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How To Deadlift More

I’ve been thinking a lot about progress recently. Specifically my physical goals and how to deadlift more. Many of the people I interact with every day seem to have goals–as far as I can tell, most of them are not doing much to move towards those goals. This isn’t a knock on them–I say this because they rarely tell me about a breakthrough and they seem to want to talk about it. If we’re talking weight training the conversation usually revolve around frustrations–injuries, plateaus, lack of time, etc.

I had a breakthrough of my own last night that I wanted to write a quick post about. Deadlifts are my favorite lift. They are the best lift for me and my goals, which are:

All of those things improve my quality of life, keep me entertained in the gym, and I associate them all, for better or worse, with happiness. And at the bottom of it all, it’s just freaking awesome to be able to pull heavy. It just is. My current deadlift is at 540 pounds and I’ll have 600 in the next few months.

But back to that breakthrough:

Last night I went into the gym and deadlifts tested well. If you aren’t familiar with what I mean by that, please check out the Grip and Rip DVD by Adam Glass. So after testing the pattern, it looked like I was going to be pulling conventional, with a slightly wider grip than I am used to. After testing the load it looked like 225 was going to be it.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed. 225 is not a heavy pull. I weigh 250 and conventional wisdom would dictate that I  needed to be pulling a higher percentage of my max to make progress. I guess it depends on how you define progress and PRs (personal records).

I started deadlifting. 35 minutes later I had picked that weight up off the floor 270 times. All around me, people were freaked out and purple-faced as they raced through the Workout of The Day. I went smooth, steady, avoided effort in my lifts, and moved more weight in 35 minute than that gym will probably see in a week. Just an observation, not a criticism–they have different goals than I do, so they train a different way.

Over 60,000 pounds of work in just over half an hour. Will it benefit my other goals, even though I was pulling relatively light weight? Oh, I think so. And the best thing is, I feel pretty fresh today. I don’t have aching muscles. I couldn’t go duplicate the workout right now, but I don’t feel like I did anything exceptional yesterday. . Maybe I didn’t, but it was a huge, huge leap forward according to the numbers in my training log.

It was a breakthrough because I overshot all of my own expectations for that workout. I now associate every single workout with big leaps in progress, but this was a real departure from the results I’ve come to expect. It was fun, it was fast, and best of all, I know it was productive, because the numbers keep going up and I can’t seem to find where all the plateaus are at. I’m not held hostage to a book or magazine that says today is the day for Preacher curls.

So if you are trying to deadlift more, my advice as a non-world-record-holder is to:

  • Deadlift as often as it tests well
  • Test the load
  • Track the data
  • Track intensity, total volume, and the density of your workouts (how many pounds you lifted in a particular time interval)

Maybe it’s not that simple, but it looks that way from where this 40+ hours per week office worker sits. If I can do it, anyone can.

Find a better definition of “more.” Just think of more in terms of better. A quote from Frankie Faires.

More is not better. Better is better. In fact, better is more. There are more ways to make progress than simply putting more weight on the bar, as long as we’re willing to track the data.


Strength Training for body and mind

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Demond Thompson October 20, 2010, 2:44 pm

    OK, I’m surprised that no one has commented on this post. First of all you work was AMAZING! I, for one, congratulate you!

    Next, I love the Gym movement protocol. I still believe my ego is still involved because I don’t feel beat up, but sometimes I do feel sore the next day even though there’s little tension in my workouts.

    Lastly, deadlifts for over 30 minutes!?! Most of my workouts don’t last that long with a couple of different exercises. Good stuff Josh. I personally would love to see more posts about your training.


  • frank October 22, 2010, 5:19 am

    that workout is awesome josh. I take it your tail bone is fealing better. I had noticed something in my training that has made a huge difference in rest between sets. I do my set ckeck rom, and wait to return, but while i am waiting i try to calm my body and relax everything. As a result i was able to complete sets at a way greater rate. Its weird, i can almost feel the muslce relax and i know that it is time to start my set. Josh have you noticed or tryed this. When i was trying this, i was thinking of your constant battle of your tics everyday. Breathing is key and staying focused but relaxed.

    It was seeing your dead lift workout that made me start to try this. I was thing how the hell is this guy getting back to his sets so fast. I am training gym movement as well and i feel like i can return to my set, but my rom doesn’t show it. I don’t compare myself to anybody but man how is he doing this. I started to think all your work with the tics has given you such better control over your body, that you are recovering faster between sets. Maybe i am just making that up, but this worked great for me. I have been doing it for the last workouts and its working great.


  • oongala January 17, 2012, 4:16 pm

    i think its a load of crap