Re: I\'m new.... info about me and a couple ??
Here is a post by Josh Powell (sta63bmx) on Deadlifts, who, I believe after reading his posts, has a great in-depth analysis on heavy compound movements, specifically DLs, SLDLs, and Squats
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I cannot claim to be a fitness expert, but I would like to share my feelings about deadlifting with everyone on this board. I realize that different people respond differently to different training stimuli, and what has worked for me might not work for everyone else. However, I do not think I am a genetic freak, and I certainly did not do a lifetime of hard, back-breaking labor before I started deadlifting. In other word, I think this kind of progress is reasonable for everybody. I still view myself as fairly weak and small, and welcome the opportunity to grow. This is a long post, but this is a subject I think about a LOT. lol
Beginning Stats: 155 lbs, no previous weightlifting experience last June.
Current Stats: 175 lbs, and still learning every time!
Physical SIze: 5'10", with a 30" inseam. My legs are a little short, and my upper body is longer. I dunno what body type that is besides "deformed midget". lol
The first week I went to the gym with a friend to lift, he told me to try deadlifting. I did, and about passed out the first time. lol I remember getting tunnel vision. I also remember that I simply could not lift 205 lbs. I tried it and couldnt do it. But I kept after it every week with very few exceptions, and I saw the weight come up in a hurry, both on the bar and on the scale. I have refined my technique a little along the way, and this is how I use deadlifts...
CAUTION: For some reason, people have called me a "freak" and other people have adamantly stated that human beings are not supposed to like deadlifts. That might explain why the vast majority of the people I see in the gym don't deadlift. I have developed a bizarre relationship with this sometimes painful exercise, though, and now find it to be the most enjoyable exercise of the week! Squats run a close second, but I've heard bad things about those, too. DOn't believe a word of that. And remember that this post is my OPINION, formed by my own experience with deadlifting.
I. Deadlift Form
Probably the most important part is form. And the key is that the deadlift is a slow lift. Never, EVER try to blast the weight up with a sudden lift. That is the fastest way to get injured. My feet are slightly more than shoulder width, but narrower than squat stance. Toes point out a little, feet about as far apart as the beginning of the knurling on a standard Olympic bar. My grip is wide, the outsides of my palms right on the smooth rings cut into the knurling for reference. I use an overhand grip, since I am not a powerlifter, and will strap heavy weight.
To begin the lift, I squat down low, and roll the bar back so it is dorectly above my instep. My shins lean forward slightly, and I lock my back into a strong arch, looking up. This is very similar to my back form on squat. I make SURE my *** is low and I am looking up, and I preload, bringing my back into tension as I lift up just a little. I may hold this for ten or twenty seconds, breathing in and out slowly and deeply until I am mentally ready. Now I will begin the lift with a strong, deliberate contraction in my assus maximus (big ***) and hip flexors, which will get the lift started. I keep the bar close to my shins on the way up, because this allows me to keep my back more vertical. Getting bent over during the lift is the second best way to injure yourself. After the bar has come up a few inches, I begin to straighten, bringing quads and my back into play. The bar almost drags up my shins and over my knees, and I stand straight. The back is most important during the last phase of the lift. To come back down, I start to bend my knees a little bit, and also begin to bend my back. You have to bend your back to allow the bar to clear the knees on the way down. Once it is below the knees, it takes serious effort to keep the back straight--fight the urge to simply bend over and deposit the bar on the ground. Use your legs and *** in the bottom half of the lift, back locked in a strong position.
For doing multiple reps, I prefer to let the plates actually contact the ground slightly before starting back up. This ensures a full range of motion and lets you repeatedly work the most difficult portion of the lift--the bottom! If you partial rep instead of coming down, you will not see full development of the *** and hip strength required to get heavy weight up off the ground. And if you can't get it off the ground, you can't deadlift it.
Finally, I do NOT thrust my hips out at the top of the motion. Standing straight is as far as I go. It simply does not feel natural to me and I do not like the way my spine feels when I thrust my hips forward. I am not sure why people do this. If it is a necessary part of powerlifting form, fine. But to me it seems like doing a hyperextension and coming up past parallel. I have seen admonitions not to do it there, so I do not like the idea of doing that motion while holding a lot of weight.
II. Deadlift Mentality
This will sound like Zen hoodoo BS to some people, I suppose, but the deadlift IS an extremely mental lift. The loaded bar is physically intimidating, and the sheer amount of weight can be a mental obstacle. When I bend down to get my grip locked in, I will often spend a few seconds envisioning the placement of the bar above my instep, calming my breathing, and removing unnecessary thoughts from my mind. Once my grip is locked, I stand in position and bend over at the waist for a minute, taking maybe eight or ten deep breaths to calm myself and hyperventilate a little, trying to pump just a little more oxygen into my body. This is handy before a set with multiple reps! Envision yourself lifting the weight. Look up. Keep a strong position.
III. Deadlift Breathing
I cannot vouch for the safety of this, but here is how I usually breathe. I typically do not breathe out during the upward movement. I let out some air so my lungs are not totally full...that seems to create too much pressure in my stomach cavity, and that is uncomfortable. As a former hernia patient, I do not like that feeling. I will typically breathe in near the top of the rep, then hold some air while coming down, breahting out as I approach the bottom. It is difficult for me to describe it, since it feels very natural to me.
But DO NOT forget to breathe!!! Otherwise you *will* pass out, and you will fall down. I've tunneled before doing this and it is not pleasant.
IV. Deadlift Equipment
I pick the grippiest bar I can in the whole gym, one with nice, sharp knurling. I do not use chalk, since I will use straps for my heavy sets. I wear a belt during all but my lightest warmup set, and I wear a belt during that set, too. I can pull a little more weight with my belt very tight, but it makes breathing more difficult and it cuts into my hips. It also increases pressure in my stomach cavity, which I do not like. I usually back off a notch from the tightest setting I can get closed around my gut. My waist is about 33".
And I use wrist straps. I typically do not use them until I get past 300 pounds, though. I use plain canvas straps, no gloves. They sometimes hurt a little, but the bruises serve as a physical reminder of what I accomplished, and I like that. I never wash the straps, either. After a while, they get broken in and comfortable.
IV. Deadlift Sets/Reps
I have never used anything but the ascending set technique for deadlifting. My emphasis is back while deadlifting, but I use it for forearms, too. I will do one light set of ten reps (135) with no straps as a warmup. I can usually gauge by this set whether or not it will be a good day. If it feels like baby weight, it is because I am well-hydrated and have a lot of carbs in me.
The set progression is determined by the other lifts I am doing that day. If deadlifts are first, I will next pick a weight where my grip fails between 6-10 reps (265 currently). I will perform this set with no straps, and I attempt to add reps each week. Once I get ten, the weight goes up twenty pounds. If I deadlifted first it means I am trying to max out (typically). The next set will be a heavy set with straps, and I will make it so my back fails between 6-10 reps. THis is usually a set at 315. I will either go to failure or simply do a set of maybe five reps if I am trying to preserve strength for a max effort. Now I will go up in heavy singles. I will strap it and jump maybe fifty pounds to 365 and pull a single rep. After this, I will wait, and then try to pull a single max rep at 405.
My wait time is generally a few minutes between heavy sets.
If I am deadlifting last (which I prefer) my grip has already been blasted by rows and chins. Now I will do 135x10 with no straps, 225x10 with straps, and then run my heavy sets. The two warmup sets are important for this crucial reason: they get your body used to heavier weight. I am warmed up by now, but I havent lifted anything heavier than 155 all day so far. The next step is to go to 315 and do heavy sets with straps. I will go to failure here, wait a few minutes, and then go to failure again. My goal is still ten reps, and if I meet it, the weight will go up next week. These two heavy sets when you are already tired will build muscular endurance and work pre-exhausted traps, shoulders, and everything else. These two sets can be brutal, but they are good. The next step is, IMO, critical to maintaining your ability to lift heavy weight. I will up the weight to almost 90% of my max and do a single heavy set of 2-6 reps. I go to 355, strap it, and try to crank out as many reps as possible. it was 3 last week. This is a low rep set, but it does this for your body: it keeps you used to heavy weight. You can pull reps at 315 all year, but I firmly believe that unless you lift heavier weight on a regular basis, your body will really struggle when you try to lift it. This is partly mental for me, but the physical effort is completely different when trying to do one single max rep and a set of lower-weight repetitions. DOn't neglect lifting heavy weight!
V. Ancillary Exercises
My back day routine usually has deadlifts last, unless I want to max out. When deadlifts are last, it goes cleans, chins, rows, deadlifts. Power cleans are an excellent warmup for deadlifts, and they will help strengthen your back. I firmly believe they have helped me with my deadlifts. I do cleans with smaller plates, to get me lower, and this has helped eliminate the sticking point at the bottom of deadlifts. Bent over rows, although meant for lats, also strengthen your lower back tremendously. When you stand, bent over, with heavy weight, it is like an extended contraction for your back. The length of the sets also helps build muscular endurance.
VI. Deadlift Attitude
This is another mental issue, one that is very important. I know from experience that when my body starts to act tired and my legs start to burn, I have at least two more repetitions left. Why? Because I know! This took me a while to discover, and I don't remember exactly how it came about. Failing makes me angry. I don't like to fail, I don't like to look weak. That kind of mental attitude (I believe) is the #1 thing that has made my deadlifts far surpass my other lifts. Deadlifts are very painful towards the end of a set, but it does not mean that I have reached failure. Much like biceps, I have found that when it really starts to burn, I can force out two more reps, usually. However, this requires a level of mental determination that is pretty freaking serious. I know I have reached failure when I have a very difficult time completing the last portion of the rep--straightening up. Typically my last rep is a tremendous challenge for my back. Once the bar is knee high, grit it out, and focus all your energy in your back to straighten out and pull up strong. And when you reach the top, stand there and hold the bar for a minute. Take a look around the gym and realize something--you have just completed a brutal, primal exercise that will test raw power possibly more than anything else. THat is awesome.
That training method, combined with a serious attitude about deadlifts, has increased my max two hundred pounds in the last eight months. I do not believe I am a genetic freak. If I were, I think I would have gained more than twenty pounds! I have achieved far more on deadlift than any other lift, and I think it is because I look forward to deadlifting every week. The attitude has allowed me to push my body as far as it goes every single week. If I could do that on my other lifts, I think I would be in much better shape than I am now! SO I encourage you to deadlift, because I think it will add mass and mental toughness faster than anything else.
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Weight: 184 lbs. (cutting, now)
BF%: 14.78% (as of 4/20/04)
Chest: 45" / Bicep: 15 1/2" / Forearm: 12 1/2" / Quad: 24" / Calf 16" (As of 2/5/04)
"Thou shalt not allow anything to deter you in your quest for ALL!!"