Thursday, September 13, 2018

No Deadlift Deadlift Routine, 30 Years Later


Nice quote. Funny intro and useful out. Easy to misinterpret that last bit, I suppose.
Look at it this way:
if you take a strength program you're already doing and make it easier, well, there ya go.


After Louis Simmons made mention of an article I wrote for Muscular Development dealing with exercises to improve one's deadlift without actually doing the lift itself, I have received numerous letters and phone calls asking for more specifics. 



Note: "A Different Approach to Improving Your Deadlift" Muscular Development, Sept. 1969, p 24

It was not really an original approach on my part to plan a program to improve a certain lift without actually working on that exercise. Many Olympic-style lifters improved their bench press by doing heavy dips and overhead presses. They did not want to do benches for these added unwanted weight to their chests, but often they wanted to test this lift or enter a power meet. Many were able to add 30 pounds to their benches and the only time they did the lift was in the warmup room prior to competition. 


Roger Quinn, an outstanding Olympic lifter from California, even came up with an ingenious routine to increase his squatting strength without squatting. 

Note: Quinn penned an article for International Olympic Lifter magazine on his special leg routine. It is exceptionally hard to round up, but thanks to Liam Tweed I will be putting it up on this blog soon. 

He could not do squats because of chronically bad knees, but he worked all the groups involved in the lift isometrically. He was able to improve his squatting power and recovered from his heavy cleans and snatches easily.

Very few Olympic lifters ever deadlifted. The exercise just wasn't important to them, but occasionally there would be a challenge in the York Gym and we would test our back strengths. It didn't take long to find out if an athlete could clean somewhere close to 400, he could easily manage a 600 deadlift at any time.

Note: It might be interesting to note that Doug Hepburn's 'protege' - Paul B we'll call him for the sake of anonymity - was of a mind that he could out-deadlift the power men at Hepburn's Gym. Paul was an exceptionally talented Oly lifter who, straight out of the gate, could lift some impressive weights. A gym contest was set up, and Bjarnason (oops), out to prove the superior strength of the Oly lifting community, blew out his back with a 600 attempt. No matter. When it came to the (then) three contested Oly lifts he was phenomenal. Anyhows, be careful out there, you could poke out an eye or zoink a vertebrie!     

I was the exception to doing deadlifts, for when I was in Indiana I had competed in several power meets and always found that my cleans and snatches were always stronger after the contests.      


Ernie Pickett [deadlifting above], the heavyweight from Maryland and world record holder in the Press [pressed a World Record of 445 pounds Sunday, January 24th, 1968 at the YMCA Nationals], was another who liked to occasionally compete in power meets. But, like me, he never did deadlifts in training. We decided to enter the 1968 Senior Nationals in Los Angeles so we could visit Disneyland on Bob Hoffman's tab. In truth, lifting was rather low on our priority list, because


Ernie had just made the Olympic team two weeks earlier and I was nursing a bad shoulder from lifting in the Trials. Neither of us had done any deadlifting in over three years until we warmed up at the meet, but we did well. I made the highest lift in my class and Ernie set a personal record with a 750.

When I got back to York, John Grimek, then editor-in-chief of Muscular Development asked me to write an article on our training methods. At that time, MD was the only publication in the country carrying any news and training information  about powerlifting.

Note: Say it ain't so! The July '66 issue of Muscle Builder had an article titled "George Frenn, Powerlifter" by Armand Tanny, and after that the floodgates opened and Tanny, Twichell and others filled a portion of each month's issue with powerlifting results and valid training info that formed the basis of what goes on in powerlifting gyms today. The Weider/Hoffman, AAU/IFBB fiasco unfortunately made it impossible for writers to work in all the magazines. That's just par for the course, I suppose. But imagine some of the great things that could have come about if it hadn't been so. I suppose, again, this is all part of the misguided belief that competition as opposed to cooperation in all fields of endeavor will result in a higher achievement and more rapid human progress. "The market will correct itself" and all that, right. The blind leading the blind, from Ayn Rand on down to her lapdog Alan Greenspan. Joke of mine worth little or nothing: Rand was the joke and Greenspan is the punchline. Randian methods of human evolution. How's that been workin' out so far?

The one, the only, the original Prince Randian. Not a leg to stand on.
Am I using lack of limbs here as a metaphor for Rand's lacking soul?
I dunno.

But I suppose for a third time that this is the way of the world, to this point in this particular civilization's existence. As they say, "nothing new under the sun" and one wonders if the sun we see overhead is indeed the original version of Earth's sun. I do know I've flogged that sorry line a few times already. To end the ramble, had those Weider and Hoffman authors been allowed in the world of BuSiness to coordinate their writings much greater knowledge would be available to us today. Like the saying goes, build a better mousetrap and some already-monied asshole will steal the patent. You see, the muse works in mysterious ways, even in the world of muscle-training writing. The two factions, had they been one, I believe, would have added to three. Synchronicity be damned, Sailor! I is tryin' to run a got-dang business here!!! Get back to the bloody training stuff already . . .   

The basic theory behind this concept is that if an athlete will work all the muscles involved in the act of deadlifting in a dynamic, overloading fashion, he will improve his deadlift without having to actually perform the movement itself. I have suggested this idea to many powerlifters who are having difficulty with their deadlift and in most instances they respond that they like to deadlift. Fine, do deadlifts!

What this program will allow any lifter to do is to build some variety into his back routine and it is also quite useful during the off-season . . . or it's good when a lifter is stale from doing too much deadlifting or has some sort of injury which prevents him from working the lift as hard as he might like.

The deadlift is done by utilizing first the hips and legs, then the various large groups which make up the back: lumbars, rhomboids, lats and traps. Strengthen these muscle groups appreciably and proportionately and the deadlift will be stronger, regardless of whether the lift is done regularly or not. I've had several of my football players add 75 pounds to their deadlift during the off-season program which emphasizes lots of heavy, dynamic pulling exercises. The only time they ever try a deadlift is at the end of the year just to find out what they can do.

The specific exercises which will improve the deadlift are:
Power Cleans
Power Snatches
Clean- and Snatch-Grip High Pulls
Good Mornings
Shrugs, and
Working in the Power Rack.

I am assuming everyone interested in improving his deadlift also does ample leg work for the legs play a major role in moving heavy weights in this lift.

The logic behind this program is so simple it's often overlooked. If an athlete starts this routine and can only handle 275x5 in the clean-grip high pull, then over the following two months moves the poundage up to 375x5, he has develooped a much stronger back. Stronger back develoopment is always a plus for any powerlifter. Likewise, if a lifter can only do 155x8 in the good morning at the beginning of the program and works this up to 225x8, his lower back has to be stronger. Same applies to the shrug. Add 300 pounds to the lift and those stronger traps are going to be able to bring the deadlift to the finish much easier.

Another facet of strength training which seems to have gotten lost in recent years is that dynamic pulling movements build a different kind of strength than the more static ones. Whenever I have a lifter do heavy clean- or snatch-grip high pulls for the first time, he always tells me his back seriously sore, even if he had been doing heavy deadlifts regularly. The reason being, the explosive exercises activate so many more muscle fibers than a less dynamic movement. And this is one of the primary reasons why strength gains come without having to actually do deadlifts.


  
A hidden benefit from doing high pulls is that the high pull line of execution has to be extremely precise. This is not the case with the deadlift, for the bar can be guided back into its proper position rather easily since it is not moving upward quickly. But if the high pulls are not done correctly, the athlete will stumble forward or backward or, at the very least, not get good extension and height out of the lift. 

Learning the perfect line of pull is of great benefit to any powerlifter. Once he is able to master correct form for pulling heavy weights dynamically, he can easily transfer this skill to the deadlift itself. Rather a lot of italic use there. Kinda loses its accentuation after a few goes, don't it. This was another reason, not the italic usage, the line of pull line of thought, why Olympic-style lifters excelled in the deadlift. Their line of pull was precise because of all the cleaning and snatching they did in training.

I included the power clean in my list of exercises since it is a terrific exercise to develop skills for pulling, but in a great many instances this exercise irritates the athlete's elbows or shoulders. This is especially true for older lifters. Ever notice how frequently Mr. Starr made a point in his training writings to address the realities of the aging lifter? You gotta love that, and thank him for it. Thanks, Bill! In the event the lift is incompatible, substitute the power snatch. Seldom does this irritate the shoulders. It does not have to be worked heavy to be useful for the benefits (hidden benefits!) come from learning the long, exact pulling motion, which, in turn, helps to move more wegith in the clean- or snatch-grip high pulls. Which, in still more of a turn, builds greater back strength to help lift MORE IN THE DEADLIFT. 

The power cleans and power snatches can be used as warmups for the high-pulls so light weights can be used. By light, I mean 135 or 145x3 in the power snatch and 175 or 185x5 in the power clean. The quick lifts will help set up the proper groove for the heavier high pulls and these are really the meat of the program.

There have been quite a few power rack programs written about lately, so I'll only mention the rack work briefly here. The greatest benefit from working in the rack is to strengthen the weak areas, so it is important for the lifter to honestly analyze his deadlift and determine what part of the lift needs more work. For example, if you know the hardest part of the deaflift [special Olympics], deadlift! is breaking the bar off the floor, utilize an extremely low position in the rack. You can either do an isotonic-isometric movement or a pure isometric contraction. If the middle is your weak point, set the pins a bit below your sticking point and do several sets of bringing the weight through that weak area or use an isotonic-isometric set for a 12-count [pull against the top pins]. The top can be strengthened in this same manner. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way in the rack so I suggest only doing three or four sets at any one position per week. I also recommend doing the rack work on Fridays [Mon/Wed/Fri layout] so you will have two days to recover. 


Setting Up the Program

There are two different approaches to setting up a program to help increase the deadlift. One is to spread out the weekly workload over four days. This allows much more variety in the program, but many claim they cannot recover from this many days of pulling. There are, however, quite a few who prosper from this sort of routine.

The second approach and currently the more popular one is to do two days of back work per week. This means the two days will be loaded with lots of work, which is fine if it fits your needs. The one problem with a two-day a week program is where to put the good mornings. They can be done with the other back work, but since they are so demanding it is very easy to overtrain them. I really prefer doing them on a separate day, apart from any other back work. Do them right after squats and they are so much easier than when they are included with other back exercises. 

You will find that when you first try this routine you will not be able to carry much of a workload. But after only a few weeks you will be handling much heavier weights at the top end and also be doing more sets. This is good, for increasing your total weekly workload is one way to build a solid strength base. From this foundation, you will be able to elevate massive poundages.


Suggested Routine for Four Workouts Per Week

Monday
Power Cleans, 5 x 5 
Clean-Grip High Pulls, 4 x 3 reps

Tuesday
Power Snatches, 5-6 x 3 
Snatch-Grip High Pulls, 4 x 3

Wednesday
Good Mornings, 4 x 8

Friday
Shrugs, 5-6 x 5
Power Rack, 3-4 sets at one position plus a 12 second iso-hold.


Suggested Routine for Two Workouts Per Week

Day One
Power Cleans, 5 x 5
Clean-Grip High Pulls, 5 x 3 - alternate these every other week with Power Snatches and Snatch-Grip High Pulls using the same set/rep scheme as outlined for Tuesday above. 

Day Two
Shrugs, 6 x 5
Good Mornings, 4 x 8, unless you don't have these on a separate day
Power Rack, 3-4 sets at one position plus a 12 second iso-hold.

If, for any reason, you do not want to do either power cleans or power snatches, then add in 4 to 5 more sets of high pulls in their place.

This is a beginning routine so as you grow stronger steadily increase the number of sets for each exercise, with the exception of the rack work and good mornings. You can do this by adding in more lighter warmup sets, more intermediate sets, or by doing more sets with your top-end weight. Always try to increase your final set on all the high pulls, good mornings, shrugs and power rack positions. 

Should you feel that you have to do some deadlifting, do them on Mondays or on your first pulling day of the week. I suggest only doing them every three weeks while you try out this routine. And do them after some clean-grip high pulls. You will find that after you have completed the more dynamic pulls, the deadlifts seem to move upward much more quickly.

Some like to add in a few auxiliary exercises for their backs after they have completed their core [not that core] work. Long pulls [seated cable rows] on the lat machine and chins are excellent. Back hyperextensions are also good, but I suggest doing these at the very beginning of the program for they are ideal warmups, just ask John McCallum. Chins and long pulls fit in nicely with the good mornings, but if you're doing a two-day schedule, add them in after the high pulls or on your first pulling day of the week.

Keep the weight light for the long pulls and the reps high, 20's, for 3 or 4 sets. Do 4 sets of chins. Do just as many as you can and try to add one rep per workout. Back hypers should be done for 20 reps also.

This routine will provide you will [sic] Man, these mags didn't waste much time on proof reading, just like nowadays, eh . . . with lots of work with a great deal of emphasis on speed and perfecting the line of movement. It will give you a welcome change from your regular program and add some enthusiasm to your workouts. Doing something different with allow [I personally don't waste time on proofreading either!] will allow you to make some quick gains and this is always encouraging.

Put 50 to 75 pounds on the high pulling exercises, move your good morning up to 225 x 8, add 200 to 300 to your best shrug, get stronger in the rack and you will deadlift more weight. 

This is guaranteed.       




And now, even more of unrelated note! A couple of books. The Bob Woodward book on the Trump White House ("Fear: Trump in the White House) is for my money largely a bore and written without soul. I chose to abort about a third of the way through and instead, moved up one shelf and went with this . . .

  
Much, much better. Very witty, a great writer, and well, I don't really give two shits about this BS so why should I suffer through yet another dry, dry raisin of a book on that oaf and his childlike asslicking yes-men and women weaklings. Problem solved with the above.

I'm liking this one as well, by Peter Biskind, author of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood" from 1998.


Pretty cool premise. How vampires, zombies, androids, and superheroes made America great for extremism. This is a cinema book, but it's not a cinema studies book. Big difference there. This one's easy to read, and again, the author is witty and has taught himself how to write naturally, as if he was engaging in a conversation that goes smoothly from one topic to another yet holds its center. And he's speaking to me . . . and you! 

Wrapping up the book's intro:

"In the following pages, we will take a walk on the wild side, becoming intimately acquainted with end-of-the-world scenarios, because extreme culture is apocalypse culture, for the simple reason that the apocalypse provides a laboratory in which we can experiment with extreme attitudes, behaviors, and measures. We will examine how the fictive works of pulp culture have been refashioned by extremism [left and right extremism, on both sides, eh), how mainstream authorities have either been delegitimized or just packed their bags and gone home in the face of overwhelming odds.

Reason and science are on the defensive, while behavior that was once beyond the pale -- violence, lying, revenge -- have become the new norm as the public good is replaced by self-interest. We will see civilization ravaged by its discontents, the god-fearing crushing the godless, Us slaughtering Them, and Them returning the favor.

Finally, we will witness humans abandoning the human altogether attempting -- fruitlessly or not -- to attain a higher level of being. Along the way, we'll embrace or flee from a carnival of freaks who have moved from the sideshow to the center ring. We'll be chased by zombies, drained by vampires, stalked by cyborgs, and thrown back into harsh, primitive conditions with which we are ill-equipped to deal.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?"  



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