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Learning to hate the deadlift a little less.

To be honest the title of this blog should be ” Learning to hate the deadlift AND the overhead press a little less”. I’m not particularly brilliant at either of them which means, by careful application of man-logic, that I don’t enjoy doing them. And because I don’t enjoy doing them I don’t do them as often as I should which means I don’t get any better at them. And so the cycle endlessly perpetuates itself. Sigh.

Fortunately being on the 5/3/1 express at the moment means that, for good or for ill, I will be forced to do both these lifts every week.

My problem with the overhead press is simply one of technique. My jerk tekkers sucks big time. As soon as the weight gets above 80kg, or so, my speed plummets and I end up just trying to strict press the weight up. This means that my overhead 1 rep max has stalled at 110kg, which isn’t completely shit, but I should be shifting 140kg.

For my deadlifts it’s also an issue of technique coupled with the morbid fear of injuring my back. Again.

In fairness I haven’t any serious problems with my back for a while but as soon as the weight gets heavy enough to comprimise my, somewhat questionable, technique I will bail out of the rep. Pussy.

Relaunching 5/3/1 has given me the opportunity to drastically reduce the weights that I’m lifting and focus on nailing my form. As I spent yesterday playing landlord and pricing up new bogs and showers I didn’t get the chance to train. So I thought that I would do both the overhead press and the deadlift on the same day.

Again I’m reminded how fortunate I am in having my own gym to train in as I can train, more or less, when I want to. And because I didn’t fancy doing both of my exercises in the same session I just trained twice. I did the overheads in the morning and my deadlifts about 6 hours later.

With my overhead press, which I was doing as a jerk, I really wanted to focus on the speed of my drop and drive. To do a jerk well all the work comes from dropping beneath the bar as you simultaneously thrust it up. Done well almost none of the effort should come from the arms.

I don’t tend to do it very well and it ends up resembling something that’s half press and half full body spasm.

To help improve my pitiful efforts I did about 113 sets with an empty bar and then added 5kg per set until I worked up to my proposed working weights. I also enlisted the aid of the ever supportive guys from the gym to watch my technique. They helpfully sighed, rolled their eyes, winced, sucked through their teeth and gave me motivational tips like ” Not as shit as normal” and “You bound to get it. Eventually.”

Just for the record I did 5 x 52kg, 5 x 60kg and 5 x 70kg. Not at all heavy but they flew up easy enough.

Sometime later I did my deadlifts. Before I even touched the bar I read every article on deadlifting I could lay my grasping paws on. The best one I found was one by Dave Tate in his ebook “The Vault”.

The piece of advice that actually penetrated the dense, obsidian matter that my brain is comprised of is this: Keep your hips as close to the bar for as much of the lift as possible.

I’m guilty of trying to turn the simple act of picking something up off the floor into a over elaborate contortionist movement. There is no reason to force the body into unnatural positions by sticking your arse so far back that it has it’s own postcode. Nor do you have to start the lift with an arched back and your shoulder blades pressed so hard together they’re in danger of fusing your rhomboids into diamond.

Just try this.

1. Stand with your feet under the bar.

2. Keep your legs straight-ish and bend over and grip the bar.

3. Push your shins forward into the bar.

4. Lockout your triceps.

5. Take a deep breath.

6. Bend the knees a bit.

7. Explode the bar off the floor.

8. As the bar passes your knees hammer your hips forward.

9. Squeeze your butt cheeks and pull your shoulders back.

10. Remember to try to keep your hips as close to the bar as possible for the entire lift.

Again, no world records were shattered in my training but such is the ability of the deadlift to mangle, maim and mutilate even at modest weights that I still felt gelatinous with fatigue by the end.

5 min Cycle.
1 km run.
Some press ups and chins.
Deadlift – Oodles of warm up sets and then; 5 x 100kg, 5 x 110kg, 5 x 130kg and 5 x 140kg. My form felt ok although I still don’t let the bar come all the way into my shin before I lift. Something to work on.

Hasta la vista,
Dave Carter.

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