Explode Your Deadlift

August 10, 2019 | Author: thilp | Category: Individual Sports, Athletic Sports, Recreation, Sports, Weightlifting
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What Every Athlete Should Know About The World’s Toughest Test Of Strength By Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman ©2011, All Rights Reserved

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Notice To Those Who Are Thinking Of Abusing This Book (Or in other words… “Who wants to get sued or go to jail?”) This book is copyright 2011 with all rights reserved. It is illegal to copy, distribute, or create derivative works from this book in whole or in part or to contribute to the copying, distribution, or creating of derivative works of this book. If you attempt to copy, steal, or distribute all or any part of this book without permission, I will have my solicitor contact you and make you wish that you’d never had such an idea in your life. You can count on this. I am a man of my word. By purchasing this book, you agree to the following: You understand that the information contained in this book is an opinion, and it should be used for personal entertainment purposes only. You are responsible for your own behaviour, and none of this book is to be considered legal or personal advice. I expect you to abide by these rules. I have people who spend a lot of time searching the Internet for people who violate my copyrights. Now that we’re finished with this notice, let’s discover how to “Explode Your Deadlift”…

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. What To Wear When Training The Deadlift 3. Conventional Or Sumo? 4. The Conventional Set-Up 5. The Conventional Deadlift 6. The Sumo Set-Up 7. The Sumo Deadlift 8. Trouble-Shooting 9. Competition And The Deadlift Suit 10. Andy’s Deadlift Photographed 11. A word on technique 12. The Mind-Set For A Big Pull 13. About The Authors

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 1: Introduction Thank you for purchasing “Explode Your Deadlift”. This book was written for anyone who wants to build their Deadlift to freaky heights (and stay injury-free in the process). I wish you every success in your quest for Deadlift mastery and respect your decision to not fall for gimmicks like so many people claiming to ‘strength train’ do these days (and that includes some elite athletes). For anyone thinking that fads and gimmicks will get them strong or develop world class speed and power; stop kidding yourself, chalk up your hands and pull the bar from the floor. It’s hard, but rewarding. And you’ll be a better man for it.

The Deadlift is a brutal test of strength and of course one of the three official Powerlifts (along with the Squat and Bench Press). The Deadlift is arguably the toughest of the three Powerlifts; both mentally and physically. To Deadlift big you need to be strong from head to toe. In particular, the Deadlift will tax your Hamstrings, Glutes, Back and Grip to the max. As you progress with your Deadlift, you may find that a weakness in a particular muscle group is holding you back. For instance; you will never reach your pulling potential if your grip is weak. In this case, you may want to add grip training (such as Pinch Grip Holds) to your training program. Or, if your Hamstrings are weak; you may want to add Hamstring Curls or Glute Ham Raises to your program.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


With that said; this book is not about assistance work or training program design. There is something far more important than those things. It’s something that beginners should focus on for a long time and experienced athletes should always pay attention to: on every set and every rep. I am of course, talking about technique. Technique is first and foremost. Improving your technique can be the fastest way to make extremely quick progress. And of course, good technique is essential if you wish to stay injury-free and be in the iron game for a long time. There are a lot of guys in sports who produce good results for a short time and then fade away due to injuries. You do not want to be one of those guys. So pay attention to your technique and work on it. I still work on my technique, and I’ve pulled a grand. Who needs a big pull? It goes without saying that if you are a Powerlifter you need a big pull. As the old saying goes: “The meet doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor”. I have competed in many meets where after Squatting and Bench Pressing I was way off the lead. However, when the Deadlifts were done I took the cash and went home the Champion. If you compete in Strongman, a big Deadlift is a must because Deadlifting events always feature in competitions. Many of the other events that aren’t an actual Deadlift still rely on a strong Deadlift if you wish to excel at them.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


If you are an athlete who requires strength, speed and power, then the Deadlift is a great addition to your strength training. It’s easier to learn than the Olympic Lifts (The Clean and Jerk and Snatch) and also easier to learn than Squatting. And the Deadlift will help build a very strong posterior chain (Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back). Of course a strong posterior chain is essential for explosive power and speed. (Just take a look at the Hamstring development of some top Sprinters). Rugby Players, American Football Players, Boxers, Mixed Martial Artists, Wrestlers, the list goes on and on; and all will benefit from well-performed Deadlifts. This book focuses on the Conventional Deadlift and the Sumo Deadlift. However, if you wish to do other variations in your training (such as Rack Pulls or Romanian Deadlifts) you will find that if you master the techniques presented to you here; you will be easily able to perform any Deadlift variation with good form, if you just apply a little logical thought first. Deadlift History Deadlift records have not moved much in the past 10 years or so. I believe this is down to powerlifting equipment. In recent years powerlifting equipment has progressed massively. It is not uncommon for experienced lifters to gain 300 pounds from their Squat equipment and the same goes on their Bench. I myself get around 300 pounds out of my Bench shirt. However, most athletes are lucky to see a 25 pound carry over out of their Deadlift suit. (I’ve pulled 440kg Raw and 457.5kg Equipped: not much difference). ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


In spite of this, you can improve your pull if you master your technique, train sensibly and train hard! And there are some freaks that are bucking the trend and putting up some insane numbers right now. Benedikt Magnusson recently took out my own world record Deadlift, with a monster pull of 1015lbs. Benni; respect to you my friend… but I’m coming for you. The incredible Tom Martin (from the United Kingdom) has pulled 355kg in competition, as an 82.5kg Junior. This is amazing and puts him in the top 5 all-time in his weight category (irrespective of age class or federation). Throughout history there have been many great pullers, (certainly too many to list here). Lamar Grant springs to mind as a lightweight freak: pulling way over 600lbs at a tiny bodyweight. A little heavier, at 90kg, the great Vince Anello amazed crowds “back in the day” with pulls of over 800lbs at 198lbs bodyweight. One of my own training partners, Brian Reynolds, pulled 800lbs at 100kg bodyweight nearly 20 years ago. In the process he won the IPF Worlds as a junior. That pull is only just outside of the all-time top 20 in the 100kg class, yet nearly 2 decades have slipped by. This just shows how slow Deadlift records progress on a World level. Another great friend and training partner of mine, Dave Carter, continues to amaze. He is still pulling 330kg at 90kg bodyweight at nearly 50 years of age. (But then has won the British Championships over 10 times so it doesn’t really surprise me, but it probably does you and it should definitely inspire you).

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Of course, Dave still has his name on the all-time top 20 list. I forget the weight class, but he’s there. Everybody loves to see what the heavyweights can lift. That’s true in all strength sports (Powerlifting, Strongman and Weightlifting). Naturally, it is heavyweight athletes who are responsible for most of the pulls in the ‘900lbs Club’. This is a very exclusive club and only 13 men are subscribers. Ed Coan, (the best Powerlifter of all-time pound for pound), is the lightest man on the list. He pulled 900lbs at just 220lbs bodyweight. Ed pulled his 900lbs Sumo style, but pulled big throughout his career using both Sumo and Conventional. That’s pretty unusual though, because he is only one of a couple of men in the 900lbs club to get there with a Sumo pull. Most guys pulled conventional. Doyle Kenady was the man who created the 900lbs club. He will forever be a legend, as all great athletes who break significant milestones will be. Just look at Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-4 minute mile. Despite the 4 minute barrier having been broken many times since, I can’t name another guy who’s done it. But I sure as hell remember Roger Bannister! Chuck Fought is the youngest man to pull 900lbs, doing so in his early twenties. Another phenomenal achievement. In 2006 I created a club all of my own. The 1000lbs club. I pulled 1003lbs and then in 2009 I extended my World Record Deadlift with a pull of 1008lbs. Since then, Benni has pushed the record a little further; coming from a previous best of 978lbs to 1015lbs. ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Competition is good for all sports and this motivates me to train even harder. Without competition sports die. Just compare Boxing and the UFC. The former suffering from too many ‘Champions’ who all seem to duck each other and avoid the big fights that the public want to see. The latter is an amazing organisation where the best are made to compete against the best. They simply have no choice. Dana White won’t allow it. I have of course pulled 900lbs in competition more times than anybody else who has ever lived. At the time of writing I honestly can’t remember how many competition pulls of over 900lbs I have to my name. I do know that it’s nearly 40. And keep watching, because that number will grow.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 2: What To Wear When Training The Deadlift I was training the other day and saw a guy (who clearly wasn’t a competitive athlete), Deadlift 220kg and then just miss 230kg. This is no world class strength feat, but I was mildly impressed because he wasn’t a big guy and unfortunately you don’t see many guys training hard these days. A week later I see the same guy again and figure I’d help him out a little. I noticed that when he missed 230kg he was wearing some trainers with those fancy air-bubbles in the heel. I also noticed that as he pulled, the shoes were compressing by about an inch and robbing him of a ton of stability. This was clearly a strength leakage and a major loss of power; not to mention an injury risk. I suggested that he remove the shoes and Deadlift in his socks the next time he pulls and I also told him that 230kg would fly for him (which I genuinely believed it would if he had a stable base to pull from). His reply surprised me and was ridiculous to say the least: “Thanks for the advice mate; but I can’t be bothered with the hassle of taking my shoes off” At this point I was much less impressed by this guy than I first thought and left him to bathe in his mediocrity. Why go to the effort of loading the bar to a personal best weight, train pretty dam hard to give your-self a legitimate shot at pulling it and then miss it due to something as simple as lousy footwear? It’s not as if the solution cost anything! The guy was just a lazy S.O.B. ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Don’t be like this guy. The morale of the story is to pay attention to what you wear when Deadlifting because it could be the difference between a personal best and failure. Also, be sure to hold yourself to a high standard. Not just in the gym, but in all areas of your life. To say you can’t be bothered to do something so quick and easy is just absurd. The most important thing to consider when you train the Deadlift is footwear. I train my Deadlift on a Wednesday after Squats. For the Squat I wear dedicated Squat shoes from Inzer. However, when Deadlifting, I want to be as close to the floor as possible (in order to reduce the range of motion). A shorter range of motion will almost instantly improve your weight on the bar. You may see bodybuilders wearing big Timberland Boots in your favourite muscle magazines. But please, leave this for their photoshoots and wear what will improve your pull; not what looks the best at a nightclub. For this reason, I wear Deadlift slippers to Deadlift. Cheap, effective and as close to Deadlifting barefoot as I’m allowed to do in competition. Deadlift slippers have a sole about 3mm thick and when you have them on you don’t really feel like you are wearing anything on your feet. This not only reduces your range of motion; but also improves your proprioception.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Put simply, all those small muscles in your foot will be better able to help you balance if you are as close to barefoot as possible when training the Deadlift. Big, thick soles ruin your proprioception, make your feet weak and hurt your strength. Incidentally, if you are not a Powerlifter and don’t have to worry about competition rules relating to footwear; I highly recommend just Deadlifting barefoot. It’s healthy for your feet and your pull. If you don’t like the idea of Deadlifting barefoot (or if you gym doesn’t allow it) then Chuck Taylor Converse trainers are a good bet, as is any other trainer that is flat soled and stable. Vibram Five Fingers (those funky trainers with a hole for each toe) would also be great Deadlifting shoes but I can’t see the point as they cost so much money compared to Slippers or Converse. You want to avoid a heel (because it throws you forwards and off line) and unstable shoes at all costs. Unstable shoes and/or shoes with a heel will rob you of pounds on the Deadlift bar and could promote injury. After footwear, what you wear on your lower body is next most important when Deadlifting. Long socks (up to the knee) are a must. They help the bar slide up the shin and stop you getting blood all over the bar. Above the knee, shorts are better than tracksuit bottoms for two reasons. Firstly, if you wear shorts you can accurately position your

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


feet during your set up without a bunch of material obstructing your view. Secondly, if you wear tracksuit bottoms there is always the risk that the bulky material will catch on your thumb or the bar and either weaken your grip or cause the bar to snag during a rep. Both are highly annoying when you are training the Deadlift. Wear what you like on your upper half. It doesn’t matter when pulling Deadlifts. A t-shirt or a top with sleeves will be fine. Just make sure you are comfortable. You can wear a weightlifting belt for Deadlifting. For Powerlifters, you will probably find that the belt adds pounds to the bar. Everyone will find that the belt adds a feeling of tightness to their trunk. Use the belt on your sets from about 40 to 50% of your max upwards. Invest in a decent belt, from a Powerlifting company (I have always used Inzer, but you have other choices too). Many of the bodybuilding belts are a joke and offer no real support because they are too thin. Also, do not be the chump who wears their belt for the entire workout; as this will weaken your trunk. Add the belt for heavy sets and take it off in between. To re-cap: Here’s what to wear when Deadlifting: -

T-shirt or Jumper Shorts (or singlet) Long socks (up to the knee) Deadlift Slippers (or Converse) Wear your belt from 40% of your max and up ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


- Bonus Tip: I shouldn’t have to say this but I’m going to. Don’t wear gloves when Deadlifting. In effect they make your hands fatter and your grip weaker. Man up and let your hands get used to holding the bar. Sure, you’ll develop a few callouses; but if that puts you off maybe you aren’t cut out for Deadlifting anyway. Also, whilst not exactly something you wear (but still on the topic of what not to do)… ditch the mirror. Training in front of a mirror will ruin your technique and if you are a competitive lifter it will be quite a shock to you when you turn up at the meet and there is no mirror!

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 3: Conventional Or Sumo? The issue of whether to pull with a conventional stance or a sumo stance is a huge debate. Before getting into that, let’s just define what each style looks like. The Conventional Deadlift The Conventional Deadlift uses a stance that is usually around hip width and the hands grip the bar outside of the legs. The Sumo Deadlift The Sumo Deadlift utilises a very different approach. The feet are placed in a much wider stance and the hands grip the bar inside of the feet. This is much like the posture a Sumo wrestler adopts at the start of their fights, hence the name.

What is stated above is absolutely true. However, this does not mean that there are only two styles of Deadlift. Take 1000 athletes and they’ll all pull slightly differently. They’ll all have their own style. This is down to two reasons. Firstly, different body proportions (arm and leg length, torso length etc). The great Lamar Grant’s hands were only just above his knees when he had a Deadlift locked out. Less genetically gifted Deadlifters may find their hands nearer their crotch at lockout. Those with ‘Alligator’ arms will know all about this. But then those dudes are built to Bench (so you can’t have it all handed to you on a plate). Do you think these factors will affect how different athlete’s Deadlifts look? You bet they will.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


The second reason why every athlete will develop a different Deadlift style is due to which muscle groups they are stronger in. If one athlete has a very strong back but comparatively weak Legs and Glutes, his Deadlift will be very back dominant. The converse is likely to be true for an athlete with strong hips and legs and a weaker back. So every athlete must find their style, but there are definitely some dos and don’ts (which we’ll get onto in the next chapters). Right now, let’s concentrate on how you should decide whether to pull Conventional or Sumo. The competitive Powerlifter should pull in his or her strongest stance. Makes sense, right? You want the biggest total at the competition and part of that total is the Deadlift. So pull using your strongest stance. For athletes in sports where they are competing to improve their strength and power in order to sprint faster, jump higher and throw further; I favour the Conventional Deadlift over the Sumo Deadlift (provided their form is good). This is because the Sumo stance is not very closely related to a sprinting stance, throwing stance or any other common stance in most sports. For this reason, the Conventional Deadlift will develop strength that carries over better to sports. However, on this same topic, we should remember that staying injury-free is of primary importance for the athlete. Testing his or her Deadlift strength is of secondary importance to displaying their best on the field, court, pitch or in the ring. Therefore, the athlete should use the Deadlift variety that they can perform with great technique and if they can perform the ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Conventional Deadlift like this, then it should be favoured over the Sumo the majority of the time. We should also remember that athletes should use their sports practise to improve their sports movements and the weight room to get strong. So with that in mind, don’t totally disregard the Sumo because it still works the hell out of the Posterior Chain and this will lead to faster sprinting, higher jumps, more powerful kicks and bigger throws. I have pulled Conventional throughout my career. It suits me because I have a freakishly strong back. However, I know other lifters whose Glutes and Hamstrings are comparatively stronger than their Back and the Sumo can favour them better. Other athletes like to mix things up a lot in their training and use both styles. This has merit because the style they are weaker on will train the weak muscle groups. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. What’s the worst that can happen? You just go back to what you did before. If you have a very strong Back and you Deadlift Conventional then it makes sense that your Back will get very strong, perhaps at the expense of Glute and Hamstring strength. In the long run this could lead to injury and a failure to reach your potential. If you switched to Sumo pulls for a while (or maybe alternated on a weekly basis) the Sumo will force the Hamstrings and Glutes to work harder and go some way toward making you more balanced. One major benefit of the Sumo Deadlift over the Conventional Deadlift is the reduced range of motion. And this can be significant.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


We’re talking inches here. Play around with this in the gym and see for yourself. On the flip side, a major drawback of the Sumo is the hip flexibility that is required to achieve a good set up position. A lot of Powerlifters and athletes are simply too stiff in their hips to Sumo Deadlift with good form. However, this could be easily remedied with some foam rolling and mobility drills before each training session and some static stretching or band stretching afterwards. Another point for consideration in the Conventional vs. Sumo debate is the fact that the Sumo is a more technical lift. Don’t get me wrong; both styles require dedicated work to develop good form and constant conscious thought to maintain and improve on form. But the Sumo is the more technical lift. If you wind up with your feet half an inch off the optimal position at set-up, the bar may not leave the floor with the Sumo style. This is not normally the case with Conventional Deadlifts. There is more margin for error. As previously mentioned; there are many different styles of Conventional and Sumo Deadlifts. Let’s explore a few of the successful ones here: Textbook Conventional Deadlift: This is how I pull. The feet are hip width apart and the toes are pointed straight ahead, the lower back is arched and the shoulders relaxed throughout.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Extreme Upper Back Rounded Style: This is how Konstantin Konstantinovs (KK) pulls. KK obviously has a monstrously strong back otherwise this style wouldn’t work. He sets up with his upper back rounded as much as possible, with the lower back arched. This style lends itself to those with a very very strong upper back. I wouldn’t recommend this style unless you are a competitive lifter, due to the increased injury risk to the back. The Duck Stance: Vince Anello pulled this way and it’s similar to the way KK pulls. The upper back is rounded and the heels are nearly touching at set up, with the toes pointed way out (around 45 degrees). Again, only recommended if you are a competitive lifter and have monstrous upper back strength. Textbook Sumo Deadlift: The feet are underneath the power ring on the bar, with the toes turned out. The lower back remains arched throughout and the shoulders stay relaxed. Watch Dan Austin or Jarmo Virtanen for examples of this style (Just search for them on YouTube). Crab Stance: I may have just made that name up? But, it does suit the way this style looks.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


The feet are much closer together than during a regular Sumo Deadlift. In fact, they are only just outside the hands, with the toes turned out around 25 to 45 degrees. Ultra-Wide Sumo’s: To perform ultra-wide Sumo Deadlifts you need very good hip flexibility. The stance is very wide, with the toes nearly touching the plates and the feet turned way out. This style places a ton of work of the Glutes and Hamstrings and a little less stress on the lower back. So it’s a great way to bring up those areas. Just be careful not to drop the bar on your toes when you set it back down.

Let’s now move onto looking at how to set-up for the conventional pull.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 4: The Conventional Set-Up Before we get into the set-up for the Conventional Pull, let me just clarify that I will be describing what I consider to be optimal technique for this style of Deadlift (both from a Maximal Strength perspective and an injury-risk perspective). Foot Position The feet should be placed around hip width apart. That means that if you were to draw a line from your armpit straight down to the floor; that line would fall just on the outside of your foot. Another good way to find your optimal stance is to do a vertical jump. Look at where you place your feet before jumping and this width of stance is usually a pretty decent one for the Conventional Deadlift. If your stance is too narrow you will have less stability and this will knock pounds off your Deadlift. If your stance is too wide, it will force you to grip the bar wider than necessary and this will weaken your grip and again, pounds will be lost from the bar. So feet hip width apart. Your toes should either point straight ahead or be turned out up to 15 degrees. The bar should be within 2 inches of your shins. I have the bar very nearly touching the shins at the start of my Deadlift and I believe this to be the optimum position. For reference, this places the bar pretty much right over the middle of my foot (as viewed from the side). ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


If you have the bar any further than 2 inches away from your shins then you will more than likely encounter some problems. As soon as the bar leaves the floor it will pull you forwards, put extra pressure on your lower back and cause you to miss maximal weights. So play around with this to find your ‘sweet-spot’ but keep that bar close. Foot position re-cap - Assume a hip width stance - Toes point straight ahead or pointed slightly out - Shins are within 2 inches of the bar How To Grip The Bar During the set-up of your Deadlift allow your arms to relax and hang straight down from your shoulders. Then grip the bar. If you have set your feet correctly this will put your hands just outside your shins and your arms will be close to your body. This is the simplest way to grip the bar and the safest. A wider grip (one where the hands are further away from the body and closer to the collars of the bar) makes no sense at all. Let me repeat that: A wider grip (one where the hands are further away from the body and closer to the collars of the bar) makes no sense at all. Yet I see Powerlifters and athletes make this mistake over and over again. A wider than necessary grip is bad for two reasons: - It makes your grip weaker ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


- It increases the risk of injury to the Biceps; especially your supinated hand (the one that’s turned under) I know of one lifter who snapped both Biceps whilst Deadlifting. And sure enough, he Deadlifted with a wide grip. Don’t make this mistake. This leads us nicely into the issue of whether to use the hook grip, under-over grip or double overhand grip. I’ll start by saying this. I have never got on with the hook grip. Tried it and hated it. If you can use it respect to you. The hook grip is a double overhand grip with the thumbs under the index fingers. It’s used in weightlifting but you don’t see many Powerlifters or other athletes use it. I have big hands, but I’ve only every seen lifters with unbelievably big hands make it work on the Deadlift. So probably avoid the hook grip unless you are a Powerlifter with huge hands. I’ve also heard that excessive use of the hook grip can cause nerve damage in the index fingers. I’m not sure how true that is, but it’s worth bearing in mind. And it makes a ton of sense, especially if you try the hook grip for yourself and feel how much pressure there is on those index fingers. It’s pretty intense. The advantage of the hook grip is that it keeps the shoulders square. This is a benefit because it should avoid any issues relating to uneven development (symmetry) due to using an over-under grip. The over-under grip involves having one hand supinated and one hand pronated during your Deadlifts. This is the best solution for most athletes and Powerlifters and will let you lift the most weight.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


If you are concerned about un-even development from Deadlifting like this then you could try switching your grip on each set. On your first set you’d go right hand under and left hand over, on the next set you’d go right hand over and left hand under and so on. Another option is a double overhand grip without using the hook grip. It’s a fine variation for beginners but you will find you can’t lift much weight this way unless you have freaky big hands and a monstrous grip (like powerlifting great Brad Gillingham). For other Powerlifters and athletes a double overhand grip is for warming up only. Lastly, on the subject of grip; let’s talk about straps. Lifting straps help you lift more weight by wrapping around the bar and taking the grip issue out of the lift. I’m not a big fan of this method for Powerlifters because an overreliance on straps will lead to weak hands. I’ve seen lifters do 800 pounds in the gym and struggle with 700lbs at the meet. The only difference was straps! If they’d just worked on their grip they’d have put a 100 pounds on their total. Start to ask yourself empowering questions: “How can I get my grip strong enough to hold 800 pounds?” Not… “How can I stroke my ego in the gym and pull a weight that I have no chance of pulling at the meet?” When you ask the right questions, you find the right answers.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


For athletes, straps are a little better because athletes don’t have to pull max Deadlifts in competition. However, for many sports a strong grip is essential, so again; I don’t really favour the use of straps. A simple tip to strengthen your grip is to use chalk. Climbing chalk can be found at outdoor stores and works wonders. Save it for hot days when your hands are sweaty and/or your heaviest sets. Nothing is sillier than seeing a 600 pound Deadlifter chalk up for his 135lbs warm up sets. It just makes an unnecessary mess and is a waste of time and money. Lower Back Position At the start of your Deadlift your lower back must be set in an arched position. If you are unsure how this feels try the following drill: Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart and look straight ahead. Now push your Glutes slightly to the rear and bend your knees slightly. Finally, pull your tailbones up towards the sky. This is how the lower back arch feels and it’s this position that you should try to set at the start of the Deadlift and maintain throughout. The opposite of an arched position is a rounded lower back and this is a lousy position as injury risk is high. You must flex your abs hard in order to keep the lower back arched. The abs must also be strong, so do some heavy Ab work. Side-bends, Planks, Side Planks, Pull Down Abs, Full Contact Twists and Pallof Press Variations are all great trunk exercises that will give you the

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


strength needed to hold the lower back arch when you are Deadlifting. Shoulders and Upper Back The shoulders and upper back should be relaxed when performing the Conventional Deadlift. This is to reduce the range of motion. Imagine the position you set when Bench Pressing. Shoulders back and down, upper back tight. This is the opposite of what you need when Deadlifting. That Bench Press position could add 6 to 12” to your range of motion on the Deadlift! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pull the bar any further than I have to. Do you? So learn to arch the lower back and relax the shoulders and upper back. It’ll take some dedicated practise but it’s worth it. Head Position I use and believe in a neutral head position on the Deadlift. Stand up straight and look straight ahead. Your head is in a neutral position. When you Deadlift, your torso will have a forward lean in the start position. Therefore, with a neutral head position you will end up looking at the floor, around 6 to 10 feet in front of the bar at the start of the Deadlift. Do not look down at the bar. This will more than likely cause you to miss heavy weights forwards. And do not look up at the sky, as this will cause you to have poor balance.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


The only other option, other than keeping the head neutral; is to look straight ahead. Conventional Set-up Checklist: - Hip width stance, toes straight ahead (or turned out up to 15 degrees) - Arms hang straight down from your shoulders and grip the bar very close to the shins - Use an over-under grip - Arch your lower back and brace the abs hard - Relax your upper back and shoulders, to reduce range of motion - Head position neutral or straight ahead - Wear a belt on your heaviest sets

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 5: The Conventional Deadlift You now know how to set-up for the Conventional Deadlift. Once you are set-up, there are a couple of things to do before the bar leaves the ground. Firstly, flex your triceps to keep your arms locked straight. Remember, any bending of the arms during your Deadlift greatly increases the risk of a Bicep tear. Secondly, take a deep breath of air into your belly and push your abs out and into your belt. If you are not wearing a belt, brace the abs hard (Imagine what you would do if somebody was going to punch you in the stomach and you will soon get the idea). The third thing you must do is perform a “Lat-lock”. This simply means that you must flex your Lats as hard as possible. When you do this in combination with bracing your Abs you create tremendous stiffness in your torso. This stiffness give you the best chance of keeping the lower back arched throughout your Deadlifts and simultaneously creates more strength (through the Law of Irradiation) and minimises injury risk. The fourth thing you must do before the bar leaves the floor is gradually apply some tension to it. Let me explain this concept as it’s one that people struggle with. In the Squat or the Bench Press you start the lift with an eccentric (lowering) phase and then you complete the lift with a concentric phase. Due to these lifts starting with an eccentric phase, there is a stretch reflex. The stretch reflex helps you lift more weight. Try performing a Bench Press with a 5 second pause on the chest and you will totally ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


eliminate the stretch reflex. In the process you will also reduce the amount of weight you can lift. The Deadlift (by definition) starts from the floor, with no eccentric phase and no stretch reflex. If you do not gradually apply tension to the bar you will be weaker and you will put un-due strain on the biceps. By not gradually applying tension to the bar before it leaves the floor you ‘yank’ at it. This looks jerky and is usually accompanied by a bending of the arms and a rounding of the lower back. In effect, this method is like an on off switch. You are over the bar, set-up but with no tension; and then in an instant, you apply maximal tension and drive the bar off the floor. This is bad. It’s a weak way to lift and a dangerous one. Here’s the correct way to do it. Once you are set-up, gradually (over the course of a second or two), apply tension to the bar. For reference, if I’m pulling 950 pounds, I may take a couple of seconds to gradually wind the tension up to that level and get the bar moving. It does not happen instantly. I appreciate that this is a hard concept to grasp (and believe me, it’s not that easy to get down on paper). If you want a visual reference, go on YouTube (do a search for Andy Bolton) and check out my Deadlift videos. I grip the bar and drive my shins forwards 3 times before the bar leaves the floor. Each time I do this I am ramping up the tension.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


I don’t just grip it and go. So build the tension gradually (over 1 to 2 seconds) and you will pull more weight and have less chance of injury. As the bar leaves the floor, pull backwards. This means keeping your weight spread from your mid-foot to heel and keeping the bar very close to your shins. In fact, all great Deadlifters have scars on their shins. This is because they literally drag the bar up their shins. You must do the same if you want a big pull. If you allow the weight to pull you forwards and your bodyweight ends up on your toes then you are doomed to failure as you get near your max. Allowing your bodyweight to drift forwards will also place way more stress on your lower back and hamstrings than is optimal. So keep your weight on your mid-foot and heels and keep the bar close to your body. As the bar gets to knee height, you must start to drive the Glutes forwards and keep ‘pulling back’. This driving of the Glutes will allow you to lock out big weights. If your Glutes are weak and /or you don’t know how to squeeze them, try this drill. The Glute Bridge is simple and effective and can be performed as part of your warm-up for 1 or 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps. - Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent - Place the palms of your hands on your Quads - Squeeze your Glutes and lift your hips as high off the floor as you can (keeping a neutral position in your lower back) - Hold for a second at the top ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


- Lower your Glutes back down to the floor (focusing on squeezing the Glutes throughout) - Repeat for reps Once you get good at the Glute Bridge you can progress to the Single leg version and then the weighted version, with a barbell across the lowest part of your belly. If you have ever seen a guy miss a Deadlift a couple of inches from lockout then it is often because he just didn’t know how to, or wasn’t strong enough to; push his Glutes forwards. So awaken your Glutes, become aware of how to squeeze and get them strong. Your Deadlift will thank you. As well as driving the Glutes forwards, think about pulling your shoulders and upper back behind the bar as you get the bar past your knees. This is very powerful once you get it right. To re-cap: - keep your bodyweight on the mid to rear of your feet and drag the bar up the shins - At knee height forcefully drive the Glutes forwards and try to simultaneously get your shoulders and upper back behind the bar The finish position of the Deadlift involves being stood up straight with your arms locked out, chest out and shoulders back. There is no need to overarch and it is dangerous for the lower back. I see lifters do this all the time and it makes me cringe. Just stand up straight with the bar at lockout and keep the abs tight throughout.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


To lower the bar to the floor keep it close to your body, push your Glutes to the rear and when it gets back down to knee height let it drop. There’s no need to slowly lower the bar all the way down to the floor on Deadlifts. Make sure that before you pull your next rep you assume the same set-up position as you did on your previous rep. There is a bad tendency for the bar to drift a little further forward on every rep. On rep 1 you set-up correctly, shins nearly touching the bar. By rep 3 the bar is 4 inches from the shins. This is a disaster on a number of levels. For starters, these reps that are not performed with your “first rep” set-up will not carry over as well to your max because in effect they are not the same lift. Secondly, the further the bar gets from your shins, the more stress you put on your lower back. When you pick up a box off the floor do you stand close to it or a long way away? The Deadlift is no different… keep the bar close at all times and on every rep. This issue of the bar getting further and further away from your shins on every rep is particularly common on speed work. I think this is because a lot of lifters think that speed work has to be rushed. In reality, you must lift the bar up as explosively as possible and then make sure you set-up correctly before pulling the next rep. The law of Compensatory Acceleration is only applied to the concentric phase of the lift and not the eccentric phase of the Deadlift. Compensatory Acceleration means that you always aim to lift the bar as quickly as possible. This must be applied to speed weights and max weights alike. Obviously, speed weights (around 50 to 65%) will ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


move very quickly and max weights won’t. But it’s the intent that counts. And the intent must be there with max weights. Nobody ever lifted a max intentionally slowly. It’s impossible. Leave the slow lifting to bodybuilders; yes, it can make you big. But, it won’t do anything for your athleticism, speed or limit strength. When lifting and applying compensatory acceleration, wait until you have around 35 to 40% of your max on the bar. With weights lighter than this you risk injury by hyper-extending your joints at lockout if you move the bar too quickly. A simple way to make sure that you start each pull from the correct set-up position is to stand up and re-set yourself in between reps. I don’t like this method myself, but it works. I have worked hard on this so I can simply lower the bar quickly, pause and go again; safe in the knowledge that the bar is in the same starting position on every rep. Beginners (or less natural Deadlifters) may want to stand up and totally re-set themselves between reps. This leads nicely into the platform you are using to Deadlift on. Try your very best to find a totally flat platform. If you don’t, not only are you placing stress un-evenly on your body (and increasing injury risk), you will also find it near impossible to get the bar level on anything other than single rep sets. So pay attention to the surface that you are pulling your Deadlifts on.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 6: The Sumo Set-Up Finding a good Sumo Set-up will take some tweaking and considerable patience. A lot will depend on your limb and torso length and your hip mobility. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find a sweet spot. Foot Position Use the power ring on the bar as your guide for Sumo stance width. When first experimenting with the Sumo style try setting up so that the power ring is directly above your mid foot. (You may end-up finding a much wider stance suits you, or a closer one; but this is a good starting point). The bar wants to be very close to your shins and definitely not more than 2 inches away from the shins. The feet must be turned out. If you try to Sumo Deadlift with your toes pointed straight ahead you will not be able to achieve a good set-up position. How much you turn your toes out is up to you. 30 to 45 degrees is a good starting point and you’ll need to experiment from there. If you turn your toes out too much you will have poor balance. If you don’t turn them out enough, you’ll compromise your start position. In general, the wider your stance, the more you can turn the toes out. (Just remember the balance issue). Where to Position Your Weight With the Sumo Deadlift your weight must be on the mid foot and heels, and also on the outside on your foot. By forcing your weight on the outside of your foot you simultaneously force the knees out ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


and this creates a space for your hips to sit into, (much like a multiply Squat). How To Grip The Bar With the Sumo Deadlift the hands are placed inside the legs. Once your feet are set, let your arms relax and hang straight down from your shoulders. Then grip the bar with a mixed grip (one hand over and one hand under). If you grip the bar narrower than this then you risk suffering the helicopter effect when you lift the bar. If you grip the bar too wide you will weaken your grip and expose the biceps to a higher chance of injury. A word of caution: if you are a smaller Powerlifter or athlete you may find that when your arms relax and hang straight down from your shoulders, you are gripping part of the smooth part of the bar. This is not optimal for grip strength and you may want to move your hands out just enough so that they are on the knurling. Lower Back The lower back must be in an arched position, just as with the conventional Deadlift. Review Chapter 4 for more information on this. Shoulders and Upper Back Again, as with the conventional Deadlift, you want to relax the upper back and shoulders on the Sumo Deadlift in order to shorten your range of motion.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


With the Sumo Deadlift you cannot use an exaggerated rounding of the upper back (KK style). You will simply not lock heavy weights out like this. If you find yourself naturally gravitating towards an extreme rounding of the upper back when Deadlifting, then you probably should stick with the Conventional Deadlift. It will not work on the Sumo. Head Position On the Sumo Deadlift keep the head neutral or look straight ahead. The usual pitfalls of poor head position apply to the Sumo, as they do to the Conventional pull. If you look straight up at the sky, you will have poor balance. If you look down at the bar, you will have a tendency to get pulled forwards, your weight will drift onto your toes and you will miss heavier weights. Sumo Set-up Re-cap: - Take a wide stance and turn the toes out - Keep the weight on your mid-foot, heels and favour the outside of your feet - The bar should be very close to your shins - Arch your lower back - Relax the upper back and shoulders (but avoid excessive rounding) - Keep the head neutral or look straight ahead

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 7: The Sumo Deadlift You are set-up and ready to pull. Before the bar leaves the floor you must take a deep breath into your belly and push out against your lifting belt (or just brace the abs hard if you are not using one). Force your knees out and keep the weight on the outer edge of your shoes. Also, be sure that your hips are only set as low as they need to be in order for your lower back to be arched and your Scapular directly over the bar. If you sink the hips lower than necessary you are trying to turn the movement into a Squat and this will result in the hips shooting up and the bar not moving (at least until you are in a better start position). Let me explain. If your hips are too low in your start position of the Deadlift, your shoulders will be too far behind the bar and you will be in a less than optimal Deadlifting position. Your brain will subconsciously realise this and before the bar leaves the floor you will let your hips rise and the shoulders move forwards, in order to find a closer to optimal start position. This effect will be magnified the closer you get to your max and will result in a loss of power. So it pays to get the start position right before you initiate the pull. Only drop the hips enough in order to get an arched lower back.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


As you drive the bar off the floor, be sure to keep it close to the shins (which should be vertical or nearly vertical at the start of the pull). At knee height, push those Glutes forwards and try to get the shoulders and upper back behind the bar. Stand tall at lockout with the shoulder backs and abs still tight. Lower the bar by pushing the Glutes back and dropping it from around knee height. Do not perform slow eccentrics on Deadlifts; it is a waste of time. The same rule regarding start position for multiple rep sets applies to the Sumo as it does to the Conventional Deadlift. Make sure that you start reps 2, 3, 4 etc in the same position as your first rep. If need be, stand up and re-set between reps. You will find that the need for a perfectly level platform is even greater for the Sumo Deadlift than it is with the Conventional Pull. The wide stance makes getting your set up right near impossible unless you can get the bar to sit square before you address it. So pay attention to the surface you train on. If you switch to Sumo Deadlifting you may soon realise how un-even many gym floors are. It’s a pain in the ass but you’ll have to find a solution.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 8: Trouble-Shooting Problems and Solutions for the Conventional Deadlift: Problem: My Lower Back Hurts Go see a Doctor or Chiropractor. Seriously, don’t risk a serious injury to your lower back as this could put you out of training for a long time or worse; permanently. However, I will say this. If you rely heavily on your back for your Conventional Pull, switching to Sumo Pulling for a while and bringing up your Hamstring and Glute Strength could solve your problem. Pain is your indicator to STOP. Don’t ignore it. There is a big difference between the pain of tired muscles (usually a dull ache) and the pain that accompanies injury to the lower back (usually sharp and shooting). If switching to Sumo cures your problem (ie the pain goes away) then great. If not, take professional advice from someone qualified to deal with the lower back. At the very least, read some of Stuart McGill’s stuff if you have lower back issues, or just wish to understand the anatomy of the area better than you do now. Exercises to bring up weak Glutes: -

Glute Bridge Single Leg Glute Bridge Barbell Glute Bridge Reverse Hypers Bulgarian Split Squat

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Exercises to bring up weak Hamstrings: -

Leg Curls Band Leg Curls Glute Ham Raises Reverse Hypers with a long strap

Now this is counter-intuitive; but it pays to remember that if your lower back hurts it often doesn’t mean that it’s weak. It often means it’s strong and over-used. (ie you have over-relied on it). That’s why the switch to Sumo and the emphasis on bringing up your Glutes and Hamstrings may help if you have lower back pain. Problem: Weak Off The Floor Pulling from a deficit can help with this problem. Simply stand on 1, 2 or 3” mats and pull your Deadlifts through an extended range of motion for a few weeks. This builds tremendous starting strength and helps develop a strong grip. I don’t recommend pulling from excessive deficits like 4” to 6”. This is because most athletes have enough problems trying to pull with good form from the floor or a 2” deficit. Above 3” and most athletes form goes down the toilet. The risk/benefit ratio is no longer stacked in the athletes favour. So choose your deficit height carefully. Another option is to try Box Squatting. If you are weak off the floor on your Deadlift then you need more starting strength. A correctly performed Box Squat (with a pause on the box) trains you the same way as the Deadlift. It builds static, overcome by dynamic Strength. A third thing you could do if you are weak off the floor is to look at your training program. Could it be that you are doing too many rack ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


pulls and other partial movements and not actually pulling enough from the floor? If so, start pulling more from the floor. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Finally, too much accommodating resistance (bands and chains) can build the lockout at the expense of your strength off the floor. Remember, you have to break the weight off the floor in order to have a chance of locking it out. So find some balance in your training if you use Bands and Chains. Problem: Weak At Lockout If you are weak at lockout, partial Deadlifts are a great way to work on this problem. Don’t stroke your ego and pull from way above the knee, using a weight you will never pull from the floor. This will just fry your CNS and burn you out. Partial Deadlifts work great from just below the knee. Pull from a Power Rack, Mats or Blocks. (Just be sure to use an old bar if you are pulling from pins in a rack, as you will bend the bar at some point. Better to do this with a $150 bar than a $600 bar). Also, be sure that your form during the partials is the same as if you’d pulled the weight from the floor. Don’t just pull wildly in order to get the weight up. For the partial work to carry over to your full range Deadlift you must match Deadlift postures at all times on both partial training exercises (like Rack pulls) and the regular Deadlifting from the floor. Bands and Chains can also help build lockout strength by overloading the top part of the movement (although I have never used this personally in my training, but I know plenty of lifters who have). ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Problems and Solutions for the Sumo Deadlift: Problem: My Hips Feel Beat Up This is a common complaint from Sumo Deadlifters. If you experience hip pain from Sumo Deadlifting and it’s there the first time you try it, then hip mobility drills will probably help you out because you are lacking the required mobility to perform the exercise well. Don’t use the Sumo Deadlift until you have gained enough mobility in the hips to do so pain free. There is nothing clever about training through easily avoidable pain. However, if the hip pain has come on after you have been performing the Sumo Deadlift for weeks or months on end, the solution may be different. Switching to Conventional Deadlifts for a while could help out. Also, bringing your stance in a little might be just what you need. If you Sumo wider than feels comfortable you may well bring on this kind of hip pain. A good rule of thumb is to use a width of stance where in your start position you can still force your knees out and over your heels. If you film your Sumo and your stance is so wide that your knees are inside your feet, your stance is too wide. Problem: Weak Off The Floor If you are weak off the floor, deficit pulls can be a big help. Try standing on 1, 2 or 3” mats and pull from there. Do this for a few weeks and then switch back to a regular range of motion.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


You should find that you have gained some starting strength off the floor and your grip will feel stronger too. A second exercise that can really help the start of the Sumo Deadlift is wide stance box squats. The stance should be a similar width to your Sumo Deadlift. If you are doing these Box Squats raw, then just be careful you don’t beat up your hips by going too wide. A loose pair of briefs can be used to offer some support and protection to the hips (this applies even if you are a Raw lifter). Problem: Weak At Lockout Partial Deadlifts will help the Sumo Lockout. Partials are best performed with a conventional stance; even if you pull sumo. Pull from the pins in a power rack, mats or from blocks. Just keep it real and pull from below knee height. (Pulling above the knee becomes an ego stroke and a great way to burn you out). The Deadlift lockout can also be improved with a lot of upper back and lat work. Here are a few exercises you should try: -

One Arm DB Rows Seated Hammer Rows Low Pulley Rows (all grips) Pulldowns (all grips) Pull ups/Chins Shrugs (use DB’s or a BB)

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


The Kettlebell Swing I’ve included the Kettlebell Swing at the end of the Troubleshooting section because it’s a great move to help improve your Deadlift, regardless of whether you pull Conventional or Sumo. And if you’re a beginner it’s also a great introduction to Deadlifting. The Swing, (if performed correctly), will teach you to arch your lower back, keep the trunk tight and be extremely explosive with your Glutes and Hamstrings. Here’s how it works: Pick up a Kettlebell (KB) off the floor and hold it at arms-length. Assume a fairly wide stance (outside shoulder width) and let the KB hang between your legs. Turn your toes out 25 to 45 degrees. To initiate the Swing, take a deep breath of air into your belly and keep your abs flexed hard throughout. Now lean over, keep your lower back arched and let the KB swing between your legs. Only allow the legs to bend slightly. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings reverse the movement by violently snapping the hips forwards. How high you swing the KB is a product of how hard you snap your hips through and the weight of KB you choose to use. Your arms are passive in the Swing and if you feel it in your shoulders then you are using too much Delts and not enough hips. Do not turn your swing into a shoulder raise! This movement takes some practice, but it is well worth it. You should feel it in your hamstrings and Glutes. If you feel it in the Lower Back you are not doing it right. ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Start with a 16kg KB or 24kg KB and work up. Get your form down first though. Various set and rep ranges can work well on this movement (so experiment and find what works for you). 2 things to remember about the Swing: - It’s an assistance movement; so don’t use it instead of your regular Deadlift work - It’s not a Squat pattern! Those fitness babes are late night infomercials are not doing it right. The Swing is a Deadlift pattern. Remember: sit way back, shins stay vertical, knees only bend slightly and it’s all in the hips. For more information on Kettlebells visit www.dragondoor.com

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 9: Competition And The Deadlift Suit It’s hard to believe how many competitive Powerlifters miss a Deadlift because they don’t know the rules of the federation they are competing in. The information in this chapter will hopefully stop you from ever missing a lift due to not knowing the rules. However, I would still advise you to check your federation’s rules on their website for clarification. With that said, the following is true at meets, most of the time: - Wear long socks or you won’t be allowed to Deadlift - There is no start command on the Deadlift - Once you have locked out your pull you must wait until the head judge lowers his hand and says “down”, before you lower the weight - You must have your hands on the bar until you have it back on the floor (if you let go of the bar when setting it back down you fail the lift; regardless of how easily you pulled it) It’s always a shame to see a lifter smoke a lift or grind out a great personal best at a meet and then not get credit for the lift because they drop the weight or don’t wait for the judges “down” command. The bottom line is this: you must know the rules and eliminate silly mistakes.

The Deadlift suit is an interesting thing. It doesn’t give anywhere near the support and help that Squat equipment and Bench Press equipment gives. However, at the meet every pound counts and there are some things you should know about your suit. ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


I will only talk about the Conventional Pull here as I don’t have much experience of the equipped Sumo Pull. I have my suit cut in the following way: - Tight in the hips (but not so tight that I can’t get down to the bar) - High at the front - Low at the back - Straps not too tight The secret to this set up is that I feel it pulls me back when pulling and helps at lockout. And it took some years to figure this out. A lot of Deadlift suits are cut at the same height at the front and the back. These suits give good pop off the floor put can pull you forwards at lockout (especially if the straps are too tight). So I had Inzer make me this new style of suit where the front is much higher (the straps don’t start until around chest height). And it’s cut lower in the back, so it only just covers my lower back. This still gives a good pop off the floor but instead of hurting my lockout, it helps it by pulling me back.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 10: Andy’s Deadlift Photographed In this sequence of pictures you will see one of my 900lbs + competition Deadlifts photographed each step of the way. Here are some key points to pay attention too, in order to improve your own Deadlift: -

Extreme focus Get the set-up right Get tight and squeeze the bar hard Drive the Hips Through Stand tall and wait for the judges “down” command Hands on the bar until the bar is back on the floor

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 11: A Word On Technique This entire book has focused on correct Deadlift technique because great technique will allow you to achieve your strength potential on the Deadlift and minimise injury risk. It is true in every sport that I have ever studied that the athletes at the highest level tend to have the best technique. This does not mean that they all look the same when competing in their given sports; but rather that certain communalities will exist. For example, every strong Deadlifter you see will aim to perfect their set-up, but you will see some top Deadlifters pulling Conventional and some pulling Sumo. Every top Golfer will keep a constant spine angle, but the way they use their arms during the swing may differ greatly (just go compare Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk). The bottom line is to practise your technique on every single rep, without exception. Also, use foam rolling and mobility drills to warm yourself up before Deadlifting and use appropriate assistance exercises to bring up weak areas and make your Deadlift more balanced. Technique is much like your strength. Progress will not be linear. You will have good days and bad days. Regardless, do not let this get you down, but do make sure that over time your technique gets better, because that’s one of the hallmarks of great athletes. They tend to have great technique. We also must be realistic about Deadlift form for competitive Powerlifters when they are very near their max or attempting a new personal best. To be brutally honest, there are very few lifters who can maintain perfect form with near maximal weights on the Deadlift. For ‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


competition purposes this is ok; just be sure to do the best you can and keep your lower back arched. If the upper back rounds more than usual on the Conventional Deadlift with near max weights then so be it. Do what you have to do to hit your best total on the day. Just make sure that in training you focus on correct technique all the time. With the Sumo pull, technique will stay very similar with heavy weights as with lighter weights. This is because any excessive rounding of the upper back will result in the lockout becoming very difficult. Therefore extra rounding of the upper back in the Sumo Deadlift with near maximal weights is counter-productive. For athletes who are not Powerlifters (ie they are using the Deadlift to run faster, jump higher, punch harder and throw further) it is important to practice great form all the time. There is no need for an American Football player, Rugby Player or Boxer to push their Deadlifts so hard that their form falls to pieces. This is because the injury risk far outweighs any benefits that maximal singles could bring an athlete who is not a competitive lifter.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 12: The Mind-Set For A Big Pull A bullet proof mind-set can be the difference between a PR and a disappointment, or a World Record and not budging the bar from the floor. With that in mind, I’m going to share with you how I approach the Deadlift from a mental point of view. In my opinion, there is no lift that is more mental than the Deadlift. Just watch the aggression and focus on my face before I pull. Or the war-dance Benni performs before his big lifts. And check out the frenzy Chuck Vogelphol gets himself into before pulling big. Clearly, big Deadlifts are very mental. Here’s what to do to train your mind and have it serve you and not destroy you: 1. Get in the zone before you get to the gym. You can do this by listening to some empowering music in the car on the way to the gym. I like Hip Hop or Heavy Metal. Now is not the time for your favourite love song. 2. Visualise your top set before you do it. The human mind cannot tell the difference between something strongly imagined and something you have actually done. So if you visualise your Deadlifts in your mind, with enough intensity and clarity prior to doing them; you should find the performance of the lift much easier when you come to do it. 3. Never think of failure. This one is obvious but it is easy to let your mind play games on you if you are not careful. Do not think of missing your top set or a PB in competition. This is just weak. As soon as any negative thought like this comes to mind you must change your focus immediately to something that is going to help you: like smoking the lift!

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


4. Never let a weight intimidate you. Think of others who have done what you are about to attempt and this way you will see that it is entirely possible (I have not had such a luxury for most of my Deadlift career. Poor me). 5. Commit to the lift. Once the bar is in your hands you must be aggressive and attack the weight. Fight it all the way to lockout. 6. Believe in yourself. The Deadlift is a solo physical endeavour and you and only you can break gym PB’s and meet PB’s. Nobody else can do it for you.

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net


Chapter 13. About The Authors

Andy Bolton is one of the greatest Powerlifters of all time. A multiple world champion in the WPC and WPO federations, one of only 5 men to ever Squat over 1200lbs and the first man to ever pull in excess of 1000lbs on the Deadlift.

Elliot Newman is a competitive Powerlifter who has competed in the BDFPA, WDFPF, BPC and WPC. He has competition best lifts of 255kg Squat, 157.5kg Bench and 260kg Deadlift. He is passionate about all things related to nutrition and strength training.

For more information on how YOU can develop herculean strength, explosive power and muscular size, check out: http://www.andyboltonstrength.net

‘Explode Your Deadlift’ by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net

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