When I attended Adam Glass’ and Brad Nelsons’ Grip and Rip 2.1 workshop in February of 2009, one of the things I was most interested in was the deadlift instruction block. I had fallen in love with the deadlift the previous year. Although I had fantasized about powerlifting meets and massive numbers, my bench press has never been fantastic, and my squat–well, we won’t talk about that, although it is getting better.
But deadlifting…this I could do. I was able to increase my progress steadily, if not easily. I had not done much experimenting on variations of the deadlift either. Part of this was because I am 6’8″ and I had always heard that guys with my build “should” pull sumo style, or “shouldn’t” pull conventional, or “shouldn’t” be squatting or deadlifting at all. Anyways, I was pulling 500 with some real effort at the time of the workshop.
If I could make it easier, I wanted to know how.
Did it work?
After Grip and Rip, I had a much better idea of how I could experiment with the deadlift to find my optimum stance and position at any given time. One of the things that confuses people about Gym Movement and biofeedback testing for strength training is that there are so many variations that can be tested. For the heavy pull, it isn’t as simple as choosing conventional style versus sumo.
I deadlift almost every day, but there are many variations I have to test to make this possible. The reason I try to pull every day is that I love it. That’s it. I’m obsessed with yanking weight off the floor and it’s fun.
Before the workshop, I had no idea if I was setting my hands up the same every time I lifted. I worried about this. Now, I don’t worry about where my hands are. I worry about what hand position tests best. That’s what I go with. Sometimes it is wide, sometimes it is much narrower. Sometimes it’s really wide and I wind up pulling light weight with a snatch grip.
Another one that I was all over the place on. These days, if I am pulling on a barbell, having my feet about 6″ apart normally tests best. But not always. I give myself permission to go wider or narrower according to biofeedback.
When my reliable stance tests poorly, the first thing I check is normally a B Stance deadlift. This means putting the toes of one foot near the heel of the front foot. Sometimes this makes a huge difference in the test, but obviously means cutting the weight down a lot. But that’s fine with me. If it tests well, it feels better, and it help me make better overall progress.
One hand or two (or legs)
I also do a lot of one hand pulling. Keep in mind that what I really want to do every day is pull heavy, on a barbell, in conventional stance. As long as that tests well, I don’t shake things up. But when I can’t get two hands to test well in any variation, sometimes a suitcase deadlift, a Rolling Thunder pull, or a one-legged deadlift with kettlebells is just the ticket.
It’s fun to experiment. If you’re a deadlifter and you would like to deadlift more often, I recommend checking out Gym Movement and Grip and Rip. You’ve got nothing to lose, but may have everything to gain.