11 April 2012

Accessories To Murder 2- The Greats Get Dead

The greats in deadlifting all appear to have a great deal in common- first, they've all done some ridiculously high volume routines, which would indicate to me that they love lifting more than Lindsay Lohan loves cocaine and they border on self-flagellating-priest style masochism, they're built (to scale) like gorillas, and they actually think about how to make themselves better, rather than consulting with a pack of weak know-nothings on the internet.  Asking a kid who's marginally better than you at something about how he got there is about as sensible as a Jew asking a Nazi to hold the oven door for him while he tries to clean its back wall.  Don't be fucking retarded.  If you read about any of the greats, they didn't get great by following routines prescribed by people weaker than a 19th Century railroader with tuberculosis- they took the advice  and followed the routines of exceptionally strong people.  Not marginally strong- EXCEPTIONALLY strong.
Ernie Frantz- the guy Ed Coan went to for advice.  Fucker squatted 516 at 172 at age 76.  Recognize.

Next, stop being fucking lazy.  According to Sakari Selkäinaho, all of the great Finnish deadlifters grew up doing manual labor, which inured their bodies and minds to hard work.  Likewise, Bob Peoples was a farmer, Lamar Gant rode his bicycle for extremely long distances and worked as a janitor, Konstantin Konstantinovs grew up doing gymnastics and playing judo in a tiny town in Latvia (which means he's cut more firewood than you've likely ever seen in your life), and currently works as a bodyguard.  This means they were/are all highly conditioned athletes capable of mentally pushing themselves to extremes and possess the physical endurance to do so.  Since World of Warcraft doesn't count as GPP, you might want to think about getting off your fat ass and doing some conditioning.

Most, if not all of the best deadlifters have done or do extremely high volume pulling work.  You'll see the occasional admonition against overtraining, but the elite conception of overtraining and your conception of overtraining are likely bears as much resemblance to one another as Steve Buscemi bears to a healthy human adult.  For instance, Brent Howard's conception of "too much" work mirrors my own experience:
"I used to do heavy DL, then heavy stiffs, heavy racks, then 15 sets of upper back almost every week. I kept this up until one day when I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Kaz on the subject. He related how he used to beat the heck out of himself with high bar squats of 615 x 25 reps followed by heavy DL’s and rack pulls. The bottom line was that was too much even for a superman like him."(Mason)
That's fucking brutal, and likely more volume than you'd get out of three weeks of Starting Strength or two weeks of 5/3/1, in a single day.  Chuck Vogelpohl, who pulled 793 at 242, trains ten to fourteen times a week, does abs in every workout, and trains lats in five of those workouts.  Louie Simmons does the same thing.  Thus, elite lifters know how much is too much because they've traveled a hell of a long ways over that line.  Until you've shit upon that line with zero fucks given, then run as far past it as you can brandishing a a Viking sword and a bottle of Jager, slaying all weights in your path (at least until your damnable human vulnerability crushes you like a roach under a steamroller) you've no fucking clue what overtraining is.  Thus, stop fearing it, since you don't even fucking know of what it is you're afraid.

Those statements made, let's get into some of the greats' deadlifting routines.  As a preface I'll mention, anecdotally, that badass pullers have badass routines.  Powerlifting legend Ernie Frantz did all three lifts on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, and did some light squats and deads on Tuesday. On the heavy days, he hit a heavy single on each lift, in addition to something like walkouts, negatives, or partials thereafter. In the Saturday workout he would go all out.(Stone)  Finnish deadlifters either deadlift two, three, or four times a week, and supplement their deadlifts with Olympic lifts, partials, deadlifts standing on a block, stiff-legged deadlifts with a variety of forms, and hack deads.(Selkäinaho)  Bob Peoples deadlifted every single fucking day, to a daily max.  Thus, great powerlifters push the absolute limit and take a giant steaming shit on anyone who tells them otherwise.

Lamar Gant
Lamar Gant is perhaps the closest thing we'll ever see to a real-life Spider man, hitting a 4.95x bodyweight deadlift at two different weight classes, making him roughly insectoid in his relative strength.  I suppose that was to be expected, given the fact that his weird-assed bodyshape and diminutive stature made him look like  the main character in the movie Antz (the above pic seriously is not photoshopped- he's that weird looking).  Gant eventually pulled 638 at 123, boasting 2% bodyfat, and 654 at 132.(Todd)  His initial deadlift routine consisted of truly insane volume- 25 sets of 5, in what he called his "Monster Man" routine, after doing squat and bench.(Todd) On top that, Gant bicycled 30 miles a day to and from work, and cycled for long distances on the weekend.  (Todd)  Eventually, Gant abandoned the aforementioned program, which he'd lifted from professional strongman Harold Ansorge, and developed the program he provided to Powerlifting USA, which I've titled 8/5/3.

Lamar Gant's 8/5/3
Week 1: 5 sets of 8 with 70% 1RM
Week 2: 5 sets of 8 with 73% 1RM
Week 3: 5 sets of 8 with 76% 1RM
Week 4: 5 sets of 8 with 78% 1RM
Week 5: 5 sets of 5 with 82% 1RM
Week 6: 5 sets of 5 with 84% 1RM
Week 7: 5 sets of 5 with 86% 1RM
Week 8: 5 sets of 5 with 87% 1RM
Week 9: 5 sets of 3 with 92% 1RM
Week 10: 5 sets of 3 with 94% 1RM
Week 11: 5 sets of 3 with 96% 1RM
Week 12: 5 sets of 3 with 98% 1RM

Konstantin Konstantinovs
This man needs little introduction.  Until Stan Efferding recently topped his total, KK reigned supreme at 275.  He's recently moved to 308 to battle with Andy Bolton for the title of premier hippopotamus-sized deadlifter and has pulled 903 raw, in a tested meet.  His program is a bit less regimented than most, and is as follows:

Workout 1.
1. Light squat for a warm up.
2. Deadlift. I do a different variant every time I train: rack pulls – 7, 11, 15, 20, 23 cm from the knees (higher than that I never pull). I do either a set of 3 reps or 8-10 depending on how I feel.
3. Bench press. I consider bench press as rest between heavy work. I bench either with touch and go with a medium grip, or with a close grip pausing at the bottom. I might do a single set of 10 reps with touch and go, or might max out pausing at the bottom. It all depends on how I feel and my mood.
4. 2nd deadlift. I pull either from a floor or from a deficit (about 9 cm). I do a single set of 2-3 reps pausing at the bottom. Then if I have enough energy, I might do another set of 6-8 reps.
5. Box squat. Heavy box squat as described above.

Workout 2 (in two days).
1. Medium heavy squat as described above.
2. Heavy bench press for a single set of 3 reps. Once in two weeks: negatives – 1-2 set for 1 rep. Then a single set of 8-10 reps with either close or medium grip depending on how I feel.
3. Cardio – 15-20 min.

Workout 3.
1. Light squat.
2. Medium heavy bench press: a single set of 6-8 reps.
3. Speed deadlift with bands: 8x1. Bands increase weight by 130 kg at the top.
4. Pull ups with weight or bands. ONLY explosively. Very important for my deadlift.
5. GHR, hyperextensions, very heavy abs work (6 sets with emphasis on strength).

Workout 4.
The same as workout 2.

He then starts a new cycle, taking one to two days off between workouts 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, which means he deadlifts between two and four times a week and squats four or five.(KK and Carter)  Like Andy Bolton, he focuses on explosiveness from the floor in training, but unlike Bolton appears to go fucking heavy.  In this video, he hits 380kg (836 lbs) for four reps.
This means we all suck at life.

Benedikt Magnusson
Bennie seems like the gentle giant of powerlifting- he's got a baby face, seems overly nice, and has described himself as the smallest and weakest man in his family, which is ridiculous given the fact that he's 6' 380 lbs.  He's consistently one of the strongest guys on Earth, and currently holds the world record in the deadlift with a 1015 pull.  Note that the workout below's not a static workout- Bennie's much more of the "make it up as you go along school."  Last year, he had this to say about his routine:
"Right now I have two days a week where I have a planned workout. I rarely miss these. I usually end up working out for most of the other 7 days of the week though, just doing recovery workouts and some bodybuilding stuff to keep the joints feeling healthy and my muscles full. I always try to include heavy behind the neck presses, squats and of course deadlifts in my routine. I feel that these are the exercises that have contributed the most to my progress. I don’t really bench though. Flat benching has never felt natural for me and has resulted in several pec tears. I just rely on behind the neck presses and bench warm ups for my bench strength."(Freyr) 
Bennie's deadlift workout, from what I found online, generally consists of the following:
Week A
Deadlift warm up to about 80%
80% 8setx2reps
Platform deadlift about 3-4inch high
Train with weights from 40-70%
4-6set x 4reps Speed!
Then go down to about 40-50% 2setx8reps

Week B
Deadlift. Work up to 3rep max.
Platform deadlift about 3-4inch high
With weights from 50-75%
4-6set x 3-5reps Speed
Then go down to about 50% for 2setsx8reps

Week C
Jeff Jet Method Deadlift ( This is hard to write down )
When you do Jeff Jet Method deadlift you start by doing a rack pull. Then your training partners take the rack away and you go down and then up! Then your partners put the rack back in! The rep starts up by your thighs then you go down and up again ( I hope you get it )
A guy from America told us about this. His name is Jeff Jet. We started doing this because pretty much everything me and Benedikt can pull up we can do more reps! So we thought this would be a great way to do work with much more weight to shock the body! It worked!

Jeff Jet Method Deadlift - Go up in 1-3reps max ( Do what the day allows!! )
Platform deadlift about 3-4inch high
4set x 4-6reps with weights from 50-60%

"We train deadlift every week. The last 3 or 4 workouts before a meet we just do regular deadlift off the floor and work in singles. We never go heavier than the starting weight at the meet though."(Magnusson)

Rickey Dale Crain
Quite frankly, I'd never heard of the guy, but between his name and the fact that he looks exactly the way his name would indicate, I had to include him.  Crain was a bad motherfucker in powerlifting in the 1970s and 80s, and put up some beastly deadlift numbers in the 165 class.  Like the rest of the behemoths I'm discussing, Crain was born to deadlift- as you can see from the above pic of his family, he'd likely have had to sleep out back of the double-wide with the dogs if he skipped a day in the gym.  According to Clarence Bass, "After teething on a dumbbell-shaped rattle - his father Don was and is an avid lifter - Crain started lifting at age 2, was deadlifting triple bodyweight by the time he was 10, and soon after discovered he had "real" talent in the squat, doing 200 at 13 and 400 before he turned 17 - as a 132-pounder. In 1976, at age 23, he became the first middleweight (165 lbs) in history to squat with 700."(Bass)  Interesting to note is that Crain hates raw lifting with the burning passion of 1000 suns, and sells a shitload of training gear.  In his (again, unsurprisingly barely coherent given his name and appearance) words,
Given his penchant for posting in all caps and rocking an afro and a mustache, the extremity of his routine should not surprise you.  This program is designed to end with a 620 pull, according to his site.(Crain)

John Kuc
John Kuc was also a hilariously mustachioed powerlifter of the 1970s and 80s kind enough to step out of his rape van filled with lollipops to show people what's up on the deadlift.  His record pull of 870 in the 242s stood for 18 years, until Ed Coan decided he'd go 2 Girls 1 Cup and took a giant steaming shit on it with an 887 pull.  Kuc's program is a 16 week competition prep cycle split into two 8 week microcycles, the first consisting of two days a week of pulls and the second consisting of one a week.

                                 (First Day)                                                                                     (Second Day)
         DL Starts                                                DL lock outs                                                 Reg DL's
1.  .63X4, .53X4X3                        (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.00X4X3)                        .65X6, .80X4X4
2.  .63X4, .55X4X3                        (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.03X4X2)               .65X6, .80X4, .81X4X3
3.  .63X4, .75X4, .79X4X3            (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.06X4X2)               .65X6, .80X4, .83X4X3
4.  .63X4, .75X4, .79X4, .81X4     (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.05X4, 1.09X4)      .65X6, .80X4, .83X4X3
5.  .63X4, .75X4, .79X4                 (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.05X4)                           .65X6, .80X4X4
6.  .63X4, .75X4, .81X4, .83X4     (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.05X4, 1.12X4)      .65X6, .80X4, .83X4, .85X4X2
7.  .63X4,  .75X4, .81X4, .85X4    (.65X6, .85X4, .95X4, 1.06X4, 1.16X4)         .65X6, .80X4, .83X4, .88X4, .92X4, .90X4
8.  .63X4, .75X4, .81X4, .87X4     (.65X6, .80X4, .95X4, 1.07X4 1.07X4,1.20X4)   .65X6, .80X4X4
9. No DL workout on First Day.  (TRY LIMIT SINGLE DL on second day- .65X6, .80X4,
.92X1, 1.03X1, .80X4*)

10.  .63X6, .77X4, .82X4X3
11.  .63X6, .77X4, .84X4X3
12.  .63X6, .77X4, .87X4X3
13.  .63X6, .77X4, .85X4, .89X4, .87X4
14.  .63X6, .77X4, .85X4, .90X4, .87X4
15.  .63X6, .77X4, .85X4, .92X4, .87X4
16.  .63X6, .77X4, .87X4
17.  (LIMIT DL IN CONTEST)   work up to 1.03 of previous best
* Designates new PR set the 9th week.

Ed Coan
If you don't know who Ed Coan is, you're either a neophyte to lifting or you're fucking retarded.  His routine is one of the most jerked off to programs on the internet, and I'm endlessly amused by the dogmatism that surrounds it.  If you are one of those people who worships the Coan-Phillippi routine and considers it sacrosanct, consider this- that's not the routine Ed Coan's year round routine.  From the lips of Ed Coan to your proverbial ears:
"Friday is deadlifts and all back work. This Friday, since it's off season, with no belt or anything, I'm deadlifting off a 4-inch block. It actually teaches you to push more with your legs since you have to bend over so much farther. It's a lot fucking harder!
Most powerlifters I know who no longer compete, they'll squat and bench, but won't deadlift! It's too difficult. Then I do stiff-legged deads off the blocks, then rows, regular pulldowns, then some type of Hammer pull-down machine, like high rows. Afterward, I'll do chins for reps, then bent-over laterals. I do my rear delts on back day."(Koenig)
Coan's "2,500 Pounds and Beyond" Workout(Colescott), conversely, looks like this:
Squats:                       7-10 sets of 2-8 reps
Leg Extensions:          2 sets of 10-12
Leg Curls:                  2 sets of 10-12 reps
(In the off-season, high bar squats to activate more of the quads and sometimes front squats afterwards).
Seated Calf Raises:    3 sets of 10-12 reps


Bench Press (regular grip):                7-10 sets of 2-8 reps
Wide-grip bench:                              3 sets of 8-10
Incline Dumbell or Barbell Press        2 sets of 2-8 reps
Flyes (high reps):                               2 sets of 10-15 reps
Tricep extensions (a whole bunch):    2 sets of 2-8 reps


Regular deadlifts or S-L Deadlifts:     8 sets of 2-8 reps
Bent-over Rows:                              2 sets of 8-10 reps (Coan does these with 485 for 8 strict reps - "no problem.")
Pulley Rows:                                    2 sets of 8-10 reps
Pulldowns:                                       2 sets of 8-10 reps
Hammer Strength Back Machine:     2 sets of 8-10 reps
Rear Delt raises:                              2 sets of 10-12 reps

Close-grip Bench:                            3 sets of 8-10 reps
Shoulder Press:                               5 sets of 2-8 reps
(either Behind-the-Neck Press, Front Military Press, or Seated Dumbell Presses. Coan has done a Seated Behind-the-Neck Press with 400 pounds)
Side Laterals:                                  3 sets of 10-12 reps
Pushdowns:                                    3 sets of 8-10 reps
Light Barbell Curls:                         1 set of 20 reps          


There you have it- even the best pullers on Earth- people designed by the gods specifically for deadlifting, cannot agree on a single program that's best for success.  They experiment like they're last name was Tesla, however, and seem to happen upon some common themes.  Thus, if you want to be a deadlift master, you must adhere to the following golden rules:

  • Don't be a pussy.
  • Condition the shit out of yourself in and out of the gym.
  • Pull like a 15 year old with the internet, Jergens, and a fistful of cock.  Read the linked article about Finnish Deadlift Secrets, start speaking an incomprehensible language in a frigid wasteland of a country, burn a church or two, listen to black metal, and sack the fuck up.
  • Test yourself.  You'll never know how much is too much until you actually do too much.  Once you determine how much is too much, do a little less than that.
  • Don't forget to not be a pussy.
Jesus fuck I despise black metal.  Tis' a shame that there's an incontrovertible link between it and an epic deadlift.

     Askem, J.V.  Deadlifting Part 2.  http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/DL2.htm
     Bass, Clarence.  Rickey Dale Crain.  http://www.cbass.com/RICKEY.HTM
     Benedikt Magnusson's Deadlift Routine.  http://powerandbulk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5432
     Carter, Paul.  Interview with Konstantin Konstantinovs - Translated.  Lift-Run-Bang.  http://www.lift-run-bang.com/2010/04/interview-with-konstantin-konstantinovs.html
     Colescott, Steve.  Ode to the power king Ed Coan.  http://www.rxmuscle.com/articles/latest-news/174-ode-to-the-power-king-ed-coan.html
     Crain, Rickey Dale.  Deadlift Xtreme Routine.  http://www.crain.ws/deadlift_xteme_routine.html
     Freyr, Hakon.  Interview with Benedikt Magnusson.  http://www.brotherhoodofiron.com/articles/interview-with-benedikt-magnussonworld-record-deadlift-holder
     Koenig, John.  Atlas Speaks: An Interview with Ed Coan.  T-Nation.  http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/atlas_speaks
     Konstantins Konstantinovs Interview.  Serious Powerlifting.  http://www.seriouspowerlifting.com/3755/mens-interviews/konstantins-konstantinovs-interview
     Powerlifting USA.  Lamar Gant's Deadlift Routine.  http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/files/Lamar%20Gant's%20Deadlift%20Routine.pdf
     PowerliftingWatch.  Rickey Dale Crain on Raw Lifting.  http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/node/5435
     Selkäinaho, Sakari.  Finnish Deadlift Secrets.  ElitFTS.  http://www.elitefts.com/documents/finnish-deadlift-secrets.htm
     Stone, Eric.  Interview with Ernie Frantz.  Chicago Powerlifting.  http://www.chicagopowerlifting.com/ErnieFrantzInterview.html
     Todd, Terry.  He Bends But He Doesn't Break.  Sports Illustrated.  October 22, 1984.  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1122739/1/index.htm


  1. Right so will do. Good article. Gonna hit up some ME squats + endurance high rep deadlift sets tomorrow, e.g 5 reps. That has to count as GPP right? :-)

  2. I've been doing 100 reps of one arm deadlifts with 135 in as little time as possible for my gpp. It's br00tal, and my hands hate the shit out of me.

  3. Great post and great timing. A couple days ago I finally quit my mental bullshit and pulled my first 405 at a svelte 130. I am no longer too ashamed of my DL. Either way I thought you would have included Vince Anello who competed during the 70's whose routine included an absurd amount of volume and intensity but like these guys he was born to DL. (821 DL @ 198, 751 @ 181) Doing so in a stiff legged fashion all the while rocking the fro reminiscent of Tom Jones.

    I fell like taking up comment space so I'll type it out since I couldn't really find anything online for anyone who cares. It's from the book Inside Powerlifting by Terry Todd.

    Monday: Partial DL (from just above the knee) 515x10 620x5 700x1 750x1 800x1 850x1

    Tuesday: lat pulldown 5 sets of 6 with 2 top sets of 300x6/ bent forward row 5 sets of 6 with 2 top sets of 350x6/ wide-grip chin behind neck 3 sets of 20

    Wednesday: DL 400x10 550x5 650x1 730x1 800x1/ bent legged good morning 5 sets of 6 with 2 top sets of 400x6/ shrugs 5 sets of 6 with 2 top sets of 500x6

    Saturday: half squat 650x1 750x1 820x1/ quarter squat 900x1 1050x1 1200x1/ partial DL (about 3-4 inches higher) 400x10 515x5 660x1 750x1 820x1/ bent legged good morning (same as Wednesday)/ rows (same as Tuesday)/ shrugs (same as Wednesday)

    he felt the half and quarter squats helped his deadlift more than his squat. He continuously trained throughout the year varying the intensity as a contest grew closer.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

  4. I'm wrong for thinking Ricky Bobby the second I saw Ricky's hair and reading that quote.

  5. Even though your blog goes overboard with the disgusting pictures and complete lack of morality, you do bring information and ideas to the table that no one else does/can. You've convinced this 19yo to say "fuck it" to the common powerlifting idea of sitting around on your ass while not lifting, and instead take a physical landscaping job that will help me get strong and lean as hell.

    1. ...and make sure you go to the gym right after work. Have a cold shower when you arrive at the gym and have a gram of caffeine if you must(don't). Watch your weight. At your age, unless you're morbidly obese, you will drop weight unless you have an agressive diet plan to keep it up. You should be able to trade lard for hard regardless of macronutrient content unless of course you go on the 7-Eleven diet.

      "Morality is herd instinct in the individual"
      Friedrich Nietzsche

    2. Christian morality : weight training :: shoes : cloud formation

    3. For what it's worth, I'm by most standards a strong and lean guy already (squatting and deadlifting over 600). I've just learned that more work doesn't mean I'll turn into a pile of shit... which is of course what Jamie has pretty much been pushing since the beginning anyway. Maybe morality wasn't the best word, but then again the word doesn't mean it has to be associated with Christianity and "herd instinct". I actually have no idea what that line means that you just wrote Jamie.

    4. Fortunately Eric doesn't have a herd instinct and so interacts with other members of his species exclusively for hunting and mating rights. Over the internet.

    5. Jake, it's the formula for an analogy. It translates to christian morality is to weight training as shoes are to cloud formation. That is to say, the one has nothing whatsoever to do with the other.

  6. My squats and deadlift have regressed and I have nagging annoying soreness around in my calves that let me to waddle like an ass-raped duck. In fact they hurt so bad once I start squatting that at around 50-60% of my max I'm straining as though it's max effort. I've attempted maxes and at best can get 85-90% my maxes from several months ago but with much shittier form which results in immense soreness in my lower back and glutes. Does that sound overtrained?

    1. Sounds like you might have the AIDS. You might want to try some restorative techniques, in addition to taking your antiretrovirals.

  7. http://peoplelikingpeople.blogspot.com/2011/12/wife-of-powerlifting-champion-rickey.html

    ...and there is a good chance Mr. Crain is a pedophile. Apparently, thats the key to being a great deadlifter.

  8. Great series...

    Often one must go ape-shit in order to rape shit.

    1. ..as Mr. Crain demonstrates quite proficiently, apparantely.

  9. Hey Jamie,
    What are your thoughts on Good mornings as a main or assistance exercise? I've done them for a while when I did Sheiko, but they just felt like they strained the jesus out of my back/spine without much muscular work. Have you ever used them for any particular length of time?

  10. I bet you can't guess what muscle in your body is the muscle that gets rid of joint and back pains, anxiety and burns fat.

    If this "secret" highly powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.