Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bringing Out The Dead

We've got a lot of new athletes at Crossfit Boston, and with the influx comes a whole bunch of newbie questions about deadlifting, including the corker I got last night: "What's a deadlift?"

Here's my take on the best slow lift in existence, originally published in May of last year. Not much has changed since I wrote this article, but I have managed to add 40 pounds to my deadlift. Also, it turns out I'm not as bitterly sarcastic as I used to be. Thanks, Sammy!

I love deadlifting. There aren't too many things I like better than ripping a sh*tload of weight off the ground. I love that moment when you're pulling, and the bar is bending, and nothing is moving. At that moment, I know that I have to be stronger than the gravitational pull of the Earth. Beating an entire planet? It doesn't get any better than that.

The deadlift is a relatively simple movement. Grab the bar, and get it above your knees. Go to full extension. That's it. No double scoop, no "getting tall", no explosion. The deadlift is a slow grind of man versus metal.

Like everything else, the details are important. I'm not an expert on the movement, but I've been coached through a pull or two, and I'm damn close to a 2.5x bodyweight lift.

The first detail--own the f*cking bar. Walk up to that thing like it stole your wallet after it slept with your sister. Grab it, using a hook grip or a mixed grip, and strangle the ever-living sh*t out of it. Treat every pull like a battle.

You're William Wallace, and the bar is the English. It doesn't stand a chance.

Once you've got a good grip on the bar, drop the hips and get your chest up. The bar should be on your shins or damn close. Unlike a snatch or a clean and jerk, your shoulders should be behind the bar.

Retract your upper back. Your lower lumbar curve should be pronounced. A rounded back is going to result in injury. You'll notice a tendency toward rounding as your reps go on, especially during high-rep efforts. Make a conscious to effort avoid rounding.

As you're addressing the bar, take a deep breath, and tense every god-forsaken muscle in your body. All of them. Say it with me now..."I am one piece. I AM ONE PIECE!"

Now, don't think. Don't wait. Don't breathe. Don't worry about how much weight is on the bar. Rip that motherf*cker off the ground.

Your hips and your shoulders should move at the same rate. Do not extend the hips and then the back. The movements should be simultaneous. If you do them independently, you'll get no pull out of your legs and all the strain will be on your lower back. This will severely limit the amount of weight you can move. Romanian Deadlifts are wonderful and all, but that's not what we're doing here.

Pull through the heels. This is important. You wouldn't engage in a tug-of-war on your toes. Human beings are built to pull from the heels. We do it instinctually in every pulling effort we engage in. Unlike last Saturday night, now is not the time to resist your instincts.

Even though the bar may be moving slowly in reality, pull fast. This is a mindset. The "faster" you attempt to pull, the more power you'll develop. Power output is a direct result of a high rate of force development, or RFD. The sooner get to your maximum force output, the sooner the lift will be over--you'll lift quick and spend less time fighting the bar.

Do not quit. Just because the bar doesn't move at first doesn't mean it won't move. The barbell is flexible--at high weights, it actually bends before the weight comes off the ground. You have to work through this point. If you feel stuck, pull harder! DO NOT QUIT!

This lift is close to my heart. I'd do it all day long if I could. Screw Crossfit. Screw density training, sprinting, and gymnastics. I want to move enough weight to qualify as a human bulldozer.

Take some advice from a man who has already achieved machine-hood. Dave Tate has pulled 740 off the ground. His deadlifting advice doesn't always vibe with mine--he advocates rounding of the upper back and keeping the bar away from the shins. Of course, he's been lifting since I was in diapers, so what the f*ck do I know. Check out this article, courtesy of Dave Tate and T-Nation.

Go faster!

I don't know where the picture of Mel Gibson came from. It might be a mug shot. The skinny screaming guy is me, back at the old CFB Facility.


Blogger Neal said...

Good job...with my DL's, I'm gonna have to get a bamboo bar so I can see it bend.

1/26/2007 07:47:00 PM  

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