Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Hand Deadlift - Peary Rader

Learn the One-Hand Deadlift
by Peary Rader (1974)

I have used and enjoyed doing the One Hand Dead Lift for some time, having done around 400 lbs. in it, and am sure many readers will also enjoy it, using either a straight bar or the cambered bar as described.

The One Hand Dead Lift with barbell is a lift that is little practiced, but which was once a very important lift. Every strong man once knew what he could do in this lift; however, that is not so now. Many lifters have no idea about the correct performance of this lift. Such a condition should not exist, as this is one of the finest lifts – both for competition and for the strength and development that its practice brings. Primarily it develops great power and size in the hand and the forearm. It is also a marvelous developer of the back and legs. In fact, in many ways, it is far superior to the two hands dead lift for development of the back. After a heavy session of one hand dead lifts you will find the spinal erectors very sore, as well as the trapezius muscles. It will greatly benefit all your other lifts and most especially the one hand lifts such as the clean and the snatch. It is of great value to those who find themselves weak in the grip.

If you wish to hoist heavy poundages, proper equipment and correct performance are essential to success in this lift. The record on this lift is in rather bad shape since so many kinds of equipment have been used in making the records. Many years ago Hermann Goerner was given credit for well over 600 lbs. in this lift. E. Cadine of France once held the record at 403. John Y. Smith is given credit for a professional record in the middleweight class with 450 in the right and 425 in the left hand. He is supposed to have done more than this at one time. An amateur middleweight – Frank Dennis, has done 400 with the left hand. However, his right hand record is far below this. W. Diehl is given credit for 472 as a heavyweight. However, his records were not performed under present method of ruling. The left hand heavyweight record is 440½ held by E. Rockey.

Here are the rules for this lift as I found them in the I.S.M.A. (International Strong Man Association) Rule Book. Lifts 17 and 18 – Right (and Left) Hand Dead Lift with barbell.

The bar used may be cambered (bent) but center of bar shall not have a maximum height of greater than 9 inches from the floor. Bar shall be lifted with one hand until the bar passes the height of the knees and the legs are straight. Lift shall be held in this position for 2 seconds. The lifter can either straddle or face the bar in lifting. Feet may be apart throughout.

You will note that it says bar may be bent or cambered. This is a great aid to the grip as the bar will not roll out of the hand. However, the bar must not be more than 9 inches fro the floor, so you must use plated that will adjust the bar at center to this height. The bar must be marked at center perfectly so that you will have perfect balance in lifting. To have the weight unbalanced means failure even with a small weight.

We find very few men who can lift best with both feet on one side of the bar suitcase style, or facing it as in the two hands dead lift. Most fellows lift by far the most by straddling the bar and placing the feet where the greatest strength can be exerted. Place the disengaged hand on the thigh in order to aid in the lift. Squat down as in doing a deep knee bend to grasp the bar. Some fellows prefer to keep the legs a little straighter than this and use the back more, but the best lifters use more of a squat. Be sure you know the exact center of balance – test it with both hands if necessary – then grasp the bar with the hand wrapped far and firmly around the bar as possible (it is permitted and desirable to use some chalk or resin on the lifting hand). Keep the head up and hips down, and with the back flat begin a steady, even pull. All that is necessary is to stand up until the bar is above the height of the knees and the legs are straight. Hold in this position for 2 seconds. The lift is completed. Yo will no doubt find certain variations to the above form to your liking.

Some lifters prefer to use a hook grip (lapping the fingers over the thumb). This gives a very secure grip but is very painful until you get accustomed to it. One should use care at first, or the skin of the hand may be torn with heavy weights. Give your hands a chance to toughen up. Of course the use of heavy weights is the only way to acquire enough strength for making records. However, this can be a marvelous exercise for all muscles concerned by doing repetitions with lighter weights. This is an especially fine exercise for the back when performed in stiff legged style.


  1. I didn't pay much attention to this article when I first read it in 1974. Now in 2024 I find it very interesting.


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