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06 April 2012

Accessories To Murder- Making The Dead Even More Deadly

Much has been made, on sundry message boards, of my refusal to do the deadlift in the gym.  Many have decided to ape my methods due a variety of factors, though the most predominant one, in my mind, is the fact that the deadlift is the hardest fucking thing you'll do in the gym, nine times out of ten.  It's a brutal, gut-wrenching, man-making lift during which you can actually feel your testicles drop and afterwards you sound like Barry White, provided you've got enough weight on the bar.  Skipping the deadlift, then, is usually nothing more than caving in to the fear of hard work, a fear that's more ubiquitous in our society than rhinestones on a tranny's Saturday night wardrobe.


Aaaaaaaaand they all have cocks.  Gotcha!


Why, then, do I skip it?  Because I've earned the right to do so, and because I'm focused on the squat.  For at least a decade, I deadlifted more in a year than most of you have masturbated in your lives, nevermind deadlifted.  I pounded the shit out of the lift, doing every conceivable variation for innumerable sets and reps.  My deadlift workouts took, on average, one and a half hours, and ran the gamut in design from 30 straight minutes of pulling singles with 90% of my one rep max for max reps (my record was 27), to 10-8-6-4-2-2-4-6-8-10, to German Volume Training, to 5 sets of 5 followed by a death set with 315, to the utterly ridiculous workout I've posted previously that consisting of deadlifts, one arm deads, two finger deads, rack pulls, and shrugs.  That was, in fact, a workout I used for over a year, and resulted in the cramping I still experience when I pull.  It did, however, give me a gym best of 545 at a bodyweight of 165.  Once I hit 600 for a single, however, I noticed that the high-percentage lifts that had gotten me to that point were killing a variety of other lifts, as my back would be too sore and too exhausted to allow me to do other lifts that I loved, namely, back squatting and overhead pressing.  Thus, I started dropping deadlift workouts and training movements that would have a lot of carryover into the deadlift.  Additionally, my focus has been on the squat since I started competing, as I'm within shouting distance of a 40 year old world record.  Thus, it seemed that splitting my attention between the two would not help me in my goal of breaking that record.
Piper did that to himself, apparently because cocaine does not lend itself to rational thought.


I could, I suppose, simply drop my volume on the deadlift and continue deadlifting.  That would certainly be the rational thing to do.  I do not, however, train rationally, and once I start pulling I like to keep pulling until I am physically incapable of continuing.  That's right- I had to stop deadlifting in training because I love the lift so fucking much that I do it until I'm literally crippled.  Due to the fact that I've done this for the last 15 years, I can safely say that I've put in my time with the lift, and it's unnecessary for me to train it on a regular basis.  Notice I did not say you.  Unless you're highly ranked in powerlifting, have been training the lift religiously for the better part of two decades, and allow your love of the lift to completely obliterate any vestige of common sense the second you start doing the lift, my experience should in no way apply to you.  Thus, you should stop being a fucking pussy and start deadlifting, because to get good at the lift in the first place, you're going to treat it like Roddy Piper did coke, and do an insane amount of it.
I am the Devil, and I'm here to do the Devil's work.

There Will Be Fucking Murders
Murdering the deadlift is much like committing an actual murder, in that you have to begin with determining how you're going to do it.  This has led many of you to engage in debates online so insipid that they would shock even the least functional simpleton, as that simpleton certainly would not ask another waterhead for advice on how to do long division- he'd instead emulate the actions of people who do long division well.  As such, you should not ask the denizens of any message board which stance you should take, as they know absolutely nothing, and will likely cement in your mind ideas so illogical and ridiculous that they'd make Andy Dick wonder aloud how they arrived at them, as he shit in a hole outside of the shed in which he lives in spite of the fact that he's fairly wealthy.  How then, should you choose a stance?




Do what anyone worth half a shit has done before you- experiment.  Bob Peoples, the greatest 181 pound deadlifter prior to the arrival of chimp-like freak of nature Ed Coan put the record out of everyone's reach, experimented constantly with his form, and eventually developed a form more unique than the penises on BME.  Through years of experimentation, Peoples eventually pulled 728 at a bodyweight of 178, using form that could only be described as horrific- he pulled with a round back and stiff legs, after completely exhaling, and with a double overhand grip.(Hise)  That's right- years of experimentation got him to his ultimate form.  
"Our deadlift champion began to study his body leverages and gravity centers. He would take a bar in a starting deadlift position and view himself an a mirror and notice by the raising or lowering of the bar as he changed grips, using different height shoes, inhaling slightly, inhaling heavily, exhaling slightly, exhaling heavily and observing the positions and conditions that suited him best."(Hise, Deadlifter)  Eventually, he happened upon form that most people would regard with horror and what the idiots on Youtube would claim would send his spinal column soaring into the air, give him AIDS, and could only be the produce of massive steroid use- weak people are incredibly overdramatic.  Despite what weak people and personal trainers the world around would proclaim about Peoples' form, “His dead lift style.... is not "incorrect" for him because his type of physique with rather long legs, short trunk and very long arms makes it the best style for him.”(Peoples)


Amusingly, this body type has been ascribed to another amazing deadlifter with completely different deadlift style- Ed Coan.  Coan is 5’5” and boasts arms that nearly hang to his knees, due to the fact that his arms and legs were incredibly long compared to the length of his trunk.  Because he's built as if he were the unholy child of a chimpanzee and a postal box, Coan had incredible success deadlifting.  At 181, Coan pulled 793; at 198, he pulled 859; at 219, he pulled 901; and at 241 he pulled 887… like I said, a fucking freak.(Gallagher 60)  Coan also pulled with a unique style, as his stance was fairly narrow for a sumo stance, and his hand placement was fairly wide- just inside his knees.  This goes against convention on sumo deadlifting due to the fact that it doesn't appear to make the best use of that style, which is essentially to reduce the range of motion dramatically.  Coan apparently didn't give a shit, because his unique form produced poundages that may never be topped.


These examples should point you to one inalienable fact- your body style has little to do with the form you should utilize to maximize your deadlift.  Instead, you should employ whatever form you prefer after experimenting with them both.  If you have comparatively long arms and a short torso, guess what?  It doesn’t mean you should deadlift with a certain form- it means you’re destined to be a badass deadlifter if you bust your ass at the lift.  Any attempt to analyze leverages to determine your best style is absurd for a multitude of reasons:
  1. It fails to consider a wide array of muscular factors, ranging from your muscular strengths to the placement and thickness of various muscular attachments
  2. It fails to account for past activities in which you might have engaged that would increase your neurological adaptations to certain movements
  3. It overthinks what will essentially amounts to a battle of wills between you and the weight.  All of the leverages in the world won’t get 600 pounds off the ground if you don’t hate the fact that the weight is defying your will more than Rick Santorum pretends to hate anal sex.
One caveat to this is for chicks- I think females are likely more suited to sumo deadlifting because their pelvis angles considerably less than men and because it's so much wider, and they've generally got more flexible hips as a result.  Additionally, they're almost invariably lower-body dominant, and the sumo deadlift employs far more of your vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and (oddly) your tibialis anterior than does the conventional deadlift.(Escamilla)  One other thing I think makes the sumo deadlift a better choice for women is the fact taht, due to their hips, squatting with a wide stance generally results in a massive increase in a female lifter's squat, and most of the high-level female squatters I've seen seem to use a wide stance.  That stance and strength can translate well to the sumo deadlift, which as Ed Coan put it, amounts to a reverse squat.(Gallagher 61)  That doesn't necessarily mean chicks can't pull well conventional or shouldn't try, but rather that I think they'd likely find sumo to feel better as a movement than conventional.
Hot, actually a woman, and she probably out-deadlifts you.

Lest you wring your hands and pout due to the frustration of having to think for yourself on picking a style, Derek Barker had a great idea on how to determine it.  He suggests you do Louie Simmons' five week deadlift program twice, using conventional form once and sumo the other.  Thereafter, you can examine your progress with each and choose the style that best suits you.  In Barker's words:
"The program started with the lifter having achieved a max single in the deadlift coming into the program. In the first week, the lifter was then to perform 15 singles with 65 percent of that single with short rest periods. For the next week, the percentage was raised five percent and the amount of lifts dropped to 12. This goes on until the fifth week when the lifter has reached 85 percent and performs six singles.
I feel this program is vastly superior to any other for new lifters because by using weights in this percent range, the lifter is able to focus on his technique and think through the lift rather than get all psyched up and possibly miss or just muscle the barbell up. In addition, weights of 85–100 percent for a new lifter may in fact reinforce bad technique rather than correct it. In the sixth week, the lifter should attempt a new max in the deadlift.
Here’s my advice. For the first training wave, pull conventional. Play around with the conventional stance and find what suits you best (shoulder width stance, very close heels touching, feet angled out). Experiment and find an optimal pulling stance.  
After a new max has been attempted and hopefully achieved in week six, start the cycle over, this time with a sumo stance. Again, experiment with foot stance such as an ultra wide sumo or a more moderate sumo. Play around with the angle of the feet. A good rule of thumb is to have them angled out at least 45 degrees to keep your center of gravity as close to the barbell as possible. Go through the cycle, and on the sixth week, attempt a max with the sumo stance. Now, you’ve spent three concentrated months on your deadlift. You should have a good idea what your particular strengths and weaknesses are with each style and what style allows you to lift the most weight in a contest. Regardless of which style you choose, it’s important to still train the opposite style at some point. One style will help the other."(Barker) 


One question few people ask, though I think is the cause of many of the torn biceps you see in deadlifting, is in regards to the grip one takes.  Years ago, I had someone ask me which hand should pronate and which should supinate, and it occurred to me I never gave it any thought.  While pondering this, I looked down at my hands, which were hanging at my sides, and realize that the one that was pronated (facing my body) was the one I pronated in the deadlift, and vice-versa.  As such, I looked at their hands and let them know which hand appeared to be more pronated than the other.  If you're unsure about what grip would be best for you, stand with your arms hanging relaxed at your sides and have someone look at them and tell you.  It should be fairly apparent.

Now that you've got a jumping-off point for starting to include a program that's made more boys into men than chest suspension-induced vision quests.  Coming up, my favorite deadlift programs, a couple of other badass programs, and my favorite accessories and the reasons I think they're almost as awesome than getting a blowjob while eating pizza.
She must be having one hell of a vision quest.


Sources:
     Barker, Derek.  Beginner Deadlift Considerations: Conventional or Sumo?  http://www.elitefts.com/documents/con_sumo.htm
     Escamilla RF, Francisco AC, Kayes AV, Speer KP, Moorman CT 3rd.An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Apr;34(4):682-8.
     Hise, Bob.  Bob Peoples- Deadlifter.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2008/02/bob-peoples-deadlifter.html
     Hise, Bob.  The Bob Peoples I Knew.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/01/bob-peoples-i-knew-bob-hise-ii.html
     Gallagher, Marty.  Purposeful Primitive.  

28 comments :

  1. Is there a risk of developing imbalances in the back as a result of always pronating the same arm? I always alternated because of that worry

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    1. Yes. Years ago when I always deadlifted with the same hand pronated, I had a chiropractor try to sell me a "treatment package" since my spine was showing much greater "tone" on one side. I declined and started switching grips or using straps.

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    2. When I deadlift in training,I always use straps, so I don't encounter that problem. I always found that when my grip tired, I'd twist in the direction of the supinated hand, so I started taining with straps to avoid fucking myself up.

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    3. What the fuck does all your grip strength come from then, especially if your hands are as small as you say they are?

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    4. The straps I use are thick as shit, so I end up doing fat bar work with insane poundages during shrugs. That, and like any sensible person, I train my grip. Shocking!

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  2. Here: http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=5170813 has a tip on choosing a grip. Bumgardner says you should check if one of your elbows hyperextends. If one does, you should not use it for the supinated side.

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    1. Interesting. I never thought of that, but that's a good point.

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  3. Its often said that coen used a narrow sumo stance but most people are strongest pulling sumo when their knees are above their ankles; because he was shorter that happened to be s a shorter stance than others.

    Without running the simmons' deadlift programme mentioned above are there any special considerations someone with a scoliosis should take in trying to find their best deadlift form? I know lamar gant's crazy spine actually became a positive for him but not everyone is so lucky to have an extreme like that turn out to be a positive. Any thoughts?

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    1. I would be really careful about ensuring that you don't twist to one side. My ex wife had scoliosis and pulled 385 at 132 in her only competition. I think you'll be fine.

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  4. For what it's worth, I have a spine that looks like a cursive J and an alright deadlift in the high 500s. My scoliosis has never affected movements like heavy deads. If you're working intelligently in the pursuit of higher than average levels of strength, my experience is you need to have some confidence in your body's ability to adapt ... most people have some sort of imbalances, and my spine has never felt better than now when it's stronger than ever before. I've never had a negative magically turn into a positive without actively forcing it to, and I'd venture to say that's the same for everyone

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    1. Didnt the best deadlifter of all time have scoliosis? On another note: I learned the hard way that rack deadlifts cant replace the full lift in training. Pretty much zero carryover.

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  5. Deadlift talk is good for me right now. I injured my back recently and just bending over to pick up a sock off the floor is still a bit dicey. I need to start completely from the beginning, so I'll be looking out for your posts.

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  6. If your squat is better than your deadlift, if your legs are big in relation to your butt and/or if you deadlift sumo...you need to deadlift more often. Not goodmornings, not reverse hypers, not low box squats, not overhead squats. Deadlift. Sumo deadlifts are much more technical, not olympic lift technical, but close and like the olympic lifts require frequent practice at heavy loads.

    Pictures 3 and 8 are quite disturbing.

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  7. Jamie, this is a great article and it brings up a great point. If you love to lift, you'll stop when you start hurting yourself. Even a hardcore motherfucker like you can admit it. It never surprises me when people fuck themselves up deadlifting. Not to incriminate myself but I am a novice lifter (7 months) working out at an Anytime Fitness. I have not seen a single person in there deadlift the past 7 months but have received criticism from at least one person every few weeks about how I'm going to fuck up my back because they fucked up their back doing it. Then they perform dumbell overhead press on a bosu ball and scream their heads off as they lift 35s for 15 reps. These same people squat quarter-depth in the Smith machine and talk about eating oatmeal for breakfast. When these types of folks talk to me and try to bring me down and impose limitations upon me I send them your way because until I'd begun read Chaos & Pain I had some seriously messed up ideas about training and what I could accomplish or tolerate. Maybe something will click in their heads too.

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  8. ok guys. I know this doesn't necessarily pertain to this post, but I've found that drinking straight liquor ( whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.) is a great alternative to the usual 14-30 "regular" beers (BL, Natty Light, or Miller Light, etc.) to get hammered, while still staying lean. It does take a bit of "training" to get used to it, however. I've been utilizing this method in small increases over the course of the last month to up my tolerance. At the onset I was gone after just a full glass or 2 (I'd estimate somewhere between 3-5 shots) while following a strict Keto Diet. Tonight I "PR'd" on half a bottle of whiskey and a glass of vodka before heading out to the bars and a couple glasses of whiskey on the rocks at the bar, all the while, getting compliments on how lean I'm looking. Anyone who's looking to keep up their drinking while maintaining their diet needs to just sack the fuck up and start switching to straight alcohol. Not only does it make you feel more badass, but it's what your forefathers of heavy lifting and fucking life like it's a 15 year-old Vietnamese prostitute would've wanted.

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  9. Feel free to throw up more pics of bitches deadlifting more often.

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  10. Jamie would you consider the dead a good massbuilder? Or would you rather work the deadlifting muscles with different exersizes? I'm talking about someone with an average strength level, i.e. 2,5 x bodyweight dead.

    Thanks for this post dawg, looking forward to the rest.

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    1. Of course- there's hardly a muscle left unstimulated after a hard deadlift workout. You'll almost never see a good deadlifter who doesn't look like a beast- Bob Peoples obviously notwithstanding.

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  11. So I can squat basically everyday, when I do deadlifts, I'll warm-up to an easy relaxed max. Just 1. Then do back-off sets with 80% of that for 3 reps and really focus on speed and power.

    For grip I use either hook grip or alternating where I swap right and left each set (pronated/supinated). I'll do 10-12 sets focusing on speed, form, power. My back never gets sore and just notice that after a while it starts to feel lighter, lighter, and lighter. Eventually I'll add a little more weight and keep progressing like that.

    Doesn't seem to really stress my CNS too much and seem to be able to recover quite quickly as I have not noticed it affecting my squatting performance at all (still going up almost weekly). If I do, I'll trade a deadlift session (usually my last exercise after squats) with some front squats instead. If I do deadlifts in the morning and I'm up to a full workout in the evening, I'll do chins instead of deadlifts. Every workout, every day is squat, push, and a pull (clean or deadlifts; sometimes more front/squats).

    I don't know. Works for me. And I find it fun. When I'm hungry and ravenous, I leave and go eat.

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  12. I've found that my conventional deadlift is a lot stronger than my sumo dead, and I do believe it's because I have a relatively long torso and wide back. It might be the case that my back is just stronger and more developed than my legs because I've focused a lot on things like rows and cleans as well, but as a female I definitely don't excel at sumo stance - I can pull 330 conventional, and on a good day 250 sumo.


    Deadlifts are by far the most awesome thing you can do at the gym, though, except maybe heavy cleans.

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  13. Thanks for the advice re: everyone is wrong. BTW heavy cleans are gay.

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  14. Your argument for not just doing deadlifts at a reduced volume is weak. Obviously you know this, as you've admitted that you're not being rational. But the whole "once I start pulling until I keep pulling until I'm physically incapable of continuing" thing sounds suspiciously like bulimic chick logic. I think you've probably got a little bit more self control than that. I know very well how hard it is to get out of the all or nothing attitude with deadlifts, as that's definitely my natural tendency, but it can be a very unproductive attitude at times.

    Why not do something like what I'm doing right now: Work up to just one 90-95% single a couple of times a week. I feel like I'm being lazy, but it's worked surprisingly well to get my deadlift back on track after a long period of stagnation (caused by my all or nothing attitude.) That shouldn't interfere with other lifts, and if nothing else it will give you some practice. It takes maybe 5 minutes to do this at the max, but if you do it frequently enough it makes deadlifting feel as routine as getting out of bed in the morning. You've got the strength, a minimal amount of practice would probably work wonders for your next meet.

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    1. Because I'd rather break a world record.

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