By: Louie Simmons
Overcoming Plateaus Part 2:
Squat and bench press records
are continually being set in recent years. It's easy to see why. Most federations
have a 24-hour weigh-in rule, which is a positive thing for the health
of the lifter. It is easy to rehydrate in 24 hours, which results in fewer
cramps and muscle pulls and tears. In the old days, it was common for lifters
to pass out while squatting or to drop the squat bar because they were
dizzy. And, of course, the more you weigh; the more you can squat or bench.
In addition, the introduction of power suits, groove briefs, and bench
shirts has enabled the lifter to make bigger and bigger lifts.
what about the deadlift? Does equipment help in this lift? Shawn Coleman
said that using a larger deadlift suit helped him get into a better starting
position to pull a PR 835 deadlift. So while supportive gear can help the
squat and bench, and prolong one’s lifting career, more times than not
it can be a hindrance for deadlifting.
if equipment is of little benefit, what’s the answer when it comes to the
litters deadlift too often and too heavy. This has an ill effect on the
central nervous system. A better method is to use a variety of exercises
that mimic the deadlift or special exercises that develop the individual
muscles that are used while deadlifting (the conjugate method). One must
build the muscles that start and finish the lift. Also, there must be methods
used to develop speed and acceleration; the quicker the bar Is locked out,
the less chance for the grip to give out.
Anello, an 821 deadlifter at 198, once told me that anything he did would
make his deadlift go up. Bill Starr said that if you want to deadlift more,
don't deadlift. Bill was an excellent Olympic lifter who pulled a 666 national
record in 1970, having concentrated on powerlifting for only a short time.
Whether they knew it or not, both men were utilizing the conjugate method.
This method was devised to develop the muscles and special strengths (starting,
good morning is a valuable exercise in the conjugate method. For deadlifting,
the bent over version is the best. Bend at the upper back first and round
over while lowering the bar. The legs can be slightly bent to prevent hyperextension
of the knee. While doing good mornings, always think about duplicating
the motion of a deadlift. Only you, the person doing the good morning,
can gauge its effectiveness, (1) by the stress on the spinal erectors,
hamstrings or glutes, and hips, and, of course, (2) if your deadlift goes
Coleman did 600 for 5 reps in the good morning prior to his 835 deadlift.
If you are doing 600 for 5 reps and your deadlift is 700 pounds, you are
just kidding yourself, and you must change your training.
a variety of bars in the good morning: straight, cambered, Safety Power
Squat bar. Use a high bar placement and a low bar placement, close and
a wide stance, and sometimes do them seated. Bands and chains as well as
weight releasers can be used. One to six reps works best. Stockier men
should do at least 3 reps to increase muscle tension. Because a max deadlift
can take several seconds to complete, the duration of a set of reps in
this lift must also be several seconds.
types of squatting should also be done to increase the deadlift. Michael
Brugger of Germany related to me that the Olympic-style squat was his favorite
exercise to increase his deadlift of 887. Eddie Coppin of Belgium made
an 826 deadlift at a bodyweight of 186. The front squat was a major part
of his training. In the early 1970s, George Clark pulled 700 at 181 and
just missed 735, the world record held by Vince Anello. George’s main exercise
was the hack squat deadlift, with the bar held behind his back. These are
three examples of great lifters using a form of the squat to raise their
with a bar held in various ways will place the stress on the erectors,
hips, and glutes; the primary muscles that deadlift. We advise using a
group of specialty bars: Buffalo bar, Safety Power Squat bar, Manta Ray,
etc. This will teach you to maintain a more upright position, which is
conducive to a good deadlift.
you do all deadlifting, it is a matter of time before your deadlift will
stall, or even worse, injury will stop all progress. Why? No ones body
will equally distribute the work evenly between the lower, mid, and upper
back. If the lower back takes the major role in deadlifting, which is most
often the case, eventually an injury will occur. But by doing a variety
of special exercises for the upper back, the muscles of the entire back
are more likely to receive equal work. These exercises include shrugs,
lat work, spinal erec-tor work, good mornings, back raises, reverse hyperextensions,
glute/ham raises, sled work, and pull-throughs.
about starting and accelerating strength? The best way to develop these
strengths is by using Flex bands. By attaching the bands over the bar,
the resistance is applied to the bar evenly. The higher the bar is raised,
the more resistance applied to the bar. If you are weak at the top, with
the bands you will learn to pull faster at the start, so momentum and then
acceleration can help carry the bar to lock-out. It you are weak at the
start, the bands will teach you to start off the floor faster, because
without the fast start, you will not be able to lock out a heavy deadlift.
For those who have said this will not build acceleration: one does not
use maximum weight with the bands, but rather 60%. More resistance is added
to the bar by the bands as you lift the bar. This is called accommodating
contradictory Information on this subject, research in the United States
is invariably done in a college environment. It is conducted with students
as subjects. These students many times are not avid weight lifters, nor
are they of high standard, such as Elite lifters. Nevertheless, conclusions
from these studies are put forth as a model for all training, including
that used at football and weight lifting facilities.
most usable results are obtained by testing high-skilled athletes. This
is what is done at Westside, where only Elite lifters (43 to date) are
tested. You must have a qualified trainer to ask the right questions and
highly qualified lifters to test to help answer those questions.
testing also occurs when two different training methods are tested together.
This example also points out the misuse of plyometrics. A lifter had tried
a program of plyometrics in between deadlift sets. Not only will the plyometrics
dampen the central nervous system for the following sets of deadlifts but
in fact the deadlifts would also negatively affect the plyometrics. He
raised his pull 2.5-kg, an insignificant amount to register a valid training
effect. You can’t train plyometrics and the maximal effort method at the
help the separation phase only, when the bar separates from the floor.
But this particular lifter had difficulty above the knee level and locking
out. He was also doing rack work above the knee at the same time and sled
pulling. These two exercises build the top part of the deadlift, where
he would fail. The plyometrics build the start, not where he needed help.
In the United States, plyometrics are misused more times than not. They
are so draining on the central nervous system that heavy pulls and squats
must be decreased or done during the non competing months of the year.
In summary, please be careful what you read. Not all conclusions are valid.
abdominal muscles are extremely important in deadlifting. The abs must
flex first, before the lower back starts to do its work. Lifters with weak
abs and a strong back will invariably hurt their back. When the back flexes
first without the abs working as stabilizers, the back is put under great
stress. Therefore, you must learn to increase intraabdominal pressure while
lifting. This will reduce the risk of a hernia and greatly reduce pressure
on the disks.
internal and external obliques play a great role in stabilizing the hips,
and they initiate straightening the legs in the deadlift. Years ago, when
powerlifters could deadlift more than they squatted, the obliques were
often much more developed than they are today. Lifters use to do side presses
and one-armed deadlifts to develop the obliques.
Westside, we do most of our ab work standing up, with a lat machine. The
abs must flex downward to be effective. Oblique work can also be done standing
up. Face away from the lat machine with the strap held behind your neck.
Put one toot in front of the other and bend forward, flexing the obliques.
This will train the abs correctly.
must do all types of ab work. In addition to standing ab work, leg raises
and straight-leg sit-ups are beneficial. Don't be confused by the way bodybuilders
look. Every time I watch one of those fitness shows, some big-time bodybuilder
is telling everyone to keep his or her knees bent to take pressure off
the low back. I guess sucking in those abs is a bunch of crap, huh. Because
if their abs were half as strong as they look, they wouldn't be worrying
about their lower back.
Although a smaller waist will make it easier to
deadlift, it must be very strong. One could see John Kuc’s abs, through
his super suit from 100 feet away when he made 870 at 242. Bob Peoples
taught the best method of using the abs in the deadlift to me. He said
It was best to breath into the stomach only, not the chest. This will stabilize
and support the lower back, and it does not elongate the spine. The shorter
the spine, the better the deadlifter. If you have long legs, a short torso,
and long arms, you have the perfect build for deadlifting.
important than the right build is attitude. The deadlift is a tough lift,
especially at the conclusion of a long meet. No attitude is “working out”
and a killer attitude is “training” — a big difference.
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Copyright 1999 Louie Simmons.