As told to Powerlifting USA by Louie Simmons
I am pictured with one of the greatest deadlifters of all time: Vince Anello and Jim Cash. Jim deadlifted 837 at 220, and Vince deadlifted 821 at 198.
I saw Vince for the first time in 1966 , when he pulled 525 at 165. I knew then he was destined for deadlifting greatness. I recall asking Vince what made his deadlift go up. His reply was that anything made his deadlift go up. At the time, I was confused by his answer. I later realized what he said was not confusing, but my lack of training knowledge had kept me in the dark. I read Bill Starr's article about raising your deadlift without deadlifting. Was this what Vince was telling me? Was this the conjugate method? The answer is yes to both.
At Westside, the tenth best deadlift by coefficient is 710 at 198. We also have five lifters who have pulled 800 or more. Among the women, Doris Simmons pulled 349 at 105, Amy Weisburger 450 at 123, and Mariah Ligget 485 at 132 while training at Westside. These lifts were accomplished by deadlifting, at the most, one time every 4 weeks and more usually once every 8-10 weeks.
Our training is comprised of squatting or arched-back good mornings one week and bent-over good mornings the next week. You must bend over because the back has flexion. We use a wide assortment of cambered bars to change the leverage.
There are many ways to train. My objective is to teach you to train yourself. You must do what works best, not what you like best. Don't forget that.
Jerry Obradovic pulled 804 at 275 by doing lots of ab work, high reps on the Reverse Hyper, and 3-5 reps on a very low box, 4-6 inches below parallel, with a Safety Squat bar. He also did high reps, 6-8, in the bent-over good morning with a Buffalo Bar. He would test his deadlift once a month by pulling a rack pull with the plates 2-4 inches off the floor. He also did lat work of all kinds three times a week. All this netted him an 804 deadlift and a 644 bench to go with it.
Chuck Vogelpohl has a 793 deadlift at 242, and a 771 deadlift and 551 bench at 220. First of all, he trains 10-14 times a week. He always does abs in these extra workouts, and five workouts involve lat work. After speed squats on Friday, he will do 6-10 singles in the deadlift with 500 pounds, either sumo, conventional, or standing on a 1-4 inch box. They are very explosive.
On Monday, max effort day at Westside, Chuck works up to a max good morning or box squat with a variety of boxes. He will use a box deadlift or rack deadlift only as a test of his progress, not to build the lift. Chuck does a lot of work on the Reverse Hyper. He always works low back and hamstrings before lats.
John "Chester" Stafford, who deadlifts 800 and totals 2280, trains much like Chuck, maxing out for a single on a box squat or good morning. The exercises for the squat or good morning. The exercises for the squat are the same for the deadlift. John does a lot of standing abs and leg raises. He will only do a box or rack deadlift to test his deadlift, not to build it.
I do a lot of pulling of weight sleds to build my deadlift. I train lats and upper back about 5 times a week, mostly during short, 20-30 minute, extra workouts. I do about 10-14 workouts a week. Here are some examples: glute/ham raises and abs; reverse hypers, lats, and abs; sled pulling, lats, and abs; band only good mornings, hamstring work, and abs. I also feel the box squatting with or without bands will increase your deadlift fast. I deadlift with bands or chains to a fast single, then do low back. On max effort day, I prefer to do a max single on a low box or a triple in the conventional good morning or a single in the concentric style good morning. Having mad a top 10 deadlift in three weight classes has served me well.
The late Matt Dimel hit not only a 1010 squat but also an 821 deadlift. While he did all of the above, he would also work up to 600 for a single with the plates 2 inches off the floor. Then he would place an 1 inch mat under his feet and do a second single. More and more mats were added until the bar was touching the top of his feet. These were done with about 1 minute rest between sets. He also did a lot of lat work and work on the Reverse Hyper at least 4 times a week. Matt had very strong abs, which enabled him to do a sit-up with 115 pounds on an Olympic bar held behind his head while his legs were straight out on the floor.
Jeff Chorpenning had a 750 deadlift at 198. He did a lot of heavy abs and low back on the Reverse Hyper. He used a wide sumo style, and very wide box squatting helped a great deal. He would max out on a low box squat and, of course, do an assortment of good mornings.
What do these workouts have in common? These lifters always max out on some box squat level, mostly very low, or a good morning. They only use the deadlift to test their progress, not to build the deadlift. Lots of small extra workouts for abs, hamstrings, and lower or upper back are done. Any combination will work. Heavy sled pulling can take the place of max effort work 1 out of every 4 workouts.
If these men and women have bad form, they will do special work to correct it, i.e., the conjugate method. The top pullers here can deadlift almost the same with any deadlift style. If not, this shows a weakness in some muscle groups.
Because the deadlift is done last at a meet, when you're tired, we do a box squat or good morning first before trying a max box or rack pull. This keeps you honest. One must be in good shape to deadlift well in a meet. That's where all the extra workouts pay off. If you deadlift all the time, it will kill you in the long run, mentally and physically. Don't let this happen to you.
Everyone at Westside does these workouts at one time or another. It does not matter what sequence or rotation you use. Change the core lift each week and the special exercises whenever you feel it is necessary.
Remember what Vince said? I think this is what he had in mind.
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