I’ll try to make this as short as possible and state only what I know and a few options that I am considering on how to approach my problem.
I’ve been hitting a brick wall at 600 for two years now. My sticking point is mid-shin. Moves off the floor fine and slows down.
I’m not a particularly fast puller as I have to be conscious of letting my hips rise too fast and end up stiff legging it up. My technique feels better than it ever has. I usually only attempt a maximal pull once per year. At one point all my lifts were regressing, until I reduced frequency.
I squat one week and pull the next, same for bench and OHP. Since, all my lifts have been progressing, tweaks and injuries are non-existent, except my deadlift has gone nowhere. Besides my two heavy sessions per week (one lower/one upper) I do a bodybuilding session for the upper and kettlebell swings and high pulls or cleans in another session. My last maximal attempt I had the thought “holy shit, this intensity zone feels completely foreign to me”.
I tried grinding it out for about five seconds and noticed my chest and upper back caving, legs straightening and it was quickly turning into a stiff leg pull. My first thought as I immediately set the weight down was that I’m not spending enough time at higher intensities and that possibly my lower back, Glutes and hams are weak. I also, work a blue collar job, am 6’5 and my lower back gets over worked very easily, so my approach has to be thought out, because throwing the kitchen sink at it in the past has lead to overtaining and regression. Currently, I’m training the deadlift with singles for sets of 8-10 in a linear fashion with intensities from 70-80% of 1rm, with an occasional AMRAP replacing the singles sets.
The following are options I’m considering and a few thoughts on training methods I’ve used in the past.
Work up in singles to 90%, with or without accommodating resistance and supplement with speed or repetition effort (rdl’s, good mornings, etc.) Lower intensity DE hasn’t done much for my pull in the past, with either straight weight, bands or chains.
Work up to 90% once every 3 sessions and use repetition effort and high pulls and cleans the other two.
Keep pulling for singles as is, but pausing mid-shin.
I’ve pulled from blocks below sticking point, deficits for singles, three’s and five’s and various good mornings for five’s in the past for little to no improvement to my pull to the floor. Any supplemental and assistance will be restricted to a barbell and 45° back raise. Chins and lighter barbell rows are a mainstay as well. Any help would be appreciated here guys and thanks in advance. @KennyCrox any ideas?
Conventional Deadlifters sticking point it usually just below to just above the knees.
Sumo Deadlifter is traditionally breaking the weight off the floor. However, some have a mid shin sticking point.
Which are you, Sumo or Conventional?
Fast Initial Pull
I am an advocate of breaking the weight off the floor by pulling as hard and as fast as you can; generating as much power and speed prior to hitting your sticking point.
Power and Speed are the grease that enable you to “metaphorically speaking” drive through the mud hole, sticking point.
Stiff Legging It Up
You hips rising, the shifting the load to your back (Stiff Legging it) is to due weak leg drive.
When legs stall in driving the weight, the body automatically shift the load to the stronger muscle group, which in the case is your back.
Thus, some focus on your leg drive will help with Auxiliary Exercises such as:
Led Presses: Gene Bell, on of the great Squatter and Deadlifter of his time, when quizzed about performing the Leg Press for his Squat, stated it helped his Deadlift more than his squat.
a) Accommodating Reverse Resistance Leg Press: You can hook bank to the top of the leg press and then attached them the rod where the weight plates are loaded.
This decreases the loading the in the bottom part of the leg press and increase the load in the top part of it; working the legs through a greater range of the movement.
b) Leg Press “Throws”: This is a great movement for increasing leg drive power.
A moderate weight load allows you to drive the weight up so hard and fast that it goes airborne. This transfers over to being more explosive when breaking the Deadlift off the floor.
The Leg Press to some extent simulate the leg drive off the floor that is similar for Conventional Deadlifters.
Trap Bar Squat/Deadlifts: The focus need to be on “Leg Pressing” the weight off the floor, as with the Traditional Leg Press.
Use load that ensure you “Leg Press” the weight off the floor. The Double Handle (High and Low Handle Trap Bar is great; providing you with a high hip position and low Squat position.
In performing the Trap Bar Squat/Deadlift, the leg need to do the work. When the loading reaches a point where the load shift to your lower back, STOP the exercise.
Trap Bar Squat/Deadlift Jumps: Research shows that this exercise generates similar power output to the Olympic Movements.
High Bar Rack Quarter Squats: Place the bar in the rack in the rack that approximate your leg position in your Deadlift. Quarter Squat are a great carry over to your Deadlift.
The lower back is quickly and easily overtraining. As you know, less is better.
Alternating Squats and Deadlifts
It is an effective method. I know some lifter who swear by it.
I am not clear on what this mean. Is each Squat and Dealift you perform a heavy training session?
Bodybuilding session are great, as long as they don’t interfere with your strength training.
I am a big fan of Heavy Kettlebell Swings with near body weight loads and Hang High Pulls and Hang Cleans.
Back To Leg Drive
To reiterate, when your leg drive stops, the body’s natural response is to shift the load to a the strongest muscle group, meaning your back.
As I note earlier, the lower back is quickly and easily overtrained. Since your job involves your lower back, less lower back training will enable it to recovery.
Singles with 70-80%
This is an effective method for developing technique and to some degree strength.
However, for increasing Deadlift Strength, I am an advocate of…
Auxiliary Deadift Exercise
These are exercises that are similar in nature and have a similar movement movement pattern to the Deadlift.
Good Mornings; Heavy Partial Good Mornings in a Power Rack. Set the bar in the rack that is just below you sticking point.
Where the bar stops in your Deadlift is not the sticking point. It is like a car running out of gas, momentum allows the car to roll farther down the road.
So, where the car stop isn’t where it ran out of fast. It the same with your Deadlift sticking point. Thus, lowering the bar in the rack addresses your true sticking point.
45 Degree Back Raises/Hip Extensions: The 45 Degree movement place the workload on the mid rage part of the Deadlift, around the knee area.
90 Degree/Parallel Back Raises/Hip Extensions: The place the loading at the end of the range of the movement, the top end finish of the Deadlift.
Strong abs are vital in your ability to maintain an upright chest and keep your back from caving in.
Heavy Ab Training is mandatory for individual with a long torso.
Think you body as a bridge. The middle of your bridge is your torso. The longer the bridge is the more strength and support it needs in the middle to ensure that it doesn’t “cave in” every time you drive across it with a heavy load.
That applies with Heavy Deadlifts and Squats.
Lower Back Repetitions
The lower back traditionally respond better to lower repetition.
However, high repetition can be effective at increasing blood flow in the lower back. Increased circulation delivers nutrients and eliminates “Metabolites” (garbage).
The downside in performing Deadlifts for AMRAP is technique is compromised with each repetition as more and more fatigue sets in.
The end result is that toward the end or your repetition range, you Deadlift Technique is altered.
These options sound good
[quote=“badboy69cancer, post:1, topic:238608”]2) Work up to 90% once every 3 sessions and use repetition effort and high pulls and cleans the other two.
[quote="badboy69cancer, post:1, topic:238608"Keep pulling for singles as is, but pausing mid-shin.[/quote]
My Deadlift issue was similar to your. I found myself overtraining my Deadlift. My sticking point was in my knee area.
Deadlift Floor Drive
I was blowing the weight off the floor. So, I didn’t seem there was a point in training my Deadlift off the floor.
Instead I focused on my sticking point in the knee area.
My program shifted to Rack Deadlift in the sticking point, just below it actually. That helped a little. However, Rack Pulls overtrained my lower back that same as pulling from the floor.
Heavy Partial Good Mornings
I finally replaced Heavy Deadlift Rack Pulls with Heavy Partial Good Mornings. I found that performing Heavy Partial Good Mornings did not over train my back.
In conjunction with Heavy Good Mornings, I performed Olympic Hang Pulls and Plyometric Olympic Hang Pulls. Plyometric meaning I dropped that bar to my thighs, getting a bump (generating momentum) to pull more weight up.
Another lifter who somewhat followed my program, was Phil. Phil would use Auxiliary Deadlift Exercises and Olympic Pulls for three weeks.
Week four, Phil performed regular Deadlift. Phil increased his Deadlift about 40lbs.
Mike’s issue was that he was training his Deadlift too heavy, too often.
Mike rewrote his program with the emphasis on having one heavy Deadlift Training Session once every three weeks. Weeks one and two were very light and moderately heavy Deadlift Training Sessions.
Mike Deadlift went from a 540 lb Deadlift at 220 lbs to pulling 749 lbs to his knees at 242 lbs.
Mike stopped Deadlifting three weeks before his 749 lb Deadlift Attempt.
Take Home Message
Overtraining The Deadlift is a major issue for many lifters. Essentially, my Deadlift went up once I stopped Deadlifting. The Auxiliary Exercises that I used allowed my back to recover.
Phil Rivera and Mike Tronski found the same thing worked for their Deadlift. They wrote program that allowed them to train their Deadlift with out overtraining it.
The program they devised was different from mine. However, the concept was the same.
Find a method that allows you to work the Deadlift without overtraining it.
You have assessed it well. However, like everything, you need to try it and see how it works.
As Einstein said, “Research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.”
The No Deadlift Program to Improve Your Deadlift
Some of the information that I provided can be found in this article
I eventually pulled 280 kb/617 lbs at 208 lbs using this program.
First, I would like to thank you for taking the time with such a detailed response.
I pull conventional.
I do own a high/low handle trap bar, so this is an option, as well as the jumps.
This is also, something I actually programmed in my current cycle, that started this last Sunday. I’m taking a deadlift foot stance and mimicking my starting position and front squatting off pins.
Absolutely! My pull started regressing at one point and has climbed back up to my initial strength levels, since alternating pulls and squats weekly.
No, for the past three cycles or so, I have been starting at a 6 rep max and sticking with that weight, untill it becomes my 10 rep max, then add 20 pounds or so and start over. I have also, rotated between a max effort session (85-90%+), a sub-maximal session (70-80%) and a dynamic effort session (-65%). These are rotated weekly per each lift, much like The Cube Method or weekly undulating periodization.
I am mindful of this. These sessions are preformed with active recovery in mind.
These, are also done on the day of my bodybuilding type sessions. Although, my swings are relatively light weight and aimed towards metabolic conditioning. My cleans and high pulls are done at a relatively light weight as well and admittedly, do them more for building my traps and upper back.
This is a very good analogy and describes my situation quite well.
Yes, I am coming to this conclusion myself. I am considering keeping my repetitions under 5 reps from here on out for awhile and see how I respond.
This, is probably my best option as well, along with training my leg drive. Again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and giving me some ideas to take back to the drawing board. I will also, upload a few pics of my starting position. The first, is close to my usual starting position and the technique I’ve always used in the past (bar closer to shins and mid-foot. It seems like a really horizontal back angle and I have been experimenting with setting up further away, hips lower and back a little more vertical. However, about mid-shin, I end up closer to the first pic, if not completely stiff legging it at that point. In both instances, the bar stalls mid-shin.
You have a lot knowledge in this area and understanding of the concepts. All I did was provide you with some feed back of things that might work for you.
You process and break things down well. Where did you pick up this information?
It looks good. Conventional Deadlifters break the weight off the floor with thier back, then the legs kick in. It is a “Bang-Bang” sequence that occurs quickly.
Thus, while Leg Drive is important for a Conventional Deadlifter, the back is instrumental initially breaking the weight off the floor.
"Biomechancis Of Powerlifting–The Deadlift"
Dr Tom McLaughlin-
Director/Biomechanics Labratory/Auburn University/PLUSA 7/81
"A kinetic analysis permitted us to calculate the resultant muscular torques for the back and legs. This information gives us an idea of whether the back extensor muscles or the quadreceps (thigh muscles) are primarily working to lift the bar at a certain time during the deadlift. How much and when a deadlifter uses these muscles are very important to success."
“Now, although most people probably think the initial drive off the floor is all legs, it is clearly done primarily by the back.”
“Kuc, Kazmaier, and Anello use the back first…”
“I was talking to Lamar Gant this week here at Auburn, and he said that he felt years ago his leg drive was strong off the floor, but in recent years he felt his back pulling more at the start.”
“This is probably a reason for the recent craze over stiff-leg deadlifts. They simply develop more back strength for the starting position.”
THE DEADLIFT: A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS
The muscles of the lower back fatigue easily and require a great deal of recovery time. It is not uncommon for many competitive lifters to take as many as nine days between deadlift days.
If the athlete tries to move the weight using their legs instead of their back the result is a premature straightening of the legs and an unwanted curvature of the back.
Perhaps the most important assistance exercise for the deadlift, abdominal training, is probably the most neglected. Most athletes fail to realize the important role the abs play in back extension. Strong abs help to increase the intra/abdominal pressure. Increasing the pressure serves two important functions: (1) the pressure pushes back on the spine in the lumbar region which helps stabilize the spine and keep it straight; (2) the pressure helps to counteract the high compression caused by contraction of the erector spinae.6 The end result of having strong abdominals is that they help in reducing the stress on the lower back which, in turn, allows more weight to be lifted.
A Strong Case For the Rounded Back Deadlift
Upper Back Rounding is okay. It enable you to position the bar closer to your Center of Gravity.
The farther the bar is from your Center of Gravity, the greater the Torque, which magnifies the true weight on the bar.
Lower Back Rounding is contraindicated.
Contreras: With what’s deemed "perfect form," characterized by maintenance of the natural lordotic and thoracic spinal curvature with the extension revolving around the hip joints, I’m able to pull 425 pounds. If I allow my back to round considerably, I can pull 565 pounds. Why in the world would there be a 140-pound discrepancy between these two variations?
Pull The Bar BACK On Top Of You
One of the keys to Deadlifting more weight is to keep the bar as close to your Center of Gravity as possible.
That means you need to pull the bar back on top of you.
That mean the bar is NOT going to travel in a Straight Vertical Line, as some believe and promote.
Thank you. I spent alot of my youth reading old muscle mags and just about anything and everything strength related that I could get my hands on. I still spend quite a bit of time reading studies and articles online, but I think I learn the most, from just experimenting with methodologies here and there and try to keep decent journals. Today, I like reading alot of Yuri Verhoshansky, Louie Simmons, etc. With all the flair that is out in the industry today, I find myself digging for old treasures. Old articles by Arcidi, Kaz, Hepburn, Doug Young, etc. I think the old schoolers got a lot of things right. Not easy, but very simple programming by today’s standards, in most cases.
This is something, that seems very valid in my situation. I know for a fact, that I consciously cue breaking the weight from the floor with leg drive. It could also, partially explain why I’m running out of knee extension and essentially stiff legging it up. I’m not even thinking about pulling with my back, until I find myself in that stiff leg position.
Thankfully, by taking the leap of faith already and by experimenting with reduced frequency, I’ve figured out that it works very well for me, despite what alot of modern literature would have us think. I have started to take recovery alot more serious this past year and it has paid off. Joel Jamieson has some great material out in regards to that aspect of training.
I will be making abdominal work more of a priority in the future as well. You have pointed me to a few things, that I hadn’t considered and I appreciate your time. Thank you!
No problem. Heavy pulling and squatting in the same week is a no go for me. One or the other would have to be programmed below 65% of 1rm, before I would even have a chance at recovering properly. 5x5 sets across at 80%+ is a no go as well. Working up to a top set of 5 is something I have done recently, but not with sets of 5 all the way to the top set. My warm-ups are sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, then singles up to my working weight. I start with the bar and quarter, plate, quarter, plate my way up to working weight and pull for an amrap with 1-2 in the tank or specified number of reps x sets. I’ve dug myself into and out of recovery deficits in the past, so I have a pretty good idea of the amount of volume and frequency that puts me in a deficit, just not so much what keeps me out of a deficit, yet still allows me to progress. I don’t know about simple, but more of the same isn’t going to do it for me, I know.
Very brilliant guy. His book, Special Strength Training, is a great piece of work. Much of the information from Supertraining co-written by Dr Mel Siff comes form Special Strength.
Reading and Re-reading
I’ve read Special Strength over 10 times. I’ve read Supertraining 5 time.
Both books have notes on the side of the pages and are Hi-Lited.
What I have found is that you often miss or overlook information. Re-read and you’ll find information that you missed or gain more insight.
The same applies to movies, etc.
Simmons definitely revolutionized how Powerlifter Train. Simmons is a very knowledgeable guy.
However, in some instances he states information that research has demonstrated isn’t true.
This type of research is just as important as lab research.
A lot of lab research works backward. Researchers find something that working and then try to understand what drive it.
Looking and talking to the old school lifters and examining the lab research is the way to go.
The majority of lifters and gym rats, rarely read much of anything.
As Alwyn Cosgrrove (Strength Coach) stated, …
No one every got dumbber by reading a book (magazine, research article, etc).
As one of my favorite cartoon characters from my child use to say, “You are smarter than the average bear”.
You have the tool to figure it out and make it work.
Leg Pressing The Deadlift
The irony is that McLaughlin’s research on this has been around since the 1980’s. Research articles from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (composed of Exercise Physiologist) supports McLaughlin’s finding.
Yet the mantra you continue to hear in gyms for the Deadlift is, “Push the floor away from you”. In other words, Leg Press the weight.
NO one will ever ask you, “How much can you Leg Press off the floor?” when asking about your Deadlift.
Rightfully, the ask, “How much can you PULL.”
What it comes down to is there are essentially two type of Conventional Deadlifts.
Olympic LIft Conventional Deadlifts: This is an Auxiliary Exercise for the First Pull. The emphasis is on driving the weight up while maintaining a flat back position.
Thus, “Push the floor away from you” in this instance is correct.
The back positioning of the back for the Second Pull is vital. A Round Back “Powerlifting Deadlift” kills your Second Pull. Back Positioning is everything.
Conventional :Powerlifting Deadlifts are a completely different animal. Some Rounding of the Upper Back is acceptable and encouraged in a Max Effort.
As Contreras’ noted, Upper Back Rounding ensure you keep the bar close to your Center of Gravity, allowing you to pull more weight.
when you say in the deadlift you break the bar of the floor with the back, which part of the back do you mean especially? I have also heard of the “push” against the floor. Is there any good verbal command (cue) for the back usage of the floor ?
In the Conventional Deadlift, the lower back will initiate breaking the weight off the floor.
That was the finding of McLaughlin’s EMG research.
As I stated in a previous post, it is a “Bang-Bang” in the back and leg muscle firing sequence.
…it is defined as the sum being greater than its individual parts. It is somewhat like adding 2 + 2 and getting 5.
*The Muscle Firing Sequence
In the Conventional Deadlift it is Back > Legs > Back, as per McLaughlin. You will find that information in the article that I posted, if you read it.
Initial Pull: The lower back is the primary muscle group that breaks the weight off the floor; The legs are the secondary muscle group that assist.
Mid Thigh Pull: If you have positioned yourself correctly, the legs are the primary muscles with the back the secondary muscle group assisting.
Top Pull/Lockout: Once the bar is above the knees, the back becomes the primary muscle. Less leg drive occurs. Greater glute drive is required; you need to drive you butt into the bar.
Let take a slight detour for a minute.
This term has been used for sex but it applies to the Deadlift, as well.
“The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin’.”
While the back is instrumental in the Top Pull of the Deadlift, the glutes play a huge role.
Bret Contreras’ (aka, The Glute Guy") research has demonstrate large, strong glutes play a critical rule in the Deadlift and other movements.
Hip Thrust and Hip Extension Training Movement will help in the Top Pull of he Deadlift.
EMG = Instant Replay
Think of McLaughlin’s EMG research on the Conventional Deadlift like the instant reply in an NFL Football Game.
The referee’s make a call. They then review the play in slow motion from several different angles.
They often reverse the on the field call because the slow motion play back demonstrates it was incorrect. When something occurs in milliseconds, it is hard for the eye to measure.
Push Against The Floor
Applies for Olympic Lift Deadlift Training.
Does not apply for Max Conventional Deadlift (Research McLaughlin).
Contreras reinforced McLaughlin’s finding stating in his article:
With what’s deemed "perfect form," characterized by maintenance of the natural lordotic and thoracic spinal curvature with the extension revolving around the hip joints, I’m able to pull 425 pounds.If I allow my back to round considerably, I can pull 565 pounds. Why in the world would there be a 140-pound discrepancy between these two variations?
The Misinformation Problem
“Push the weight through the floor” continues to be perpetuated and will never go away.
That because it is “Folklore” that has been handed down in gym due to a lack of knowledge.
“If you scream it loud enough and long enough people believe it.”
These individual have been “Brainwashed” with that mantra for so long, they believe it is true. These individuals then unknowingly and without malice continue to preach misinformation.
These individual don’t know enough to know. In gym advice from this individual, I thank them and move on. That because you cannot “Deprogram” anyone in 5 minutes…I need to finish my workout.
Let me start off with a question. Do you believe that “Push” would be a good verbal cue as a means of focusing breaking the weight off the floor with the back?
That would like trying to get someone attention by calling “John” when their name is Bob
With that said, a more appropriate verbal cue would be “Pull” or “Pull-Push” (Back. Legs)
Verbal Cue: Some individuals do better with Auditory Cues.
Mental Imagery Cue: Some individual respond to closing their eyes and seeing the movement.
Kinesthetic Cue: This has to do with feel and touch. When you close you eyes, you feel when the bar is in the right movement pattern. This is my cuing process.
I envision the feel of my Deadlift as the bar being on rails in a Smith Machine, smoothly gliding along the lubricated rails, a nice smooth pulling movement to the top.
The greatest benefit for any muscle group or movement is when it is preformed first, when you are fresh on your training day.
That means if you train your abs first, better strength gain. So, you could train them first. However, it would depend on what your focus was on that particular day.
They are involved in every movement you make, especially with Squats, Deadllifts, etc. Squat and Deadlift are necessary for providing the lower back with support and ensuring you maintain a more upright position.
Thus, if you work them prior to Squats or Deadlifts, your abs are tired and not able to provide you with optimal support or ensure good technique.
So, you could train them first, providing your following exercises were reliant on them.
With that said, I am more of a proponent of ab training after Squats, Deadlifts, etc. or having an Ab Day; similar to Leg Day, Upper Body or Lower Body Day.
Train them like any other muscle group. Don’t perform them every day
To increase strength, perform low repetition with heavy loads.
If you preform ab work at the end of your exercise program, allow enough recovery time after your final exercise before doing you ab exercises.
I preform them Squat and Deadlift. I rest about 10 minutes before I preform abs.
Here is a good article…
Inside the Muscles: Best Ab Exercises
EMG studies on some of the most effective Ab Exercise…
Based on this experiment, here are the top three exercises in terms of mean and peak activity for each muscle part:
Mean: Chin Up, Hanging Leg Raise, Ab Wheel
Peak: Chin Up, Hanging Leg Raise, Swiss Ball Crunch
Mean: Ab Wheel from Feet, Ab Wheel from Knees, Bodysaw
Peak: Ab Wheel from Feet, Bodysaw, Tornado Ball Slam
Mean: Ab Wheel from Feet, Hanging Leg Raise, Bodysaw
Peak: Turkish Get Up, Hanging Leg Raise, Bodysaw
Practical Experience That Adds a Personal Touch To EMG Studies
Vince Gironda was a really good Bodybuilder and a great Bodybuilding Coach.
Here is Vinces “Practical-Real World” Formula for knowing what muscle are worked with an exercise.
Pick an exercise you have not done in a while.
Preform that exercise for 10 Sets to Failure only one day.
In 24 to 48 hours, the soreness (DOMs) will let you with every movement you make for a few days, exactly which muscle the exercise worked.
EMG studies are good. However, with Vince’s Method, you never forget.