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By: Louie Simmons
Deadlift records have made little progress in recent years. I believe it is easy to add pounds to a squat or bench press due to more progressive equipment. The supportive gear, in Westside's opinion, pushes one to gain bodyweight to increase the squat and bench press, but anyone, including myself, can tell you, if you're too heavy, your pull is destroyed.
With all that said, how do you train the deadlift for a meet? You don't. One must train the deadlift in a multiyear plan. An 8 or 12 week cycle won't work. For example, it may take 6 months to raise your hamstrings up to acceptable levels. If not, you will never reach your potential.
Let's look at Matt Smith's progress during a 30 month period. Matt had a 633 deadlift meet PR. Two and a half year later it is 825. This deadlift completed a 9 for 9 day and gave Matt a 2445 total at SHW.
Matt used the conjugate method. This system links special exercises that will increase awareness and coordination. Its purpose is to raise the classical lifts. First used for the Olympic lifting team at the Dynamo Club in the old USSR, this method was tested on 70 top lifters. It consisted of 25 to 40 special exercises. At the end of the first study, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of exercises. The rest wanted more.
Westside Barbell also began using this system in the early 1970s. If I put $1 million under a rock in the parking lot and told you to find it, chances are the first rock you pick up will have nothing under it. I bet that million that you would keep looking until you struck it rich. It's the same with exercise. If you look long enough, you will find methods and exercises that work best for you, while realizing that many are worthless in comparison.
Now let's look at a constantly revolving system of exercises that are used on max effort day, always trying a PR. For the advanced lifter, do 3 lifts, all singles: one at roughly 90% and then a PR, and if it is truly a max, stop, if not, try one more. It is much better to break new ground as often as possible. Lifting weights of 90% or more for more than 3 weeks will stop progress, but by rotating the core special exercises each week, one can max out all year long. This system is the supermaximal method.
Here are several workouts for the deadlift that can be coupled any way you want.
(Janda sit-ups, named for Prof. Vladimir Janda, are done by hooking a band underneath the bench with the feet not anchored to eliminate hip flexor involvement. Hold on to the band, press your heels downward, push out on the abs, and pull up on the band.)
Here you have 26 workouts, which is not even close to the amount we do. There are many methods combined in our workout (concentric, eccentric, accommodation resistance, flexibility, awareness, and coordination) by doing a new task each week and maxing out continuously with exercises that build strength speed.
Matt does the dynamic method on Friday. The maximal effort workouts discussed above are roughly 72 hours later, on Monday. The more exercises you master, the better you are at any related exercise.
Does this really work? Westside has had two female lifters do 470 and 484 deadlifts at 132 body weight and two female 165's do 534 and 556. As for the men, we have a 165 who has done 640, two 181's with 670 and 677, at 198 three over 700 and one at 750, two 220's with 722 and 795, a 242 with a 793, a 275 with an 804, a 308 with an 800, and three SHW's with 810, 821, and Matt's 825.
I know the greatest deadlifters are built to deadlift. At Westside we have never had the luxury of such a specimen. We had to develop the deadlift, just like Matt's increase from 633 to 825 in 30 months.
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