Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Increasing Deadlift Poundage - Glenn Spencer (1978)

This article was taken from the September 1978 issue of "Northern Power News", a newsletter that came out of Saskatchewan during that era. It was published and edited monthly by Merv Young. I was fortunate enough to get hold of some issues courtesy of Jake Striefel.


8am - 9pm Monday - Saturday
8am - 7pm Sunday

  • 20ft ROGUE rig for CALISTHENICS; provides 4 squat/ bench stations & flying pull up bars
  • 2 more separate squat/ bench racks
  • 2 Olympic platforms for Oly and deadlifts
  • 4 ROGUE flat benches + 2 adjustable incline/ decline benches
  • ROGUE Westside Barbell 2x, Ohio Power Barbell 1x, Deadlift Barbell 1x, Safety Squat Bar 1x
  • CHALLENGE calibrated plates
  • BEAST METALS powerlifting rack
  • HOIST V6 Functional Trainer
  • Olympic barbells, trap bar, 2 EZ curl bars
  • Bumper plates + iron plates (2.5, 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45lbs); dumbbells up to 100lbs
  • Legpress 
  • Concept 2 Rower
  • 2x weight loaded sleds
  • Various StrongMan equipment
  • TRX
  • Glute Ham Raise
  • climbing rope, rings, plyo boxes, skip ropes
  • resistance bands, foam rollers, medicine balls
  • .. and much more!

Glenn Spencer (1978)

In training, the deadlift is the most complex exercise powerlifters have to contend with. Contest time brings great satisfaction if you have trained the deadlift correctly and may mean the difference between placing and winning. The simplest of the three lifts and usually the heaviest poses many problems such as body mechanics, technique, training plans, choice of auxiliary exercises and frequency of training, making the deadlift the most intricate exercise to prepare for.

Body mechanics cannot be altered but can be compensated for by a wise choice of auxiliary exercises and training plans. A short torso, long arms and legs are a definite asset, while short legs and arms are a distinct disadvantage. After a very short training period it will be evident if you have favorable leverage. The short man usually has trouble starting the weight but finishes the lift much easier than the taller man.

Technique, a word often applied to deadlifting, seems out of context. Poor technique and faulty style can only frustrate a lifter. The most important factor in deadlifting is to keep the knees unlocked until the head and shoulders are back. Premature locking of the knees places the weight out front and from this position the lift is difficult to complete. Pulling the bar as close to the legs as possible with a coordinated back and leg effort will produce a higher deadlift.

The deadlift lends itself well to a lifter with good concentration. In the squat and bench the weight is upon the lifter and he is at a psychological disadvantage, while in the deadlift the bar is in a more favorable position and lends itself well to a good psyche.

In planning a good deadlift routine, the first thing to consider is the squat. It is very difficult to improve both lifts simultaneously [drug free]. Restrain from doing high reps in the deadlift as this fatigues the back quickly when combined with a heavy leg routine.

Auxiliary exercises for the deadlift are a must during conditioning periods. The exercises I have found most beneficial are Deadlifts While Standing on Boxes [deficit deads], Good Mornings, Hyperextensions, Ab Work with Weight, Shrugs, and Power Cleans. Good trapezius muscles are an asset but are secondary to spinal erector muscles.

Training can be enjoyable as I believe maximum weights do not have to be handled often.

Training three months before a contest would consist of one month conditioning where lighter reps and more auxiliary exercises are employed.

The second month would find the auxiliary exercises cut down. You would do deadlifts standing on boxes, and a couple of sets of good mornings for a pump.

The third month you would try to improve your maximum lift every nine days. All auxiliary exercises would be eliminated  during this period.

This should give you a 30 to 40 pound increase on your best previous deadlift.

The reps and sets I use are as follows.

Warmup -
4 x 5 reps, 1 x 3 reps.
3 x 2 reps or 3 single reps. Heavy sets, usually fixed weights (same weight for all 3 sets).
3 x 3 reps, standing on boxes.

The conditioning period is the easiest to overtrain.

When your back is stiff the morning after a heavy workout you should make your next deadlift workout light. Twice weekly workouts consisting of one heavy and one light workout will produce favorable results.

When doing reps in the deadlift it is very important not to touch the floor with the weight. The weight should be stopped one-half to one inch from the floor and lifted again. It is very important to work the back in both directions. The lowering portion in training can be used to your benefit. The grip is also greatly affected in this manner of deadlifting. Deadlifts done standing on boxes should also be done in this manner.

This method has worked well for me and the fellows I have trained with. Try not to overtrain, condition the back for the exhausting situation that meets put on the powerlifter. Adding endurance to your lifting will produce a finer lifter.

Good lifting with those heavier weights! 

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