bigger deadlift.

But first...

If you're unfamiliar with the TSC you're probably wondering, "what is the TSC?"

Check it out for yourself...

Yeah... pretty freaking awesome, right?! The energy is un-believable, what a rush!

The TSC is an event put on twice a year in the Spring and Fall by StrongFirst®.

The event is broken down into 3 skills.

  • The Barbell Deadlift
  • The Tactical Pull-up
  • The Kettlebell Snatch

Each one of these skills challenge you in all three primary areas of strength.

  • Deadlift: A test of maximal strength.
  • Pull-up: A test of relative strength.
  • Snatch: A test of strength endurance.

Today I will share with you how to build a bigger deadlift for the TSC and give you some insight on how I prep and structure my deadlift training for the event. 

First, decide on a TSC event that you want to participate in: 

  • Spring event? 
  • Fall event?
  •  Both?

Through my experience I have found that 12 weeks of preparation works best be beginners or first time competitors (to allow you to get your reps in).

But if you're an experienced lifter...

... you can probably get away with an 8 or even a 6 week peak cycle.

Once you've established a date, next, reverse engineer and work backwards to your starting date starting with the...

3 crucial aspects to build a bigger deadlift
for the tsc...

  1. Find a qualified Instructor.
  2. Find a qualified Program Designer.
  3. Practice your skills.

I highly recommend an instructor that is well versed in teaching all 3 disciplines:

  • Kettlebell
  • Barbell
  • Bodyweight

Along with a good instructor (doesn't have to be the same instructor) you want to find someone that has experience with program design (again in all 3 disciplines).

What do I mean by program design?

I mean planning your training. 

Someone that can take you from A to B. It is important they understand periodization and can blend the volume and intensity of all the exercises in your program.

Event #1–The Deadlift

Build Bigger Deadlift

For the deadlift you want to first establish a one rep max (1RM). If you are new to deadlifting, look to establish a "sort of max".

What is a "sort of max"? 

A "sort of max" registers a 8-9 out of 10 difficulty, don't shoot for an all out max if you're just learning how to deadlift.

You want to leave one rep in the bank. This is where the qualified instructor come into play! Do not do this part alone.


Once you've establish your 1RM, you now want to calculate certain percentages of rep max (RM) to establish your intensity zones.

To get strong in the deadlift (or in any lift) you want the majority of your lifts (reps) to be in the 75-80% zones (This is where strength is built).

You want the average of all of your lifts each month for the deadlift to be between 67-77% intensity.

For the first 4 weeks of my plan I averaged 66.8% I recommend staying under 70% for the first 4 weeks of your training, to ease yourself in.

You can always increase the intensity the next 4 weeks.

Build A Bigger Deadlift

Notice that I planned 37% of my total lifts (reps) in the 61-70% zone and 25% of my lifts in the 71-80% zones. Thats a 62% share of my total volume in the 61-80% zones.

This is where you will have the most success and avoid over training. That's a brief overview of the programming side (I'll get more into programming in another article).

The Training Process / Practice

On top of training I always dedicate 1-2 days of the week to technique.

I do this for all 3 exercises but specifically for the deadlift. These days are NOT training days. I am merely practicing my skills and set up.

In the deadlift, I work on perfecting "the wedge", my positioning, and plugging any leakages with tension. I typically spend 20-30 minutes on this, but to be honest, I'm not really timing myself.

I practice getting the weights to pop off the floor (using only the wedge) with approximately 50-70% of my max.

I will perform 3-5 reps for no specific number of sets. I just enjoy myself and stop when I feel my technique is really sharp or starts to decrease.

But, this is generally a 20 - 30 minute practice.

Now when I say 3-5 reps, I'm not actually deadlifting

I'm simply trying to get the weights to pop off the floor. 

Once they do I hold, own that position, and practice maintaining tension throughout my upper back, lats, and intra abdominal pressure in my abs.

Competition Phase

As you get closer to the event (what we call the competition phase) you want to taper your volume (reps and sets). Many lifters will plan their last training 7-10 days out from the competition.

I like to plan every lift right up to the day of the event. This keeps me sharp and primed for comp day.

So to recap, to build a bigger deadlift for the TSC these 3 pieces are essential:

  1. Find a qualified instructor in the deadlift.
  2. Find a qualified program designer.
  3. Practice your skills.

One more thing...

I actually forgot one overlooked component in preparation!! 

Something I call "The Invisible Session".


Many people over look this or flat out think it's not necessary.

I'm living proof that it works!! Once I started journaling my training sessions, my deadlift began to soar! What did I track?

Well, I tracked the number of lifts obviously.

But more importantly I write down what lessons I learned from each session. How each lift felt, how I felt, how crappy it felt when I missed a lift, what adjustment I needed to make for future planning, etc, etc, etc...

Here's what my training log looks like:

Build A Bigger Deadlift​​​You're only limited by your imagination. 

At the end of each cycle or competition, I review my journal and training plans to see what went right, what went wrong, and what actions I need to take for the next TSC or the next plan and that's...

how you build a bigger deadlift...

In a nutshell 😉


P.S. If you're interested in learning more about the Tactical Strength Challenge visit the StrongFirst website, HERE.