Originally Published in This Issue (Hardgainer #17)
More on the One Arm Deadlift here:
In 1914, that wonderful wizard of weightlifting, W.A. (Bill) Pullum, established, at a bodyweight of 122 pounds, a World Record Right Hand Deadlift of 324 pounds.
This was done under strict BAWLA (British Amateur Weight-Lifters' Association) rules
Number 15 and 16, Here:
which laid down that the barbell should be lifted to at least the lifter's knees. At the conclusion of the lift, the legs should be straight with knees locked and braced. The feet remained astride throughout the lift. The bar used was, of course, a cambered bar.
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Just imagine the back strength and astounding grip of a 122-pound lifter in the bantamweight class hoisting 324 pounds under the iron discipline of the BAWLA rules.
The vice-like grip of the old-time gentleman of the weights was no accident. It came about quite simply by the constant handling of really heavy weights. One and two-handed deadlifting are the supreme tests of grip and back strength.
Let's dwell for a moment on some of the enormous weights lifted in those early days by the greatest deadlifters. Hermann Goerner at once springs to mind. A circus strongman from the tender age of 23, and already a champion weightlifter in his home country of Germany at 21. His circus career took him across the world, including many tours of South Africa.
In 1927 he met W.A. Pullum . . .
. . . and performed officially judged lifts before him. Among them were a right hand deadlift with 602.5 pounds and a left hand deadlift of 501 pounds. He was 36 years old at the time. Under German rules, when he was younger, aged 28, his world record lifts included a one-hand deadlift of 727.75 pounds. It's said that his forearms were 15", upper arm 18" and wrist 9".
I remember well, Tom Inch, one of the world's strongest me, writing to me in the late thirties and telling me he had a pupil of 154 pounds whom he had trained to lift 440 pounds in the one-hand deadlift. He himself could lift over 500 pounds in this lift. Ronald Walker, the greatest heavyweight Olympic weightlifter we had here in England in the mid-thirties, one-hand deadlifted 441 pounds officially.
The one-hand lifts with both barbell and dumbbell greatly accelerated the development of a mighty forearm and a bone crushing grip. The one-hand deadlift is quite simply, the greatest grip developer the world has ever known.
I could go on and on abut the fantastic old Supermen, but, having, I hope, given you a taste for doing some training on the one-hand deadlift, let's start with how to do it the correct way.
A cambered bar should be used for a maximum lift, though you don't have to have this bar to train this lift.
The bar should be at right angles to your front, with legs astride the bar (heels 15-18" apart) and remaining so throughout the lift. The bend in the cambered bar should be away from you when you grasp it so that it will roll into the hand when the lift commences. This is very important.
Make sure you have the exact center of the barbell. Then, keeping the back straight, the buttocks low, and bending the knees outward, grasp the middle of the bar with the lifting hand. Place the other hand on the opposite thigh with fingers and thumb turned inwards.
Hollow the back, keep your buttocks low and start your pull. Keep on pulling even though you feel your grip is failing (and press very hard on your knee with the disengaged hand). I always turned my thumb inside my forefinger (hook grip) when performing this lift, but used a plain grip for training to build up gripping power.
As the bar passes the knees, turn the disengaged hand outwards and press against the outside of the leg. This helps with the straightening of the legs. Use plenty of trapezius power and keep the shoulder as high as possible as the bar comes up. Hold the finishing position for a count of two.
How do we train this lift?
Simply by doing it often. One of the great assistance exercises for this is, of course, the overhand grip two-hand deadlift, with a sleeved barbell to slightly increase the circumference of the bar.
Train the one-hand deadlift after your squatting session.
Always use around 75% of your maximum and limit the reps to 4 -- never use less weight than this. Gradually add weight, working up to a single rep, with 3-5 minutes rest between sets. Don't bother using light weights at all on this lift once the style had been learned. It's quite pointless.
For present day strongmen interested in the vintage lifts, one-hand snatching, one-hand cleaning and, above all, the one-hand swing, will all help the muscles used in this lift.
Little pastimes that help the grip are card tearing, bar bending, nail breaking, tearing telephone directories, using grippers and grip machines, and hanging from door lintels until you drop,m and keep trying to break horse shoes. Build up your grip!
Next: The Two-Hands Anyhow
Enjoy Your Lifting!