How to Get Strong Using Dead Stop Training

If there was a safe way to get as strong as possible, would you like to know about it? If you could pack on 5lbs of muscle in 8 weeks and make your 1Rep Max (1RM) your work weight, would you like to know how to do it? Well if the answer is “Yes” then you are going to enjoy reading about Dead Stop training.

What is Dead Stop training? It is training from a dead stop in different parts of the lift as opposed to cleaning a weight and doing full range of motion repetitions. This is usually done in a cage with a barbell and it allows you to work the movement, and learn the proper body mechanics, at the top, middle, and bottom of the movement.

The only people that I personally know for a fact that use Dead Stop training are Bud Jeffries and Eric Fiorillo. Both of these men are super strong and this is one of their training secrets. So when Eric Fiorillo asked me if I would like to be a guinea pig for his soon to be released 533 system I jumped at the chance.

After establishing 1 Rep Maxes, Eric Fiorillo built my 533 routine. I started my first month doing nothing but Overhead Press and Squat. The workout consisted of doing the Overhead Press with percentages of my 1RM. 5 reps at the top position with 90% of my 1RM – eye level, 3 reps in the middle position with 80% of my 1RM – two pin positions down from my initial setting, and 3 reps at the bottom position with 70% of my 1RM, the free standing OH Press.

For the squats the first 5 reps where ¼ squats with 90% of my 1RM, meaning that I put the pins a little under my shoulder level so when I got under the bar I would squat the last 25% of the movement. Then I would do 3 reps in the middle position with 80% of my 1RM, two pins from my initial setting. This by the way happened to be the trickiest of the lifts because your are literally re-learning proper form in the middle of the movement. Finally I would do 3 reps at the bottom of the squat with 70% of my 1RM.

Two workouts a week, that’s it. 22 reps per workout, 11 reps for the upper body in the OH Press and 11 reps for the lower body in the Squat. Two workouts a give you plenty of recovery time. Like Eric Fiorillo said, “you might be tempted to increase the weights, add reps or do extra workouts, DON’T!

I did do mobility and Qigong on a daily basis for recovery and I even had to design a special stretching routine, combining the best of Yoga, Gymnastics, Kinesiology, and Isometrics to remove some of the initial muscle soreness, but other than that I was training twice a week and resting the rest of the time.

In the fifth week of 533 system you are scheduled for a 1RM workout.  What were my results after only one month of training on 533 exclusively? I increased my OH Press 1RM by 20lbs and my Squat 1RM by 10lbs.

Starting with the sixth week, 533 had an interesting twist. I would keep on progressing on the OH Press for my upper body and I switch out the Squat and do Deadlift instead.

Here is a sample of what this training looks like:

This is me 9 weeks in the program doing the top portion of the press with the bar at eye level. Goal is 5 reps with 230lbs. My OH Press weight got so heavy that I could only do 3 reps in a row.  After three weeks of not hitting my 5 reps I decided to attack them in Rest/Pause fashion.  This means I do one perfect rep, rest for exactly one minute and do another perfect rep and keep doing this until I hit my five perfect reps.  You have to hit five reps, because at this top portion the first 3 reps will not create the desired result.  When I hit my fifth rep I always feel my traps, shoulder, and specially the muscle around my scapula get really activated and pumpedRest/Pause is one of the safest ways to train when you are handling heavy loads.


Here I am doing the OH Press in the middle position. Goal is 3 reps with 220lbs.  I also use Rest/Pause  for this set for two reasons. One to hit my three reps and two to ensure that all my movements are safe.  In the middle movement you run the greatest risk of starting the rep from an awkward angle after you drop them from your previous rep.  This can increase the risk of tweaking your shoulder.  This is why I emphasize perfect reps.   I reset my body so that I get to as near to perfect alignment as I can before the start of each rep.  Trust me, it only takes one badly executed move fueled by ego to create an injury.  So take your time and do it right!


Here is the bottom movement. Goal is 3 reps at 205lbs.  This one I always do continuous with no Rest/Pause.


Now we move on to the Deadlift. Goal is 5 reps with 505lbs. Notice how I change grips each rep to avoid inflamed tendons.  I have had those in the past and they are no fun.

This is the middle position of 533Goal is 3 reps with 380lbs. Too easy!


Here we are at the end of the workout. Goal is 3 reps with 335lbs. Funny thing is that in one of the Motivation and Muscle podcasts with Eric Fiorillo I told him him that I picked up a piece of advice from a fellow Naval Officer which was to pick one weight you would stay at.  My friend’s mantra was “nothing above 225lbs” which was meant to protect him from having his ego drive up the weights and get injured.  His idea was that if you want to get stronger then do more reps with 225lbs, but never go above 225lbs.  I liked the idea, but set my limit at 315lbs.  Of course once I started the 533 system that went out the window!  I am using Rest/Pause training again and I like to do my deadlifts off the ground using a both palms facing me grip to protect my tendons.

I started this program at 215lbs and I am now at 220lbs.  When I started my 1RM for OH Press was 205lbs.  After one month it was 225lbs.  Here you see me using 230lbs as my work weight for the top portion of the OH Press.

If you are looking to get strong and put on some muscle then give 533 a try.  Be on the lookout for it from my friend Eric Fiorillo.  I will let you guys know as soon as it hits the streets.


All my best,

Eric Guttmann

1 comment on “How to Get Strong Using Dead Stop Training”

  1. Frank DiMeo Reply

    Great stuff, Eric!
    Bud Jeffries got me started on that type of training several years ago,.
    We use it at the Cave.
    Thanks for an excellent article on it.

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