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ELITEFTS

DEADLIFT MANUAL
By Dave Tate
WWW.ELITEFTS.COM
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CONTENTS
PART I: WHY
I HATE THE DEADLIFT
PART III: DECONSTRUCTING
THE DEADLIFT
PART VIII: LIGHTNING DEADLIFTS
PART II: BIOMECHANICAL
ANALYSIS OF THE DEADLIFT
PART VII: 14 DEADLIFT
TIPS AND TRICKS
PART IV: SUMO DEADLIFT:
ELITEFTS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
PART IX: STEVE GOGGINS:
DEADLIFT TRAINING TIP
PART V:
CONVENTIONAL
PULLING FOR
THE SUMO
DEADLIFTER
PART VI:
FINNISH
DEADLIFT
SECRETS FORWARD
DISCLAIMER
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The rst and simple reason why I hate the deadlift
is that Ive always sucked at it and making gains
on it was the slowest process in the world. Actually
the only real time I made decent gains was when I
stopped doing them altogether.
I hate deadlifting. Going the rest of my life without
doing another pull would be ne by me. The reason
for this is that since my rst competition back in 1983,
my deadlift has been a struggle. It was nothing like
the squat and bench press, which are my strong ...
Until recently, the deadlift was the bastard child of the strength
and conditioning community! Many lifters have shied away from
deadlifts due to their immense difculty, only to walk away with
suboptimal strength gains and back development. Lately a
contingent of the games top trainers have covered the deadlift,
seemingly from every angle, in attempts of ...
The deadlift can be considered as one of the best
tests of overall body strength (Groves, 2000). It is a
multi joint movement that in simple terms involves
picking up a barbell from the oor and standing to
the erect position.
This is the king of all mistakes I see. Too many times lifters try to
squat the weight up rather than pull the weight. Think back to the
number of times that youve seen a big deadlift and thought to
yourself ...
Elite level lifters who pull sumo, what have you found to be the
most efective means of increasing your pulling strength of the
oor? My technique is solid so Im looking for insights on any
special exercises that have yielded you signicant results in ...
The deadlift is the one exercise that allows you to relax your
muscles in between each repunlike the bench press and the
squat when youre doing them for reps. Most believe that its best
to let the weight down fast and concentrate more on the positive
upward motion of the lift. And I agree with the fast, positive ...
By Dave Tate
By Zane Geeting
By Sakari Selkainaho
By Dave Tate
ByJosh Bryant
By Martyn Girvan By Dave Tate
By Team elitefts By Steve Goggins
Are you a sumo deadlifter? Have
you ever pulled a PR attempt
to your knees and stalled
completely?
If you answered yes to one or
both of the above questions, I
have a sure-re way to...
Through out the years, the
deadlift has been our national
sport here in Finland. World
records has been broken since
early 70s. What makes Finns pull
so much, what is their secret ?
I took a look and after collecting
training information of ...
PART X: REAL TRAINING VIDEO: WHAT YOU NEED
TO KNOW ABOUT DEADLIFTS OFF PINS AND BLOCKS
PART XIV: THE DEATH LIFT!
PART XI: 10-WEEK INTERMEDIATE
DEADLIFT PROGRAM
PART XV: MONSTER GARAGE GYM: HOOK GRIP
101ITS A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP
PART XIII: 24 WEEK DEADLIFT
PART XII: ADD 100 POUNDS TO YOUR PULL PART XVI: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN
DEADLIFT
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My program called for pin-pulls, but considering Im doing these
for hypertrophy instead of pure strength, I went with pulls of
blocks instead. Theres a BIG diference between pin pulls and
pulls of blocks in how the bar and movement acts.
The death liftthe one true test of strength and the one lift that
is still relatively untouched by the advancements of powerlifting
gear. Nowadays, people can put a lot of time into mastering
their supportive gear and get hundreds of pounds of carryover,
especially in the squat and bench. But the deadlift stands alone
as a lift that you either have or you dont.
If you want to hit a deadlift PR, you need to build your training around it. The program Ive
written here is a ten-week cycle for an intermediate lifter who fails just below the knee.
On most deadlift training days in this cycle, you will pull from the oor for triples, doubles,
and eventually singles. After deadlifting from the oor, you will pull from six or four-inch
blocks. The percentages will increase each week, except for deload weeks.
His name was Master Chai, a multi-degree black belt who came to the United States
from the mountains of Korea. Thinking back, I dont recall the year, day, or date, but I
remember watching the event unfold right in front of me when I was a teenager, just like
it was yesterday. Master Chai had all of his Tae Kwon Do students, myself included, in the
parking lot after one of the students broke his hand trying to break a brick.
Deadlift: All percentages below are based on a training max. His training max was 85% of
his true 1RM.
Squat: All percentages below are based on a training max. His training max was based
on 85% of his estimated 1RM. Since his squat technique wasnt as procient as his
deadlift, I worked him to a 5RM instead of a 1RM. This was used to establish his estimated
1RM.
The training max or everyday max is a very important part of this program. Using a true
max for this program will not work properly.
The following program is basic. Ive used this and similar setups with clients
and myself, and had great successit works. This exact program has been
used to take a clients max deadlift from 315 to 415 in 24 weeks. Theres
nothing revolutionary about this. Its just a smart, simple program that works.
This works exceptionally well for beginner and intermediate lifters.
Welcome to the long-awaited follow-up to Matt Wennings popular
SYTYCS series. This time, Matt targets the pull in the same expert
fashion that he did with the squat. We brought in loyal elitefts
customer and amateur strongman competitor Ryan Minney as
our training subject and his form is broken down, analyzed and a
thorough plan to improve his deadlift is laid-out.
By Dave Tate
By Marshall Johnson
By Zane Geeting
By Eric Maroscher
By Chase Karnes
9 part video play list by Matt Wenning
FOREWORD
This is a 15 part article that would be better
thought of as a manual on deadlifting. This is
not something you will sit down and read in one
setting. I suggest you read this in sections and
bookmark to reference later. I have never seen
the need in using manuals as bait to get people
to sign up for our mailing list. As a business owner
I am part of hundreds if not a thousand mailing
lists. They provide quick insight of what is going
on in the industry (and others I follow) and inspire
ideas. Almost everyone in the strength, tness
and conditioning industry uses this bait to get
you to sign up for their list so it must work right?
Maybe maybe not but I still like the elitefts way
betterGive you to the content rst and let you
decide if you want to revisit the site, subscribe to
our newsletter (strength club), or support us with
your business. Maybe it doesnt work as well but
you wont have to keep closing annoying pop up
screens so that has to be worth something. Enjoy
this manual on The Deadlift.
Dave Tate founder Elitefts.com Inc
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PART I
THE DEADLIFT
The rst and simple reason why I hate the
deadlift is that Ive always sucked at it and
making gains on it was the slowest process
in the world. Actually the only real time I made
decent gains was when I stopped doing them
altogether.
I never hurt myself (seriously) doing the
deadlift and was scared to do them (how can
you be scared picking something up?) and
they really arent that hard to do. Sure, if you
do 20-rep sets they will kick your ass, but so
will 20 reps sets on just about any compound
movement. My point is that there really isnt
any real reason why I hate the deadlift so
much, but I do.
SERIOUSLY
To me, the deadlift was just that thing you had
to do in a meet before you could go to dinner.
I was NOT one of those the meet doesnt
start until the bar hits the oor guys. To me,
most meets NEVER started on time and it
sure as hell wasnt when the deadlift began.
To regress, deadlifting in a meet wasnt that
bad, it still sucked, but it was a means to a
total and I thought that was always the most
important thing. What I pulled was always
more determined by what I wanted to total
than by breaking a deadlift PR. Toward the
later years of my career, I knew I could pull
between 700-740 pounds on any given day,
if I trained the lift or if I didnt. What I ended
up pulling was based on how I nished the
squat and bench.
Training the deadlift was much worse.
The BEST thing about when I trained at
Westside was that we didnt deadlift often
(many times not once for months). We did
pin pulls, close stand yoke bar low box
squat, TONS of goodmornings, and special
movements, such as reverse hypers
and glute ham raises. Not only did these
increase my squat (and deadlift), they also
provided a means to NOT deadlift and that
was AWESOME!
NO MORE
Now that Im retired from the sport, I dont
care if I ever pull another deadlift in my life.
I dont write my own programs, but I will
admit if I see the deadlift or pin pull in the
program I WILL replace it even if I have to
do three extra movements for 12 extra sets,
I would much rater do that then a few sets
of deadlifting.
I CANT stand the deadlift!
To me, the deadlift was just that thing you had to do in a meet before
you could go to dinner. I was NOT one of those the meet doesnt start
until the bar hits the oor guys. To me, most meets NEVER started on
time and it sure as hell wasnt when the deadlift began. To regress,
deadlifting in a meet wasnt that bad, it still sucked, but it was a means
to a total and I thought that was always the most important thing. What
I pulled was always more determined by what I wanted to total than
by breaking a deadlift PR. Toward the later years of my career, I knew
I could pull between 700-740 pounds on any given day, if I trained the
lift or if I didnt. What I ended up pulling was based on how I nished
the squat and bench.
W
HY I HATE THE DEADLIFT
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THAT ONE DAY
There was ONE day where I almost liked the
deadlift, but as usual with the deadlift, that
got shot down. I have no idea why, but at a
local Ohio meet back in 2002, I pulled my
650-pound opener and it was easy (it always
was). I then jumped to 720 pounds for a PR
total. Normally I would call it a day and pass
the third, but the 720 was really easy. This isnt
powerlifer talk it was seriously really easy.
AT THIS POINT, I DID THE
INFAMOUS HAND STARE.
YOUVE SEEN IT. YOU MAY
HAVE ACTUALLY DONE IT.
THIS IS WHEN YOU DROP A
PULL AND LOOK AT YOUR
HANDS LIKE WTF JUST
HAPPENED.
I called for 770 pounds on my third attempt
for a 30 pound PR. The bar ew up and right
before lockout without even slowing down,
my right hand popped open and the bar hit
the oor.
At this point, I did the infamous hand stare.
Youve seen it. You may have actually done it.
This is when you drop a pull and look at your
hands like WTF just happened.
I was totally confused and did the hand stare
for what seemed to be 20 minutes until Louie
nally walked over and said, Your pulls
looked really good. I asked him what the
hell happened to my grip. His answer, while
classic Louie, just made me hate the deadlift
more, You were never strong enough to have
a grip problem before.
WHY
At this point you may be asking why Im writing
this article. Here is the honest answer: we are
having a Day of the Deadlift Sale the same
day this article is launching, so it cant help to
have this extra promotion. Since Im writing
about something I cant stand, the least you
can do is check out the sale. Hahaha wait!
Im serious.
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I also gured if Im going to do this, I want to
write something that will actually help you all.
Ive been in the sport for a very long time and
taught hundreds (if not thousands) of people
how to deadlift. For many people it is really as
simple as just bending over and picking it up,
for others it is a real struggle to teach them
how to pull efectively and correctly. Unlike
the squat and bench where deep detailed
instruction seems to work best, deadlift
instruction seems to work best with very
simple verbal cues.
This gave me the idea to send an e-mail
to Team elitefts and ask them for their top
three verbal cues when teaching the deadlift.
At the end of their tips, I posted mine with a
couple videos that I think might help you out.
These tips are listed as Sumo or Conventional.
Some of the team provided just how they pull,
while others provided tips for each.
MIKE ROBERTSON
SUMO
Get your heels underneath
the bar
Sit down, push your knees
out to keep shoulders over
the bar
Tight lats/pull the bar BACK
ZANE GETTING
SUMO
Arch hard
Get your hips low
Take the slack out of the bar
and get your whole body
tight
Spread your knees hard
Spread the oor
VINCENT DIZENZO
BOTH
For any style-deadlift, ex
your triceps while pulling (this
helps prevent bicep tears)
The hook grip is an excellent
way to protect your biceps
and back. However, you
need to condition your hands
for this, especially your
thumbs. It gets better every
week. Be patient.
If you are riddled with injuries
and still want to pull, try a
trap bar.
SUMO
Get and keep your hips
exible.
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MARC BARTLEY
BOTH
This applies to either doing
75 to 80 percent work. Ease
the weight of the oor. Once
it leaves the oor, about two
to three inches, then apply as
much speed as possible.
Overextend at the top by
trying to get the shoulders
behind your waist as fast as
you can. The bar will ride the
legs and distribute the load
better. Squeeze the UPPER
glutes at the top to lock the
quads in and limit bent-knee
lockouts.
SUMO
Going back to easing it of
the oor, a way to know if
youre getting the legs and
glutes in it, once it comes of
the oor, if you are holding
the best leverages, you
literally FEEL the weights
drop into the legs, hips and
glutes.
MOLLY EDWARDS
BOTH
Setup is key
Get one big breath before
grabbing the bar. So many of
us lose our air.
Use your ass from the oor
JOSH BRYANT
BOTH
Visualize yourself completing
the lift ahead of time. The lift
is done before you approach
the platform.
Speed is your cue as you
approach the bar
Commit to the pull!
JULIA LADEWSKI
BOTH
Pull the slack out of the bar
SUMO
Arch your lower back, but
dont shrug your shoulders.
Keep your hips down, but
dont sit too low. Find the
point where youre in a good
position, but still get some
pop of the oor.
CLINT DARDEN
CONVENTIONAL
Disclaimer: Im such a non-
technical lifter and still learning,
so my thoughts may be
completely wrong.
Push your abs out as far as
you can to take up as much
space as they can vertically.
When my abs push out, they
also force my chest up and
keep my lower back from
rounding, which is important
under heavy loads. The
stronger your abs, are the
more weight they can hold. I
think of it as a turtle shell that
runs from my nipples to my
nads.
DO NOT STOP PULLING! A
lot of amateur lifters miss
their pull because they
thought that it was hard and
mentally decided to quit
pulling. Lifts CAN be nished!
Its just like every grip event,
you have to tell yourself that
you will NOT quit. The only
way that I will stop is if it
simply falls out of my hands
or drags me back down to
the oor.
MATT RHODES
CONVENTIONAL
Pull the slack out of the bar
Dont jerk the bar of the oor
Push your feet through the
oor and drive your head up
Set your feet in the most
powerful position for your
body
DAVID KIRSCHEN
SUMO
Pull yourself into your arch
before breaking the bar of
the oor
Keep your lower back tight,
but your upper beck relaxed
Keep your arms straight, do
not bend your elbows
Lean back to the point that
you would fall if the weight
was not there to counter
balance you
AL CASLOW
BOTH
Spread your knees out to get
your crotch close to bar
Arch hard and pull your chest
up
Spread the oor
Start pulling your head back
Be patient while driving of the
oor
HARRY SELKOW
CONVENTIONAL
Keep your head in the neutral
position. Neither up nor down,
but straight ahead.
Keep the spine organized
Lean back into the heels and
add tension to the glutes and
hamstrings
Scrape the shins and then
throw the hips into the bar
like you mean to do on a
Saturday Night
SUMO
Like in those ballet classes
you got kicked out of, Pli.
Push your knees out along
the bar.
Arch hard
Sink back into the heels
Put tension in your hamstrings
and glutes and GO!
Dip
Grip
Rip the skin from the shins
For a great deadlift, you have
to have skin in the gym, for
the win.
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JO JORDAN
SUMO
Drive down through your
heels
Pull up and back
Drive your head back as you
pull
MATT KROC
SUMO
Try to push out to the sides
with your feet versus down,
spread the oor.
Open your groin as much as
possible to keep your hips
in close and improve your
leverage.
CONVENTIONAL
At the start of the pull, use
your quads and try to squat
the bar of the oor to get
it moving quickly, which will
keep you in a good position
leverage-wise for the lockout.
Keep your ass down and
head up
After taking the slack out of
the bar, rip it of the oor.
Grip the bar with your hands
directly under your shoulders
to get the maximum length
from your arms and to
decrease the distance you
have to pull the bar.
CJ MURPHY
BOTH
Flex your lats and tris when
taking slack out (tri -lat tuck)
Put your weight on your heels/
big toe up
Drive your hips into bar once
it passes the kneesfuck the
bar.
Fall back at lockout
STEVE GOGGINS
BOTH
Get your head up at the
beginning and keep it there
the entire time until you nish
the lift.
Make your arms long and
relax your shoulders.
Pull on your heels, but keep
your feet at and toes down.
Explode but dont jerk!
CONVENTIONAL
Pull the bar into your legs as
close and as hard as you can.
Try to drag the skin of your
legs.
MATT LADEWSKI
BOTH
If youre having grip issues at
lockout, you may be pushing
the bar out in front of you
when your hand is against
your leg. Try widening your
hand spacing.
Dont be afraid to use straps
in training. It will allow you to
focus on the pull without the
worry of your grip failing. It will
also allow you to work your
back evenly.
CONVENTIONAL
If you dont have a problem
with lockout and miss of the
oor, open your feet up and
push your knees out to the
side.
When you pull, drive your
heels into the ground as if
youre pulling yourself into the
ground.
Dont try to lift the bar straight
up! Try to pull the bar back
into you.
SUMO
When setting your grip, use
your elbows to push out your
knees before you pull.
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ADAM DRIGGERS
BOTH
Have a training partner atten
the bar before you pull. When
the bar is loaded, sometimes
its left with a bow when it is let
down from loading. If that bow
is there when you begin the
pull, it can cause an unusual
recoil.
Keep your head up, your
chest bowed out and your
shoulder blades together.
At the top, when the weight
slows, squeeze your glutes
like its your rst night in
prison. This really helps the
last few inches to lockout.
Buy a Metal Pro Deadlift suit.
Im sorry, sometimes I pander
HANNAH JOHNSON
BOTH
Squat the weight up
Thrust your hips forward and
squeeze your glutes at the
top
Keep shoulder blades tight
DAVE TATE
SUMO
When you set up, keep your
crotch over the bar the entire
time you sit down
Arch your lower back
Round your upper back
CONVENTIONAL
Begin the pull by exing your
abs
Keep your arms straight
Keep your head UP
Try to fall over backwards
STEVE PULCINELLA
BOTH
Always think of your start as
a PUSH with the legs, not a
PULL with the back.
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22
PART II
INTRODUCTION:
The deadlift can be considered as one
of the best tests of overall body strength
(Groves, 2000). It is a multi joint movement
that in simple terms involves picking up a
barbell from the oor and standing to the
erect position. The movement includes the
recruitment of the muscles of the hip, lower
back, upper back, quadriceps, hamstrings
and abdominals. If used correctly, it can be an
excellent exercise to use in the development
of strength, speed and power. During this
analysis, the objective was to compare and
contrast the biomechanical efciency of two
types of deadlift styles and determine which
type should be used for certain body types.
PROCEDURE:
The participant was given instructions on
both conventional and semi round back
deadlift techniques. The video recording
equipment was set up at ninety degrees to the
demonstration at a distance of approximately
ve metres away. This was to ensure parallax
and perspective errors were each accounted
for. Recordings were then made for a series
of conventional and rounded back deadlifts.
Multiple repetitions were performed in
each style at approximately 80 percent
of the lifters one repetition maximum.
One repetition from each style was then
analysed.
PARTICIPANTS:
The participant for this study was one elite
level power lifter who has been competing
at national level for two years.
APPARATUS:
The equipment used was a Sony digital
handicam 120x zoom video camera set up
on a tripod to record the observations. A
weights belt was used for back support,
as well as an Olympic style barbell
in conjunction with weight plates. All
observations were conducted at Apollo
Fitness Centre.
LITERATURE REVIEW:
In competitive powerlifting, the deadlift is
the third lift in order following the squat
and bench press. It often comes down
to performance in the deadlift to decide
the diference between winning and
losing a competition. There is a saying in
powerlifting circles that the competition
The deadlift can be considered as one of the best tests of overall body
strength (Groves, 2000). It is a multi joint movement that in simple terms
involves picking up a barbell from the oor and standing to the erect
position. The movement includes the recruitment of the muscles of the
hip, lower back, upper back, quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominals. If
used correctly, it can be an excellent exercise to use in the development
of strength, speed and power. During this analysis, the objective was
to compare and contrast the biomechanical efciency of two types of
deadlift styles and determine which type should be used for certain
body types.
BIOMECHANICAL ANALYSIS OF
THE DEADLIFT
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25
does not start until the bar hits the oor,
meaning that a strong deadlift will often lead
to a good competition result.
Much of the research that involves the deadlift
has looked at sumo and conventional styles.
Sumo style is used with a wider stance in
which the lifter grips the bar with the arms
placed on the inside of the legs. Conventional
style deadlifting involves foot placement
at approximately shoulder width apart and
gripping the bar on the outside of the legs
(McGuigan & Wilson, 1996).
Both techniques have been used efectively in
elite power lifting competition. Conventional
style places a large emphasis on the use of
the erector spinae muscles because in this
position the trunk is normally exed forward.
Sumo style is performed with a more erect and
upright back alignment that allows for greater
recruitment of the hip muscles to perform the
lift (Piper & Waller, 2001).
The sumo lift is considered to be the more
biomechanical efcient lift of the both
techniques (McGuigan & Wilson, 1996). It is
suggested that bar travel is minimized with
a shorter stroke and aids the ability to recruit
a greater number of muscle bres from the
posterior chain. Studies have indicated that
sumo style deadlifting can reduce bar travel
by nineteen percent (McGuigan & Wilson,
1996).
Studies by McGuigan & Wilson (1996) have
indicated that in elite competitive powerlifting
the majority of world records are held by
lifters using the conventional style. Sumo
style deadlifting has not produced as many
world records but has performed greater lifts
in terms of relative body weight. This gives
rise to the suggestion that conventional style
deadlifting may be suited to lifters of larger
body mass with longer arm length and sumo
suited to those of smaller body mass.
The conventional style involves the use of
the erector spinae, trapezius, quadriceps and
hamstring muscles (Stone & OBryant, 1987).
Further analysis of the conventional deadlift
indicates that the gluteal, latissimus dorsi,
teres minor subscapularis, infraspinatus,
supraspinatus and biceps brachii all assist
with the lift to some degree (Farley, 1995).
The kinesiology of the conventional style
involves setting up with the feet spaced
shoulder width apart. Common practise is to
use an alternating grip which involves one
hand pronated and the other hand supinated
to assist with grip strength. Common practise
to set up for the initial pull involves aligning
the shins close to the bar (Farley, 1995).
Keeping the load as close to the body as
possible should assist with increasing the
mechanical advantage for greater force
production (Stone & OBryant, 1987). In
contrast to this, some literature has suggested
that keeping the load too close to the body
may cause excessive drag and friction against
the body that may decrease the efciency of
the lift. Correct starting position indicated by
many texts suggests that the pelvic girdle is in
line with or slightly below the knees. The back
should remain at and at an angle of forty ve
degrees to the oor.
Additional support for this method put forth
by Daniels (2003) indicates keeping the back
at and placing the hips below the half squat
position. This position is said to put the initial
load of the pull on to the quadriceps muscles
without placing undue stress on the lumbar
region of the spine (Groves, 2000).
DISCUSSION/ CONCLUSION:
Choosing a style of deadlifting can best be
suited to a persons individual body mechanics.
Many variables come into play that may afect
the efciency of the lift. These factors include
torso, leg and arm length (Stone & OBryant,
1987).
Movements are governed by physical laws.
Understanding and applying biomechanical
principles to deadlifting technique can result
in the lift being more energy efcient and
allowing greater peak performance. In contrast
, poor body mechanics become less efcient
and may cause injury (Stone & OBryant, 1987).
Mechanical work can be described as force
exerted on an object over a distance it is
dislaced (Sif, 2000). For efcient use of force,
the displacement should be along the same
line and in opposite direction to the resisting
force of the load (Stone & OBryant, 1987). This
gives additional support to keeping the bar
close to the body while deadlifting which will
assist with a more efcient movement and less
wasted efort. This may be due to the reduced
moment arm of force.
In contrast to much of the research put forth,
I suggest a diferent starting position to the
conventional deadlift that may assist those
lifters who tend to be of taller stature with
longer arm length. Both sumo and conventional
styles have been studied extensively but
minimal research has been done in what I call
a semi round back style which may contra-
indicate some previous research with regards
to lumbar spine loading.
The semi round back style involves a similar
initial set up to the conventional style but the
hip girdle is set at a higher start position for
the initial pull. This position would be almost
a quarter squat position with the upper back
kept at and at a ten degree lean to the
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26 27
oor, as opposed to forty ve degrees lean
suggested in many texts.
Previous research has suggested that a person
maybe more biomechanical efcient in the
quarter squat position than in the half squat
position. Studies have indicated that greater
loads can be used in the partial quarter squat
movement than the half squat (Sif, 2000).
The semi round method also allows for the bar
to travel in a straight line. The shortest distance
between two points is a straight line, therefore
this can decrease the distance of travel. The
conventional method causes the lifters lower
limbs to shift forward in the starting position.
This will cause the bar to travel in a S type
motion with the load moving away from the
body and then moving back towards the body
once the load has cleared the knees.
This gives rise to the idea of trying to turn the
deadlift into the quarter squat motion but the
load being of the oor. For this to occur, the
lifter must have an extremely strong upper
and lower back. The higher starting position
can reduce the displacement of the load and
therefore in turn reduce the amount of work
performed.
Studies by Horn (1988) suggest that
electromyographic activity in the spinal erector
muscles were twice as active in conventional
lifters when compared with sumo technique.
Cholewicki et al (1991) studied the lumbar
spine load of both sumo and conventional
technique. No signicant diference was
found in disc compression force at L4/L5
regions using both techniques. There were
signicantly greater L4/L5 moments and load
shear forces in the conventional technique.
This may suggest that the greater forward
lean of round back technique may further
increase L4/L5 moments and shear forces
indicating that much caution must be taken
when considering this method for athletes
as for the increased risk of injury to the lower
back region.
This type of lifting conicts with much of
the research that suggests correct deadlift
form. In the absence of previous research,
experiential evidence has indicated that using
the semi round back method has resulted in
three athletes breaking world deadlift records
in WPC and WDFPL federations. Other
competition results include a further ve
lifters who have broken Victorian state and
Australian national records. This may be due
to reduced bar displacement and therefore
reducing the amount of work performed. This
technique has only worked for taller type
lifters, which may be more biomechanical
efcient for those with longer type levers.
Much assistance work must be employed
to strengthen the abdominal, spinal erector,
hamstring, gluteal and upper back muscles for
this method to be efective. Care and patience
must be exercised if considering using the
round back method as a preferred style.
Further research in this area is needed to
investigate diferential leverages and the
muscles responsible for efective motion.
When considering various techniques,
individual body leverages need to be taken
into account along with the assessment of the
individuals muscle strengths and weaknesses.
Caution should be used before considering
this technique due to the increased risk of
injury. If employed correctly, the semi round
back method may lead to greater competition
totals for the powerlifter.
Over 350,500 Q&As, 4,000 articles, 14,000
videos, 800 exercises, The Strength Cast, Iron
Subculture Podcast, and 40 pro training logs.
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MEMBERSHIP FEE REQUIRED.
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REFERENCES
Cholewicki, J., McGill, S. and Norman, R. (1991). Lumbar Spine Loads During the Lifting of
Extremely Heavy Weights. Medical Science Journal of Sports Exercise. Vol 23, pp1179- 1186.
Daniels, D. (2003). Deadlift 101, Part 1. Powerlifting USA. Vol 26. No.8.
Groves, B. (2000). Powerlifting: Technique and Training for Athletic Muscular Development.
Champaign: Human Kinetics.
Farley,K. (1995). Analysis if the Conventional Deadlift. Strength and Conditioning Journal. Vol
15, No. 2, pp 55-58.
McGuigan, R.M. & Wilson, B.D. (1996). Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift. Journal of
Strength and Conditioning Research. 10(4), 250-255.
Piper, T.J. & Waller, M.A. (2001). Variations of the Deadlift. Strength and Conditioning Journal.
Vol 23, No. 3, pp 66-73.
Stone, M. & OBryant, H. (1987). Weight Training: A Scientic Approach. (2nd ed.). Edina:
Burgess International.
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PART III
I hate deadlifting. Going the rest of my life without doing another
pull would be ne by me. The reason for this is that since my rst
competition back in 1983, my deadlift has been a struggle. It was
nothing like the squat and bench press, which are my strong lifts, and
Ive tried everything to x it. From deadlifting three times per week, to
twice per week, to once a week, to once a month, and (my favorite) not
deadlifting at all. However, I never gave up and eventually I was able
to build my pull to a point where it became my means to a total, and
I still look for new ways to build bigger deadlifts today. The diference
is now I really dont care about my own pull but do care about how I
can help others pull more. This article is about helping you improve
your deadlift. The deadlift is surprisingly complex. While its cool to
say just walk up to the fucking bar and lift thats not enoughI laugh
every time I hear that. If only it was that simple. It certainly wont cut it
if youre stuck in a plateauand a deadlifting plateau can be the worst
youll ever come across.
DECONSTRUCTING
THE DEADLIFT
I hate deadlifting. Going the rest of my life
without doing another pull would be ne
by me. The reason for this is that since my
rst competition back in 1983, my deadlift
has been a struggle. It was nothing like the
squat and bench press, which are my strong
lifts, and Ive tried everything to x it. From
deadlifting three times per week, to twice per
week, to once a week, to once a month, and
(my favorite) not deadlifting at all. However, I
never gave up and eventually I was able to
build my pull to a point where it became my
means to a total, and I still look for new ways
to build bigger deadlifts today. The diference
is now I really dont care about my own pull
but do care about how I can help others pull
more. This article is about helping you improve
your deadlift. The deadlift is surprisingly
complex. While its cool to say just walk up
to the fucking bar and lift thats not enoughI
laugh every time I hear that. If only it was that
simple. It certainly wont cut it if youre stuck
in a plateauand a deadlifting plateau can be
the worst youll ever come across.
3 THINGS
Like the bench press and squat, a deadlift
plateau is due to one of three issues:
Physical programming, exibility,
strengthening weaker muscles and
movements.
Mental level of arousal/over-arousal.
Technical exercise technique and
execution.
Most lifters think their deadlifting slump is
due to physical issues. So they ask, What
exercises should I do? or How do I tweak
my programming? Do I pull every four days
or every ve? They got it all wrong. In my
experience, only 20% of deadlifting slumps
are due to physical issues or programming
aws. Technical or technique problems
represent a full 70% of lifters challenges,
with mental issues making up the nal 10%.
Note: These tips are based around
increasing maximal strength in the deadlift,
my particular area of expertise. Its not
about tweaking the pull for a bigger back
or programming for a greater hypertrophic
response. To accomplish that, Id defer to a
true expert in that realm, namely someone
like John Meadows.
MENTAL: 10%
The deadlift is getting popular. Its weird,
considering its such a shitty experience, at
least in my opinion. While not nearing the
fan appeal of the squat or bench press, the
gap is denitely closing, which Ill concede
is a good thing. As a result, you now hear
guys spouting that the deadlift is the true
measure of strength. I must be in bizarro
world. Ten years ago the argument was
the squat or the bench press was the
true measure or strength, as too many
otherwise weak people can sport above
average deadlifts just by having the right
leverages. Heres the thing. Whatever a
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31
lifter is strongest at will always inuence the
best strength indicator debate. So every
600-pound raw bencher is going to say that the
bench press is the true measure of strength,
just as every 1000-pound squatter will say the
same thing about the squat. The fact is, its what
youre shitty at that really measures ability. So
in my case, perhaps the deadlift is the true
measure of strength. Lucky me.
Most mental issues in the deadlift pertain
to arousalabout 50% of lifters need to be
extremely aroused to pull a lot of weight.
Youve seen themthey pace around, smack
heads with their training partners, scare old
ladies, etc. The other half is the opposite. Like
me, they need to be more relaxed. When I got
too aroused all hell broke loose. I screwed up
either the setup or execution. So for mental
issues, the rst thing you need to do is identify
the type of lifter you are. If you arent a hyper-
arousal type, dont chase those methods. Youll
just make any other underlying issues worse.
The nature of the deadlift also contributes to its
potential for mental fuck-ups. Unlike the squat
or bench press, in the deadlift theres no pre-
load. You cant unrack the weight and feel it
out and adjust your mental state accordingly,
whereas in the squat or bench you can tell
right away if the lift is going to be cake or if you
need to get your shit correct. Furthermore, in
the deadlift theres no eccentric loading and
therefore no stretch reex to take advantage
of. So unlike the squat or bench, you go in
blind and completely on your own.
Note: There are some ways to get some
stretch reex but thats beyond the scope of
this article.
All that adds up to guys showing up on meet
day and failing to budge their 3RM weights.
They mentally fuck themselves out of the lift
before they even get up there. Lets not forget
all the cues. Coaches use diferent cues to
accomplish basically the same thingKeep
the shoulders in line with the bar versus
Chest up for examplehowever, depending
on the lifter, one may be too much information
and the other not enough. This is true with all
lifts and all sport skills for that matter. So if you
have doubt, ask what the end result should
be, or look for it in the cuing being used. Dont
let a confusing cue knock you out of your most
natural lifting pattern.
TECHNICAL: 70%
SETUP
The keys of proper deadlift setup are things I
learned as a young lifter from Bob Wahl, Louie,
Ricky Crane, Steve Goggins, and Ed Coan.
Honestly, I cant remember whom I learned
what aspect from, so I want to make sure they
all get credit. Thats a pretty esteemed list of
teachers, and its for a reasonmy deadlift
sucked so I consulted with the best.
FEET
Foot position is much ado about nothing.
Heres how you gure out your ideal width:
Hang from a chin-up bar and drop to the oor.
Note your foot position when you land. Thats
the right conventional deadlifting stance
for you. I think I rst learned this from Fred
Hateld, but have used it many times over the
years with lifters, as well as with run of the mill
personal training clients.
SHINS
This can vary from right against the bar to
six inches or more away from it. I think mid-
foot distance is an optimal starting point but it
really depends on quad size. Someone with
huge quads will need the bar further away so
it doesnt ride up and hit the quadsmeaning
if you have Meadows-like quads the bar will
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32 33
be stuck under them and youll have to pull
over and around themwhile someone with
skinny quads and no teardrop can start much
closer. Again, mid-foot is a great starting place.
Some lifters like to lift the toes to get the weight
moving backwards while others nd twisting
the feet (meaning the action of doing this, your
actual foot doesnt move) helps activate the
glutes. I like the most natural position to start.
This lets me keep an ace in the hole so if I
nd it sticking mid-lift, I can turn my toes (twist).
This will further contract my glutes, which may
be enough to keep the weight moving. If I did
this from the start, the glutes would already be
ring all-out at the sticking point and as such
couldnt be called in to assist. This is what I
mean by always keeping something in the tank.
BACK
I prefer a slight, not extreme, arch in the lower
back. The upper back should be rounded
and somewhat relaxed, the shoulders slightly
slumped. This improves leverage and shortens
the distance of the pull. At no point during the
pull should you allow the spine to enter into
over-exion.
HANDS
To set up, I normally coach guys to just drop the
arms straight down and grab the bar, although
a bigger, heavier guy with broad shoulders
will need to be a bit wider. Keep the arms
straight but relaxed. Theres no need to ex
the triceps unless in extreme situations. If the
hand position is correct then the hips should
be where they need to be. We dont want the
hips to be in the squat position (too low) or
in a Romanian deadlift position (too high). The
best descriptor would be like a quarter squat.
This allows for the ideal hinge and posterior
chain recruitment. Also, theres knurling on
the bar for a reason so if you need to grip one
nger wider to use it then do so. The biggest
mistakes I see with grip are holding the bar
way too close on a sumo deadlift and too
wide with a conventional. Of course there will
always be deviations from the norm, but if you
shoot for keeping the arms in a straight line
youll probably end up in a good position.
Note: If youre a powerlifter, I suggest using a
mixed grip as this is how youll compete. If you
arent a competitive lifter I normally suggest
not using a mixed grip (and if you need straps
then use them) but this depends on what
youre training for and what the deadlift has
been put into the program to enhance.
HEAD
The idea is to drive the head back into the
traps, not just look up. The excessive head
cranked up towards the ceiling thing you see
today is completely unnecessary. Its also
counterproductive. The head follows the body,
so you want to drive the head back, not up. For
the same reason, looking down is a surere
way to miss a lift. Find a spot on the wall that
requires you to keep your head up and back
into the traps and begin the pull from there.
Another head position issue I nd (working
with powerlifters) is their traps and upper backs
get so thick that they have a hard time keeping
their heads up in the rst place. Ive seen guys
so thick they can barely turn their heads to the
side without having to rotate their torso. Telling
them to look up will get you about as far as
asking them to pick up a nickel they dropped
on the oor. You can scream at them all day
to get their heads up but if the structure wont
allow it theyll just tune you out. However, they
can and should drive their heads back into
their traps and this is what you need to look for.
PULL THE SLACK
The rst thing to do after the setup is to pull
the slack out of the bar. Reach down and grab
a loaded barbell. Hear that clicking sound?
Thats the sleeve of the barbell connecting
with the collars. You want to remove that play
before you initiate your pull. Thats what guys
mean when they say to pull the slack out of
the bar. Doing this initial pre-pull allows the
hips to drop down slightly. Although this step
is subtle, if skipped, the hips will slide out of
position once you really start to pull, which is
when the weights break from the oor.
AIR
Wear your belt as tight as you can. I always
cinch mine at least 1 or 2 holes tighter than
where I have it when I squat or bench. Its
so tight I basically cant breathe, meaning I
can only draw in about 50% of the air I can
normally draw in.
Less air in the lungs helps keep everything
the lungs, the chestlower, making it easier
to hit the lockout position. If you dont wear
a belt, just remember to draw in 50% of your
lung capacity, brace your torso, and keep
everything tight.
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NOTES ON SUMO SETUP
Sumo is obviously a wider setup, with the
hips closer to the bar. From the side, a good
sumo deadlift should look almost like a leg
press in that the torso doesnt move much.
The rules for pulling sumo really arent much
diferent from whats been presented above
except for how you get into the start position.
Your stance will be based (again) of what
you feel works best. Sumo can go from
modied to ultra widewhatever allows for
the best pulling position and bar path is the
one to use. Once this is determined, you want
to drive your feet apart (spreading the oor)
while trying to keep your knees in line with the
ankles. This keeps the hips closer to the bar.
When I teach the sumo pull I tell people to get
their starting position so their crotch is over the
bar i.e., Balls over Bar. For some the easiest
way to do this is to start in a standing position
and squat down. Others nd it easier to bend
over, get the grip, and then pull the chest up
to bring the hips forward. Go with what works
best, but I will say that from teaching hundreds
if not thousands of lifters its easier to teach
them to get the position by squatting down.
Even if they change later theyll get the feel
what the start should feel like.
STICKING POINTS
WEAK OFF THE FLOOR
If youre weak of the oor, its typically one of
two things:
The weight is too heavy. Duh. Take some
weight of the bar.
Youre overtrained. Look back in your log.
How often have you been deadlifting? The
deadlift, especially heavy deadlifting, is
extremely taxing. You may need a two-week
break followed by a few weeks of lighter
pulling sessions performed multiple times a
week. This can help build work capacity.
If that doesnt help and youre still weak of
the oor, here are your xes:
DEFICIT DEADLIFTS
The key here is not to use too much of a
decittwo or three quarter-inch rubber
mats is plenty. An excessive decit turns
the lift into a quad-dominant movement
and takes stress of the posterior chain.
Upper Back Work
Chest supported rows are ideal. Barbell
rows are the hardcore choice but they
involve too much erectors for my taste.
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36 37
Were training the upper back here. If you want
to train the lower back, do Romanian deadlifts.
Hamstrings
Do a variety of movements that work both
origin and insertion.
WEAK AT THE SHIN
This is due to a lack of acceleration, or not
pulling fast enough once the bar has broken
the oor. Your xes are:
Speed deadlifts
Do these at 55-60% of 1RM for 8-10 singles.
Do them on squat day, either before or after
you squat, depending on your priorities. The
trick is to do two single reps in a row with a
distinct pause in between. No bouncing. If you
do a double with a bounce, the second rep
has beneted from momentum. Youll know
cause the second rep will look better than the
rst. The goal is to eliminate the bounce, reset
properly, and make the rst rep look better
than the second.
WEAK AT THE KNEE
First, make sure the glutes are fully engaged.
Now this is not glute activation that you read so
much about. I think much of that is bullshit. If you
can perform the range of motion, your muscles
will be activated. Ive torn both my glute and
my hamstring on separate occasionstrust
me, you know theyre not involved. They can
however, not be contributing as much as you
need. To remedy this from occurring at the
top end, I recommend pin pulls and deadlifts
of blocks. I prefer pulling of blocks. Pin
pulls are brutal to recover from as the arms
are forced to absorb much of the force from
the barbell smashing into the pins. Too much
grip-intensive work is hard enough to recover
form; pin pulls magnify this. Pulling of blocks,
while a pain to set up, is a far more natural
pull. And unlike pin pulls, they reinforce all the
good things youre trying to do in a perfect
deadlift. I dont hate pin pulls (provided youre
not doing them in my gym with 800 pounds
loaded on a $1000 dollar competition bar).
Just do them less frequently. Also, with either
pin pulls or pulls of blocks, dont pull from too
high. Too high will afect your hinge and turn
the movement into a quad exercise. Finally,
any pin or pull of a block should be done
conventional. Sumo versions of these are
useless.
SHOULD I PULL SUMO OR
CONVENTIONAL?
The answer is whichever version makes you
feel stronger. If the beautiful simplicity of that
response isnt enough detail for you (imagine
that) here are some general rules of thumb.
TORSO LENGTH
Short torso You can pull conventional or
sumo.
Average torso Pull sumo.
Long torso Pull sumo.
In other words, the longer your trunk, the more
better of youll be pulling sumo.
ARM LENGTH
Guys with short, T-Rex arms should pull
sumo. Those with longer arms should pull
conventional. How do you know if you have
short arms? I get asked that all the time and
it never fails to make me laugh. Do you have
to roll your sleeves up all the time? Then
you probably have short arms. Go try on a
fucking dress shirt. If the sleeves are too long,
congratulations, you just determined you have
short arms. How do you know if you have
long arms? Lets be honest. If you have long
arms youll know. Does it seem to take you
twice as long to bench press when comparing
yourself to your partner who happens to be
built like a re hydrant? Keep in mind, this is
all based on an average build. When a lifter
gains weight, things can change dramatically.
For example, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound lifter
might have comparatively long arms. But if he
gains weight and gets up to 280 pounds, he
suddenly might have average-length arms.
Thats because as someone gets bigger
and wider, their proportions often change.
So, when someone contacts me saying they
always pulled a certain way but are noticing
their lifts have gone to shit since bulking up,
I usually tell them to switch styles. It often
works. When I was 180 pounds I pulled
conventional. As I got bigger and my deadlift
started to suck, Ed Coan suggested I switch
to sumo. It worked, and I stuck with sumo from
190 pounds up to 220 pounds and beyond.
Once I reached 275 pounds, however, I had
to go back to conventional. Obviously I didnt
get taller, just thicker and wider. As such, my
proportions changed, meaning my deadlift
had to change too.
GRIP
Grip is tricky. Many guys screw it up. In terms
of placement, your thumb should overlap the
rst one or two ngers. Your thumb shouldnt
be crushing all your ngers, just these two.
But you should squeeze the shit out of them.
Typically, when a grip fails, the little nger
fails rst. Ed Coan used to say you want to
keep that nger breaking rst, which meant
strengthening the pinkie nger and ring nger.
To accomplish this, buy one of those heavy
black paper clips from an ofce supply store
and do pinches against the thumb, rst with
the pinkie nger and then with the ring nger.
I never had a grip issue. Louie would say its
because I never pulled enough to develop
a grip issue. Chuck Vogelpohl, however, is
someone who did have one. Hed often lose
pulls due to failing grip, which drove him crazy.
What nally xed it for him was single dumbbell
holds using a hex dumbbell. Be careful not to
let the ngers rest in the grooves where the
numbers are stamped in.
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38 39
THE OVERALL PULL
A key point that often gets
overlooked is that a deadlift, be it
sumo or conventional, is less about
pulling up and more about pulling
back. You know youre setting up
right when the only thing preventing
you from falling backward on your
ass is the weight of the barbell.
To understand why, think of the
deadlift as a teeter-totter. Say you
weigh 250 poundsyou want to
get as much of your bodyweight
helping you pull that weight as
possible. This means less pulling
up and more falling back. So, if you
had 250 pounds on the barbell,
your bodyweight alone should
be enough to move the weight
without you exerting an ounce of
force. Youll know youre doing
this correctly when your warm-up
sets seem to y up from the oor
like you were using a broomstick
instead of a loaded barbell.
DEAD TO RIGHTS
You dont have to like every
exercise you perform. And you
wont get any grief from me if you
say you hate the deadlift. However,
like it or not, you need to respect
it. And if something is so important
that you force yourself to do it
despite hating it with every ber of
your being, then you might as well
do it right. Give these tips a run and
make your pull a thing of beauty.
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40 41
PART IV
JAMES SMITH: Elite level lifters who pull sumo, what have you found to
be the most efective means of increasing your pulling strength of the
oor? My technique is solid so Im looking for insights on any special
exercises that have yielded you signicant results in the low end/of
the oor strength component.
SUMO DEADLIFT: ELITEFTS
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
JAMES SMITH: Elite level lifters who pull sumo, what have you found to be the most efective
means of increasing your pulling strength of the oor? My technique is solid so Im looking for
insights on any special exercises that have yielded you signicant results in the low end/of the
oor strength component.
DAVE TATE: The best thing Ive found is getting stronger. This sounds very simple but has
worked for so many lifters. What I mean by this is that you have to increase your overall body
strength. This would be quads, hamstrings, low back, abs, etc. This is really basic stuf, but
something that people may forget. The start depends on position. If your hips are of, they
move too far back and you lose your force. If you can lm the pull, let me see it. I have to see
whats going on to make any type of assessment.
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: I used to suck at these, but then I started pulling my sumo deadlifts of of
mats and it seemed to make a big diference. You can try three inches or so (three mats). You
can also get a similar training efect by using 35-lb plates on the bar rather than 45-lb plates.
The 35-lb plates are obviously smaller and will require larger ROM. Or you can just put on more
equipment like Dave does.
DAVE TATE: I dont even take that as an insult.
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: Its not. I admire that in you.
JAMES SMITH: JL, thanks brother. I actually tried pulling sumo of of elevated surfaces. I just
didnt keep it around long enough to experience any signicant training efect. My dumb ass
fault. I think Ill perform a cycle of those for my next training block.
Thats also my logic for increasing pulling strength of the oor increasing the ROM. I just
didnt know if maybe I had overlooked or was unaware of another means of strengthening
the bottom end such as using a cambered bar bench press. For strengthening the low end
press, Ive also thought of performing low wide stance squats (although these are hell on the
hips) and perhaps even a repetition version of partial deadlifts such as dumbbell presses and
suspended push-ups.
JIM WENDLER: I agree with Dave on this one. Sometimes were too busy looking for the
magical exercise rather than doing the ones that we know work and doing them hard and
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with purpose. My deadlift went up simply because I quit screwing around with the light weights
on my assistance work and did movements and weights that were challenging and had a great
carryover. Remember, there is a diference between training with exercises to get stronger and
training to rehab a muscle group. I think these lines get crossed too much.
Ive also found that sumo deadlifting is more technique than conventional pulling. You have
little room for error when pulling sumo. A conventional deadlift is more of a grunt, caveman lift.
So if your technique is even slightly of, an easy pull can turn into a max efort. Unfortunately,
most people think they are going to be great sumo pullers when they do their speed deadlift
work. This is because its easy. Its only when you start pulling around 85 percent does the form
start really making a big diference.
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: Never forget that the special exercises are for rening problems. Nothing
xes getting a sumo dead of the oor like getting stronger hips and legs (if youre in the
position). All of your basic accessories are still the best ways to increase the deadlift. I think so
many times we get caught up in being so smart about training we forget that grabbing a heavy
ass deadlift and pulling is a great way to get stronger. Even the simple things like shooting
hoops helps with the basic conditioning and muscle coordination. The bottom line is that you
shouldnt leave your glute hams, reverse hypers, and other basic accessories for the magic
bullet exercise.
JIM WENDLER: Isnt that what I just said?
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: Sort of but diferent.
JIM WENDLER: And when did you start shooting hoops?
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: When you started losing weight.
JIM WENDLER: Touch.
JAMES SMITH: JL, good stuf. I appreciate
your comment regarding the role of special
exercises. I really need to make a trip to
see you guys at WSB/EFS. All this time Ive
developed my technique by studying videos
and illustrations. I was fortunate to have lifted
with some very strong elite lifters when I was
in San Diego, but for the last year, Ive trained
alone. The good thing is Ive gotten stronger.
The bad thing is I have no one to watch my
form. I video stuf but as you guys know its not even close to having an elite or stronger lifter
coach your ass.
BRIAN SCHWAB: I pull sumo and there are a couple exercises that have really helped me.
First, is training my abs. These exercises made my mid-section extremely strong:
sit-ups with a plate behind your head
spread eagle sit-ups
medicine ball throws
incline sit-ups
hanging leg raises
pull-down abs
sit-ups on the glute ham raise
For your hips, I think people need to try these exercises:
Band abduction and adduction: Try not to make this more complicated than it is. To do this,
there are several ways you can rig the bands up with a power rack, bench, or jump strength
platform. Just pick one for each muscle group and a do a couple sets for each.
Light sumo pulls standing on blocks: This is done exactly as it sounds. Keep the weight light
and work on keeping a tight arch and working the range of motion.
Pull thrus with a wide stance: This is great for the hip drive needed to nish the sumo deadlift.
Duck under: This is a great/mobility movement. Set a power bar up in the power rack so that
its chest level. Stand of to the side and squat down, side step and duck under the bar while
keeping the chest up. This is great for hip mobility. As you get better, lower the bar.
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JAMES SMITH: Thanks, Brian. Im going to have to try some of those exercises.
JIM WENDLER: You can do something other the train heavy?
J.L. HOLDSWORTH: I can see the light bulb ickering over your head.
TIM HAROLD: Damn it! I saw this thread, and my eyes lit up. Why is Dave the only one who
said anything about form? Special exercises are great, but you can throw that into the water
if your technique isnt up to par and youre unable to use the strength youve worked so hard
to develop. If your form is of because of a weakness somewhere in your body, thats another
story. Make sure your form is correct before you start trying all these cool exercises. Otherwise,
youll end up with a great good morning but your deadlift will still suck because you cant do it
right. Once your form is correct then we can talk about exercises to make you strong and raise
your deadlift.
Whats good form? Well, I dont necessarily think that I have the best sumo form in the world.
However, I dont think there are too many people who can rip big weights of the oor with the
speed that I do. How do I do it? Before every deadlift attempt, I have Joe Bayles and Bob Coe
shove a grenade up my ass. Its simple. I see all these people who want to ease a sumo deadlift
of the oor because somewhere along the timeline of weightlifting some fucking jerkof said
that sumo is hard of the oor and easy at lockout. Also, they said that conventional is the
opposite easy of the oor and hard lockout. BULL FUCKING SHIT! Maybe thats why there
are only a few people who have pulled 900 pounds with sumo style. Im really rambling but
hopefully youll learn something to take to the gym with you. The deadlift, whether youre
pulling sumo or conventional, is about attitude. Every time you pull a deadlift, snap it of the
ground! But to do that, you have to have perfect form.
When I pull, this is what I do:
I set my feet. ALWAYS have your toes
pointed outwards, never straight on the
sumo deadlift. You cant get your knees
out wide enough to get your hips as close
to the bar as possible if theyre pointed
straight ahead.
Take a breath into your gut. Flail your arms
if you do that faggot shit and whatever
other tai chi-like dance moves some
people do before they grab the bar.
Bend over and grab the bar semi straight-
legged. Dont squat down. If you do,
youll defeat the purpose of why I pull this
way. While youre grabbing the bar, start
tightening up your lats, erectors, etc.
This is the secret right here. Take another
very quick breath into your belly if you
can and the sit back and SNAP. Push your
knees and feet out as hard as you can
while sitting back and pushing your hips to
the bar, staying back on your heels.
If you do this right and in one seamless
motion, which will take time, the weights will
jump of the oor. You should wear gear for
this for sure. Im kind of weird, but I like the
Metal deadlifter for this and maybe a thin
pair of briefs underneath. You need tons of
tightness in your hips. Because of the way the
Metal deadlifter is cut with the straps and that
groin shit, it will help push your hips forward,
and if youre lucky, castrate you.
Im going to post more if you guys want to
ask questions. This just popped into my head,
but I have to run. I have a date with a girl who
has TMJ. I think she might come down with a
serious case of lockjaw by the morning.
I forgot one tidbit about why I pull that way
The bending over and then sitting back is
kind of like levering yourself of the oor. It
reminds me of school when we learned about
fulcrums. I dont remember what that means
but just go with it. When you have your belly
full of air and youre leaning and sitting back,
a tremendous amount of force against the bar
is created before you snap of the ground if
youre wearing enough gear and youve even
started to use your strength yet. If you can get
the timing down by practicing with moderate
to heavy weights (never light weights because
I dont believe in light weights for mastering
form), then youre well on your way to leaning
how to have a much bigger sumo deadlift.
I dont pull every week. I think that would be
too stressful on the body. I do think that pulling
heavy twice per month is okay though. If you
need to work on your sumo technique, focus
on a few keys every time you pull. Record
some of your sumo deadlifts and post them on
your myspace page or somewhere I can see
them. Maybe Ill be able to give you some key
points to focus on while youre pulling. I think
you can deadlift every week if you really want
to, but you shouldnt do it for too long. Youll
also need a decent deload period. Typically, I
have only pulled when I felt like it.
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But for seniors, Im going to try a few ideas that Ive gathered from conversations with other
lifters. Im going to apply them to deadlift training and see if can pull three times per month
without afecting my overall training too much. I would like to get two good pulling sessions on
DE day per month. I want to work up to a moderately heavy weight for a few singles, and then
take another good jump for a big single and stop. Nothing too hard. But when Im fully jacked
and ready for seniors, Id like my last pull workout to be 800 lbs for 3-4 singles and then 845-
865 for a single. This wont be necessarily be a full bore max workout, but if its heavy enough,
I think I can get some good form work in. (Also, for WIW, I dont think youll need to do speed
pulls at all. I really havent done them in a long time. I believe that if youre training your squat
properly and not squatting on too high of a box, force development will transfer to the deadlift.)
I also hope to get in one pulling sessions on ME day per month where Ill do something fun
like reverse band deadlifts of a box deadlift for an absolute max. This might also be the only
max efort work I do at all leading up the seniors too. The rest of the ME days will be rest pause
workouts on the back attack. Ill talk more about the rest pause later, but its a training method
that I picked up from Dante Trudel (who owns Truepreotein.com). I can tell you its the real deal,
and its fucking hard. Its working so far, and I believe it will be rewarding on meet day. Its also
the perfect compliment to the Westside style do training, although some may disagree. I think
it used properly it will make you brutally strong and BIG. This stuf is the best of both worlds.
Powerlifters make fun of bodybuilders and vice versa, but there are many things we can learn
from each other.
DAVE TATE: I agree 100 percent with Tim, and Im actually kind of proud of him for his great advice.
Tim has come a long way since I rst met him, which proves that you need to keep learning to get
stronger. Very few get as strong as he is without guring some shit out along the way.
The only thing I would add is that with speed work, you should reinforce your technique with
each and every rep. Make damn sure that they are all dead on. If you ever pull for one more
rep, let go of the bar and reset each rep. This way youll learn to pull one rep. Also, when you
do speed pulls, you should use 40-60 percent weights to work on technique. For most, this
will be okay, but some will need to work up to heavier pulls to the get the full efect. In other
words, some will look great with sub-maximal weights while others will look like crap with
bigger weights.
There are two ways to avoid this. One, you can always pull in a slightly fatigued state (same as
meet) such as after a speed squat session. If you pull on ME day, do more warm up sets then
you do now (double them). Second, you can work up the weights on the days that your speed
pulls feel great. Most of the time, they feel great because your form is on. Work up to see if it
will transfer to bigger weights. If it does, thats great. If not, analyze the breakdown and youll
discover your muscular weak points. When you nd your weak points, add in some special
exercises to bring them up.
This is why its useful to see training videos.
You can look for the breakdowns to see if
theyre technical or muscular. When you do
post them, post some speed sets and also
some heavy sets. Dont post any reverse band
or against band stuf. They will only alter this
to a certain degree. Its hard to see from video
because you cant determine how much the
tension is afecting you without seeing every
warm up set.
Heres another tip that I picked up from Louie.
Take your Chucks to a shoe repair shop. Have
them build the front up two inches higher in
the back (on the slope). This helped me to pull
back better.
TIM HAROLD: Here are some of the common
sumo pulling problems I see.Id like to see
a lot of sumo lifters point your toes outward
and think about a slightly wider stance. Their
hips can be much closer to the bar during the
pull. Theyre pulling straight up and slightly
forward. Id like to see them pulling up and
back instead. A wider stance as well as getting
their hips closer to the bar and pointing their
toes outward more should help this.
Also, lifters often spend way too much time
bent over trying to position themself. For
fucks sake, they look like one of those cats
that has to step on the pillow for an hour
before it decides to lie down. Shit or get of
the pot. You dont realize how much energy
youre wasting by taking so much time to get
to the bar and set your grip. Without gear, this
takes a lot out of you and even more when
youre in tight gear. Get your feet set, grab the
bar, and go.
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Another thing to consider is the angle of your
shins. They should be perpendicular to the
bar when you break ground. By not doing
this, youre not taking advantage of those
leverages and youre hindering your pull
This is going to be a process, but eventually, youll start feeling how everything works together
and your deadlift will improve a great deal. I think when seniors come around you should be
able to really grasp my concept on sumo pulling and hit a big PR. Thats if your fat hands can
hold on to as much weight as youll be able to pull.
MARK OSHEA: Tim, ages ago you posted the routine you used when you switched from
regular to sumo. Im not sure if you remember it, but it was something like this:
DE cycle
ultra-wide, 70 percent
feet raised on platform, 70 percent
bands, 70 percent
sumo, 90 percent before beginning circa max
How did this go, and what changes have you made?
Feet pointed outwards,
wider stance: This will get
your knees out more and
your hips closer to the bar,
which makes it easier to
keep your shoulders behind
the bar. This really takes
advantage of the strong
back, ass, and hamstrings
that we spend most of our
time developing. This also
helps with getting back on
your heels and not up on
your toes.
Sit back more before you
break the ground: This
should feel very tight (while
sitting back, youre pulling
the slack out of the bar).
This will get your shins
perpendicular, and improve
your arch and hip position
(which should still be as high
as possible without leaning
over or losing your arch).
Get your fucking head up:
We all know this, and we all
still need to be told about it
from time to time. Fucking
do it.
1 2 3
a great deal. If your knees are over the bar,
that means that youre leaning forward. And
that means your back is hunched over, youre
not arching enough, and youre on your toes.
Basically, youre fucked from the get-go.
LETS RECAP SOME THINGS FOR YOU TO WORK ON:
TIM HAROLD: As far as the post I made about training sumo deadlift some time ago, dont pay
attention to it. I dont even remember whats in the post. I dont remember what the reasoning
behind what I was doing at the time was or whether or not it would work now. Every time
I train for a meet or talk to lifters from around the country, I learn new things. My training is
CONSTANTLY evolving. I take what works and keep it in and throw away what isnt cutting it.
As my training evolves, so does my philosophy on training. What I said 1-2 years ago may not
jive with what I would tell you today. Scrap that article or read it and try some of it out to see
what works for you! Evolving as a powerlifter involves immeasurable amounts of trial and error.
You will and should try everything that Louie, Dave, or the other great minds of the sport have
already said is retarded and dont work or will get you hurt, especially the hurt part. Daves
crippled ass has a PHD in fucking yourself up.
The ultra-wide speed pulls are gold. Do them as a special exercise or do them hardcore for a
month or two until you start getting strong on them. After youve done them for 1-2 sessions
and your progress stagnates (or youre just at bored with them), drop them completely for a
while. When you come back to them, you probably wont be right where you left of you may
only be at 90 percent from where you stopped but youll surpass that easily when you train
the ultra-wide hard again. I FIRMLY believe in the saying, One step back to take two steps
forward.
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In other words, look at it like this. As a lineman in high school, we used a technique when we
were down blocking called the drop step. You take one step with your outside leg (whichever
way youre going). This gives a little ground but youve positioned yourself to get on that guys
outside shoulder more quickly so that you can take him out of the play. Give to take. Enough
rambling. I do that too much sometimes.
JIM WENDLER: Spud, you had some tips on the Q&A about sumo deadlifting. And since you
have perfected your style, what are some tips? I know you have some unique views on this.
MARC BARTLEY:
Speed deadlift work. This was a tremendous help. I went up to 500 lbs and did ve sets
of triples for ve or six weeks. I didnt squat on this day. I did wide-stance leg press with
a dead stop in the bottom. Sometimes, I would mix in conventional speed pulls with the
sumos. Check out my Saturday logs.
The sumo is mostly a pinch of the bottom and then you slam the speed to it. So dont
worry about speed out of the hole. Form must be rst. Drive the head and back up the
whole time so that when you get to the suit, it wont pull you over. The sumo is basically
a wide-stance squat so you have to treat it as such. Take your suit straps and put them
right over your delt, not the traps. When you go to pull, lift your arms over your head.
This will cause an erector shirt type efect to help hold your shoulders back even more.
Line your feet up pigeon toe if possible. Or, in other words, try to line up your feet parallel
to the bar as much as you can stand it. Youll have to practice this. Its very uncomfortable,
but it will keep you in line better to lockout the bar. When you put the suit on and line up
on the bar, spread the knees out towards the plates and push back. This will eliminate
the tail tuck caused by the suit. I like the Metal deadlifter or one ply squatter suit for this
type of pulling.
Over exaggerate the top of the movement. I learned this by watching the Europeans
in Finland. Right above the knees, they throw the shoulders back as hard as possible
so that the upper body is slightly behind the hips. Its old-school deadlifting like the
Strongmen do on car deadlifts. This shortens the lockout distance and puts your hips
and lower body into a better position to lockout (squat-like). Do lots of rack lockouts for
threes right above the knees on ME day and remember to over exaggerate.
JIM WENDLER: What about people who get stuck the last couple of inches?
MARC BARTLEY: I would say the tightness is hip exor related. There are a couple of dudes
at the compound with the same thing. You might try some good hip exor stretches before and
after squat/pull. Dont do too much during but do a lot after. I had the same problem with the
ducking feet. Its very hard to over pull at the top. I pull my toes in slightly so that I can get
more overextension at the top. I wouldnt say that youre weaker with the extra weight but less
coordinated. Work on speed deadlifts on DE day rst to cement the form and lockout. Im also
decit pulling speed of a three-inch box for three-week waves. This seems to help on both ends.
1
2
3
4
JIM WENDLER: I know you have sausage ngers. What are some grip exercises that you do to
help you when pulling?
MARC BARTLEY: I would do rack pulls just below the knees. This will help with the lockout and
holding weight. Do triples without straps until you cant hold anymore, and then go to the straps
and continue doing threes. This is what Steve Goggins suggested to me, and it seemed to help
me out. Another thing is to do soap swings one-handed sumo style with heavy kettlebells. Go
outside somewhere and out of the way, soap your hands thoroughly, and do 8-10 violent swings
on each hand or until the weight pops out of your hand. My grip has always been an issue
because of my short arms and fat ngers, which I do believe limited my lockouts. If I could use
straps in a contest, I know I could pull well into the 800s so this tells me the grip is limiting me.
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PART V
Are you a sumo deadlifter? Have you ever pulled a PR attempt to your
knees and stalled completely?
If you answered yes to one or both of the above questions, I have a
sure-re way to add pounds to your deadlift and help you blow past
your current PR.
CONVENTIONAL PULLING
FOR THE SUMO DEADLIFTER
Are you a sumo deadlifter? Have you ever
pulled a PR attempt to your knees and stalled
completely?
If you answered yes to one or both of the
above questions, I have a sure-re way to add
pounds to your deadlift and help you blow
past your current PR.
There was a time in my lifting career when I was
stuck at a 620-pound deadlift for over a year.
I pulled against bands, chains, and combos of
both. I pulled triples, double, singles, changed
suits, etc. Still, no matter what I did, I couldnt
crack that barrier. The bar would break the
oor and stop dead at my knees. That was,
however, until my good friend Brian Carroll
suggested that I incorporate conventional
pulling into my training. After just a few months,
I pulled 711 pounds in a meet. Thats right
over a 90-pound PR in just a few months.
The sumo deadlift is a funny thingits as hard
as hell to learn, but once you do, its so easy
to use that you never want to go back to the
harder conventional style again. Its a very
technical lift, but its a shorter, more efcient
stroke executed in a much stronger position
(for most people). This makes many of us sumo
deadlifters steer clear of the harder workbut
this couldnt be a bigger mistake.
As I said above, just like most sumo
deadlifters, I would stall out as the bar
reached my knees. I never attributed it
to the fact that my lower back just wasnt
strong enough to hold the positionbut
thats exactly what it was. I continued having
the same problem until I nally listened to
Brian Carroll and added in the conventional
pulling. I say pulling and not deadlifting
because I was doing several variations of
the pull.
The main variation was block pulls with the
weights elevated to four and six inches.
I established rep PRs on these lifts in the
conventional stance while wearing a belt
and gym shorts. These became part of
my rotation, and I would shoot for a new
PR every time I did them. Since I was so
weak at them, my strength built very fast
and I was able to PR in a very short time-
frame. For instance, the rst time I pulled
of of the six-inch blocks, I hit a top double
of 525 pounds. Within two months, I was in
the high 500s. This wasnt bad considering
I was only trying for a PR on that height/rep
range every four to six weeks.
During this period in time, I was also pulling
sumo from the oor for sets of two to ve
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reps. So, a training session would
include both styles. (Usually,
the sumo pulls were my main
movement and the conventional
block pulls were a secondary
movement). As time went on, I
began pulling conventional from
the oor. It even became my
main movement at one point, with
sumo pulls being done for form/
speed every three to four weeks.
The more progress I made on the
conventional pulls, the more my
sumo pull rose. My rst meet after
switching to this style was the
2010 APF MI State meet where
I pulled 711 pounds at 220. This
was the same weight class that I
had missed 650 pounds so many
times before.
Now, Ill be the rst to tell you
that conventional pulling for a
sumo guy who has developed a
weakness is no fun. I hated it at
rstabsolutely dreaded it. But
over time, and after experiencing
the rewards that came with it, I
grew to love it. I promise you that
if you give this a run, you wont be
disappointed. Just keep in mind
that you need to start slow and you
need to stick with it. The only way
this wont work is if you push it too
hard too fast and hurt yourself, or if
you give up on it because it sucks
to use 100 pounds less than you
do in the other stance. And trust
me, it sucks, but the reward is the
opposite of suck.
Let me know how it goes!
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PART V
I
Through out the years, the deadlift has been our national sport here
in Finland. World records has been broken since early 70s. What
makes Finns pull so much, what is their secret ?
I took a look and after collecting training information of many new and
former greats, here is some background and information.
FINNISH
DEADLIFT SECRETS
GENETICS
To be able to lift a lot, you have to be talented athlete. Most of the guys had long arms and
legs. You could see middleweights pulling over 200 kilos the rst time they saw a power
bar. But thats only a good start. The best deadlifters in the late 70`s and early 80s had two
things in common. Most of them had a background of hard labor, like lumberjacks, construction
workers, farmers or something similar. They carried, lifted and dragged for their living. That
laid a perfect background for deadlift training and very often ensured a hard grip too. The
second thing was Olympic lifting background, they had pulled alot before their powerlifting
career. Raimo Vlineva held Scandinavian records in Olympic lifting and was able to clean 330
pounds with straight legs. He had World records of 688 in 148s and 716 in 165s in early 80`s.
When weightlifting had the press it was more a pure strength sport as now when speed and
technique more critical.
Many of the new lifters have some type of athletic background from other sports. Ismo Lappi,
338,5 kg deadlifter in 165s, has thrown javelin over 75 yards and ran 100 meters in under 11
seconds in his teens. He is fast and explosive enough to deadlift big.
SQUATTING FOR THE DEADLIFT
All of the former record holders and many of todays too, squatted with a narrow stance. This
had two advantages. First, it served as an excellent special exercise for deadlift. Many trained
the squat three times a week. Twice back squatting and once front squatting. The other back
squat could be a high bar session.
Other squat exercises were something like lunges, or step squats, using bar on back. These
were done sometimes a box under front or back feet, varying how it hits glutes and hamstrings.
A 8-12 inch box under back feet hits the upper part of glutes quite hard.
Many used diferent stances. The narrow stance high bar was the most common but many, like
Taito Haara, Reijo Kiviranta and Hannu Saarelainen, squatted with 3-4 stances.
During the last years, the box squat has become very popular in Finland. Janne Toivanen put it
in practice by hauling up 804 in `96 IPF Worlds in Austria. Many have followed. Ano Turtiainen
started using the box and now pulls over 859 in every meet he enters. Ismo Lappi, the new
WR holder in 165s in IPF, does box squats as assistance. Veli Kumpuniemi stated that if would
have known how to use a box in his prime he would have lifted a lot more. How much more?
He tore his hamstring while trying 804 in the 181s back in 1981. He hit 822 ( 373 kilos ) in a
national before that weighing under 190 pounds. All his hamstrings could handle he hauled
up. He never really recovered but wanted to send his compliments to Louie Simmons for this
excellent exercise.
DEADLIFT VARIETY
Many still train the deadlift two times a week. In the early days, it was not rare to deadlift three
times a week. Veli Kumpuniemi, the only man we call Mr Deadlift in Finland, trained deadlift
sometimes four times a week. Heres some pulls to use:
2
3
1
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DEADLIFT STANDING ON THE BLOCK.
Many used 2-6 inch block and pulled standing
on it. That has been a pull used very often.
Many did these for 3-5 reps using conventional
style even if they pulled sumo in meets.
STRAIGTH LEG DEADLIFTS.
These were done of oor or using a block
under feet. There were two styles. Some
pulled with a bent over style, rounding the
lower back. Some, like Janne Toivanen, Ismo
Lappi and Ano Turtiainen, pulled in a romanian
style with arched back and pushing glutes
to rear. With a round back, most used only
40-50% for high reps like 10s or so. For the
romanian style, some go quite heavy. Janne
Toivanen hauled up 4661 from an 4 inch box
and Ano Turtiainen has done 5727 of oor.
OLYMPIC PULLS.
These were done many times as a warm-up
or speed work before the deadlifting. High
pulls, raw cleans, raw snatches were the most
common. The old school did some pulls with
straight legs like Russians.
PULLS WITH A SNATCH GRIP.
This has two variations too. Some pulled the
weight all the way up and some just up to past
knees. These developed technique by forcing
you to keep shoulders in line and its a good
one correct technique.
PARTIALS.
Hannu Saarelainen did partials on knee level,
just moving the bar from below to above the
knee. The bar traveled 8-10 inches in the area
where the leverages were the poorest. He
did high reps with rather light weight. He tried
to get speed too to overcome the sticking
point as fast as possible. By concentrating on
weakness enabled Hannu to pull 765 in 242s
with quite poor leverages for deadlift. Rack
pulls and pulls where the bar is on blocks
are common, although they do not benet as
many as you could imagine.
HACK DEADLIFTS.
Many long armed lifters were able to pull with
the bar behind their back. This form of deadlift
developed the leg drive and helped to get the
bar of oor.
TECHNIQUE
Veli Kumpuniemi stated that if his foot stance was half inch of, the bar stayed on oor. And Veli
was ranked rather a power puller than a technique expert which he was too. The conventional
deadlift was always mostly back work. But the sumo pullers were sort of split in two categories.
People like Raimo Vlineva and Hannu Malinen, the 1988 IPF World champion, used the hips
alot. Raimo Vlineva was the developer of the style maximized hip drive in sumo deadlift.
Lifters with extreme tecnique had quite a diference between sumo and conventional deadlift.
Ari Virtanen, the little brother of Jarmo had one of the best technique I have ever seen. Every
weight he got of oor he nished too. Aris best conventional was around 570-580 and he
pulled 677 with sumo in `91 Worlds. Pirjo Savola, the European Record holder in 123s with 446
said she has a best conventional of 360-370 range.
4
5
Sumo lifters with a strong back, like Veli Kumpuniemi, Janne Toivanen and Aarre Kpyl locked
out their legs way before extending their torso. Aarre Kpyl, who pulled 10661 via conventional
too, got the most out of his hips by keeping his legs almost straight. Jarmo Virtanen, an eight
time IPF World champ, used the technique.
People used to think that Jarmo Virtanen was just very talented and had good leverages.
They couldnt be more wrong. He had many things on perfecting the technique. Once he
demonstrated the diference between relaxed and exed shoulders. By dropping shoulders
and using sumo, the distance was 12 inches shorter than using conventional with exed upper
body. He stressed the importance of being relaxed while deadlifting .
You should climb to tree from bottom. Most advised to learn to pull conventional rst, then
switch to sumo. Reijo Kiviranta, Kullervo Lampela and other conventional style greats stressed
two key points. The is to push your knees over the bar in the start position. This brings the hips
closer to bar and makes the leverages better. The other thing was to turn feet out. This helped
the lockout and enabled specially the bigger lifters to use their hip muscles.
BASIC STRENGTH AND GPP
Like mentioned in beginning, many early day deadlifters did physical labor which laid good
background for training heavy and often. Olympic lifting was an aid too.
Many of todays lifters dont do any other physical work than train with weights. So the GPP has
to come from somewhere else. Janne Toivanen did an extra workout six times a week, early
in the morning. He did abs, side work and sometimes lower back work together with some
aerobic training and streching. His training program would kill most people, but he found a way
to back it up. Ismo Lappi does the same type of workouts too. It keeps the bodyfat low and
aids recovery.
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At the moment ve or six our strongmen pull 800 pounds or more. They have long competitive
season when their weight training is mostly for conditioning and recovery. Their training is
one form of conjugate method. They carry, drag, lift stones and ip tires and cars using the
same muscles that are important in deadlifting. Jukka Laine did 804 in September 98 and had
deadlifted twice during the summer. All he did was the event training and many meets. Jouko
Aholas deadlift stayed in the same range with no deadlift training at all. He used a short cycle
to peak and succeeded with 853 in meet. Janne Virtanen and Juha Rsnen both pull over
800 too, 837 is their best in training but either of them havent attended in any meets so far.
ASSISTANCE WORK
Most supplemented their training with wide variety of assistance exercises. Two key muscle
groups were upper back and lats and the abs.
As you noticed, I ranked Mr Deadlift, Veli Kumpuniemi as a strenght puller. Heres why. What
do think about chins with up to 200 pounds for 5-6 reps, bent over rows using 400+ pounds
or doing one arm rows with 185 pound dumbbell for 8-10 reps ? It was usual stuf for him and it
was assistance work, not something he shot for.
Weighted chins are quite common still but the variety is wide. Ano Turtiainen likes to do lat pulls
with diferent handles, and low pulley rows. He does chest supported and bent over rows too.
Many do shrugs every now and then.
The lifters in the early 80`s or late 70`s trained abs with at or incline sit-ups using weight many
times. Side work was done using a short bar or dumbbell. One other thing they did was one
arm deadlifts. They stressed the stabilizing muscles a lot too. Today a variety of leg raises, pull
down abs in lat machine and abs done in a ab machine add the number of exercises alot. One
thing that has become popular last years is the ab wheel. Most lifters do it on their knees using
plate on their back, it targets the abs more instead of hip exors.
As you see, the low back was trained pretty much with the main exercises, squats and pulls.
The older school did also good mornings, mostly after squatting for 5-10 rep sets. Then they
became a forgotten exercise until last years. Ano Turtiainen went way over 700 pounds using
bands and two sets of chains as an extra resistance during his preparation for WPO semis. The
other thing many did and still do is back extensions. These are usually done with a bar on back.
Rauno Rinne used these regularly and pulled 799 in 220s.
6
JARMO VIRTANENS DEADLIFT SECRETS
Jarmo Virtanen, who many consider the best powerlifter ever in Europe, was great in the
deadlift. He was an excellent squatter too. Heres some things behind his success.
In his youth he trained both power lifting and weightlifting at the same time. He also trained
other sports like football and has always done some sort of physical labor. His GPP has always
been high. A lot of diferent squats and deadlifts insured a high SPP level. A nine time IPF World
Champ did lifts like high bar, front and squats with diferent stances. He deadlifted with both
conventional and sumo, he estimated that he may have done little more conventional work
than sumo. Sometimes he used the snatch grip too. One of his deadlift variations was sumo of
an 1 inch blocks. He sometimes went quite high on these, 694 was his best.
He pulled conventional sets where he stopped the bar before it hit the oor to develop static
strength and tightness in the start position. When using sumo, he always did every rep as the rst
one. Jarmo said that bouncing the bar of is a waste specially in the sumo style. He developed
speed by high pulls. He did not extend his hips in the weightlifting style. He continued the pull
with upper back and traps to the navel level.
He had a picture perfect technique, specially in the 80s when he hasnt hurt hips thigh. He
developed that by squatting with an ultra wide stance, sometimes he used a Smith-machine
to be able to squat as upright as possible. He practiced technique with no weights in front
of mirror. It was his routine every day for six months. As far as assistance go, he did a lot of
ab work but has never done good mornings. He felt they make you too stif. He stressed the
importance of being relaxed, specially in the upper body area and felt it was crucial for getting
better leverages in the deadlift and squat too.
Jarmo never really maxed out in the gym and usually stayed under 300 kilos in training. He was
great competitor. In 1988, in our national record breakers in the biggest ice hockey venue at
the time, he hauled up 358 kilos twice but dropped it just before down signal. With torn hand,
he came back and pulled it again just to loose the grip again before the down command.
Year before, when lifting in 75 kilo class he was on a roll. In the Worlds in Norway he opened
with 677 and went to WR 333 and pulled it nicely. Then he attacked twice to 340,5 kilos ( 750
pounds ) but the grip was his nemesis. Before he got the grip problem xed, he hurt his outer
thigh. There was, and still is, some scar tissue that is pressing to nerves. With the grip he had in
`90s and the better technique and exibility of `80s he would have gone a lot more. Many times
I have wondered why his squat went up 20 kilos but the deadlift stayed the same. Believe it
or not, he never got the best out of him in the deadlift. A 815-826 deadlift and 900 kilo ( 1984
pound ) total where something he capable of but never achieved.
We have had lots of great pullers and power lifters and we had Jarmo Virtanen. He is one of
a kind. One sign of his true sportsmanship was this interview. He has always willing to help
anyone whether it is training, coaching or giving seminars.
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Being a no class deadlifter myself, I have given
this a lot of thought. Reijo Kiviranta, the 1981
World Champ in 242s put it together nicely
by saying that the one who lifts the most has
trained the most. After reading this article, you
can get a picture what he meant. There is no
secrets at all, just pure hard work. Its the cold
hard truth. If you want to nish on top you have
to be a good deadllifter. So its time for some
deadlift labor, good luck!
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PART V
II
14 DEADLIFT
TIPS AND TRICKS
1. STARTING WITH
THE HIPS TOO LOW
This is the king of all mistakes I
see. Too many times lifters try to
squat the weight up rather than
pull the weight. Think back to
the number of times that youve
seen a big deadlift and thought
to yourself how much more the
lifter couldve pulled if he didnt
damn near stif-leg it? I see it all
the time. Someone will say, Did
you see his deadlift? Then the
other guy will comment, Yeah,
and he stif-legged the thing.
Am I telling you to stif-leg your
deadlifts? No, not at all.
All I want you to do is look at your
hip position at the start of the lift
when you pull, and watch how
much your hips move up before
the weight begins to break the
oor. This is wasted movement
and does nothing except wear
you out before the pull. The
closer you can keep your hips
to the bar when you pull, the
better the leverages are going
to be. Once again, next time
you see a great deadlifter, stand
of to the side and watch how
close his or her hips stay to the
bar throughout the pull. If youre
putting your ass to the oor
before you pull, your hips are
about a mile from the bar. Youre
setting yourself up for disaster
when the lever arm is this long.
Consequently, this is the second
most common reason why lifters
cant get the bar of the oor.
(The rst reason is very simple:
the bar is too heavy!)
You need to nd that perfect
spotwhere your hips are close
to the bar, your shoulders are
behind the bar, your lower back
is arched, your upper back is
rounded, your belly is full of air,
and you can pull toward your
body. Nobody ever said it was
going to be easy, but then again,
what is? Denitely not training in
a commercial health club
2. WHERE TO LOOK
WHEN YOU PULL
Your body will always follow your
head. If youre looking down,
then the bar is going to want to
travel forward. At the same time,
you dont want to look at the
ceiling. Focus on an area that
keeps your head in a straight, up
and back position with the eyes
focusing on an upper area of the
wall.
3. DIMEL DEADLIFTS
This exercise helped Matt Dimel
increase his squat from the mid-
800s to over 1000 pounds in a
two-year period. To perform this
exercise, grab a barbell with
an overhand grip, hands about
shoulder-width apart. Pull the
bar up to a standing position.
At this point, arch your back and
get your abs tight. Keep your back
as arched as possible, push the
glutes out, and keep the knees
slightly bent. Lower the bar by
pushing your body weight back
onto your heals while pushing
your glutes out. Try to lower the
barbell to a position just past the
knees. At this point, you should
feel a tremendous stretch in the
glutes and hamstrings.
Raise the bar back up by
contracting your glutes rst.
At the top of the movement,
contract the glutes as hard as
possible. Perform the exercise
in a ballistic fashion. You want to
drop to the mid- point position
and explode back to the starting
position. This is best trained with
moderate weight for sets of 15-
20 reps.
TRAINING MISTAKES
Going too low. Make sure to keep
the tension on the hamstrings.
Not pushing the hips and glutes
back. This is also to keep the
stress on the hamstrings.
Rounding the back. Keep your
back arched to help keep the
stress on the hamstrings.
Using a slow tempo. This
movement is designed to be
trained fast. Youll begin with
a slow tempo and build the
speed up with each additional
repetition.
APPLICATIONS
One of the best ways Ive seen
this implemented is when it is
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used as a nisher movement
(using two sets of 15-20 reps).
Do this at the end of three to
four workouts during the week
for three to four weeks.
The most popular way to
implement this is to just toss
them in once a week on your
squat or dead.
4. DUMBBELL HOLDS
There are very few things that
Ive found to work when it comes
to helping with dropped deadlifts
due to grip. Dumbbell holds,
however, are one movement
thats shown great results.
Grab the top of a hex dumbbell,
making sure that you dont touch
the numbers. Grab, stand, and
hold for as long as you can. If
you can go over 20 seconds,
then up the weight.
5. BINDER CLIPS
One easy thing that will help
your grip for pulling is to use
binder clips. These are the big
paper clips that have a black
end on them (and other colors).
Use these like you would use
grippers, but only use your
thumb and little nger. You can
work all ngers, but the little guy
is the rst to go.
Ed Coan told me this one a
few years ago at the SWIS
conference.
6. GET STRONG(ER)
If you drop your pulls, one
solution is very simpleget
stronger! Lets say you always
drop 700 pounds, but you can
pull 650 pounds easy and
pulling 700 pounds with straps
is no problem. Well, get strong
enough to pull 750 pounds with
straps. Then, 700 pounds will
feel like 650 pounds.
7. GET YOUR HEAD
RIGHT
Get your head right. Training
isnt easy and wont always be
a walk-in-the-park. Theres more
to getting strong than just lifting
the weights. You have to get an
attitude with the weights and
bust your ass. Louie once told
me that he would NEVER train
with anyone who didnt scare
him in one way or another. This
is some of the best advice Ive
ever heard. Im not saying that
you should be a dick, but theres
a HUGE diference between
training and working out.
8. MULTIPLE-REP
DEADLIFTS
Next time you see someone
doing multiple reps on the
deadlift, take note of the form
of each rep. Youll notice that
the later reps look nothing like
the rst. In competition, you only
have to pull once, so you need
to learn how to develop whats
known as starting strength for
the deadlift. This is the strength
that is needed to get the bar of
the oor without an eccentric
(negative) action before the start.
In other words, you dont lower
the bar rst and then lift the
weight as you do with the squat
and bench press. When you
train with multiple reps, youre
beginning to develop reversal
strength, which isnt needed with
the deadlift. These two reasons
are enough to keep the deadlift
training to singles. If youre using
multiple reps with the deadlift,
then stand up in between each
rep and restart the lift. This way
youll be teaching yourself the
proper form and developing the
right kind of strength.
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9. NOT PULLING
THE BAR BACK
The deadlift is all about leverage and
positioning. Visualize a teeter-totter. What
happens when the weight on one end is
coming down? The other end goes up. So if
your body is falling backward, what happens
to the bar? It goes up! If your weight is falling
forward, the bar will want to stay down. So if
you weigh 250 pounds and you can get your
body weight to work for you, it would be much
like taking 250 pounds of the bar. For many
natural deadlifters, this is a very instinctive
action. For others, it has to be trained.
Proper positioning is important here. If youre
standing too close to the bar, itll have to come
over the knee before you can pull backthus,
going forward before it goes backward. If your
shoulders are in front of the bar at the start of
the pull, then the bar will want to go forward,
not backward. If your back isnt arched, the bar
will also want to drift forward. For some lifters,
not being able to pull back can be a muscular
thing. If youre like myself, I tend to end up with
the weight on the front of my feet instead of
my heels. This is a function of my quads trying
to overpower the glutes and hamstrings, or
the glutes and hamstrings not being able to
nish the weight and shifting to the quads to
complete the lift. What will happen many times
is that youll begin shaking or miss the weight.
To x this problem, you need to add in more
glute ham raises, pull-throughs, and reverse
hypers.
10. SHIN PLACEMENT
Im not too sure where this started, but I have a
pretty good idea. Many times the taller, thinner
lifters are the best pullers, and they do start
with the bar very close to their shins. But if you
look at them from the side, they still have their
shoulders behind the bar when they pull. This
is just not possible to achieve with a thicker
lifter.
If a thicker lifter with a large amount of body
massbe it muscle or fatwere to line the bar
up with his shins, youd see he would have an
impossible time getting the shoulders behind
the bar. Remember, you need to pull the bar
back toward you, not out and away from
you. So what I believe happens is that many
lifters look to those who have great deadlifts
to see how they pull, then try to do the same
themselves. However, what they really need
to do is look to those who have great deadlifts
and who have similar builds as them and
follow their lead.
11. PULLING WITH BIG AIR
As with most exercises, you must learn how
to breathe. Stand in front of a mirror and take
a deep breath. Do your shoulders rise? If so,
then you need to learn how to breathe. Learn
to pull your air into your diaphragm. In other
words, use your belly! Pull as much air into
your belly as possible, then when you think
you have all you can get, pull more. The
deadlift isnt started by driving your feet into
the oor; its started by driving your belly into
your belt and hips exors.
One note on holding air while you pull: You do
need to try and hold your air as long as possible,
but this can only last for a few seconds while
under strain because you will pass out. So for
a long pull, youre going to have to breathe
or youll hit the oor and people will stare.
While there are several people out there who
may think this is a cool thing, I disagree. Its
much cooler to make the lift!
So when you reach the point where you begin
to really have to ght with the weight, let out
small bursts of air. Dont let all of it out at one
time or youll lose torso tightness and that will
cause the bar to drop down. By letting out
small bursts, you can keep your tightness,
continue to pull, and lock out the weight.
12. ROUNDING THE LOWER
BACK WHEN DEADLIFTING
This is another mistake I see all the time, and
most lifters know better. It happens most of the
time because of a weak lower back or a bad
starting position. Even though your shoulders
should be rounded, you must keep your lower
back arched. This will keep the shin straight
and the shoulders behind the bar, allowing
your body to be in the proper position to pull
big while keeping the back under minimal
stress.
If you pull with a rounded back, the bar is
going to drift forward away from the legs
putting your back in a very difcult position
from which to recover. When the bar drifts
forward, the weight of it will begin to work
against your leverages and cause you to have
a sticking point just below the knees or mid-
shin level. When you pull, you can either arch
your back in the beginning standing position
before you crouch down to pull or once you
grab the bar. Either way, its important to keep
the lower back arched and tight.
There are many ways to strengthen the lower
back for this. Good mornings, reverse hypers,
and arched back good mornings are a few.
You can also use a band around your traps
and feet for simulated good mornings. With
this technique, you only use the bands and
train for higher reps (in the 20 to 30 rep range)
for local muscular endurance.
13. PULLING YOUR SHOULDER
BLADES TOGETHER WHEN
YOU DEADLIFT
This is a mistake I made for years. Stand in a
deadlift stance and pull your shoulder blades
together. Take a look at where your ngertips
are. Now if you let your shoulders relax and
even round forward a little, youll see your
ngertips are much lower. This is why we
teach a rounding of the upper back. First, the
bar has to travel a shorter distance. Second,
theres less stress on the shoulder region. Itll
also help keep your shoulder blades behind
the bar.
14. PULL THE SLACK OUT OF
THE BAR
Even if you are not using a texas deadlift bar,
you still want to make an efort to pull the slack
out of the bar before accelerating the bar to
lockout. What this basically means is to begin
pulling until you feel the bar get tight against
the plates and begin to bend. Once you reach
that pointwhere you feel the bar bending
THEN begin the pull of the oor, thinking of
accelerating the speed more and more with
every inch the bar moves.
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PART V
III
Until recently, the deadlift was the bastard child of the strength and
conditioning community! Many lifters have shied away from deadlifts
due to their immense difculty, only to walk away with suboptimal
strength gains and back development. Lately a contingent of the
games top trainers have covered the deadlift, seemingly from every
angle, in attempts of resurrecting it as the cornerstone lift in ones
program.
LIGHTNING DEADLIFTS
Until recently, the deadlift was the bastard child
of the strength and conditioning community!
Many lifters have shied away from deadlifts
due to their immense difculty, only to walk
away with suboptimal strength gains and
back development. Lately a contingent of the
games top trainers have covered the deadlift,
seemingly from every angle, in attempts of
resurrecting it as the cornerstone lift in ones
program.
With all of this new interest in deadlifting, one
would think a casual YouTube search would
net benecial technique cues for your deadlift.
However, further examination reveals that
many of these techniques look like they were
designed by Barnum & Bailey and would be
of more benet to a Coney Island side show
than your deadlift!
THE EVOLUTION OF THE
DEADLIFT
Picking up a heavy object from the ground
is a plain and simple primordial instinct. The
deadlift is the most basic lift there is. Over the
years, my deadlift philosophy has evolved,
as everyones philosophy should. The key
is the right kind of evolution! In biology,
macro evolution involves major evolutionary
changes at, or above, the level of species.
Unfortunately, in many gyms throughout
the country, the deadlift has morphed into a
rendition of Cirque de la Soul with a barbell
its form butchered as its executed without
much purpose by misguided trainees. It
is contrasted with microevolution, which
is mainly concerned with the small-scale
patterns of evolution within a species or
population. An example in biology would be
Darwins nches; the nches with the longest
beaks would survive because of natural
selection, meaning because of their beaks,
they could eat food that the shorter beaked
nches could not. This is the survival of the
ttest! This is my training micro evolutionary
training philosophy in a nutshell. Im excited to
share a technique with you that has survived
training natural selection and helped propel
some of my lifters deadlifts to new heights;
the exercise is the lightning deadlift!
EXPLODE THROUGH DEADLIFT
PLATEAUS
The deadlift epitomizes an assessment of limit
strength, but if you can lift a weight fast enough,
sticking points are systematically by passed!
Explosive power is crucial to deadlifting big.
Louie Simmons bluntly puts it, It is essential
that explosive strength play a large role in
training, as it is not only a means of developing
absolute strength, but also a method of raising
physical tness that is directed towards
solving a sport-specic task. In laymans
terms, becoming more explosive means lifting
more weight.
Its widely known that if you want to develop
more explosive power in the deadlifts, youd turn
to a combination of plyometrics, accentuated
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medicine ball throws, compensatory
acceleration deadlifts and of course, speed
deadlifts against accommodated resistance.
These methods are tried and true, but one
technique is missing from the list.
TRY THIS OUT
Go ahead and try to deadlift 50 percent of
your 1 rep max (RM) slowly, then attempt it
with maximum velocity. The maximum velocity
deadlift will feel much lighter. Besides the
obvious physiological benets of deadlifting
explosively, it yields a wonderful psychological
benet. Weight that feels light is light!
ENTER THE LIGHTNING
DEADLIFT
The lightning deadlift was inspired by the
late Bob Peoples of Tennessee, the rst man
to deadlift over 700 pounds. Bob would lift
a weight out of a jack at lockout height. Bob
would then lower the weight to the oor and
lift it back up, taking advantage of the stretch
reex. Im not sure if Bob knew why it worked,
but he knew it did! I wanted to acknowledge
Bob for inspiring food for thought!
Lets take a look at what a lightning deadlifts is.
I have recently implemented this method with
some of my lifters. I am not claiming to have
invented this technique, but I have never seen
anyone else use this lift. A lightning deadlift
is very similar to using a weight releaser
in the bench press or squat. Because of
the increased weight on the eccentric, the
concentric is efectively sped up. I thought
there was no true eccentric in the deadlift?
With lightning deadlifts, you can circumvent
this obstacle and use the stretch-shortening
cycle to develop maximum explosive power.
DEVELOP FORCE PRODUCTION
WITH THE LIGHTNING
DEADLIFT
Every athletic endeavor will be enhanced by
an increased rate of force development!
RFD is more important for the deadlift than
the bench press or squat. Here is why
both the squat and the bench press have a
true eccentric phase and true concentric
phase. Even with a one second pause at the
amortization phase, approximately half of the
original stored elastic energy is available to
aid in the concentric portion of the lift. The
deadlift, at best, has a pseudo-eccentric
phase you can choose to create. Some
studies show eccentric contractions are able
to handle as much as 160 percent the amount
of weight as their concentric counterparts.
Truly your limiting factor in completing a lift
is your level of concentric strength. Studies
show that the force produced at the beginning
of a concentric contraction that followed
an eccentric contraction, is much greater
than force at the beginning of a concentric
contraction that was not preceded by an
eccentric contraction.
PROGRAMMING
CONSIDERATIONS
Lightning Deadlifts are performed for doubles.
The rst rep is performed with a chain on the
bar, generally for speed. These are done with
40-50 percent of ones maximum deadlift and
the chains are an additional 10-20 percent
added on the bar. The rst rep is performed
with the chains on the bar. Immediately when
the bar touches the ground, have the two
people on the sides pull the chains of the
bar. Then, pull the weight as explosively as
possible to lockout without chains. This will
be the most explosive deadlift you have ever
pulled you will literally feel like you are
going to fall over backward. Why? Simple,
because you have intensied the efect of
elastic energy that aids you in the lift. You
have created an eccentric portion to a lift that
does not have one. Lightning deadlifts will
teach you new meaning to pull explosively
it will train your CNS to learn and adapt to that
explosive motor pattern, resulting in bigger
pulls and if youre a powerlifter bigger totals!
SOME GUIDELINES TO REMEMBER WITH
LIGHTNING DEADLIFTS
Have two component helpers
Do not pull the second rep until you hear
go from the designated helper
Pull each rep as explosively as possible
Do 3-6 sets
Do doubles any more or any less will
eliminate the benets
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PART IX
The deadlift is the one exercise that allows you to relax your muscles in
between each repunlike the bench press and the squat when youre
doing them for reps. Most believe that its best to let the weight down
fast and concentrate more on the positive upward motion of the lift.
And I agree with the fast, positive upward motion; however, you can
also train the negative downward movement to be stronger overall,
and this will improve speed of the oor and help with a strong lockout.
STEVE GOGGINS:
DEADLIFT TRAINING TIPS
The deadlift is the one exercise that allows
you to relax your muscles in between each
repunlike the bench press and the squat
when youre doing them for reps. Most believe
that its best to let the weight down fast and
concentrate more on the positive upward
motion of the lift. And I agree with the fast,
positive upward motion; however, you can
also train the negative downward movement
to be stronger overall, and this will improve
speed of the oor and help with a strong
lockout.
In the squat and bench, we perform a negative
movement at some time or another. Some of us
attempt to use speed in the negative motion,
yet even then we never release the tension
on the bar. We remain tight and controlled.
Back to the deadliftI see some lifters attempt
to do what they consider a touch and go.
However, its more like a bounce lift as they
bang the weights on the oor and spring up.
Thats not what we want at all. One needs
to be very disciplined when performing the
negative movement of the deadlift. Youre
only cheating yourself if you bounce it of the
oor.
What we do want is to lower the bar with
control, and we want to attempt to touch it
lightly or set it down while keeping constant
tension on the bar. This can be benecial
for building strength and for helping ones
balance and control, whether you pull
sumo or conventional. I also found this to
be efective in building up the hamstrings.
In turn, it is important to note that riding the
bar hard to the oor is not good on your
elbows and joints. This can cause elbow
tendinitis, which can afect your squat and
bench.
The only time I recommend letting the bar
down hard is in competition, and even then
it has to be under control and done without
releasing the bar until it is back on the oor.
I, myself, have a bad habit of dropping the
last rep in training. However, I have never
dropped a bar in competition unless I lost
my grip.
A good practice to help with this would be
to lower all of your last reps (in training)
slower and under control. Not only will this
keep you in good practice for meets, but
you will also reap all of the benets in terms
of your technique. This principle can and
should also be used when performing rack
pulls, block pulls, and stif leg deads.
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So, as you can see, I recommend keeping the
bar loaded until you are nished with the set.
It is my belief that a loaded bar under constant
tension builds more power and muscle. This
also will keep you in the game a lot longer.
NO JERKING! BOUNCING! DROPPING AND
RESETTING!
Please take notice on the 750-pound set. As I
pull the weight up on the rst rep, I control the
weight back to the oor and lightly touch, while
at the same time keeping constant tension on
bar. On the second rep, I set the weight all the
way down while keeping constant tension on
the bar.
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80
PART X
REAL TRAINING VIDEO:
W
HAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

ABOUT DEADLIFTS OFF
PINS AND BLOCKS
PINS VS BOXES
My program called for pin-pulls, but
considering Im doing these for hypertrophy
instead of pure strength, I went with pulls
of blocks instead. Theres a BIG diference
between pin pulls and pulls of blocks in how
the bar and movement acts. For example:
1. When pulling of blocks, the bar will ex
exactly the same as if you were pulling of of
the oor. The rst point of contact when pulling
on the bar is the plate.
2. When pulling of pins, the rst point of
contact is the pin youre pulling of, so there
will be less ex in the bar. The ex will not be
the same as if pulling from the oor and the
bar ex is extended to the plate instead of the
pins.
3. Pulling of blocks makes it easier to get the
bar where you want it to be when you pull.
The bar rolls the same as if it was on the oor.
4. If pulling of pins, you have to make sure
your body is positioned correctly because the
bar doesnt roll well on the pins (it slides). This
usually means you need to step back of the
bar some.
5. Pulling of blocks is also easier on your bar,
than being slammed against pins.
There are advantages and disadvantages to
each based on what youre trying to build,
where your sticking point is and what you have
to work with. I have the option of both, and the
safer alternative for me is to pull of blocks and
allow the bar to have a more natural ex when
pulling especially when pulling for reps.
If I was working with a lifter who was dealing
with a specic sticking point, Id rather have
them work of pins to make it harder to pull
through. If its for hypertrophy, high reps or
technical work, Id have them pull of blocks.
The chains made this even better because
it took much of the stress of the lower back,
but pounded my upper back at the top. This is
exactly what I was looking for.
ELITEFTS PULLING STANDS
Deadlift Mats
Deadlift Rubber Blocks
Multi-Purpose Jump Box
Pulling Stands
My personal favorite out of all of these, is the
Multi-Purpose Jump Box. The boxes work
great for pulling stands, box squat risers, step-
ups and numerous other movements.
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83
PART XI
If you want to hit a deadlift PR, you need to build your training around
it. The program Ive written here is a ten-week cycle for an intermediate
lifter who fails just below the knee. On most deadlift training days in
this cycle, you will pull from the oor for triples, doubles, and eventually
singles. After deadlifting from the oor, you will pull from six or four-
inch blocks. The percentages will increase each week, except for
deload weeks.
10-W
EEK INTERMEDIATE
DEADLIFT PROGRAM
If you want to hit a deadlift PR, you need to
build your training around it. The program
Ive written here is a ten-week cycle for an
intermediate lifter who fails just below the knee.
On most deadlift training days in this cycle,
you will pull from the oor for triples, doubles,
and eventually singles. After deadlifting from
the oor, you will pull from six or four-inch
blocks. The percentages will increase each
week, except for deload weeks.
There are three deload weeks in this cycle.
The rst two (week three and week six), you
will still deadlift but will stay at 60% and focus
on speed and form. The nal deload (week
nine) will give you the opportunity to recover
before the peak day on week ten. This week
is extremely important if you want to hit a PR.
If you push too hard on week nine, you will not
be prepared to pull heavy on meet day.
PERCENTAGES
It should be stressed that the prescribed
percentages are meant for an intermediate
lifter. If the lifter is more advanced, he should
start at a lower percentage because he will
need more time to acclimate to the really heavy
loads. I nd that intermediate guys (if theyve
been following a good of-season program)
can jump right to higher percentages because
the weights arent as heavy and dont beat
them up so badly. The heaviest movements
(90 percent range) are all reduced range of
motion.
When determining your numbers, base them
of either your best lift in a meet or your best
clean lift in the gym. Do not use the weight
from a shitty grinder that you barely got and
that would have been redlighted for three
diferent reasons.
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85
If you follow this outline and choose the right
accessory exercises, you should hit a big
PR on week ten. Send videos to the Q&A if
you want technique advice or have other
questions, and let us know in the comments
how this training cycle works for you.
SETUP
If youre a sumo deadlifter, remember that
setup is everything. You can see in my log
here the diference between a correct setup
and a lazy approach to the bar. If youre out of
place before starting the pull, you will never
nish the lift the way you want to. It works this
way with conventional deadlifting as well, but
some lifters can grind out bad positioning
to get back into their groove. Proper setup
makes the diference between a miss and an
easy triple.
Setup matters just as much for the light pulls
on weeks three and six. When youre working
at a lighter weight, you need to focus on your
speed and form the same as if its a heavy pull.
This will help build your technique for max
attempts.
ACCESSORY EXERCISES
Choose accessories based on your
weaknesses. For my deadlift, I need to build
my upper back, so I have been doing a lot of
rows and dumbbell shrugs. If your weakness
is in your hamstrings and glutes, it wont do
you any good to program rows and dumbbell
shrugs. You need to pick accessory exercises
that will help your deadlift. If your weakness is
in your hamstrings and glutes, do glute ham
raises. If your weakness is in your abs, do
planks to the front and to both sides.
Train your traps to build a strong starting
position. I also like to throw in reverse
dumbbell curls from time to time to help the
forearms and biceps tendons. These need to
be strong to remain injury free when pulling
heavy.
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PART XII
The following program is basic. Ive used this and similar setups
with clients and myself, and had great successit works. This exact
program has been used to take a clients max deadlift from 315 to 415
in 24 weeks. Theres nothing revolutionary about this. Its just a smart,
simple program that works. This works exceptionally well for beginner
and intermediate lifters.
ADD 100 POUNDS
TO YOUR PULL
While we also wanted to bring up his squat
and get him accustomed to the strongman
events, my main goal was to bring up his
deadlift and rehab his shoulder to allow him
to press pain-free. Not knowing how the squat
would afect his shoulder, the deadlift became
the main focus. Adjustments to this setup
would be based on his feedback.
He is only able to train with me once a week
so I set his program up as follows:
MONDAY: Full Body (train alone)
WEDNESDAY: Full Body (train with me)
SATURDAY: Strongman Event Day (train with
the strongman crew)
Im only going to show the programming for
his lower body, as the deadlift was our main
focus.
On Mondays when he trained alone, I limited
his reps to ve on the squat and deadlift,
and used a simple 55 progression. He was
instructed to perform each rep as explosively
as possible and work on perfecting technique.
The rst few weeks are pretty light, but
progress overtime. This is by design.
Long story short, I had a high school wrestler
who began training with me last fall, six weeks
before the season started. Once wrestling
began, he was unable to make it in to train with
me. During the season he injured his shoulder
and required surgery. Once he healed up from
surgery, he gave me a call to get back into the
gym. Finally, we resumed training together on
May 29th. This time around, his goals were a
bit diferent. For example, instead of training for
wrestling, he wanted to get as big and strong
as possible. Training with our strongman crew,
he also decided hed like to compete.
Hes a natural, athletic kid who has pretty good
genetics. The rst session back in, I worked
him up to a 1RM on his deadlift. Because hes
been lifting consistently for a few years, has
great body awareness and natural athleticism,
I wasnt worried about working him up to a
1RM. This gave me a baseline of where he
was. We worked him up to 315 pounds for a
solid, but difcult rep. After one more jump up
in weight, he missed 335. (Note: I dont always
test a 1RM with clients. Sometimes Ill use a
3RM or 5RM. There are special situations
where I wont even test them for a long time.
Instead, we will just progress from session to
session. This really does vary from individual
to individual.)
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He squatted and deadlifted every week. When working him up to his training 5, 3 or 1RMs, we
avoided missing reps. He was instructed to always leave at least one rep in the tank.
Accessory work: Im not going to get into what he did because everyone has diferent
weaknesses. Just do what YOU suck at. Train YOUR weak points.
I wont be detailing the event days below, but typically it looked like:
For those who dont train strongman events, organize the template slightly diferent. Id like
to see another day or two of rest between squat/deadlift days, with the strongman events
removed from the program:
WEEK A:
Log Clean & Press
Farmers Carry
Atlas Stones
WEEK B:
Log Clean & Press
Yoke Walk
Carry or Medley
EXAMPLE #1:
MONDAY: Full Body (Squat/
Deadlift)
WEDNESDAY: Full Body (Single
leg work)
FRIDAY: Full Body (Squat/
Deadlift)
EXAMPLE #2:
MONDAY: Lower (Squat/
Deadlift)
TUESDAY: Upper Body
THURSDAY: Lower Body (Squat/
Deadlift)
FRIDAY: Upper Body
EXAMPLE #3:
MONDAY: Lower Body (Squat/
Deadlift)
TUESDAY: Upper Body
THURSDAY: Full Body (Squat/
Deadlift)
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90 91
PART XIII
DEADLIFT: All percentages below are based on a training max. His
training max was 85% of his true 1RM.
SQUAT: All percentages below are based on a training max. His
training max was based on 85% of his estimated 1RM. Since his squat
technique wasnt as procient as his deadlift, I worked him to a 5RM
instead of a 1RM. This was used to establish his estimated 1RM.
The training max or everyday max is a very important part of this
program. Using a true max for this program will not work properly.
24 W
EEK
DEADLIFT
Deadlift: All percentages below are based on a training max. His training max was 85% of his
true 1RM.
Squat: All percentages below are based on a training max. His training max was based on 85%
of his estimated 1RM. Since his squat technique wasnt as procient as his deadlift, I worked him
to a 5RM instead of a 1RM. This was used to establish his estimated 1RM.
The training max or everyday max is a very important part of this program. Using a true max for
this program will not work properly.
PHASE ONE
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93
MONDAY- ALTERNATE A AND B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Squat
WEEK B Deadlift
Week 1: Squat: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 2: Deadlift: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 3: Squat: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 4: Deadlift: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 5: Squat: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
Week 6: Deadlift: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
WEDNESDAY: ALTERNATE WEEK A AND WEEK B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Deadlift
WEEK B Squat
Week 1: Deadlift: 5 reps @ 60%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met.)
Week 2: Squat: 5 reps @ 55%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met.)
Week 3: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met.)
Week 4: Squat: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met.)
Week 5: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 65%, 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. This is a training 1 rep max. Not a true 1
rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the bar is approached aggressively.)
Week 6: Squat: 3 reps @ 65%, 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. Not a true 1 rep max. There is some left
in the tank, but the bar is approached aggressively.)
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PHASE TWO
Deadlift All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 pounds
to his deadlift training max.
Squat All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 pounds to
his squat training max.
MONDAY- ALTERNATE A AND B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Squat
WEEK B Deadlift
Week 1: Squat: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 2: Deadlift: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 3: Squat: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 4: Deadlift: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 5: Squat: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
Week 6: Deadlift: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
WEDNESDAY: ALTERNATE WEEK A AND WEEK B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Deadlift
WEEK B Squat
Week 1: Deadlift: 5 reps @ 60%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.)
Week 2: Squat: 5 reps @ 55%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.)
Week 3: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here.)
Week 4: Squat: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here.)
Week 5: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (This is a training 1 rep
max. Not a true 1 rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the bar is approached
aggressively. Continue working up making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. Go for a heavier
single than phase 1.)
Week 6: Squat: 3 reps @ 65%, 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (This is a
training 1 rep max. Not a true 1 rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the bar is
approached aggressively. Continue working up making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. Go
for a heavier single than phase 1.)
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PHASE THREE
Back of sets are added after hitting RM for the day. All back of sets are done beltless.
Deadlift All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 more
pounds to his deadlift training max.
Squat All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 more
pounds to his squat training max.
MONDAY- ALTERNATE A AND B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Squat
WEEK B Deadlift
Week 1: Squat: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 2: Deadlift: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 3: Squat: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 4: Deadlift: 70%x5, , 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 5: Squat: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
Week 6: Deadlift: 75%x5, 85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
WEDNESDAY: ALTERNATE WEEK A AND WEEK B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Deadlift
WEEK B Squat
Week 1: Deadlift: 5 reps @ 60%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.) Back of sets: 3 sets of 5-8
@ 65%
Week 2: Squat: 5 reps @ 55%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.) Back of sets: 3
sets of 5-8 @ 65%
Week 3: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here. Back of sets: 3
sets of 5-8 @ 70%
Week 4: Squat: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here.) Back of sets: 3
sets of 5-8 @ 70%
Week 5: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 65%, 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (This is a training
1 rep max, not a true 1 rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the bar is approached
aggressively. Continue working up, making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. Go for a heavier
single than phase 2.) Back-of sets: 3 sets of 3-5 @ 75%
Week 6: Squat: 3 reps @ 65%, 3 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (This is a training
1 rep max, not a true 1 rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the bar is approached
aggressively. Continue working up making 5% jumps until a 1RM is met. Go for a heavier
single than phase 2.) Back-of sets: 3 sets of 3-5 @ 75%
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PHASE FOUR
Back of sets are added after hitting RM for the day. All back of sets are done beltless.
Deadlift All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 more
pounds to his deadlift training max.
Squat All percentages below are based on a training max. We have now added 10 more
pounds to his squat training max.
MONDAY- ALTERNATE A AND B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Squat
WEEK B Deadlift
Week 1: Squat: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 2: Deadlift: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5, 65%x5
Week 3: Squat: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 4: Deadlift: 70%x5, 80%x5, 90%x5, 80%x5, 70%x5
Week 5: Squat: Omit Deadlift Testing Week
Week 6: Deadlift: 75%x5,85%x5, 95%x5, 85%x5, 75%x5
WEDNESDAY: ALTERNATE WEEK A AND WEEK B FOR 6 WEEKS
WEEK A Deadlift
WEEK B Squat
Week 1: Deadlift: 5 reps @ 60%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.) Back-of sets: 3 sets of
5-8 @ 65%
Week 2: Squat: 5 reps @ 55%, 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 5RM is met. Go for a 5 rep PR here.) Back-of sets:
3 sets of 5-8 @ 65%
Week 3: Deadlift: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here.) Back-of sets:
3 sets of 5-8 @ 70%
Week 4: Squat: 3 reps @ 60%, 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90% (Continue
working up making 5% jumps until a 3RM is met. Go for a 3 rep PR here.) Back-of sets:
3 sets of 5-8 @ 70%
Week 5: TEST Deadlift: 1 rep @ 65%, 1 rep @ 75%, 1 rep @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95% (Continue
working up making 5-10% jumps until a 1RM is met. Go for an all time PR here.)
Week 6: Squat: 3 reps @ 65% TM, 3 reps @ 75% TM, 3 reps @ 85% TM, 1 rep @ 95% TM
(This is a training 1 rep max, not a true 1 rep max. There is some left in the tank, but the
bar is approached aggressively. Continue working up, making 5% jumps until a 1RM is
met. Go for a heavier single than phase 3.)
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He nished this phase with a PR pull of 415 pounds, a full 100 pounds heavier than his pull just
24 weeks before. And he had some left in the tank. Even on this testing day, I didnt allow him
to miss a lift.
So what will we do now?
He will continue to follow these 6-week phases above, slowly increasing his training max,
setting 5 and 3 rep PRs, hitting a heavier training single than the phase before, and progressing
on this as long as he can. A lot of people like changing programs, switching things up, etc., but
I rmly believe if its not broke, dont x it. This is working for him, so theres no need to change
a thing. When the weights start becoming too heavy to nish without missing reps or missing
weights, we will reset his training max. Id simply subtract 20 pounds from the current training
max and progress from there. Eventually he will have milked it for all its worth. Then, the
changes will come. The only changes we will make before this happens will be his accessory
work. This will be determined by how his heaviest single of the previous phase looks like and
what his weak point is at that moment.
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PART XIV
The death liftthe one true test of strength and the one lift that is
still relatively untouched by the advancements of powerlifting gear.
Nowadays, people can put a lot of time into mastering their supportive
gear and get hundreds of pounds of carryover, especially in the squat
and bench. But the deadlift stands alone as a lift that you either have
or you dont.
THE DEATH LIFT!
The death liftthe one true test of strength
and the one lift that is still relatively untouched
by the advancements of powerlifting gear.
Nowadays, people can put a lot of time into
mastering their supportive gear and get
hundreds of pounds of carryover, especially
in the squat and bench. But the deadlift stands
alone as a lift that you either have or you dont.
Only one man has pulled a 1,000-pound
deadlift in a sanctioned meet and thats Andy
Bolton, who did it twice. However, Benedict
Magnusson has successfully pulled an
amazing 1,015 pounds in a non-sanctioned
meet and raw! Heading down the list of
amazing deadlifters, we nd that only thirteen
men in history have ever pulled 900 lbs or
more. I wanted to know what makes an elite
deadlifter. Is it mental, physical, genetics, a
solid training program? What?
I had the great honor and privilege of taking
some time to communicate with three of the
best deadlifters of all timethe legend Ed
Coan and Vince Urbank, who have successfully
pulled over 900 pounds in a sanctioned meet,
and Steve Goggins of elitefts who has pulled
900 pounds hook grip in training.
I wanted to know what the diference was
between an 800-pound deadlifter and a
900-pound deadlifter. I asked the three of
them the same two questionswhat are
some misconceptions about building a huge
deadlift (that youve personally found), and
can you tell us what has contributed the most
to your amazing pull (physical, mental, or
spiritual aspects or training method)? Below is
an uncut response from each of them about
the subject. Enjoy!
ED COAN
The deadlift isnt a tricky lift. Its pretty easy. You
bend over and pick up the weight. Now, how
you get the most out of it can be tricky. I think
the misconception with deadlifting is heavy,
heavy, heavy way too much. You can also go
way too light on speed work. The weight has
to be enough that there is a carryovertoo
light and it wont work and too heavy and you
overtrain.
I usually changed it up after a contest and did
a variation of the deadlift for a whole cycle. I
usually picked a deadlift variation that worked
my weakest spot. For me, I liked to do a stif
legged deadlift cycle. It lasted nine weeks
while standing on a three-inch block. Then I
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did three weeks of eight, three weeks of six,
and three weeks of four. I also paused them
on the bottom.
The mental approach is easy! If you set up
a good program that is very doable, your
condence builds during the whole cycle.
By the end, youre as strong as shit mentally.
People forget that its a long process to be
good at any lift. Your expectations have to be
reasonable. Dont think that you can go up
3040 pounds every cycle. Take your time and
youll get there. I really did have great training
partners along the way. They knew me and all
my little hang ups and let me be me.
VINCE URBANK
Some common misconceptions Ive found
are that lifters assume their lifting should be
tied to a particular frequency (i.e. I have to
squat every week or I have to deadlift every
week). A lifters recovery depends on age,
body weight, sex, lifting experience, current
strength level, training style leading up to that
point, and other factors. So if your recovery is
constantly changing, why would you always
rest the same amount?
Beginner/weaker lifters need to train more
often while experienced/very strong lifters
need more rest. Be honest with yourself. If
youve been powerlifting for ten years and
you deadlift 500 lbs at a body weight of 308
lbs, you arent an experienced lifter limited by
your genetics. You dont need more rest. You
havent trained and recovered properly and
now youre paying the price for your mistakes.
Youve essentially kept yourself at a beginner
level despite training for a considerable
amount of time.
Assistance exercises can help, but there isnt
any replacement for doing the movement
competition style and training to become
powerful through that exact range of motion
and from that position. Dont be lazy and say
that rack pulls are good enough because
youre tired from squatting, and dont do band
pulls and tell yourself that theyre as good
or better than pulling weight from the oor
powerlifting style.
Straps can be good to help keep the grip
from becoming overtrained, but dont rely on
them and dont max with them unless youre
a Strongman and your upcoming show allows
it. Too many lifters build a huge deadlift while
using straps as a crutch so heavily in training
that their strapless max ends up being far
below their max with straps.
The squat and deadlift are both heavy, lower
body exercises that tax the nervous system.
Both involve the same muscle groups
(although in difering proportions). So by
increasing strength in the back, hamstrings,
glutes, and quads and increasing nervous
system efciency and output, how could they
not both increase at the same time? Dont
blame lack of deadlift gains on your squat
gains or vice versa. Once again, be honest
with yourself and reevaluate your training.
I feel that following a clean, whole food diet,
not eating any junk food or processed food,
and doing a lot of manual labor and exercise
from a very young age have contributed to my
pull the most physically. Through my teenage
years and before I ever started lifting weights
at age sixteen or seventeen, I had already
been doing calisthenics, sprints, and jumps
for years. I feel that many years of exercise
have helped my muscular development and
helped me learn what food and training my
body needs to reach my next goal.
Mentally/spiritually, I think the biggest factor
to achieving big lifts isnt believing that others
are better than you but truly believing that you
can do anything that anyone else has ever
done and more if you have a smart enough
plan and are willing to do whatever it takes
to reach that goal. I also believe that its very
important to have a constant positive attitude
about yourself and whatever your current
situation is. Dont waste any time or energy
responding to or engaging negative people.
Surround yourself with positive people who
respect you for having a huge goal and
encourage you for who you are and what
youre determined to work toward.
As far as training method, train heavy and basic.
Your heavy training on the primary movements
should be primarily with the contest version
of the movement or sometimes a very close
variation. Reps will obviously go down as the
meet gets closer, but you shouldnt go more
than ve reps on the squat and two to three
reps on the deadlift per set. If you do, try to
keep it limited to one big set (especially in
the eight to ten weeks pre-contest). If you get
weaker from one session to the next, youre
overtraining and need to rest more.
Speed work is great for increasing power but
doing it on a constant scheduled basis (i.e.
every week) is a waste of time and available
recovery. You wont continually get faster
indenitely, at least not to any signicant
measurable degree. So save the speed
work for when you need an extended break
between heavy sessions and your lifts have
been slowing down. You get substantial
speed training on your heavy days if youre
being as fast and explosive as possible on
your warm ups.
STEVE GOGGINS
Most elite lifters say that you shouldnt use
straps when deadlifting. For me, I nd this to
be untrue. I was able to build a tremendous
amount of strength in my back by using straps.
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However, you still have to work your deadlift
without straps as well.
Another misconception is that you should stop in
between each rep. Its OK to touch and go as long
as you dont bounce the weight of the oor. I also
think many people believe that once you pull a
deadlift, you have to let it down hard and fast. In
my training experience, I always let the bar down
slowly in a negative type fashion in between each
rep. When youre deadlifting in a meet, its OK to
let the bar down fast just as long as youre under
control.
Some people think that you need to train your
deadlift more than once a week. In my experience,
I havent found this to be of any benet. Another
misconception is that one should pull 90 percent
or more one week before a meet. You can, but
your results wont be what you expect or what they
should be. I would always stop 14-21 days out for
my last heavy pull.
Beginners think that when you start to pull heavy,
you should use more arms and upper body to
pull the weight of the oor. Using your upper
body does nothing more than cause you to lean
way forward and use more lower back. Keep your
arms as straight as possible and your shoulders as
relaxed as possible to get the best benet(s).
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PART XV
His name was Master Chai, a multi-degree black belt who came to
the United States from the mountains of Korea. Thinking back, I dont
recall the year, day, or date, but I remember watching the event unfold
right in front of me when I was a teenager, just like it was yesterday.
Master Chai had all of his Tae Kwon Do students, myself included, in
the parking lot after one of the students broke his hand trying to break
a brick.
MONSTER GARAGE GYM:
HOOK GRIP 101
ITS A
LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP
His name was Master Chai, a multi-degree
black belt who came to the United States from
the mountains of Korea. Thinking back, I dont
recall the year, day, or date, but I remember
watching the event unfold right in front of
me when I was a teenager, just like it was
yesterday. Master Chai had all of his Tae Kwon
Do students, myself included, in the parking
lot after one of the students broke his hand
trying to break a brick.
I remember watching Master Chai slowly
and deliberately tighten up his st and then
lay on the pavement, his st tight and his
arm laying straight on the ground. I then
remember watching as one of the other black
belts got in his Jeep and drove over Master
Chais closed st. He slowly drove the Jeep
up, on, over, and then of of Chais closed st.
We all watched in total shock as we tried to
gure out why Master Chai not only wanted
to purposely crush his own hand under the
weight of the Jeep, but also why he wanted us
to witness this. Once Master Chai got up from
the pavement, he proceeded to brush the grit
from the tire and the pavement of of his st.
And slowly, little by little, he unfurled his hand,
eventually displaying a perfectly functional
hand, little nger and all. It is a memory that
has stuck with me to this day.
Now on to your questionwhat does this
have to do with powerlifting? Well, for the
sake of this article, only everything when
it comes to the hook grip. Almost a decade
ago I was prepping for the WPC Worlds,
and during an all too routine 605-pound
nal warm-up, I tore my right bicep. Nearly
a total detachment. Following a successful
surgery, the surgeon told me that there was
this little eight percent of the tendon keeping
the other 92 percent from rolling up, window
shade style. Therefore, pulling with that arm
supinated was a no-go. I will spare the details
of the rehab and such for another article (as
they might be helpful for someone else who
has had this injury recently), but I will tell
you that I was concerned about my deadlift
because as a good deadlifter. (I was, and still
am, a horrid bencher on the other hand). I
talked to Ernie Frantz as I sat there with ice
on my bicep, and he suggested swapping the
pronated hand for a supinated hand and vice
versa. Since I am not indestructible like Ernie,
I started talking to other guys who had blown
their biceps and then swapped grip. However,
nearly 75 percent of them had eventually
blown the other bicep. Ernie has ropes for
biceps tendons, I dont, and I wanted no part
of another rupture. Enter, the hook grip
If you are not familiar with the hook grip, it is
a way to grip the bar that is best known in the
Olympic lifting community. The easiest way to
describe the hook grip (versus the traditional
overhand and underhand grip) is to say that
you are basically using your own thumb and
ngers to create a wrist-strap around the bar.
With a hook grip, both hands are in the
pronated position, meaning your palms are
facing in when you are holding the deadlift
bar. Here are the steps:
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1. Open your hands as wide as possible and
try to push the barbell deep into the pocket of
your palms.
3. Grip the barbell with your pinky and ring nger
while your index nger and your hey, you just
cut me of in trafc! nger are wrapped around
your thumb as tightly as you can. (Remember, the
thumb is wrapped around the bar, and it is kind of
pointed toward your own pinky nger). To be clear,
the index and middle nger are gripping so tightly
and squeezing the thumb into the barbell that the
thumb is essentially trapped by those two ngers.
2. Wrap your thumbs around the bar as far as
you can, as if you were going to completely
encircle the bar with your thumb.
*Try this on something thinner than a barbell, such as the handle of a wooden spoon or
something of that likeness, so you can see what it is like to engulf that implement into your
hand and use this hook grip.
The key to the hook grip is the lesson of Master Chai. The reason his hand did not break is
because he tightened his st so much that there was no room for the carpels in his hand to
move. Thus, there were no moving parts to break, just one big non-breakable mass. The hook
grip is like that. If there is no space between your thumb and the bar, you can pull tremendous
weight and not really feel the hook grip much.
The hook will feel ne for lighter weight that you can still hold with a double pronated grip,
even if you are doing it incorrectly and not gripping it as tightly as you should. However, when
the weight is greater than what your double pronated grip can hold, you have to grip that bar
as if someone is trying to steal your paycheck in order for the hook to work properly. And with
a tightand I mean TIGHThook grip, you are smashing your own thumb to the deadlift bar. If
you grab the bar with less than your tightest grip, the bar will smash your thumb as the bar is
lifted, so now you have gravity, the barbell, and 700 pounds smashing your thumb. The tighter
the grip of your hook, the less pain to your thumbs. Now, when I say less pain to the thumb,
that is a relative term. The hook grip is not a pleasant grip. When I say that, I dont mean a
going to the dentist kind of unpleasant. I mean it is signicantly unpleasant. You are going to
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have to mentally commit to this grip in order
to do it. It is not like lifting sumo for a training
cycle and then doing another training cycle
with a conventional stance. This is like getting
tattooedyou kind of just get through it.
IN MY EXPERIENCE, HERE ARE
SOME PROS TO THE HOOK
GRIP:
Your body wont twist or windmill as it can
with a pronated and supinated grip.
Your supinated bicep is not actively
engaged, so it is not exposed to rupture.
You have symmetry between your left and
right hands.
The distance is a little less to pull (every bit
counts).
You wont drop the bar because you
really cant drop the bar if you are doing
the hook correctly. You will run out of air
pulling before you would lose your grip
with the hook.
You are far less likely to have a chunk of
your hand rip away, which can happen
when gnarled bar meets lose callouses.
THAT SAID, HERE ARE SOME
CONS I HAVE FOUND WITH
THE GRIP:
Hook grip is a big hands grip. If you have
one of the elitefts deadlift bars and you
have smaller hands, you should be okay
since they are something like 27-28mm.
But the hook can be a challenge for
smaller hands.
Reps are tough. You have to re-grip with
each rep, so this might mean using straps
on your lighter sets.
If you have shorter arms, your ngers can
get caught on your suit bottom. Powder it
up.
The hook takes months to get used to.
There is a callous to build up, and it just
plain old takes some practice.
You cant half-ass a hook grip deadlift like
you can with a traditional grip. You have
to commit 100 percent. Even if you dont
have to pull hard to get the weight up, you
will have to grip hard to make it tolerable.
Plain old unpleasant.
The hook grip is merely one tool in your
powerlifting tool box, but it is a specialty tool
and well worth experimenting with, regardless
if you pull sumo or conventional. Ultimately,
the hook grip is a love-hate relationship. You
will love the pulling power you get with it;
however, you will hate how unpleasant it is at
the same time.
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videos, 800 exercises, The Strength Cast, Iron
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114
PART XV
I
Welcome to the long-awaited follow-up to Matt Wennings popular
SYTYCS series. This time, Matt targets the pull in the same expert
fashion that he did with the squat. We brought in loyal elitefts
customer and amateur strongman competitor Ryan Minney as our
training subject and his form is broken down, analyzed and a thorough
plan to improve his deadlift is laid-out.
SO YOU THINK
YOU CAN DEADLIFT
Welcome to the long-awaited follow-up to Matt Wennings popular SYTYCS series. This time,
Matt targets the pull in the same expert fashion that he did with the squat. We brought in loyal
elitefts customer and amateur strongman competitor Ryan Minney as our training subject and
his form is broken down, analyzed and a thorough plan to improve his deadlift is laid-out.
WENNING COVERS:
1) the importance of the deadlift
2) why we focus on the conventional DL
3) body position/mechanics
4) spinal arch
5) static muscle strength
6) collecting data to determine weakness
7) basic set-up
8) avoiding a break in upper back position
9) transferability of pin-pulls to deadlifting
10) make your back a solid piece of iron
11) leg strength vs. back strength in the pull
He starts Ryan at 135, progresses to 225, 315, 365 and around 405. Bar speed is important.
Make every one of your reps (including warm-ups) fast, violent and perfect!
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