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patrickmeniru

600lb Deadlift Achieved!

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru

One of my long term goals has been to pull 600lbs (video at the bottom) and I recently achieved that (using a texas power bar, bumper plates but no belt). I just thought that I would put down a few thoughts about my path to 600 in case it is helpful to someone else, as I know that I found it helpful to read about the experiences of other people who wanted to move from the region of 500 towards 600.

A very brief training history - the first time I ever tried a deadlift was 2010 (aged 18). I had previously done some powercleans with relatively light weights as an athlete but never gone for a deadlift. I managed to get ~160kg. I didn't really train deadlifts or squats much over the next couple of years, partly due to injuries (torn achilles and broken leg) and because I was playing football 5 times a week. Every now and then i would train with friends at a gym where I could deadlift (the free gym I had access to at University didn't have a plate loadable barbell). Because of the leg strength I had from football and the small amount of leg training I did and the fact I was doing a lot of weighted pull ups and have good levers for deadlift, I was able to pull 200kg at some point around 2013. I stayed at 200kg (rarely deadlifting) until early 2015 but improved my squat in the meantime. In 2015 I moved to a new gym with some really strong guys and saw lots of people deadlifting well over 200kg so decided to work on going heavier (deadlifting more often, doing some deficit pulls and getting straps to allow me to train past the limitations of my grip - I dislike mixed grip). By August 2015 I managed to get an ugly grindy rep with 250kg. I was stuck at 250kg for quite a while and at one point whilst I was doing crossfit over the summer of 2016 I even missed a couple of attempts at 240kg, so I'll just talk about the things that I changed that helped me to break the plateau:

  1. Getting on board a training programme that I was accountable to. Up until around a year ago my workouts were always designed by me and there wasn't a fixed number of sets and reps that I knew I had to do. That isn't to say I didn't train hard or that there wasn't some logic to my training (for example I would typically alternate heavier and lighter deadlift weeks to manage fatigue and would self regulate based on how I was feeling), but having a programme (5/3/1 in my case) meant that I trained deadlift differently that I had before (more higher rep sets and going heavy more frequently and even when I didn't feel great).
  2. Working on my technique. Previously I had just assumed that I was fine with the basic cues - get tight, flat back, hip hinge the weight up. But I read lots of articles and some helpful books (Deadlift Dynamite by Andy Bolton and Pavel Tsatsouline was great) and watched various videos, which really helped me to dial in my technique, use my quads a little more at the start of the movement, brace my core properly with good breathing and maintain position better even as the weights got heavy and/or I got fatigued. I also started warming up differently and doing more activation work to make sure my glutes in particular were 'switched on' before I started lifting.
  3. Recovering better. This was a big one for me - one of the reasons I didn't deadlift heavy as often before starting 5/3/1 was because I was worried about not being able to recover adequately, this was partly being too cautious but was also true - I was able to deadlift heavy train more often (3 weeks from 4) because I started caring about recovery - I started to pay more attention to my diet (bodyweight has stayed consistent around 95kg), I drank alcohol less frequently and practiced yoga regularly - partly for the flexibility benefits, but also doing some long static poses before bed to help calm my mind and fall asleep faster. I used ear plugs and got a blackout blind to help my sleep quality and luckily I had a fairly quiet 6 months at work, which meant that my stress levels were very low and I was able to leave work early, spend longer in the gym and sleep longer.
  4. Training more specifically to my task. I like doing lots of types of training, but for reasons out of my control (an achilles injury) I have been unable to do any running, jumping or other athletic movements like snatch and clean and jerk. The result I haven't been going for my normal regular 5km runs or interfering with my recovery process my playing sports etc. although I would rather be able to do those things, I do think that only doing gym related training made it much easier to gauge my recovery and put myself in the best position to hit the numbers I needed to hit each week.
  5. Using hook grip. This is probably the least significant factor, but I found that I felt much more solid in the bottom position and through the lift with a pronated hand position rather than mixed (where my underhand side would tend to kick the bar away slightly). It was also easier for me to engage my lats and have symmetrical hand positioning - when I go mixed, my underhand needs to be slightly wider because of the way my elbow and forearm is positioned (it hits my knee otherwise). It took a while to get used to the discomfort, but doing the crossfit really helped, lots of reps with light weights. Now I rarely hook grip because I do double overhand for almost all my sets, up until the point where it gets too heavy, where I switch to straps because I value sensation in my thumbs so don't want to do reps with a hook grip, and I don't feel I need to practice it as I've never had any problems feeling locked onto the bar.

For anyone that is interested, my progression of my AMRAP sets (heaviest set of each cycle in bold) through the cycles of 5/3/1 from the point I started in December 2016 looked like this (there were a couple of cycles I didn't finish due to injury or holiday) (all weights in kilos, some of the numbers may not be exactly as I did them, I'm just copying from my app - for example I know that the first set I rounded up to 200kg). As a note, none of these sets is touch and go and I never failed a rep during any of these sets, I sometimes left 1 rep in the tank, although fairly often I did reach RPE 9.5/10 on my last rep:

7 Dec 2016 - 199 x 15
15 Dec 2016 - 211 x 10
22 Dec 2016 - 222 x 10
31 Dec 2016 - Deload
5 Jan 2017 - 207 x 12
12 Jan 2017 - 219 x 11
21 Jan 2017 - 231 x 9
28 Jan 2017 - Deload
2 Feb 2017 - 214 x 13
9 Feb 2017 - 227 x 12
16 Feb 2017 - 239 x 7
5 March 2017 - Deload
16 March 2017 - 222 x 8
23 March 2017 - 235 x 5
[Achilles injury and holiday break]
12 May 2017 -  214 x 7
20 May 2017 - 227 x 5
25 May 2017 - 239 x 4
31 May 2017 - Deload
7 June 2017 - 222 x 12
15 June 2017 - 235 x 10
23 June 2017 - 250 x 5
30 June 2017 - Deload
6 July 2017 - 230 x 6*
14 July 2017 - 243 x 6
20 July 2017 - 257 x 3 (first time going over my old PR)
27 July 2017 - Deload
4 August 2017 - 235 x 8*
11 August 2017 - 250 x 4*
17 August 2017 - 263 x 2 (could have probably got 3 here but knew I was maxing soon so didn't want to risk injury/excessive fatigue)
24 August 2017 - Deload
31 August 2017 - 272.5 x 1 (also had a close miss at 280kg)

*these weren't AMRAPs in the sense that I hit my minimums and then a little extra but had more left in the tank after these than with most of the other sets, I found that if I pushed really hard week 1 then I was getting very tired by week 3 and my form suffered a little, whereas if I held back a bit in week 1 then week 3 performance was much better.

As far as my backdown sets went, i usually did sets of 5, almost always from a 1.5" deficit, with around 70-80% of my top set for the day. I also used a phasic structure that I stole from Cal Deitz (not sure on spelling), whereby for one cycle I would do all by backdowns with a slow(ish) eccentric, the next cycle would all be paused reps, the final cycle would be regular lifts but focussing on moving the bar quickly whilst maintaining form (i.e. not ripping it off the floor).
 

 

Edited by patrickmeniru
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Squeezus    1,638
Squeezus

Great work, Pat. I've been following your deadlifts on IG and was happy to see you meet this goal. 600 is a goal for me as well. I hope that I can stay injury free long enough to make it there some day. Also, big props on pulling it with no belt. I feel like I would spray bone shards all over the wall behind me if I tried a 1RM without my trusty Inzer.

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Chez    3,192
Chez

Wow. Huge congrats Pat. 600 lbs is a big milestone. I'm gunning for 500 this year. 

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
48 minutes ago, Squeezus said:

Great work, Pat. I've been following your deadlifts on IG and was happy to see you meet this goal. 600 is a goal for me as well. I hope that I can stay injury free long enough to make it there some day. Also, big props on pulling it with no belt. I feel like I would spray bone shards all over the wall behind me if I tried a 1RM without my trusty Inzer.

Thanks Gil, appreciate it. How's the deadlifting been going lately, I remember seeing 400 moving very smoothly for some reps a while back? Staying injury free is definitely the key to long term progress, I'm thankful that I'm healthy at the moment (achilles is only a few months away from being given the okay by my physio) and hoping that I stay that way! As far as the belt goes, I've never actually tried using one, so I can't claim much credit - I guess if I ever do a powerlifting competition I'll have to buy one for those extra few kg - but I agree, you definitely know about it the next day if you push too hard and let your form break down beltless!

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
15 minutes ago, Chez said:

Wow. Huge congrats Pat. 600 lbs is a big milestone. I'm gunning for 500 this year. 

Thanks Chez - I'm sure you'll smash 500 before the year is out based on how you've been going!

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Squeezus    1,638
Squeezus
26 minutes ago, patrickmeniru said:

Thanks Gil, appreciate it. How's the deadlifting been going lately, I remember seeing 400 moving very smoothly for some reps a while back? Staying injury free is definitely the key to long term progress, I'm thankful that I'm healthy at the moment (achilles is only a few months away from being given the okay by my physio) and hoping that I stay that way! As far as the belt goes, I've never actually tried using one, so I can't claim much credit - I guess if I ever do a powerlifting competition I'll have to buy one for those extra few kg - but I agree, you definitely know about it the next day if you push too hard and let your form break down beltless!

Eh, my deadlifting has been on the back burner lately. I have been working with kettlebells mainly to help me strengthen and learn to recruit my posterior chain better. I will return to barbell deadlift in earnest again at some point. Right now, I would probably be lucky to pull over 500. 

You could very well be one of those guys like Konstantin Konstantinovs who prefers no belt, but I definitely recommend giving it a try if you decide to train for a PL comp and make sure to get a heavy-duty one, they don't really stretch much at all and make a huge difference on how much you can use your intra-abdominal pressure to support your spine when you lift.

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Fist of Fury    352
Fist of Fury

Congrats, big lift. Keep going, I'm sure you'll reach 300 kg soon!

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
3 hours ago, Squeezus said:

Eh, my deadlifting has been on the back burner lately. I have been working with kettlebells mainly to help me strengthen and learn to recruit my posterior chain better. I will return to barbell deadlift in earnest again at some point. Right now, I would probably be lucky to pull over 500. 

You could very well be one of those guys like Konstantin Konstantinovs who prefers no belt, but I definitely recommend giving it a try if you decide to train for a PL comp and make sure to get a heavy-duty one, they don't really stretch much at all and make a huge difference on how much you can use your intra-abdominal pressure to support your spine when you lift.

To be fair I think that a lot of 'building a base' for deadlift can be done without actually deadlifting. I've heard so much about the benefits of kettlebells but never really used them systematically, unfortunately my gym doesn't have any, would be good to do them on accessory days or after backdown sets.

Thanks for the tip, I'd definitely go with something sturdy if I did get one - there are a number of powerlifters in the gym i train at, so I'm sure I'd be able to get some good recommendations.

2 hours ago, Fist of Fury said:

Congrats, big lift. Keep going, I'm sure you'll reach 300 kg soon!

Thanks! I'm actually planning to take a bit of a break from deadlifting now partly to let my body recover, but mostly so I can focus on my squat, which is lagging way behind. In the medium-long term I'm hoping that strengthening my quads and glutes by squatting will let me pull even more weight safely when I do go back to deadlifts - but 300kg is definitely a goal for 2018.

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JStepien    173
JStepien

Nice job & nice lift big guy!!!

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
11 hours ago, JStepien said:

Nice job & nice lift big guy!!!

Thanks man, appreciate it.

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Royz    499
Royz

Wow very good!

Hoping to get 500lbs this year, this month actually...

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Alawadhi    759
Alawadhi

Okay first sorry couldn't read your entire post need to go. But,,,wow very good! And DO too. Was it hook? Either ways is amazing! And how much do you weigh?190+?

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
On 9/6/2017 at 0:06 PM, Royz said:

Wow very good!

Hoping to get 500lbs this year, this month actually...

Thanks! Best of luck with the 500 pull, get some loud music on and get after it!

On 9/6/2017 at 1:47 PM, Alawadhi said:

Okay first sorry couldn't read your entire post need to go. But,,,wow very good! And DO too. Was it hook? Either ways is amazing! And how much do you weigh?190+?

No worries, I realise it's a long post and probably not interesting to most, but if it's helpful to just one person then it was worth typing it up! Thanks very much, the 600lbs was hook grip, the 505lbs was double overhand - the video of 505 is also in the Instagram post (there should be a little arrow on the right side of the video if you're looking at this on a desktop browser, not sure about mobile). I weigh around 210lbs on any given day, I think I was just under on the day of this pull.

Edited by patrickmeniru

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Chez    3,192
Chez

I wasn't able to see the video when I first posted (work blocks videos) but I watched it the other night. Looking strong Pat. You have definitely put on muscle.  

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king crusher    404
king crusher

600 has always been a goal of mine. I came so close with 585 and missed 600 mid shin before. I never ran any programs but maybe I should.

Congrats on that fantastic accomplishment.

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Mike Rinderle    417
Mike Rinderle

Great pull!  I remember how satisfying 600 was.  Great feeling!  On to 700! :rock

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patrickmeniru    159
patrickmeniru
On 9/7/2017 at 1:53 PM, Chez said:

I wasn't able to see the video when I first posted (work blocks videos) but I watched it the other night. Looking strong Pat. You have definitely put on muscle.  

Thanks Chez!

 

On 9/8/2017 at 5:11 AM, king crusher said:

600 has always been a goal of mine. I came so close with 585 and missed 600 mid shin before. I never ran any programs but maybe I should.

Congrats on that fantastic accomplishment.

Thanks very much! I'm sure you can get there  having gotten so close, I guess a bit of luck in terms of staying injury free and not having too much stress going on in life outside of the gym is a big factor too. Good luck!

 

On 9/9/2017 at 2:26 PM, Mike Rinderle said:

Great pull!  I remember how satisfying 600 was.  Great feeling!  On to 700! :rock

Thanks Mike, 700 is a very long way off, but maybe one day I'll get there!

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