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Special Forces Workout Part III
50 Jumping Jacks, 70lb Fireman Carry 140’ 25 Burpies, 1 Arm DB Clean and Press with 80lbs x 20 each arm. This set is done 4 times
Bent Over BB Row 155lbs x 20, 225lb 20 Rep Squats, 10 NON kipping Pull Ups wide grip palms facing away this set is 4 times
Upright row 135lbs x15, BB Front Raise x15, 80lb DB shrug x20 This set done 4x
2.5 Mile Run in under 12 Minutes
7/22 SF Workout Part II
Powerclean to Back Squat w/ 175lbs to Wide Grip Pull Up (no kipping fag) to Burpie for 20 reps
20 box jumps to 36”
50 Kettle Bell swings
Body Drag 140’
355tire for 140’
600lb sled drag 140’
The above are all done twice
Decline Pushups for 2 minutes
Open leg sit ups for 2 minutes
Log pick and sprint for 200’ (150lb log)
6 sprints 210’
The Special Forces Workout 7/20/10
Do you like brutal workouts? The kind that push you to the absolute limit of mind and body? Try this on for size…if you can..
Low bar prowler plus 200lbs for 75’
455lb Tire flip for 75’
160lbs Per Hand Farmers Walk 150’
20 Box Jumps to 24”
10 Clean and Jerk with 175lbs
10 Deadlifts with 275lbs
30 Suicide Crunches
This is one set…this is done for four rounds…for time….enjoy!
I’m Not An Ass, You’re Just Fat
I am frequently asked if I am as mean as I seem. Truthfully, I would have to answer yes and no. When it comes to training, excuses and whining, I am probably worse in person than I am in blogs or facebook posts. I have ZERO sympathy for the fat, the weak, the lazy or mentally useless. I have seen men and women who are wheel chair bound set records, bench big and compete in body building shows with a physique I could only hope for. If you come to me telling me it’s too hard, you don’t have enough time, you really do eat clean or it’s your Thyroid I am not gonna waste my time with you. The simple fact is, your fat, lazy and a burden on society. If you want to be fat, be fat, but don’t feed me and everyone else the bullshit. No one is stupid enough to believe that you got this way on accident or because you have a thyroid issue. More than likely, it’s the twinkies, pop, loaf of bread for a snack and sitting on your lazy ass all day that made you look like the Good Year blimp. Take the Hostess out of your mouth, grab a bottle of water and get your ass to the gym to do some work!! So…here is my list…if you do any of these…fuck off:
1. Tell me you have tried every diet there is and can’t lose weight. Trying them all at the same time isn’t helping retard. You’re still eating enough for breakfast to feed Ethiopia.
2. Tell me you don’t have time. Really? REALLY? Then how did you manage to complete the latest video game in less than 24hours, read the fantasy novel and make it over to McDonalds 6 times?
3. Tell me you drink diet pop. If you’re really that dumb..just go jump off of a cliff please. We have a surplus population anyway and you are just taking up space for 3.
4. Tell me you tried working out and it just doesn’t do anything for you. Well, yeah…walking on the treadmill twice isn’t going to magically make you lose that extra 200lbs of FAT ASS you’re carrying around. It’s called WORKing out for a reason. It’s not easy dip shit.
5. Tell me it’s genetic. Listen fuckstick…you may have a genetic disposition to carry excess fat yes, but you are not 400lbs because it’s genetic. You are 400lbs because breakfast for you was a 12 piece bucket from KFC.
There is never an excuse that is justified. It boils down to this….you’re lazy, you eat like shit and you have no respect for yourself or others. We should ship you over to Ethiopia for a year so you understand how lucky you are and how selfish you are being.
Deadlift training: A master class Part II
What not to do
Many lifters make the mistake of doing too many reps; this could like this:
135lbs x 12 x 2
225lbs x 8
300lbs x 8
350lbs x 6
400lbs x 5
450lbs x 3 (last rep barely moves due to fatigue)
500lbs x fail
Another common mistake is doing too few reps; this is a recipe for injury and less than optimal performance:
225lbs x 5
400lbs x 3
500lbs x fail
The reason for the failure this time is because you have not used lighter sets to effectively groove the movement pattern and the jumps are so big that they are too much of a shock for your body to handle.
Assistance exercises for the Deadlift
To enhance your deadlift, you must perform assistance exercises. These movements should focus on the key deadlifting muscles (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back and grip).
As a lifter it is your job to find out which assistance exercises help your deadlift the most and which set/rep ranges work best for you.
As a rule of thumb, assistance exercises should be performed for 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps. The better you get, the more you will start to understand what set and rep ranges work for you and which assistance exercises help you the most.
Andy’s favourite assistance exercises
Andy Bolton has worked up to 410lbs shrugs for sets of 6 to 8 reps, but he does not do these anymore and was not doing them in the build up to either of his 1000lbs plus deadlifts. He felt they hindered his deadlift training by tiring his central nervous system.
These days, some of Andy’s favourite assistance exercises for the deadlift are:
Close, Neutral Grip Pull Downs: 3 or 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Single Arm, Machine Hammer Rows: 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 10 reps/side
Straight Arm Pull Downs: 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
BB Shrugs: 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (doesn’t go over 400lbs these days)
One Arm DB Rows: 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps/side
Leg Curls: 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Single Leg Variations: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps/side
Back Extensions: 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 20 reps
He does not perform all these exercises in every session and the back exercises (pull downs and rows) will normally be done on a Bench day, after pressing movements. It should also be noted that this is not an exhaustive list of his assistance exercises, just his favourite. To ensure continuous progress, movements will be alternated every 4 weeks or when he gets bored.
Assistance Exercises for the Deadlift (and Squat)
Hamstrings, Glutes and Lower Back
The hamstrings, glutes and lower back are the prime movers in the powerlifting style squat and the deadlift. These muscles are also responsible for performance in many sports. For example, top sprinters have extremely strong hamstrings. The following is a list of some excellent movements that will help build these areas.
Glute Ham Raise: using a machine or done without
Reverse Hyper Machine
Romanian Deadlifts: done with a barbell or DB’s
Zercher Squats or Deadlifts
Hip Pull Throughs: done with a wide or close stance
Band Leg Curls
45 degree Back Extensions
Sled dragging: forwards
Single Leg Work
A lot of powerlifters and athletes overlook single leg work. However, its benefits are numerous. Single leg movements will help correct imbalances between the left and right sides of your body. They will also provide a good stretch for the hips (which are often tight on today’s desk society). Reverse lunges with the front foot elevated and Bulgarian split squats are great for this purpose.
For athletes, most of you will play sports that require uni-lateral work. So doesn’t it make sense to do some of your work in the weight room in the same manner?
Reverse Lunge: with Dumbbells or Barbell
Reverse Lunge: front squat grip
Reverse Lunge: Front foot elevated 4 to 6 inches
Forwards Lunge: With Dumbbells or Barbell
Walking Lunge: With Dumbbells or Barbell
Split Squat: With Dumbbells or Barbell
Bulgarian Split Squat: with Dumbbells or Barbell
Steps Ups: with Dumbbells or Barbell
DB Single Leg RDL
Single leg Squat
Fat bar holds for time
Fat bar Partial Conventional Deadlift: for time or reps
Pinch Grip Plate Holds
Deadlift Style Pinch Grip Plate Holds: for time or reps
Shrugs for high reps
Shrugs for high reps: thumb less grip
The grip exercises you see here are the ones that we have found carryover to the deadlift the best. In between Andy’s 1003lbs pull and his 1008lbs pull he missed several weights in competition. The reason for these misses was a lack of grip strength every single time. When he made 1008lbs he held it at the top for several seconds. The above exercises contributed the most to this.
You will not see typical grip training methods like the Captains of Crush Grippers on the list. The reason being that we find that they do not carry over to the deadlift anywhere near as well as the above exercises do.
With all grip work focus on squeezing the bar as hard as you possibly can on every single rep. This sounds very obvious but we find our performances improve when we consciously focus on this.
It is extremely important to have a strong core for squatting and deadlifting and indeed for all sports. One of the most important things are athlete can learn is how to keep the natural lumbar arch whilst performing their chosen sport. To do this, the core must be braced hard. (Think of what you would do if you were going to get punched in the stomach). To brace the core hard, all areas of your mid section should be worked.
Core exercises should be treated like any other resistance exercise in the weight room. This means they should be done hard and heavy. We like 4 sets of 10. We do not like 10 sets of 100 as we often see written in the latest celebrity training program. These programs, if real at all, often revolve around crunches. The crunch is an out dated exercise that is much better replaced by other, more challenging movements.
To attack your core from all angles, try the following exercises, rotating to a new one every few weeks:
Pull Down Abs
Pull Down Crunch
Hanging Leg Raises: Legs bent or straight
DB Side Bends
D-Handle Oblique Push Downs
Full Contact Twist
Swiss Ball Crunch
Upper Back and Lats
Getting your upper back and lats stronger will drastically improve your ability to lock out heavy weights. However, the benefits of heavy rows and pull ups or pull downs do not end there. Strength in this area is also required for a big bench and to perform many sports techniques.
Rows in particular are important for shoulder health. A lot of people do a ton of pressing movements that involve internal rotation of the upper arm. This can lead to lousy posture, less than optimal performance in your chosen sport and injury risk. Rows involve external rotation of the humerous and therefore balance out the pressing.
One Arm DB Rows
BB Rows: overhand or underhand grip
Pull Ups: Wide pronated grip, neutral grip
Chins: Underhand grip
Pull Downs: Various wide of grip: pronated, supinated or neutral
High Pulley X-over Pulldowns
Single Arm, Shoulder Height, D-Handle Pulley Rows
Assistance exercises: the wrap up
We have listed a lot of assistance exercises. To ensure that you are working all aspects of your deadlift, make sure that you are performing exercises from each section on a regular basis.
Using the Deadlift for Bodybuilding
The deadlift can add slabs of muscle to your physique. Unlike a powerlifter, who will usually train the deadlift with 1 to 5 reps, bodybuilders can utilise higher reps to promote hypertrophy.
There are so many ways to split up a bodybuilders training week (once a week, twice a week, total body three times a week and so on). Regardless of how you split your training week, the deadlift and certain variations can allow you to achieve your goals.
For hypertrophy we like the deadlift from the floor, partial deadlifts and Romanian Deadlifts done for sets of 3 to 15. The hamstrings often respond well to low reps and heavy weight, so it is useful for a bodybuilder to sometimes perform heavy sets. In contrast, the lower back often responds well to high reps, making a variety of rep ranges viable for hypertrophy.
Bodybuilders may use straps to perform these movements as they are trying to develop their physique to its maximum aesthetic potential. This means that a cast iron grip is not a necessity like it is to a strength athlete. That said, we still recommend only using straps for top sets.
To hit the back as hard as possible we recommend the conventional deadlift from the floor or through a limited range of motion. A limited range of motion will really allow you to overload the back muscles with heavy weight and is also an easier position to get into than the pull from the floor. Bodybuilders do not need to pull from the floor and if they can not do so whilst arching their lumbar spine, pulling from blocks or pins in a power rack is a useful alternative.
To promote growth in the hips and glutes, the sumo would be the preferred deadlift of choice. Again, this can be done from the floor or as a partial movement.
The deadlift is more neurologically taxing than the squat. For this reason, having de-load weeks every 4th week will ensure that you do not burn out. Better still, try not pulling every fourth week and see how fresh you feel on the 5th week. You must be training hard to do this. In affect, you have to earn the right to back off.
For maximum carryover to your competition deadlift make sure that each rep starts in the right position. To ensure this, don’t bounce your reps. Pause them and re-set if necessary in order to ensure each rep starts close to your shins. If need be stand up between each rep and set up to the bar again.
Deadlift training: A master class: part 1
By Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman
The deadlift is an extremely practical movement. Most of us will sometimes have to pick up fairly heavy and awkward household or work related items that are situated below our waists or on the floor. Knowing how to do so safely is a good thing. In the gym, where the weights are much greater (and consequently so are the risks) this is even more true. To ensure that you deadlift safely and lift in the most efficient manner possible go and read our first article that focuses on technique.
There were two main questions that have come up time and time again from our first article. We will address these points before moving onto showing you some ways to train your deadlift, depending on your goals.
The first issue concerns grip. This is actually not as hard an issue to get to the bottom of as you might expect. Firstly, for almost everybody, you must use a mixed grip or a hook grip in order to deadlift anywhere near your potential. A mixed grip involves having one hand supinated and one pronated and this is the grip of choice for most powerlifters, (the people with the biggest deadlifts on the planet). The hook grip involves having a double overhand grip that is strengthened by putting your index and middle fingers over your thumb. This can be painful at first, but some people can make it work. Our advice to most is to stick with the mixed grip for deadlift training and switch which hand you have supinated on each set to ensure balance.
For the most part we suggest leaving your lifting straps at home. They will keep you from developing a strong grip, whilst making you look like a wimp. Neither are good things.
The second issue from our first article regards the position of the upper back during the deadlift. This actually all depends on your goals and why you are performing the deadlift.
If you are a powerlifter, the relaxed thoracic spine position that we described in the first article is an absolute must. As a powerlifter, the deadlift counts towards your total and you want to pull as much as you can. Relaxing the upper back will shorten the distance you need to pull and should help you lift a lot more in competition.
Athletes competing in other sports need to understand that the activities they do in the weight room are really General Physical Preparedness (GPP) exercises for their sport. In simple terms, the weight room allows an athlete to develop physical qualities that their sport does not develop. Any exercise that an athlete does in the weight room should, ultimately, help improve their performance in their chosen sport (otherwise there is no point in them doing it).
With this in mind, the athlete may want to relax the upper back less than a powerlifter and keep the scapulae retracted. This will make the ROM longer but is a somewhat easier position to keep safe.
This is not to say that a relaxed upper back is an unsafe position (the thoracic spine is designed to be mobile). However, a lot of athletes think they are relaxing their upper back, when in fact they are relaxing their whole back. In other words, they are rounding at the lumbar spine. Something we definitely do not want.
So in conclusion, powerlifters should adopt the relaxed upper back because it will help them shorten their ROM and this should help them pull bigger and therefore increase their total.
Athletes from other sports have two options. For advanced athletes who can brace their core hard and keep their lumbar spine arched, then go ahead and by all means adopt the relaxed upper back deadlift technique. For athletes who are less confident about their abilities to simultaneously arch the lumbar spine and relax the upper back, go ahead and pin those shoulders back. It’s not the end of the world, as the deadlift is just one of many tools you can use to improve your performance in your chosen sport. For the powerlifter, it is a third of their sport; quite a difference.
It is important to realise that there are many ways to get to the top and in this case, build the biggest deadlift you are capable of. In powerlifting, every top athlete you speak to will train slightly differently. They will agree on some things and disagree on others. Such is life.
Two obvious examples are the Sheiko method of training and the Westside method of training. Nobody in their right mind could dismiss either of these programs as not being effective because both systems have produced numerous World Champions and World records. However, they are extremely different. Discussing those systems in detail is beyond the scope of this article.
What this article will provide is a lot of useful and practical advice that you can use to improve your deadlift training. Most of you will write your own training programs or at the very least, tweak ones you have read online, in magazines or books. Hopefully, with our help, you will do a better job of this having read what you are about to read!
Where to begin: an effective warm up
Before moving some serious iron we strongly recommend that you prime your body to do so in an efficient manner. A great warm up should enhance your performance in the weight room and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Lets’ get one thing straight. Five minutes on a bike does not count as an optimal warm up for a training session that starts with some type of deadlift movement. Nor does 10 static stretches held for 30 seconds each. And loading the bar with 135lbs and pumping out 2 sets of 10 certainly isn’t optimal either.
Here’s what we recommend instead:
1. 5 minutes of steady state aerobic work (bike, treadmill, elliptical etc)
2. A few choice static stretches, some activation work and some mobility work.
To learn about this in detail we highly recommend Inside Out by Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman and Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson. To be honest, these products are so good that there is little point in us relaying the same information again.
As an example, a good warm up could look like this:
5 minutes walking on treadmill at 3km/hr
Hip Flexor Stretch: 15seconds/side
Sleeper Stretch: 15seconds/side
Glute Bridge: 12 reps
X Band Walks: 10/side
Wall Ankle Mobilization: 8/side
Push Up Plus: 12 reps
Arm Circles Forwards/Backwards: 10/each way
Scapular Wall Slide: 12 reps
Wrist Mobilization: up/down, side to side, circles
High Knee Walk: 10 reps
Running Butt Kicks: 10 reps
Walking Lunge with Overhead Reach: 10reps
Side to Side Leg Swings: 8/side
Band TKE’s: 20/side
Face the Wall Squat: 10 reps
The last warm up on the list, the Face the Wall Squat comes from Pavel Tsatsouline and will improve your mobility and technique for both the squat and deadlift.
To perform the Face the Wall Squat, set up in front of a wall with your toes about 2 inches from the wall, turned out slightly and your feet just outside shoulder width apart. The idea is simply to squat to depth. It may prove quite humbling at first and the wall will provide you with feedback.
If your knees go forwards too much they will hit the wall. The Face the Wall Squat will teach perfect squat form and eventually you should be able to do squats as deep as you need with your toes touching the wall. The wall reinforces sitting back into the squat, keeping the shins fairly upright, making the head move last on the descent and first on the ascent and keeping the lumbar spine arched. This may help your squat first and foremost, but the increased hip mobility this drill gives you will be good for your deadlift too; especially if you pull sumo.
Ultimately, many of you will perform training sessions that include both squat and deadlift type movements, making the Face the Wall Squat one of the most valuable warm up and technique drills you can perform in the gym.
We recommend the above type warm up for athletes, bodybuilders and powerlifters alike, before any weight training session. So now that you are primed and ready to move some serious weight, let’s get deadlifting.
Working up to a hard single or 1RM
A very common scenario occurs when a powerlifter is several weeks out from competition and wants to work up to his opening attempt in the gym.
For a powerlifter with an opener of 500lbs his session could look like this:
135lbs x 5 x 3
225lbs x 3 (start taking approximately 10% jumps from here)
275lbs x 3
325lbs x 3
370lbs x 1(switch to singles as the idea is not to burn out with sub-maximal weights)
415lbs x 1
460lbs x 1
500lbs x 1
This warm up routine allows you to groove the movement pattern with lighter weights and then prime your central nervous system to lift your opener (first deadlift attempt in competition) by taking small jumps of around 10% all the way up to your top weight for this particular session. You will notice that the jumps get slightly smaller as the weights get heavier. You do not have to do this but many lifters like to.
A very similar method should be used for working up to your max. In the above scenario the next attempts might be 525lbs and 540lbs.
How to Pull 1000lbs Easy
By Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman
The Deadlift: The Ultimate test of Strength
The Deadlift is regarded by many strength coaches and athletes alike as the best overall test of absolute strength. A pretty bold statement. Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the biased view of the world’s best deadlifter. To dispel that myth let’s look at what muscles and types of strength the deadlift tests.
The exercise is a massive test of all the muscles of the posterior chain. This means that to pull a big deadlift an athlete, powerlifter or bodybuilder must possess huge strength in his or her Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back, Lats and Upper Back. In addition to this, a vice like grip is required to squeeze the bar as hard as possible. After all, you can only pull what you can hold onto.
Furthermore, the deadlift is a movement that requires an athlete to overcome a static object with dynamic movement. This is a type of strength that is often untrained in the weight room. Most exercises (the squat being an obvious example) have a great stretch reflex that is built on the eccentric portion of the movement and is then used to the athlete’s advantage on the concentric motion. In contrast, the deadlift requires an athlete to be able to generate massive force without much help from the eccentric motion at all. (This is why some powerlifters find that box squats have an awesome carry over to their deadlift. Like the deadlift, the box squat teaches static overcome by dynamic strength, due to the pause on the box).
In this article you will find the key points that Andy has focused on with reference to his Deadlift technique. These are points that he has worked on for over 20 years to build the strongest Deadlift the world has ever seen. We will also talk about Sumo Deadlift technique, highlighting the similarities and differences between this variation and conventional deadlifting.
A little bit of history:
On 4th November 2006 at the WPO (World Powerlifting Organization) semi – finals, Andy Bolton became the only man ever to pull over 1000lbs. On his third Deadlift attempt Andy pulled 1003lbs. On 5th April 2009 Andy further improved his Deadlift record, lifting 1008lbs in the BPC South East Powerlfiting Championships.
To put these feats of strength into perspective, the record books show that only 13 men in history have ever pulled over 900lbs. Andy has thirty-two 900lb + competition deadlifts and two 1000lb + competition deadlift to his credit (as of April 2009). Aside from Andy, only one man, (Benedict Magnusson), has pulled over 950lbs in competition. The gap between Andy and the rest of the pack is large; think in terms of Usain Bolt in the 100m sprint.
So, when Andy talks about technique and how to improve your deadlift I suggest that you sit back, read carefully and prepare to pull big
With reference to any technique in sport, it is of paramount importance to start at the beginning. This sounds so obvious, but many athletes and coaches ignore this simple fact. You would not see a golf coach trying to teach a golfer the perfect downswing if his back swing is useless. Using this simple methodology to talk about the deadlift you will now see how we address the issue of mastering deadlift technique.
What to wear?
Before even setting up to the bar, the issue of what to wear must be addressed. For all Powerlifters and Athletes, flat soled shoes (such as Converse) or deadlift slippers should be worn. If you don’t have either of those two items, train the lift barefoot, (if your gym owner allows it. If he doesn’t, change gyms).
I have always worn a belt from about 400lbs/182.5kg upwards. Bear in mind this is only about 40% of my best. I recommend that all powerlifters learn to use a belt, as it should add pounds to the bar and help prevent back injury. The issue of belts for athletes is slightly more complex as there are a couple of different view points. Some coaches feel that athletes have no aids (such as a belt) when competing in their sport, so they should train in the weight room the same way. Others feel that precautions should be taken in the weight room and the belt should be worn. I have given you the guidelines I use for my own training; it is up to you to establish your own. What I would say is that all athletes and bodybuilders should wear a belt if going over 80% of their 1RM.
I believe in using chalk on my heaviest weights, (over 80%). The exception to this is on really hot days, where my hands are slippery and I may use chalk on all sets. The reason for generally not using chalk until my top weights is because I think it builds better grip strength. This is important for powerlifters and many other athletes. Believe it or not, in my early days whilst training with strongman Jamie Reeves, I often trained deadlifts with a bar that had no knurling and still did not use chalk. This made my grip very strong!
Setting up to the bar
The set up is the most important part of the lift. If you get this wrong, no amount of correction during the lift can fully compensate, so pay attention. (Remember what I said earlier about learning things in the right order?).
Your feet should be set shoulder width apart at the widest, with the bar very nearly touching your shins. Your feet can be pointing straight ahead or up to 45 degrees outwards. To pull the biggest weights you are capable of, you will need to take a mixed grip (one hand pronated, the other supinated). Your hands should be just outside your legs. Do not turn this into a snatch grip deadlift by having your hands miles away from your shins. This will greatly reduce the amount of weight you can deadlift. Your arms should hang straight down from your shoulders, with no bend at the elbow. Flex those triceps hard! In the deadlift your arms act as hooks connecting the bar to your torso.
At the start position your lower back should be arched and your upper back should be relaxed. This provides a safe position for the lumbar spine, whilst minimizing the distance of your pull. To understand the importance of this think about how many average gym rats you have seen injure their lower back whilst deadlifting 225lbs. I am willing to bet that the number is quite high! I have never had a lower back injury despite handling weights over four times this weight. The difference is that I understand how to keep my lumber spine in an arched position. A lot of people let their lumbar spine round. This is dangerous and biomechanically weak. Simply put, with a rounded lumbar spine you are more likely to injure yourself and you will pull less weight. Arch that lower back!
Head position is neutral. For me, this means I’m looking about 6 feet in front of me at the start of my deadlift.
Getting the bar moving: from the floor to lockout
To initiate the movement with maximum efficiency and to minimize injury risk, the flex must be pulled out of the bar. To take the flex out of the bar think of trying to make the bar bow whilst it is still static. So you are applying some force to the bar, then a whole lot more to actually get the bar moving. It is not a sudden movement or jerk. Think of keeping your arms locked out and generating total body tension and you will be well on your way to mastering this.
The bar leaves the floor with huge leg drive. Think of driving your heels into the floor.
Once the bar is moving it must be kept close to your body. All good deadlifters have marks on their shins. If the bar drifts out in front of you it will put a lot of stress on the lower back and with maximum weights it will likely cause the weight to stall or miss. With sub-maximal weights the speed of the lift will be greatly reduced. Remember, the shortest distance from one point to another is a straight line.
As the bar gets to knee height the hips push through to finish the lift. Again, the bar must stay close to the body and will touch the thighs all the way to lockout. The bar must be squeezed as tight as possible throughout the entire lift. Some powerlifters think that once the bar gets to knee height the lift is done, so they relax their grip slightly. This is a huge mistake, as it often leads to missed lifts and reiterates the fact that you must squeeze that bar as hard as possible throughout the deadlift.
To transition from knee height to lockout, really focus on driving the glutes forwards and trying to get your shoulders behind the bar. The lockout position requires the legs to be straight and the shoulders back. This does not mean hyper extending the lower back as many people do.
At this point you have completed your deadlift. If you are pulling a single rep, simply take a gulp of air into your belly and drop with the bar to the floor. If you are pulling reps you will need to lower the bar more slowly so that the start position for your next rep is the same as the one before.
Summary: The Conventional Deadlift in 8 steps:
1. Wear flat soled shoes and a belt (for your heavy sets at least)
2. Shins an inch from the bar and take a mixed grip
3. Arch your lower back, relax your upper back and keep your arms straight
4. Take the flex out of the bar
5. Initiate the pull by driving your heels into the floor
6. As the bar comes past the knees drive the glutes forwards
7. Try to pull your shoulders behind the bar all the way to lockout
8. Squeeze the bar hard throughout
Elliot Newman and Andy Bolton:
The Sumo Deadlift:
In comparison to the conventional deadlift, the sumo deadlift is an interesting beast. The movement shortens the distance that the bar must travel from start to lockout. It is also a more technical lift and will take many athletes longer to learn. Most powerlifters have a strong preference towards one method or the other, but some, like the incredible Ed Coan, pulled all time powerlifting world records at different weight classes, using both styles.
In general, athletes with stronger backs tend to favor the conventional deadlift and athletes with stronger hips the sumo. Either way or whatever your body structure, we feel it is good to learn both styles. If you are very good at one style and not the other it shows that you have weaknesses. Training the style you are poor at will help eradicate those weaknesses. This is good news for powerlifters, bodybuilders and athletes alike.
Setting up to the bar:
Finding the optimum set up position for the sumo deadlift is a matter of some trial and error. Some powerlifters, like Ed Coan, use what is sometimes called a semi-sumo stance. The hands are still inside the thighs, but the stance is not massively wide. In general, these lifters often lock out their legs a long time before the end of the lift and use a lot of lower back strength to finish the movement. The head position is usually neutral (about 6 to 8 feet in front of the bar) or looking straight ahead.
In contrast, more flexible athletes and those with greater hip strength compared to their back strength, often set up much wider. Some lifters, the Japanese in particular, often have their feet nearly touching the plates. Be careful not to crush your toes when lowering the bar, if you choose to use this style! Jarmo Virtanen, the great Finnish Powerlifter is a good example of this style of sumo deadlifting.
Whichever style you use it is extremely important to make sure that your knees track your toes throughout the deadlift. If you set up too wide for your body structure and flexibility, your knees will buckle inwards during the lift and you will lose power.
As far as toe position goes, you must have your feet pointed outwards. How much is dependant on your body type and flexibility.
Key point: Find a stance width and toe position that allows your knees to track your toes throughout the execution of the sumo deadlift.
As with the conventional deadlift, the set up for the Sumo requires that your lower back is arched, upper back relaxed and arms locked straight.
It is important to fill your belly with air before the bar leaves the ground. Some lifters take a big breath whilst they are stood up and hold it. Others set up to the bar and take the breath just before the bar leaves the ground. This is personal preference. Try both and see which works for you.
Getting the bar moving and locking it out:
Take the flex out of the bar the same way you would with the conventional deadlift. But this time, instead of feeling like you are driving your heels into the floor, feel like you are spreading the floor, or pushing your feet out. This will feel very much like the weight is on the outside of your shoes. This movement will keep the knees out and tracking your toes. On the contrary, if you feel like you are pushing your heels into the floor your knees will come in and you will lose some of the biomechanical advantage you set up for yourself at the start of the lift.
Aside from that the same points apply to the sumo as to the conventional deadlift:
As the bar gets to knee height focus on driving the glutes forwards and get the feeling of trying to get your shoulders behind the bar. The lockout position requires legs straight and shoulder back. Lower back is not hyper extended at lockout.Summary: The Sumo Deadlift in 8 steps:
1 Wear flat soled shoes and a belt (for your heavy sets at least)
2 Stance width and toe angle allow knees to track toes throughout the lift
3. Arch your lower back, relax your upper back and keep your arms straight
4 Take the flex out of the bar
5 Initiate the pull by forcing you feet out
6 As the bar comes past the knees drive the glutes forwards
7. Try to pull your shoulders behind the bar all the way to lockout
8. Squeeze the bar hard throughout
The deadlift is a primal test of strength. Improving yours will help your total if you’re a powerlifter. If you’re an athlete, getting stronger on the movement may help your performance in your chosen sport. And as a bodybuilder, there are few better exercises for adding slabs of muscle onto your frame.
Whatever your reason for deadlifting, become a deadlift connoisseur. Look at those who do it well and focus on improving your technique. With great technique, you are laying the foundations for great strength AND injury prevention.
In part 2 we will discuss how powerlifters, athletes and bodybuilders can train the deadlift to maximize the particular gains those individuals require for their chosen sport.
About the authors:
Elliot Newman is a powerlifter from England, currently training for the WPC World Championships, taking place in Bournemouth, England from November 17th to 22nd 2009.
Andy Bolton is one of the world’s most well recognized powerlifters and a specialist on all things strength. His accomplishments in his chosen sport are huge, including WPO world titles, WPC world titles, national titles and of course, the biggest deadlift ever.
Training with Endometriosis
I remember chanting to myself over and over “Get under the bar and just get it done.” Mind over matter, the brain is usually stronger and can make you forget about the pain temporarily. I stood there trying to amp myself up to squat. I remember gritting my teeth numerous times before I even got into position. I felt the pain start at my lower back and rush down my legs. I got into position and got the squat done but I remember the hardest part was fighting the tears away.
I have something called Endometriosis and 1 in 20 women in this country are faced with it. Endometriosis is a debilitating condition that is non curable. The exact cause of it remains unknown, doctors have a better understanding of it. How does that help me or the other women that are faced with this, well it doesn’t! There are numerous symptoms of Endo and some of them are worse then others.
I had my first surgery in February 2006 and the recovery was just as much fun as the symptoms before I had the surgery. I remember the surgery helped once I recovered and I was more then excited. I could function without pain. Months went by and slowly the symptoms came back. Vicodin was not even making a dent in the pain. I was determined to deal with the pain since I did not want to go for the surgery again. There are some women that have gone for 10 plus surgeries and still continue to be plagued by the Endo.
Fast forward to April of 2009, I started to get interested in working out. I have never done any serious working out other then some basic stuff over the years. I dabbled in some kettlebell work and then was introduced to the darker side of lifting by my husband, Jay. Shortly after seeing the heavier work outs and watching some strong women work out I was sold. I felt like a brand new woman and discovered a new side of myself by lifting. I also saw how much my condition prevented me from progress.
Over the course of time from April till November I lost a total of 3 months of training. That means a 3 month stall in progress. The condition got so worse that towards the end of October my tears during a work out became just as normal as sweat was during a work out.
I knew that I would have to go for another surgery. So I made an appointment with my doctor. He found another condition which is Cervical Stenosis. That coupled with the Endo made it almost impossible to even function, every move was painful.
I had the surgery in November and took 6 weeks to recover. Once I got back to the gym I retested all of my one rep maxes. I lost strength on my Deadlift but gained strength on my Squat. I was excited to move forward with out pain. Real progress can begin now, well at least for me. I then decided I wanted to start training to eventually compete in some amateur power lifting meets in 2011.
I started 5/3/1 and retested on the calendar year anniversary. I gained 140# to my total. My total in April 2010 was 600#. While that is a low total, the accomplishment I got from training pain free was more rewarding then having a 255# Deadlift.
The pain is creeping back slowly and I am not looking forward to stalling progress again. I am sure there are a lot of women that are involved in the darker side of lifting that deal with this condition. While I wish I had the magical solution to tell you all how to be pain free, I don’t. I have found a few mind tricks that help me get through each set.
What I have found to work are the following:
1. Make sure your belt is as tight as possible to provide some pressure on the lower back and stomach.
2. Schedule your rest days or de-load week on the week you know it will be worst based on your cycle.
3. If you can not schedule your days accordingly, take either ibuprofen or acetaminophen approximately 1 hour prior to the set.
4. Always make sure you have a spotter while squatting in case the pain gets worsens and you can not finish your set
In closing, ladies or men who have women in their life that are faced with this, I wish you all the best in fighting the pain away.
7/1/2010 Conditioning Workout
9 minute burpie, mountain climber, speed skater drill
Resistance band take offs 3x20
Kettle Bell Swing Through 3x15
Romanian DL 3x20
Reverse Hyper 2x20
50 Open Leg Situps