The Deadlift And Me

Second only to the squat in the most fundamental movements of humans, is the almighty deadlift: AKA picking heavy shit off the ground and putting it down. This lift is animal and definitely a measure of manliness.

The Ritual


Shoes off, earphones in. Last week was rack lifts and sub-max explosion sets, today is max-day, so I throw on the weight belt. After adding the last of the weights to the barbell, I step back to take it all in. The idea is to get my mind ready for what’s to come, to make the weight seem larger than life so I don’t hold back a single Joule of energy when it’s go-time.

Yes, brain, you will lift this shit off the floor, the weights are set, and there’s no turning back. Sometimes I sit on it, sometimes I rock it with my foot, either way it helps me prepare for the state of mind transition that’s about to take place. When I feel I’ve recovered from my warmups, I put my favorite lifting song on standby…

… This song is reserved only for my max. It is the catalyst necessary to cross the threshold between civilized human being to savage brute. I do some stationary hopping and take some quick, shallow breaths because I’m about to unleash the animal from within. Once I hit the play button, the transformation begins. As I rock my head to the rhythm, all thinking starts to vanish as I attempt to breach the recesses of my lizard brain.

Adrenaline courses through my veins as it transfers all mental energy into the physical. I attempt to activate every possible neuro-muscular motor unit through numerous forms of flexing at variant intervals. Transformation finished.


I rush over to the bar and set my rags over the site of my hand placement as I always do with weight over 365lbs. Although they don’t assist in the lift, they’re thick enough to prevent my callouses from tearing, but thin enough to allow me to remain intimate with the weight. I hike my shorts up for maximum range of motion, and plant my feet in their approximate positions under the bar.

To reach my final foot placement, I grind my feet against the padding of the floor, feeling each micro crevice in the material through my socks until I’m satisfied. I hover my hands just above the bar where the rags are, carefully centering my hands in the proper position and clench my fists. I’m still expending resources to stay in my savage state. My hands grind the rags against the bar; I can feel the grooves in the carvings of the barbell, the intimacy I referred to earlier. Then I shake the bar, propagating waves of madness across the Earth.



With this I can get a better sense for the weight, feeling the individual parts vibrate. Each component is separate, yet they are one, it and I are one. My favorite part of the song approaches…

Go Time

This is it; this is what I train for. I pinch my shoulder blades together, look myself in the mirror across the room, and tuck my chin in…blast off.



The bar bends, the weights point outward, but there’s a pause. Like a space shuttle launch, a tremendous amount of power is being pumped into the system for an extended period of time just to accelerate from the takeoff pad. Once the weights finally leave the ground, a lot of my energy is sapped, yet I drive on.

I see people turning their heads in my peripheral as I’m leaving the floor, so I must be groaning but can’t tell; I can’t even hear the music blasted in my ears or see directly in front of me. Failure is never an option, especially with the audience now present; I’ve worked too hard for this moment.

I press on, but now my vision returns. According to the mirror across the room, my face is flexed and red and my teeth are displayed like an ape. Finally I lockout, and look down at the plates with great pride. I’m better than I was yesterday. Fuck yeah. Lightweight.

Read More: 3 Reasons You Should Lift Weights

160 thoughts on “The Deadlift And Me”

  1. Not even kidding, this is like poetry. Reading this brought my heart rate up. It is simply the perfect description of a max out deadlift. Awesome job.

  2. sadly i cant lift. everytime i do it i somewhat damage my lower back. im pretty certain my form is right (asked gym instructors and some big dudes there to watch my form, various own research) but i still have this shitty pain. this is so annoying i cant even properly stand up when im sitting without using my arms to support me. when im lying down i cant just sit up normally. i cant do squats with that injury either. its so annoying; i really like the deadlift as an exercise. any experienced hints for me?

    1. yeah, xtc is right. You need to see a medical professional. I don’t know much outside of New York, but if you are in NY the place to go is the hospital for special surgery. Your annoying pains today will be your debilitating issues in the future. Better to handle right now.

      1. well after 10 days or so it usually vanishes. im also careful to not overload here since i know im vulnerable in that spot; the weight i put on is moderare-low for me. but even with low weights i get this pain. maybe i should indeed see a doctor. thanks for the hospital suggestion in NY, but im from germany )))

        1. Could be bad form but it’s probably your biomechanics.
          Imagine you’re trying to work your bicep, in order to most effectively work the muscle you need to have full and correct range of movement in the elbow. Now multiply that by about 10 and you start to get an idea of the complexity of biomechanics in the low back (5 lumbar vertebrae, each has a disc between them, a facet joint on each side, an SI joint attaching it your pelvis and 2 hip joints attaching your legs to your pelvis with each of those joints slightly different to allow slightly different directional movement and countless small muscles in between to help guide and stabilise the movement and big muscles to drive the movement). If there is one fixation in or around your low back, while you will probably not lose overall movement that you will notice, there will be other joint/s somewhere that has to compensate for that lack of movement. This leads to instability. Load yourself up for a deadlift and bam injury.

        2. when the pain is almost away i sometimes cant resist to try again. while i do deadlifts my lower back actually gets ALOT better, this lasts for two hours or so, then it gets worse again. the enigma for me is that this doesnt always apply. i can lift 3-4 months straight without anything, but sometimes BAM and i basically need a crutch for a few days. as i said, when this happens it comes some hours after the exercise. .

    2. Doctors don’t know shit about this. They can’t see inside your body, they don’t care if you can deadlift or not. Unless you are fat like a typical American they got no remedy. If they can’t prescibe cholesterol meds they’re pretty much out of their league. Their best advice for pain when you do something physical is don’t do it.

      1. Their medical ‘advice’ is usually just them covering their ass for future lawsuits.

    3. Your issue may be, as these others have stated, of physical limitation based on your structure, but it may just be your musculature and the tendons within are not yet able to cope with movements of this kind. It took me a few years to get past 135 on a dead, but now I can do over 500, just because of temperance and stretching.

      1. Sounds like he needs at first a stretching routine with some plank exercises and then freehand (no weights) basics to get started – 3-4 months of that should be enough rehab. I’ve seen degenerative conditions before.

        1. I’m the opposite of stretchy, so I’ve been supplementing lifting by doing 30 Days of Yoga with the girlfriend, found here:
          They are great 20-30 minute sessions. Having attended numerous yoga classes IRL, I can say that Adriene is a great video instructor (and not bad to look at). My shoulder that an old physical therapist girlfriend referred to as “deformed” and has constantly given me pain is feeling much better.

        2. when the pain is almost away i sometimes cant resist to try again. while i do deadlifts my lower back actually gets ALOT better, this lasts for two hours or so, then it gets worse again. yoga `n stuff is worth a look i guess

        3. I have worked out through back injuries. What you need to do is stretch and warm up your back thoroughly then stretch after your back workout. The key to healing all that thick tissue is blood flow and good nutrients in the blood.

        4. my diet is fine. but how do i stretch my back? i`ll look how to do it. if this really is key and my warmup just sucked, well then. in the next 2 hours im in the gym anyway, i will try, thanks jeep ))

    4. I have been weightlifting consistently for 2-3 years without a break and I never injured myself a single time. I do deadlifts and squats among other exercices.

        1. Do a little research on ART(active release technique). Its physical therapy but it actually works. You could have had lower back muscle tear/sprain/spasm that never healed correctly.
          It worked for me. traditional PT is garbage, those guys just run you thru the motions.

  3. Never liked them
    Do them out of guilt for missing them , but the least favourite of the big 3. Got them tomorrow actually.

    1. Check out Rippetoe’s YT vids on deadlifting. Maybe you need to relearn it. A few tweaks and it’s a whole new lift. I used to hate them too because I was a little out of place. I think most of the discomfort is caused by guys trying to do this back lift by ‘lifting with their legs’. That causes the discomfort. The deadlift is a back lift. The trope that ‘lifting with your back is wrong’ is…wrong. You can use a lot of back muscle if done properly.

  4. I don’t need to do any of this. I usually just look at the bar and think to myself, “Only a real badass could lift this.” That’s all it takes.

  5. Can anyone please tell me an alternative way to do weightlifting without dumbells, as I cannot afford the gym right now

    1. Pressups and pullups whilst wearing a backpack full of bricks.
      I did this whilst working away once.
      Be careful though. Don’t fuck yourself up. I accept no liability for any injury you cause yourself etc etc…

        1. If you do, be careful they don’t hit the back of your head when you’re on your chest.
          Cover them with a towel or something.
          I’m not a gym instructor by the way

      1. Beautiful & seconded because it works. This is part of my advanced routine after weeks of bodyweight as well. Except i use different sized books or water bottles to replace bricks.

    2. Look up bodyweight exercises. To be honest, they won;t get you the same results as weighted resistance, but you can still build an impressive physique without. Pushups, Pullups, crunches, lunges, squats, sprints, they all can get you somewhere.

  6. Finally, someone with excellent taste in lifting music! I get so tired of the guys I know getting pumped up to Linkin Park. Lame.
    Great article!

  7. THIS IS REAL. Puts the emotion…the raw love of iron into well written words. Deadlifts, to me at least, are the pinnacle of putting your whole being into a lift. You need anger, yes, but tempered with focus and attention to form.
    That, and when the right song, and the right time, come swimming into your ears, you can literally feel your consciousness become more…Man.

      1. I could post the essay I wrote on him in 9th grade English class. (I seriously did. I got my journal back a few years ago. Somebody had saved it.)

  8. I used to do this. I was deadlifting around 400 when I was 16. Took a while to get there.
    The gym is important and frankly, the kind of gym I was working out in was the backroom of a PAL facility where the weight room was an afterthought. Martial arts was “up front”.
    So this weight room had torn up old carpeting, was the size of a 2 car garage, paint peeling on the walls and some mirrors, and an aging boom box. There were posters of Arnold and Ferrigno on the wall.
    And no women.
    Nothing was chrome, or pretty, or colorful. If the equipment had paint on it at all it was grey or black or whatever the welder had a can of.
    My sisters used to take me to their “fitness centers”, these new places the size of warehouses full of all new everything and this being the 80s, the spandexed big-haired beauties too.
    Now, in the environment I worked out in, imagine how one dresses.
    Now imagine someone like that in one of these “fitness centers” with the Nautilus and spandex and interior decoration and big hair and yuppies and all that.
    Yeah, I didn’t fit in.
    But every other man in the place would be made to feel like a pussy after seeing what I did.
    Now they got that place with the “Lunk Alarm” and “no judging”. And for that I would sooner see civilization burn to the ground just to get rid of the kind of people who would think of that or think that was a good idea.
    We’ll dig the barbells out of the rubble and press on without them.

    1. In law school I used to keep girls out the weight room by blasting Slayer when I lifted. Worked pretty well.

      1. Nice. I’m all for women staying fit, but not at the detriment of a male space.

        1. I workout at a gym, and recently there are more and more females that are present in the weightroom (it’s a large secluded area of the gym actually) Before, almost non of them would dare to come there because of intimidating looks. Being scared by grunting men (a lot of them bb’s) filled with testosterone. These guys almost salivate when they see a chick. Undressing here with their eyes. So the chicks stayed out.
          But now there are more and more of these young girls walking around there doing light weights they could use some stupid machine for. Sure they have the right to be among the men, they payed for it. But I”ll bet a lot of them just crave the attention. Meanwhile, it’s distracting for a man to workout when some hot chick is behind you. You can’t focus on your exercise. Don’t look 2 seconds to long or you’ll get the dirty face. you know how that goes, right.
          Therefore I say I agree with you. Let women do Zumba or some Yoga class. Women: do not enter male spaces! Or face the consequences of us men eyeraping you.

        2. Amen.The distraction is also true with fat chicks grunting on a 5lbs kettle bell. Screws up my workout.

        3. Many men can’t handle the presence of women in the area. A lot start to change their tone and actions to appease women’s feelings. It’s not the females problem it’s the male’s but this is a fact of life. A sexual apartheid is necessary for this, and many other reasons.

        4. Just play some music they don’t like or scare them off, it generally works. If they can handle the eye rape, fine but eventually they’ll leave. There are very few women that can handle a hardcore gym and the rest just leave and do their Zumba or Yoga classes.

        5. Well, I’m not for segregation. They can workout if they want to, they payed for the right to be there. But it’s just a violation of a men’s space and women know that. When you go into a Zumba class and you say you’re not gay women also will change their behaviour knowing you will check them out.
          I should say that 95% of women still doesn’t dare to go in to that room without a chaperone (the boyfriend)

        6. No, I actually find I work a lot harder. It’s a display thing. OK, they aren’t watching, but it gets the testosterone flowing.

    2. Weightlifting is no place for the feminine spirit. I hate the obsession with the modern plastic materials & padding, and safety regs to pander to the mainstream and weak hearted. The place should be dirty and filled with purpose. There should be no selfies, posing for photos, texting, calling, or unnecessary talking while taking up a space.

      1. Mark Twight’s (former Alpine mountaineer) Gym Jones type setup has that old school approach. It’s basically got no mirrors, no cute colors & just workout or get the fuck out. They got some notoriety for turning a bunch of actors into functional looking Spartan warriors for the 300 movie back in 2006.

  9. Awesome
    Been doing dead lifts since October and have yet to max out. Getting ready.

    1. Approach your max not as a human, but a silver back gorilla. There is no other way.

  10. WARNING: Do not attempt this lift if you have no technique.
    The deadlift’s simplicity is deceptive and the potential for injury is high. Pay a trainer to examine you and to teach you proper form. Many dudes think they are doing it right after watching some youtube videos; then they end up out of commission for a week(s) after tearing their lower back muscles. Seriously, this exercise is no joke; respect it or deal with the consequences.

    1. Dear lord, bad form with any deadlift over 315lb is planning for disaster. Your back is so fundamental to everyday life. Not to mention the alternate grip. If you don’t keep your arm locked, you’re asking for a bicep tear.
      “You’re only as young as your spine” – Unknown

        1. Double overhand can be done heavy, i’ve trained myself to lift heavy double over hand.

        2. Of course, Eddie Hall (strongman) just set the world record deadlift of 462kg (1018lbs) with double overhand. Plus all olympic lifters use double overhand for all their lifts.

    2. A-lot of people who think they are doing it right are still doing it wrong, the key is to not press the floor away with your quads but to immediately begin hinging backwards in the beginning of the lift, using your glutes and hamstrings , when the bar is grinding hard against your shins and you begin getting scabs on your shins you are doing it right, plus keep a flat back.

      1. Yes, you lean back, practically hanging from the bar. The bar weight prevents you from falling backward. Drive through your heels into the ground. A belt is always best for this to help force posture IMO.

        1. I disagree as mentioned above. You shouldn’t lean back at address. You can lean back if you want but your body will still get itself into a position where the bar is over the center of your foot anyway. You might as well start out that way.

        2. I would consider that carefully. Is leaning back a strong position for your spine? Can you effectively tighten you abs in this position. Not saying you are wrong but leaning back sounds like a vulnerable position to me.

        3. I mean it more as a description of posture, to make sure you are taking off blasting your heels into the ground.

        4. The spine handles compression exceptionally well. Where people get into trouble is when a foreword “pull” is put on the lower back. Muscles contract beyond their capacity to counteract the pull… then you tear shit. Your abs will automatically contract to stabilize the spine and counteract the lower back muscles.
          Another point to hit… at the end of the lift you should literally squeeze your cheeks and thrust foreword. You can tell a guy who deadlifts right because you can set a coke can on his ass and he can walk around without spilling a drop.

        5. When you finish the lift you will have a pelvis foreword butt cheeks squeezed shoulders rolled back posture. It can look like you’re leaning back… but the lean isn’t the focus.

        6. what? that sounds like a ton of anterior pelvic tilt which isn’t good or healthy.
          what man have you ever seen where you can set a coke on his ass and not spill a drop

        7. That’s also good way to identify a female with a fine ass. Although I would use a beer mug.
          Good words coach.

        8. It’s not about rotating the pelvis… it’s about getting max contraction from the glutes. You can’t do that without a little anterior thrust. Focus on the contraction of the glutes and not on rotating this or leaning that and it will guide you to the right place. If you just want to blast your quads then it doesn’t matter.

        9. I didn’t say anything about rotating the pelvis. you specifically said you could place a coke on a dude’s ass and have it not spill. Show me 1 person in the history of the world that can do that.
          You keep spouting broscience that sounds good at a shallow level but doesn’t actually make sense.

        10. Yeah, that’s the end of the lift though. I agree. I meant the beginning of the lift, some guys were advocating a type of sit or lean back style in order to turn into as much of a hip drive lift as possible. I think that’s where many have been misguided. Back muscles are meant to be used not avoided. Your shoulders should be slightly ahead or in front of the bar which should be over the dead center of your feet. This engages more back muscle into the lift.

        11. One of us uses terms like “broscience”…. while the other has actually done the work to know what he’s talking about and has the degree (as in I practice medicine for a living and they call me “doctor”). Nothing to see here… carry on….

      2. I disagree. I have minimal contact between my shins and the bar. It happens a bit inadvertently but not as part of my lift. I haven’t scabbed over in months and I no longer even think about it. It used to be an issue when I was doing it wrong and trying too hard to protect my back by transferring everything to a more upright, legs-focused style of deadlifting which is misguided. I start out with the bar against my shins also. If anything the bar glides up my shins, grazing a tad but there is no sense of the bar’s movement fighting my shin angle. I do have long arms for my height though which might be helping me on this. I think you’re trying to hard to see the DL as a ‘leg lift’ since bro-science spent 30 years scaring people away from ‘lifting with your back’. The DL is a back lift. It uses back muscle and as long as your spine is in a proper arch, then your disks are in a healthy place with little compression. Your shoulders should be over the bar at address, as in, ‘in front of the bar’. They should be in place past the bar so your arms are slightly angled backwards, not straight up and down. Chest up (something not mentioned yet). The ‘chest up’ cue barely moves your chest but the effort to angling your chest up just a hair will tighten the center of your upper back. Get a tightly locked spine, full lungs and ‘up’. It’s all back and quite a lot of pure upper back muscle doing the work. Check out Rippetoe’s vids on this.

        1. I don’t press the Bar to my shins, that is bro science for getting a Lat workout in , I keep my legs locked at 120 degrees from floor to hips, and I pull with the glutes , once my torso is erect my legs are still locked but i can choose to straighten them if i want, the bar rides the shins hard because the glutes pull the bar at a diagonal, hamstrings aid in pelvic rotation. I’ve done alot of research and everyone has a different method, I’ve come to the conclusion that, it’s just weight, it’s not complicated just pick it up, as long as some basic form is understood your good to go, but some people don’t understand basic form. I’d recommend lifting with your glutes and not your back, the hips and glutes are way more powerful a muscle group, the glutes are huge compared to the Lumbar muscles and your lift is only going to get bigger when using the glutes. Between the glutes and The lumbar, the lumbar will give and fail, long before the glutes. ” It’s all back and quite a lot of pure upper back muscle doing the work. Check out Rippetoe’s vids on this”.
          Actually no, alot of tension is placed on the back, but the torso doesn’t travel from near horizontal to vertical erect with back muscles, and certainly not upper back, the glutes cause the torso to travel from horizontal to vertical.

        2. The bar is going straight up and down though, not diagonal. If you’re locking the bar into your shins and just hip driving it backwards then you’re doing it not only incorrectly but uncomfortably. It sounds to me like you’re making the lift too busy with your glutes focus. I don’t even really understand how you are setting up this lumbar vs. glutes showdown. You’re obviously interested and committed to the lift. You should read ‘Starting Strength’ . I used to try to turn the deadlift into a squatty, hip-driven lift but it’s a back lift.

        3. The Lumbar muscle’s are not even close to the glutes, it’s well argued that the glutes are probably the most powerful muscles in the body, By pulling the torso back as soon as can be done in the beginning of the lift will fire the glutes up and force them to be the primary movers for the lift, this is good because the glutes can take it, they are huge and they are powerful, the back muscles shouldn’t be used to pull, but to isometrically stabilize the torso as the glutes pull the torso back.

        4. Still wrong dude. Know how I know? I used to do that type of uncomfortable shin bashing pull. Learn from Rippetoe, I’m telling you. You’re also making the mistake of separating these parts; glutes, back, lats, lumbar, hamstrings. They all work together. Super tight hammys give your back muscles an anchor to pull with. Your glutes, lumbar are all in full strain. It’s a coordinated, spinal chain function. But if you’re sitting back too far i.e. trying to squat down to ‘glute-drive’ the weight up then your hammys will be slacked and then your lower back really gets hit hard. You need higher hips at address with your shoulders out in front of the bar. It’s a back lift.

      3. Correct. Many beginners & those not in the know don’t realize it’s a lower back move.Though when i do it, the bar comes close enough but not to the point where there is a lot of friction with my shins. I’ve got long legs & arms so maybe that’s a factor.

      4. Look up – as in literally point your chin high. Lean back. Get your butt low to the ground. Grab, and then squeeze tightly. Then load your posterior chain like a spring (kinda tough to describe this). Then push with your legs and pull with your lower back/glutes.

        1. Really the most important thing is to pull with the Glutes, Imagine you are on a back extension bench utilize this same movement when pulling the barbell, I literally lock my legs at 120 degrees from floor to hips, I don’t even have to straighten my legs if i don’t want to, then pull with the glutes in the same motion like on a back extension bench don’t pull with the back or hyper extend it, pull the torso back with the glutes , keep the back flat and not rounded, the hardest part will be getting over the pain of the bar grinding the shins, it will also ride up the quads if you keep your legs locked at 120 degrees, ton’s more power in the glutes then lifting with the back, i bust out 355lbs for 10 reps 3-4 sets, the pain of the bar grinding the shins is what keeps the bar out in front and away from the center of gravity for most people,.. the sooner your torso becomes Erect and vertical the better, a good tip is to get down in deadlift form, and try pulling your torso vertical erect while your legs remain locked in the bent position, you may have to rock your knees / legs forward a little to maintain balance but this is fine, with your legs bent and your torso getting pulled back while maintaing bent legs, you should really feel the glutes working. You may have to drop weight initially if you start pulling with the glutes because the glutes will not be prepared for your max, but within 3-4 weeks you should be approaching your max again. I’ve seen stuff on youtube saying flex your lats so the bar stays in tight and rides your shins keeping close to your center of gravity, but if you pull with the glutes, trust me you don’t got to worry about keeping that bar in tight. Just think I need to get my torso erect as soon as possible don’t start pushing with the legs , but Pulling in the beginning the torso back with the glutes , like I said , I keep my legs locked at 120 Degrees for the whole lift, I lift like i’m doing a back extension on a Back Extension bench, except don’t hyperextend the Back, keep it flat never round, and pull the torso back with the glutes.

    3. It depends on the youtube vid though. Rippetoe knows this lift up and down (no pun intended). A lot of other guys are pure bro-science.

    4. Truth. I’ve been doing DLs for a long time and I go pretty heavy on my max out days (2.5x body weight) and I still, every couple of months, do a training sessions where i go over deadlift and squat form because if your ego is the only thing that’s gettin’ swole then you are going to wind up hurt one day.

    1. Does that mean I should start crapping standing up? Since you know… women crap sitting down.

  11. This exercise is dangerous and stupid, you make one small mistake and your back will be wrecked for years
    especially pumping yourself up with intense music to risk a stupid injury,
    you can also blow your intestines off and shit all over yourself in the gym with this stupid all out constipation music
    just a over-all bad idea, that will get you a nice lovely injury, deadlifts, it got the name :”deadlift” for a reason
    because only an idiot would risk pulling heavy weight off the ground, its the PERFECT way to injure your back
    and dont give me the form argument, shit… i can do an olympic ski jump with the right “form” but few people can do it,

    1. It’s called a deadlift because you lift it from a dead weight.
      Nothing wrong with it when it’s done right. Just another challenge to overcome. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but most people it does.

    2. Fag. Go through life with a weak back and see how many injuries you get from carrying your GF’s purse.

    3. Gonna have to disagree with you. I’m a huge bodyweight advocate as I don’t have consistent access to a gym. But when i do, the deadlift & its variations are my go-to lifts. Does wonders for overall strength & even speed (running & lower body movement). Eliminated whatever lower back issues i’d picked up years before. Just needs to be done with absolute attention to technique & your own form (posture, grip, breathing etc) & understanding of your own body’s capacity (don’t overtrain & overstrain).

    4. DL is bad when you go berserk. Take little steps and watch your form and there’s no problem. Also using music to workout. I personally don’t like that. It’s something that became popular with the Walkman in the 80’s. The whole jogging thing. When you want to concentrate and don’t want to fck up, don’t listen to music while working out.

    1. Is Ol’ Bob one of the bodyweight exercise freaks? I can’t recall. Where are you Bob? Cue some of the bodyweight exercise millenials to talk about doing 1000 ‘air deadlifts’ before their morning shower.

      1. Plenty of old time strong men would practice handbalancing to give the weights a break. Or look at any Muay Thai training camp. etc.

        1. That stuff is all cool. It’s balance, fitness, athleticism, condition and coordination but when it comes to dead strength gain it pales in comparison to progressive resistance training. It’s just two different games.

      2. Hehe. I’m a bodyweight advocate myself as I’ve found that it works for me & it’s convenient as work requirements means I don’t always have gym access. But I do love the barbell & kettlebell (if available) & rowing machine when i do get to a gym. Have no idea what ‘air deadlift’ is though…

        1. That’s cool. I love pullups the most. I would do pushups but don’t feel the need with the frequent pressing I do. It’s all good but some bodyweight guys start to view bw exercise as some kind of magic, spiritual form of supreme fitness. I wish it were true. I like the minimalist angle of it but weight is weight, whether provided by one’s own body or with black iron. Herschel Walker was a pushups , situps fiend. I don’t think he ever lifted.

        2. True. There are purist bodyweight fanatics out there. People do have a tendency to be binary in their way of thinking if they feel strongly about something. Frankly all i care about is whether a particular philosophy or protocol works for my situation or not. The ol’ keep what works & chuck out what doesn’t work strategy.

        3. That’s the word; binary. I’ve gotten into with guys before and once they learn some exotic ‘Kashmiri Tetric Pushups’ or something they just sneer at a 45 pound plate like it’s some artificial gimmick all of a sudden. It’s good to mix both. I’m actually kind of embarrassed at how unimpressive my pullup numbers are. That’s a great test of how functional a person’s strength is.

        4. Pullups are the real deal. Heh, i’ve been struggling with getting my number of reps increased for pullups for close to a year now. I found out i was cheating myself with sloppy technique a while back. I think my ego was getting in the way at the time. So, went back to the fundamentals. I’m not American but the U.S Marine standard on what constitutes an actual pullup rep is the benchmark.
          Dead hang, arms straight at the start, legs locked together & then all the way up, shoulders slightly tightened, chin over, hold a second, then slowly return to start, smooth transition between going up to the bar & returning to start position.
          Lesson learnt? Don’t fuck with the average U.S Marine & technical precision & discipline is key to getting the best results from this move.
          Haven’t consistently hit the double digit numbers i want yet but the benefits of having a stronger upper back ( no more slouching & makes one look more feral), bigger guns & much stronger grip & finger strength over time make this a worthy workout investment.

  12. Do deadlifts every workout in the form of a full olympic lift + either snatch/clean pulls, pulls from knee, pulls from blocks, pulls from hang, or pulls to knee. Love it, lats and back have exploded.

  13. So whats the advantage of using double overhand grip vs one hand over/one hand under?

        1. Double overhand. Symmetry is important in any lift. I suppose if you wanted alternate the grip every other lift you could, but why bother? Your forearms will get strong enough to handle the weight if you DL enough, anyway.

        2. DOH is bio-mechanically weaker because the bar will always want to roll out of your hand.
          Bicep tears only happen to people pulling 500+ and people pulling that aren’t taking advice from articles about why they should be doing deadlifts. If that’s an honest concern, then they should just hook which is still a bio-mechanically advantaged grip and has no increased risk of bicep tear.
          I pull 550 and I don’t think I can DOH anything more than 405. There’s a reason people that compete either use hook or over/under. I’ve never seen anyone that can come close to pulling their max with DOH. A guy I know that just pulled 600 said he struggles with 405 DOH.

        3. The reason is that they can’t use straps, right? I DOH with straps. DOH without straps is out of the question. Of course your overall body strength (deadlift’s essence) will outpace your grip strength by far.

        4. not a fan of straps. I still pull over/under but grip isn’t really a problem for me. I have a good bar, use chalk and squeeze it as hard as I can.
          I think your grip strength hits a wall and then you get over it and it’s pretty much linear with your deadlift after that. I think around 405 I had problems, deloaded and worked back up and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. The people I see who rely on straps tend to never fix their grip issues and become dependent on them.
          Plus I think there’s some neural reflexes going on involving the amount of pressure you can exert onto the bar and your body’s willingness to do the work to lift the weight.

        5. Even if it stays in your hands, the slippage interrupts the fluidity of the movement.

        6. With the reverse grip you will be developing much more hand/grip strength than DOH. That’s without doubt. I just avoid the reverse grip because I heard it can tweak your shoulder over time. If you can do it with no shoulder issues then it’s the superior lift. I just want to deadlift for another fifty years and I want pure balance. I like the idea of it

        7. I would do hook then, so you can get the advantages of your shoulders square, while having a strong grip.

        8. Yeah, I need to get comfortable with the hook. But it feels like I’ll dislocate my upper thumb.

    1. I’ve often heard that the double overhand is safer concerning injury. Straps aren’t allowed for competition though. If you’re not going to compete you ought to go double overhand, imo.

      1. Thanks, double overhand is what I’ve always used!
        No interest in competing, I’m only in it for my health.

    1. Yes. I use them because I go double overhand. I think it’s safer for the shoulders long term.

      1. Because the double overhand grip doesn’t allow you to hang on to as much weight. The reverse grip checks the bar from rolling. With the double overhand, the weight of the bar will roll out of your grip long before you get to a weight that can challenge your overall body strength. So if you want to double overhand (less shoulder stress) you will soon need the straps if you’re just beginning.

        1. This notion that double overhand doesn’t allow you hold much weight is pure nonsense. All Olympic lifters use it. Eddie Hall just set the world record deadlift with 462kg with that grip. Rezazadeh did a 263kg clean and jerk with double over hand. You can use a hook grip with double overhand and that bar will not be going anywhere.

        2. It’s not ‘pure nonsense’. There you go again getting all lathered up with that binary mind of yours. Olympic lifters are using the hook grip, they’re world class phenoms who have been chucking around hundreds of pounds for five hours a day since they were as young as ten sometimes. Also the Oly lifts don’t deal with as much weight as the deadlift. A guy who DL’s about 400, probably snatches what? 150? If he even snatches. Guys deadlift way more than they handle on Oly lifts. So the comparison is moot. Yeah an Oly elite is clean and jerking more than most ROK casual lifters are DL-ing but that’s irrevelant. There are also two other factors. Oly lifts employ a drop of the weight at the top which preserves grip strength. They’re not slowly setting the bar down as a deadlifter is who is doing reps. Also, reps. Many deadlifters are dealing in reps. Oly lifts are usually one rep. So a DOH, slow up and slow down for 5 reps at a weight that challenges your overall body strength will certainly be too much for your grip. I never said DOH ‘doesn’t allow you to hold much weight’. I said that it doesn’t allow you to hold the kind of weight that your whole body will be challenged by via the deadlift. Rezazadeh double overhanded 263, okay. What about when he’s doing a set of five with 750 pounds on the deadlift? Same logic, the scale is irrelevant. His DOH grip would likely give out before his body did. If it doesn’t then good for him for being a freak of nature. Casual lifters won’t have world class grip strength combined with their status as the 15th strongest guy in their gym in Rockville Maryland. I start having slippage issues when I’m doing warmups at about 80% of my 5 rep workset weight. Doesn’t mean my grip is weak or undeveloped just that deadlift ability is outpacing my grip.

        3. Apologies, my mistake. He has done 450kg double overhand without wrist straps and no belt within the middle of a training cycle. In preparation for the Arnold, if I’m not mistaken. Seen him do 400kg x 5 without straps double overhand, too.

        4. I saw him do it in the gym, not on video. George Leeman just set the American RAW deadlift record of 909lbs double overhand.

      2. Straps allow you to involve your muscles more rather than your grip strength. A second reason for using them is the bar will tear up your hands with consistent serious training, especially if you’re doing olympic lifts, using straps allows you to negate that. Thirdly, if you don’t negate your grip strength, training with straps will also increase your strapless pulls.

        1. Agreed that holding onto a 405 lbs bar is damn tough. I do it. Personally, I feel that if you can’t do it without straps you should remove some weight until you can otherwise you are training with your ego and not with your body. There are just as many people who think I am right as who think I am wrong, but it is what I believe and I share those beliefs, respectfully, with my fellow enthusiasts.

      3. Because the whole point of the deadlift is to strengthen your posterior chain and not your grip strength. By using straps, your muscles are more involved in the exercise, which means they’ll receive greater hypertrophy. Straps are a tool and like all tools they have their purpose.

    2. I never use straps. Nothing against people who do and I probably miss out on an extra 5-10 lbs but I don’t want to ever compensate for muscle weakness using technology. To me, if I am going to use straps I might as well use a hydraulic jack.

        1. That is possible. I guess the better way to put it is that I don’t use straps and I am happy with my routine and my results.

      1. I was just wondering. I haven;t, I use chalk, but have thought about it when Im doing shrugs (I use straps for barbell shrugs)

        1. I love chalk at heavy weights. Like I pointed out about myself before, if you are happy with your routine and with your results then I am all for whatever you are doing.

    3. I have, but I had to get the ones with the padding on the inside and buckle-loop with velcro.
      The simple straps worked ok until I was able to go up a lot in weight but not when doing shrugs with a lot of weight. They hurt the skin on my wrists in that case.
      The padded straps with a buckle are good but I had to get a brand name. The el-cheapo ones didn’t hold up well after only 2 uses!
      The brand name ones seem to help quite a bit. I have done barbell shrugs with 535lbs-nearly 600lbs in the past and they made that possible.

  14. I do the deadlift frequently at the gym. I don’t go super-heavy though. I don’t want to hurt myself. I do reps of 8. My forearms are usually the first bodypart to give up, followed by my cardio. The heart works massively during a deadlift.

  15. I can pull 365, and it is not sufficient to make the bar bend. It does tend to make heads turn though, at least your garden variety average gym member.

        1. If I didn’t do the alternate grip, yes. But I don’t like dealing with straps.

  16. That’s a great article. The one rep max must have incredible physiological benefits for overall stress, muscle strain etc but I stay away from it in deadlifting because to really get that absolute peak amount, your form has to break down a little. There has to be some rounding simply due to the strength dynamics. This doesn’t mean ‘doing one rep with good form’ This means ‘doing your absolute insane bug-eyed max’ Those are two different things. I like the idea of slowly improving under the umbrella of tight form. Then again I’m forty plus. By contrast, look at the squat. A one rep max in the squat will actually be better if you maintain your perfect form. If your form wavers, your strength output will lessen. Deadlift has different physics, especially for veterans up in the 500 plus range. Your body will become stronger than your upper back’s ability to stay pinned out tightly.

  17. Great Article! I never understood music in the gym, when I lift I’m so completely inwardly focused that the world is simply gone and it’s me, my demons, and the weight. I don’t think I know a single person there… Reading this article gave me a small taste of how other folks get in the mindset, just plain cool.

  18. Try doing something called the Bear Complex – great exercise, and it will fuck you at heavier weights and reps. Work hard with it and you will be ready for a bar brawl or street fight any day.

  19. I’m short with a heavy caveman build. I’m more suitable to the bench press, leg press, and behind the back press. I’ve been fairly impressive for a guy that doesn’t compete, breaking most personal records at ages 59-60. At age 64 I persevere. However, I never liked the dead lift, nor was I very successful at it. I do love to lift and wish life was like weight lifting. You do it or you don’t. The weights will be there tomorrow regardless. If you struggle no one to shift the blame on. No worries about office politics, family interference or anything else . Damn I wish life was more like that.

  20. I find the hex-deadlift and sumo deadlift to be my preferred approaches to this exercise. Still move serious weight, but saves the shins and promotes a straighter back during the movement.

  21. Why people think of the big 3 as the coolest lifts we have? I think snatch and c&j are much tougher! Their complex technique, explosion, coordination – you don’t see that in squat and deadlift.

  22. Yeah deadlift reigns supreme for general strength and badassery. Nice post
    Check out if you like lifting heavy and intense

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