Monday, November 6, 2017

Changing Speed to Increase Your Deadlift - Bill Starr (1989)

 Article taken from Ironsport Magazine, June, 1989 and
available THANKS to Liam Tweed. 

Changing Speed 
by Bill Starr (1989)

I heard the familiar sound of weights being dropped to the platform and wondered who was training at the Suggs Athletic Club in the middle of the afternoon. It seemed like a valid reason to abandon my typewriter. I looked out the kitchen window into the garage gym and saw Kelli tugging away on a heavy deadlift. 

I stepped through the door and watched as she grunted through three more tough reps. She was drenched in sweat on this hot, humid Gulf Coast day and her pretty face was beet red. She exhaled a long breath, looked over at me and asked, "How you doing?" 

"The same," I returned, then inquired. "How'd you make out in Dallas?" I knew she had gone to a natural power meet recently.

"Third," came the despondent reply.

"You don't sound so happy." 

"I should have done a lot better," she grumbled. "My squats and benches were were PRs, but my deadlift let me down." 

"Your pulls were your strongest lifts," I provided in the form of encouragement. "What happened?" 

She shrugged, "I don't know. I've been hitting my deadlifts extra hard. Maybe I overtrained my pull." 

I sipped from my coffee cup and studied Kelli. She was an unusual strength athlete in that she enjoyed competing in both Olympic and powerlifting. She possessed the physical equipment to excel at both; wide shoulders and hips, excellent speed and coordination. She moved with a distinctive feminine athletic carriage often lacking in those who adopt the strength sports. And she had cut her teeth on the Olympic-style training and was not at all adverse to working very hard, and quite fast.

"What are you training for now?"

"There's another natural power meet in Oklahoma in five weeks. I want to redeem myself," she offered with a bright smile. Quickly, she added, "I was hoping I'd see you today. Got any suggestions on how I can get my deadlift moving?"

I chuckled softly, thinking, when haven't I had a suggestion? "What are you doing for your back now?" 

She touched her fingers as she spoke, "On Mondays I work my deadlift, hard. Good Mornings on Wednesdays, and I either do shrugs or pulls from some position in the rack on Fridays." 

"What happened to the quick movements?" 

"This is a power meet," she snapped with a dark frown.

I laughed, "Yeah, I know, but those quick movements are also useful to a powerlifter." 

"Really?" came the barely audible reply.

"Sure, the quicker, Olympic-type pulling exercises will stimulate strength improvement differently than the slower exercises. You can get your back muscles just as sore, or even more sore for that matter, by doing power snatches and snatch hi-pulls than you can by doing heavy deadlifts. Don't you remember how crippled you got doing all those Olympic movements?" 

Her brows knotted into a frown. "Yeah, I remember," she said somberly, "but I figured if I wanted to deadlift a heavy weight, I'd have to handle heavy deadlifts in training." 

"Not necessarily. Some of the better deadlifters of the past and the present rarely did deadlifts in training. Many were active ex-Olympic lifters who only did snatches, cleans, hi-pulls and maybe some shrugs. But because they worked these hard and heavy, they were able to pull record poundages. I know of a number of lifters who deadlifted in the mid-700's who never deadlifted in training." 

"Then I shouldn't deadlift?" 

"I didn't say that. But you don't have to do limit deads or even the full movement in order to strengthen your back for a big lift in a contest. For the next three weeks, you should try and move your total work load up, especially for your back. Then, test your deadlift two weeks before the meet and see where your weak points are." 

"What exercises should I do?" 

"You're training four days a week?" 

"Yeah. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday." 

"Alright, you'll do some pulling every session, utilizing the heavy, light, medium, medium system. Here's a routine that's worked for lots of trainees: 

Mondays, Heavy Day. Do 5 sets of 8 in the halting deadlift. You've done those before, remember? Where you pull the weight to just above your knees. 

Mark Rippetoe Tutorial on The Halting Deadlift: 

Push these up as heavy as you can. 

Tuesdays, Light Day. Do 5 sets of power snatches followed by 4 sets of snatch hi-pulls; all for 3 reps. 

Wednesdays, Medium Day. Do your good mornings, either 5 sets of 8 or 4 of 10, going to max every week. 

Fridays, Medium Day again. Alternate heavy shrugs with pulls in the rack from just below the knees. 6 sets of 5 and push these up every week.

On the following Monday, substitute power cleans and clean hi-pulls for the halting deadlifts. Do 5 x 5 on each of these." 

She was busy scribbling notes in her workout book. When I paused, she looked over at me and said earnestly, "I did enjoy doing those Olympic movements."

"The quicker Olympic movements also allow a change of rhythm in your workouts. You are almost forced to move slowly on your halting deadlift day, but you can move very quickly on your power snatches, power cleans and hi-pulls. Shrugs, too," I added. 

The Time You Rest BETWEEN Sets

She continued writing and I continued talking. "A change of pace in regard to the time you rest between sets is another way to stimulate strength progress. Once the body settles into a comfortable pace, it becomes complacent and progress stops. That's the main reason we change our routines and order of exercises periodically. And by changing the actual time we spend in a workout session and also by altering the speed of an exercise, we can also jar our bodies out of complacency." 

"So, I should move slowly in one workout, then real fast he next and maybe somewhere in between on my Medium days?" 

"That's the idea, then your body will never know what to expect. And start keeping track of your tonnage for your back so you can see just how much you're adding to it."

 - Tonnage = Weight x Sets x Reps. 
100 lbs. for 5 sets of 5 reps would be - 100 x 5 x 5 = 2500 pounds tonnage.

"You want me to figure my back tonnage from last week?" 

"Good idea," I agreed, then moved back into the kitchen to refill my cup. By the time I got resettled, she announced, "I did just under 15,000 pounds for my back last week, but most of that was on my shrug day." 

"Good. Now if over the next three weeks you can move that figure up to, let's say, 25,000 plus, then you'll know that you've built a much stronger strength foundation. If your tonnage goes up and you're maintaining proper form, which should be fairly easy for a deadlift, then it follows that your top-end will also improve."

"I sure hope so," she mumbled and loaded the bar to sixty-five. "I'm going to do some power snatches so you can watch me." 

I could see that she was still doubtful about the tonnage concept. "What were you power snatching?" 

She thought for a moment, then said decisively. "On my last set, I used the little bumpers, 88 for three reps." 

"Okay, you do the math on this sample workout: 
Power Snatch - 65, 75, 88, 88, 88, all for threes.
Snatch Hi-Pull - 110, 121, 132, 143, also all for triples. 
All done very quickly. Okay, see what you get tonnage-wise."

She had me repeat the numbers, then did her math silently. "I get a bit over 2700 pounds," she muttered.

"That's roughly a ton and a half. And the lifts are not taxing, although moving through the workout quickly will be. An additional 2700 pounds for a month is over 10,000 pounds. A nice extra with the bonus that the quicker tempo will also bring into play some muscles that you don't normally utilize. Plus, the Olympic movements build an explosiveness that the slower exercises do not. They'll enable yu to hold a proper position and to explode the bar upward. Muscles only learn to react quickly by being conditioned to do so." 

Her large brown eyes twinkled. "This is great! I figured that I was missing something. I was afraid I might not be deadlifting often enough." She did two quick sets of power snatches, slammed on the 10-kilo bumpers, then turned to me and said with a smile, "I've really missed doing these. I just love the way it feels when you hit one just right." 

"When are you going to get in another Olympic meet?" 

"There's one in Galveston in about three months. But I want to redeem myself in powerlifting first," she added determinedly.

"So, you'll be a step ahead when you go back to the two lifts." 

She nodded in agreement and zipped the bar overhead.

"I heard you made friends with Don Amini at the meet." 

"He helped me," she offered with a wide grin as she wiped the swear free from her arms and face. "I was real nervous and he helped me." 

"Ah, yes," I said mockingly, "Don Amini, boy publisher, ready friend to damsels in distress. You know," I added in a serious tone, "that he's a renown lecher." 

She released a booming laugh that sent Bum scurrying out of the garage. "Sure I know. All you coaches are lechers. "That doesn't bother me," she added with a mischievous smirk.

This girl definitely has a future in the sport, I decided silently.



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