Why the Deadlift?
As I get older, one of the most functional, and therefore, important to practice lifts, is the deadlift. Snatches and the clean and jerk are great too, but reaching down to haul a ton of weight off the ground has proved to be the most beneficial movement for me and continues to be so.
At my last house, I had a huge garage and a nice open backyard, and there was plenty of room for barbells and throwing them around. The new place? Not so much.
Since I hate going to the gym, this has meant that I haven’t been doing much barbell training in the last couple years. Instead I’ve grown my collection of kettlebells, clubs, maces, sand bags, etc.
The funny thing is, despite not deadlifting for over 3 years, I walked into my son’s boxing gym, tired and sick, and pulled 265, only 40 pounds less than my last max 3 years ago. (I know, HUGE numbers.)
Having only recently gotten back on track with my strength training, this not unpleasant result made me wonder, how much could I increase my deadlift without actually deadlifting a barbell?
After all, athletes of Westside Barbell (westside-barbell.com) do tons of assistance work for their lifts. By comparison they perform the actual lifts about once a week. Louie Simmons is religious about developing a solid foundation to build on, literally.
In my case, I hypothesized that I would use:
- Weighted and unweighted dead hangs to improve grip strength and endurance.
- Kettlebells for building hip power and the vital muscle and power in the hamstrings and glutes.
- Atlas Stone lifts, including the triple extension (what the strongmen do in comps) and good mornings.
- Finally, I would use sand bags to approximate the biomechanics of the deadlift, while still not actually deadlifting.
Additional exercises may include things like reverse hypers, hyperextensions, and good mornings with a sandbag or dumbbells, as well as various planks and even reverse prayer style sit-ups.
A sample workout would look something like this:
- Joint rotations
- Bodyweight good mornings
- KB Swings. Starting at 44# and working up to 70# for max reps (higher if it gets light, or buy a heavier kettlebell.)
- Sandbag deadlift (gripping either end on the length) 3-5 x 3-5. Not to failure.
- Deadhangs from a pullup bar (shoulders engaged) for time, adding weight as necessary ( I use a backpack with weight.) 3-5 sets or until a time limit is reached, 5 minutes for example.
This would be a 2x a week workout at most. I will probably deviate from it, which I will post along with my results if I do.
Every 2 weeks, I will check my max on the deadlift.
So just how much weight do I want to pull in the deadlift?
My goal is to hit 405 within 2 months. Which will give me no more than 4 actual deadlift sessions, all consisting of max lift attempts.
This week the work begins, so keep checking back as I update my progress. You can also follow me on Twitter at @Mosladder
Now go lift something!