powerlifting, Program Reviews

Is Jujimufu’s Deadlifting Routine Effective?

Who is Jujimufu?

Jujimufu is a YouTube celebrity in the fitness world. You’ve probably seen him doing the splits between two chairs with a weighted barbell overhead. Impressive.

Actually all the more impressive when you consider he’s a 240lb man who can do somersaults, backflips and various tricking routines.

He’s been on ninja warrior and America’s Got Talent to showcase his skills. So not only is he a behemoth of a man, but he’s incredibly flexible, with iron grip and extreme athleticism / explosivity. Not a bad man to copy you may think.

I’m going to breakdown his deadlifting routine from this 2016 video:

Jujimufu’s Deadlift Routine

Firstly Jujimufu isn’t a powerlifter. He did recently compete in a powerlifting competition, but at this time he wasn’t training for absolute strength. So if you decide to run this program expecting to see your deadlift shoot up as an intermediate level lifter, you’re an idiot.

If that’s your goal then this guide on how to increase your deadlift should be your next port of call.

Jujimufu's deadlift routine including warmup and focus
Jujimufu’s deadlift routine

The below table was Juji’s primary deadlift routine. Rather than focusing on 1RM strength, his primary aims are:

  • Grip Strength
  • Speed & Aggression
  • Athleticism
  • Building a Huge Back: This guide to powerlifting vs bodybuilding succinctly breaks down how to effectively do so
Focus Exercise Weight Sets (Reps) Rest
Muscle Activation Deadlift Up to 60% everyday max 10 (3-6) 1 – 2 minutes
Speed & Aggression Deadlift 70% of everyday max 7 – 12 (3-6) 3:30 – 4:30

This is an athletic approach to deadlift performance where you only go to failure on your final set. Working with a % of your everyday max is reminiscent of Jim Wendler’s 5 / 3 / 1 routine. 5 / 3 / 1 requires you to approach your training with 90% of your 1RM as the starting point. So for long-term progression and mitigating the risk of overtraining both programs do their bit.

But how else does it fare?

In order to build a huge back you need to grow. Obviously. If we assume you’re eating enough calories, then the following needs to occur:

Muscular Growth = Volume + Intensity + Frequency

Volume refers to the total amount of weight lifted; intensity is the % of your 1RM and frequency is how often you’re training this particular muscle group. Typically in order to grow and recover you manipulate two of the above three.

E.g. Reduce the number of reps (volume), whilst upping the intensity (weight) and leave the frequency as it is. Increasing all three at once is a nightmare for your CNS and you’ll reach the exhaustion phase of Selye’s General Adaptation Model incredibly quickly

Would this program work for Powerlifting?

No. And it’s not intended too, so if absolute strength is your goal, don’t do it.

Would this program work for Muscular Growth?

This is a little trickier to assess. Jujimufu is an enormous man, so the temptation could be to just follow everything he says or does when it comes to training. But it’s important to remember this is his job. He makes a living from working out and I believe just worked out every single day of 2018. So he’s not your benchmark.

However let’s break down the core principles of muscular growth:

Volume

Overall volume must continually increase in order to achieve muscular growth. You can train for sarcoplasmic (lower weight, higher rep) or myofibrillar (higher weight, lower rep) hypertrophy

to achieve growth. Or indeed a mixture of both. But you would need to ensure that volume increases over time. This is a relatively high volume, low weight workout that in my opinion would never adequately drive growth over a period of time.

You would need to supplement this volume day with a heavier day in the same training block. This is what’s called daily undulating periodisation.

Intensity

The intensity of Juji’s program is very low. I like to use Prilepin’s chart to assess rough intensity / volume guidelines:

Percent Sets Optimal Reps Total Range
55 – 65% 3 – 6 24 18 – 30
70 – 80% 3 – 6 18 12 – 24
80 – 90% 2 – 4 15 10 – 20
90% + 1 – 2 7 4 – 10

Prilepin’s Chart was created by A.S. Prilepin who was a Soviet sports science genius from a time when they dominated the world scene. The chart was based on training journals of thousands of Olympic weightlifting athletes.

Although it’s Olympic weightlifting based, this study tested the effectiveness of Prilepin’s chart for powerlifters and it was effective in programming for strength on resistance trained males.

Technically this program calls for substantial work (could be upwards of 70 reps) around the 60-65% of your absolute 1RM. According to Prilepin the optimal rep range would be around 24. So we know that your MRV is going to be tested – my advice would be to start with 7 sets of 3 – 6 reps and see how you fare.

Frequency

You certainly wouldn’t be advised to run this twice a week as I think the volume would be well outside of your recoverable volume. It could however be used as part of a successful program if you were to supplement it with a heavier deadlift day, like so:

An example of a heavy deadlift accessory day from my powerbuilding program
An example of a heavy deadlift accessory day from my powerbuilding program

Protein synthesis is a process that allows biological cells to generate new proteins. It’s a fundamental concept of muscle growth and it helps define training frequency for muscle growth. Typically your muscles will repair and heal within 24-48 hours.

So only training a body part once a week misses out on substantial growth potential – really you should be training a body part twice a week as a natural lifter. Juji’s program is only effective when supplemented with additional weekly work.

Is this an effective program for Grip Strength and Athleticism?

Yup. By using a double overhand grip throughout your forearms and grip strength will be the first thing to fail. Working with weights around 65-70% of your 1RM  is a good way to focus on speed and athletic performance – but you would receive greater benefit by incorporating chains or bands for accommodating resistance a la Westside.

Accommodating resistance forces you to work throughout the entirety of the lift, rather than allowing you to coast with sub 70% of your 1RM weights at the top of the lift. So no slacking comrade.

So should you run Jujimufu’s deadlift program?

If you’re a powerlifter or you’re looking to improve your absolute strength, no. If you’re looking to improve your grip, maybe but it’s quite a taxing program for that, so I’ll also swerve it.

What about to improve your athletic performance?

It’s very hamstring and lower back dominant, so it would build explosivity. Adding in chains or bands would definitely benefit you if you travel this path. Anything that would also allow you to build enhanced explosiveness: single leg RDLs, box jumps, weighted squat jumps etc. would also complement it.

It’s great to build power, but you need to be able to express it to reap the true rewards!

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