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Default On chicken sacrifice, speed, and deadlifts
by Johan 02-18-2010, 06:00 AM

Great article

http://www.elitefts.com/documents/on..._sacrifice.htm

Quote:
On Chicken Sacrifice, Speed, and Deadlifts

By Rick Walker

In early 1998, as a 198 lb 20-year-old, I deadlifted what was then the USAPL PA State Junior record of 534.25 lbs. I’d been lifting since I was 12 years old and powerlifting since I was 15 years old. I thought I knew it all, and I thought I would easily be in the upper limits of the*deadlift*in a couple of years.
Time has a way of messing with you. You wake up one day, 365 days have passed, and you’re still deadlifting the same amount of weight. You’re going through the motions in the gym; slacking at home with your nutrition, supplementation, and rest; and basically going nowhere. By 2000, I had increased my deadlift by 26 lbs and pulled 560 lbs at a body weight of 234 lbs. Terrible. What happened? I was on a rocket ship straight up for so many years, and now, in two years time—730 days—I had increased my deadlift by 26 lbs.

I was still young—22 years old—and hardheaded. I trained heavy all the time, never took breaks, and believed that if I wasn’t seeing stars, I wasn’t training right. You would think that would have been the wake up call I needed to start using my head in the weight room. Nah. That would have been too much like work, and lifting isn’t supposed to be about work!

I discovered the Westside Barbell style of training a couple months later, and like most newbies, I dove into it head first. I followed the program to a “T,” and within a couple months, I was so overtrained and burned out that I couldn’t deadlift 550 lbs! I was achy, and my joints hurt to the point where I had to stop workouts. I couldn’t sleep, and I was irritable as hell. I kept following this style of training—tweaking things here, adding things there, and taking things out when needed—until 2005. I made decent gains, but I was still a hardheaded bastard and trained until I was dead five days a week. If it wasn’t heavy and I wasn’t lightheaded afterwards, I wasn’t working. I made very decent gains once I started to adapt, and I managed to deadlift 640 lbs in a singlet weighing 234 lbs.

Believe it or not, at age 27 I was still a hardheaded trainee. Even though my body was getting older, I still pushed until I got injured. Week after week, I dealt with pains that would alter the way I walked or turned a doorknob. I was slowly but surely killing myself.

I had to start doing my homework. On the team I coach today, I tell my powerlifters that powerlifting is a thinking man’s game. It took me 27 years to realize it, but those who think this sport through are the ones who can consistently raise their totals each time they step on the platform. Too many youngsters get overzealous chasing those monster numbers and never take the time to THINK. They go to the gm and blast themselves day after day, and they never step back and really look at their training. In early 2006, I did just that.

I had to educate myself and not in an academic sense. I had taken all the college classes and earned the degree and the certifications. That gave me a piece of paper with my name on it, but it didn’t TEACH me what I needed to know now. I had to go out and seek knowledge. I had to dive into books, magazines, and videos, read articles by prominent lifters, and surf strength websites for hours just to pull out a paragraph worth of relevant material.

Step 1: Learn the ABCs

A good friend of mine suggested that I give*sumo deadlifts*a try. He’s a conventional puller like me, but he trains sumo throughout his cycle to get his hips up to par. I witnessed him do 750 lbs at a body weight of 229 lbs with nothing but a belt. He’s also close to 50 years old so I figured his methods had some merit to them. I decided to give it a try. The down side was that I was a shitty sumo deadlifter. My best ever sumo was only 545 lbs. It was ugly as hell and slow. My friend tried to show me how to do them, but I just couldn’t get it. I figured that sumo wasn’t for me.

One day we were at work and had some down time. My friend threw in the Ed Coan deadlift tape, and we watched it. As Ed explained his sumo pull, something clicked in me. Ed kept his hips as high as he could and kept his back inclined slightly forward in what he described as “keeping a ramp-like back.” When I would sumo deadlift, I was always trying to keep my back perfectly upright, which in turn, caused me to sink my hips very low. Now I’m five feet nine inches, but I have a wing span of 74 inches. It was ridiculous for me to sink my hips so low when I had that much of an advantage with arm height. So, I continued to work it until I found the sweet spot in my form.



his got my hips up further and also a little closer to the bar. The distance the bar had to travel was reduced, which put me in a much better position to apply force to the bar. However, I still had a small problem. Well, actually it was a big problem. I was still pulling my deadlift.

In his video, Ed discusses how the deadlift should be a push and then a pull at the top. I went back to the drawing board and started pushing my feet very hard into and out on the platform. This activated my hips tremendously and got the bar moving fast. When the bar passed my knees, I started pulling by extending my hips and lower back. This allowed the bar to snap into position.

The last of my form problems was the positioning of my feet. If I went too narrow, the weight felt like a ton. If I went too wide, the weight felt like a ton. Just an inch one way or the other made me uncomfortable and unable to pull. It took me a very long time, but I eventually got it so that it was second nature. I was now able to sumo deadlift, but I was slow and as weak as a kitten. I needed hips, and I needed them fast.

Step 2: Reinvent the wheel

I went back and reread tons of articles on force training. I needed speed and hip strength so the only logical place to start was with very wide—uncomfortably wide—box squats. I did them off of a very low box, sometimes with*bands*and sometimes with just free weights. Depending on weight and band tension, I did either eight sets of doubles or five sets of doubles using the traditional three-week wave and percentages of approximately 48–53 percent. I didn’t do this to help my squat, although it did. I did it to help my deadlift. For the eight sets of doubles, I used a strong band plus a*regular band*for band tension, and for the five sets of doubles, I used two*strong bands*for band tension. I rested 30 seconds or less between sets.

To aid in hip strength, I added handle squats. These are an oldie but a goodie, and it’s a movement that I don’t think is used enough. I didn’t have a high enough platform so I improvised and used a Strongman tire. This movement eliminates the use of your lower back completely, which saves you for squat day and keeps your back healthy. Also, you’re able to push your feet out hard on the tire and use the hips to move the weight. After I did a set of five, I had a hard time bringing my legs back together and walking correctly!

Lastly, I added pulls off of a six-inch box to help my speed off of the floor. I pulled these using the conventional method because my hips were already getting plenty of work. Because I knew that I’d pull my max attempts conventional, I wanted to keep in some resemblance of the movement.

Step 3: Put it all together

I now knew what I needed to do, but I was still a little confused about how I was going to put it all together and also prevent overtraining. I went back to the drawing board and soaked up information like a sponge. I was probably on my ninth or tenth pass through Ed Coan’s book when I caught on to something that I’d missed all along. There’s a chapter in his book called “The Ecstasy.” It describes Ed’s training and his meet in 1999 where he went 1003-573-887 at a light 242 lbs and 35 years of age. As I read through it, I caught the section that said:

“In the olden days, Ed would ground out 875x5 in the squat whereas nowadays he would likely do three super explosive reps with that same weight, rack it, and then pose an honest question to himself: ‘Could I have done another rep or 2?’ If the answer were yes, he would raise the poundage the following session. The resultant reduction in intensity accelerated Ed’s recovery time and, more importantly, eliminated the unending serious of nagging injuries that had plagued him in recent years.”

When I read that, I thought a lot about Westside Barbell training. They preach about not going to failure. Failure fries the nervous system and taxes the body. Mel Siff talked about how it takes the body weeks to recover from an all-out effort when the mind is hyped up. This is because the nervous system is fried and toxic chemicals are released as well as a host of other things that go on when one’s senses and body have redlined. This is exactly why Louis says not to get psyched up when he talks about max effort work. Think.

In Ed’s sample routines, he worked up to one max set of two or three reps. Then every fifth or sixth week, he did a deload of sorts where he would do a top set of five with 30 or 40 lbs less then what he did the week before for doubles. In week seven, he took it back up again with threes or twos. This seemed an awful lot like the Westside approach to max effort training.

Now I was armed and dangerous. I was ready to implement what I had learned, and I knew it was going to work. Form and function were my number one priority. If ever during the cycle I allowed my form to break, it was back to the drawing board. I could no longer afford to just “grip it and rip it.” I had to concentrate and put 100 percent mental effort into everything that I did from the ground up.

I began putting the pieces of the puzzle together to form a program that I could handle physically and mentally. I had to work around my shift at work (12:00–8:30) so it had to be quick and high in intensity. I had to be able to recover without nagging injuries as well. I set it up as follows.

Day 1

Back squats, worked up to a top set of three for five weeks, then deload for a week with a top set of five

Three second pause squats, three sets of three reps, three second pauses in the hole, no gear

Glute hams*or Romanian deadlifts, alternated constantly

Some type of good morning or direct hip work

Ab work

Day 2

Close grip benches off boards of varying heights, varying band tensions, sx sets of triples

Chest work

Triceps work

Bent over rows, five sets of five

Maybe some shoulder work

Abs

Day 3

Speed squats, varying band tensions, rep-sets, and rests (very wide stance)

Sumo deadlifts, worked up to a top set of five for three weeks, week off, top set of five for three weeks, week off, top set of three for three weeks, week off, top set of two for three weeks, week off

Alternating each week between pulls off of a six-inch box for three sets of two and rack pulls at sticking point for three sets of two

Abs

Day 4

Regular bench, top set of five for a few weeks, deload, top set of three for a few weeks, deload, back to fives

Some type of lat work

Triceps work, one or two exercises

Shoulder work

Abs

And so it went for a few months. When something acted up, such as my hips, I dropped the handle squats until my hips quit aching. If I worked my lower back too much, I did good mornings for higher reps, sometimes as high as 20 reps. I found that doing them sitting down gave me a direct carryover to deadlifts without taxing my hamstrings and glutes too much. Because the volume was low enough in the program, I was recovering. If I couldn’t get my workout in until 9:30 at night, I banged through it in an hour tops and still had energy.


More in the link*http://www.elitefts.com/documents/on..._sacrifice.htm
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Old 02-18-2010
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Great read
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Old 02-18-2010
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A great reminder that simplicity is king and that sometimes training to failure is training to fail. Two lessons I keep on forgetting.
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Old 02-28-2010
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^^Interesting.

Bumping this for some of the newer members.
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