17 May 2012

Accessories To Murder 3-The Deadliest Moves

In the previous installments, I covered deadlifting in general and some of the greats' routines, all of which differed greatly except for two factors-consistency and volume.  They all did a hell of a lot of pulling, and they did it regularly.  You'll likely find, over time, that those two factors are evident in the lifestyles of any elite lifter, as they're really the only necessary factors for overall success in anything.  I certainly don't put myself in the pantheon of lifters like Coan and Kuc, etc, but I'm not a bad deadlifter either.  Of late, I've done no deadlifting because my focus has been on the squat, so I've had to come up with assistance exercises that will provide me with the necessary base of strength from which I can draw when I do finally step onto the platform to deadlift.  As such, so it would stand to reason that my assistance exercises are the tits, sincethey seem to be working pretty well.

Before I jump into my favorite routines and assistance lifts, however, I'll mention that I agree with Louie Simmons on at least one thing- "deadlift" as much as you can every week.  That's not to say you're actually going to deadlift, but you would be doing something to help your deadlift nearly every day.  Chuck Vogelpohl was famous for hitting the gym 10-14 times per week, hitting abs every time and lats five times a week.(Simmons)  He did this to build a base for deadlifting, and to keep his body conditioned to the incredible stress deadlifting puts on your body.  Though I had no knowledge of his routine previously, he and I are pretty much two tits in a bikini top on this issue, since I do something similar.  I do a combination of weighted and unweighted ab work at least 4x per week, upper back work in my morning workouts in the form of face pulls, pullups, high cable rows, or behind the neck pulldowns with a narrow grip, and hit back very heavily at least twice per week with one of the exercises listed below.
This is somehow relevant.

My Deadliest Deadlift Routines
Over the last 20 or so years, I've tried more permutations of programming than any neophyte could possibly imagine.  Given that the deadlift was my pet exercise for the better part of those 20 years, I've more or less acted like Pepe LePiew with the deadlift, and have come up with more rape and stalking strategies (for the deadlift) than he did for cartoon broads.  That is to say, a fucking lot of them.  My favorite deadlift workout, though, would have to be one of the following two.  The first was one i used religiously getting to a 500+ deadlift about ten years ago at a bodyweight of around 160, and the latter is one up with which I came in 2009 out of a combination of masochism and boredom.

To The Death (Deadlift Program 1)- assuming a 500 lb max
6-8 x 3-1 x 435-455 (I started with 435 for three and then added weight depending on whether or not I got the reps.  Once I got to 455 I went until it got nearly impossible to finish a rep, which was around the 6th set.)
Max reps x 315 (My record was somewhere around 20, at which point I usually greyed out and slumped to the floor.)

Rest When You're Dead (Deadlift Program 2)- assuming a ~600lb max
Max x 1 x 515 in 30 minutes.  On this one, I just deadlifted for exactly a half hour, pulling 85-90% of my 1RM as many times as I could.  Occasionally I'd do doubles, and every now and again a triple.  By the end, I think my record was 32 reps in 30 minutes, and I was cashed.  Shortly thereafter I pulled 615 in an unsanctioned meet, which was a huge PR for me.

The Deadliest Assistance Movements
The following are my favorite accessory movements for the deadlift.  I'm not going to get into the biomechanics of each, as doing so is generally the purview of people who fail to realize that the biomechanics are going to range from subtly to wildly different for each lifter based on their leverages, relative muscular strengths, and individual technique variations.  You'll also note that the very same people who will babble on about the biomechanics of lifts are generally shitty lifters hiding behind textbooks.  They're little more capable in terms of educating someone on the proper methods for completing an elite level lift than is a man who's read a shitload of carpentry books but barely touched a hammer would be if he were to educate you on the whys and wherefores of mansion construction.

What I do when selecting an accessory exercise is examine movements that resemble my main lift in whole or part and then incorporate that movement to shore up weak points and strengthen my overall support structure.  This means I'm using my brain to determine for myself which exercise is best, rather than nitpicking pointless minutia and dithering over physiological and neurological responses to various loading protocols in sundry in angles to facilitate the greatest hypertrophy, or whatever it is people do rather than actually lift weights.  Additionally, I will modify my form and range of motion on those assistance exercises to further compound the benefit derived therefrom, after, of course, a period of experimentation.  The following are exercises I've found that help my deadlift of late.  It is in no way a comprehensive list, nor any sort of a bible you should follow religiously, but it might give you some ideas.
Deadlifting doesn't always make you into a hideous, retarded-looking non-human.

In Order of Awesome...
Shrugs/ Rack Pulls.  Anyone who's seen me in person will tell you that the first thing they notice, aside from my astonishingly smashed nose and scarred face, are my traps.  The mountains on either side of my ears have risen to their current state of awesome by the rigorous and religious application of shrugs.  I could not love a human baby as much as I love shrugs.  As such, I've embarked upon a neck holocaust the likes of which the world will never see again.  I do these as a combination rack pull from knee height and shrug to get in extra pulling work, and I use my exact deadlift stance and grip width.  I always use straps on these, however, and pull double overhand.  Before you scream "That's bullshit!", simmer the fuck down and consider the following:
  • I have tiny little rat claws for hands
  • I have no interest in joining Diesel Crew
  • I use Spud straps, which effectively make this a fat bar pull
  • Powerlifting doesn't have a fucking grip event
  • I've never failed a pull because of my grip

Any time you see someone decrying the use of straps on a heavy pull, it's jealousy motivating his comments. Make no fucking mistake about that.  Thus, make like a hot broad in some sissy porn and strap it the fuck on.
Recommended rep range: 2-10.  Singles are more for fun than anything else on traps, and anything over 10 is cardio.
Ladies is pimps, too.

Bent Row.  I've done a wide array of bent over rows over the years, and recently have started doing what some would call a Pendlay row and what others will nitpick to death.  I could care less what you fuckers call it, but this is the form I've found to be most beneficial for the deadlift.  If you're not interested in watching the video, the lift begins and ends on the floor.  I take exactly the stance and grip width I'll use on deadlifts, then pull the bar like I'm trying to rip it through my solar plexus into my spine and then essentially drop it to the floor.  In doing so, I use as little upper body motion as possible with the maximum weight possible.  The key here is that violence plus heavy weight equals awesome.  I've found this has helped my pull from the floor tremendously, and I regard pretty much any weight on the deadlift under 600 with utter contempt since I've begun doing these on a regular basis.  Bent rows are to Olympic lifters and powerlifters what Coco Austin is to both black and white men- beloved by all.  They're also one of the mainstays of the much ballyhooed Coan/Phillippi program, if you need more convincing.
Recommended rep range: 1-5.  I generally stick with triples, but there's something to be said for the occasional single.

Zercher Squats.  Interestingly, this is one of Louie Simmons' pet lifts, and he's even built a harness with which to do these so his lifters with bicep tears can rock out with their cocks out (or if they're chicks, their baby cocks).  These definitely build upper back strength, in addition to beating on your abs they're trash cans in "Stomp".  I do these out of the rack or off the pins, depending on my mood, and have taken to calling partial Zerchers off the pins "Tombstones"... I guess due to the fact that they make me feel like I've going to fucking die, and because it mimics the action of ripping a tombstone out of the ground with your bare hands.
Recommended rep range: 1-4.  I despise doing these for reps, mostly due to the fact that it's hard to breathe.  By the end of a repalicious set, they're about as anaerobic as can be, because I'm definitely ready to pass the fuck out.

Stiff-Leg High Pull.  I love these and do them every so often, although I think I started doing them based on a misunderstanding of an exercise description in an article I can no longer find.  In any event, these definitely seem to transfer into a shitload of explosiveness off the floor, and they didn't hurt my knee when my patello-femoral tendonitis was acting like a bastard.  As such, I hammered the fuck out of these for a while, to seemingly good effect.  Like the aforementioned exercises, I used the same stance and grip width as my deadlift, then with more legs more or less straight pulled the bar as violently as I could, as high as I could.  My goal here was to increase my break speed off the ground, in addition to strengthen my upper back to compensate for the end of my deadlift, when my shoulders round and my legs are nearly locked out.
Recommended rep range: 1-3.

Does this defy virtually everything you've ever read about deadlifting?  Probably.  Are fucks given?  Definitely not.  As I stated above, most of the articles you read about training are written by know-nothings who lift nothing.  The preceding is what's worked for me, so it might work for you as well.  With luck, you'll use your deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills to synthesize all of the information in this series of posts and come up with something unique that works for you.

You're not a fucking gingerbread man, so stop using cookie-cutter routines, fuckface.

Simmons, Louie.  Westside Deadlift Training.  Elite FTS.  http://www.elitefts.com/documents/westside-deadlift-training.htm


  1. are you still doing suitcase deadlifts? did you find those effective?

    1. I don't do them anymore. Effective for what?

  2. Earlier in your blog (somewhere in 2009) you talked about never doing OHP and shrugs on the same day. Do you still feel this way?

    1. It was BTN push press and shrugs, and it was due to horrible cramping. You can do them if you want- I just go so hard I end up with a shitload of cramping in my traps.

    2. Ah, I've been shrugging and OHPing heavy as fuck pretty much exclusively as of late, and felt wonderful. You were probably shrugging fairly heavy though. PS since you've been working on your OHP, what are you maxing out at?

    3. I did a few sets of triples with 315 on BTNPP last week, am doubling on Klokov presses, and am strict pressing 245 for a single.

  3. What do you like to do for ab work?

    1. Ab wheel and extremely high rep, fast paced, weighted crunches.

  4. Another great post Jamie! Do you do your face pulls heavy? (Relative to your own strength of course)

    1. Nah, I see no reason. It's a fuck-around exercise.

  5. How frequently were you doing the first deadlift program?

    1. Once or twice a week. Generally once.

    2. This blog fucking rules, now I'm deadlifting atleast 3 times a week and my strength racks up every week. No bullshitting around, jamie is the fucking man

    3. How did you like to quantify progression?
      Like would you add 10 lb the bar next session and see how it goes...or keep at it for a few weeks and try for a big PR when you felt like it or what?

    4. I just added weight when I could. If the weight felt light, I'd raise it. If not, I wouldn't.

  6. Barbell rows have to be one of the best exercises. It builds the back so well I see great carry over to almost every other lift.

  7. I never started building a even remotely decent back until I started rowing, ironically, virtually exactly the same way jamie does them. You'll get the usual chorus of 'You shouldn't do them that way bro, it's bad for your back.' Seriously, ignore those fuckers and row, with a barbell, heavy and often.

  8. "As such, I've embarked upon a neck holocaust the likes of which the world will never see again."

    Challenge fucking accepted.

  9. Jamie,
    Considering a lighter max, say 405, would you use the same program (To The Death) with the weights adjusted down our do you think that it would be better to run something different until a 500 max?

  10. Jamie, any additional or different advice for sumo pullers?

    1. Nope. I pulled sumo until I hit a wall around 550 and switched to conventional.

  11. The last 3 vids aren't working bro.

  12. Great article! You should do a bench article like this one! You seem to relay on overhead work for bench strength but what if you wanted to concentrate on both? Also a reverse vs regular grip would be nice.

  13. I would feel a bit sketchy doing so, since I suck balls at benching, but we'll see what I can whip up.

  14. Round back rows.
    Never thought of that... should get on that as I pull roundback.
    Are the stiffleg high pulls roundback too? I heard about the York guys doing shit like that, 'kneeling cleans', stiffleg snatches etc.

    1. I don't really pay all that much attention. I just try to use the same stance, then grip and rip.

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