Powerlifting

To Pull A Lot, You Need To Pull A Lot


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Despite what you have been told the best deadlifters in the world pull very often, they are just intelligent enough to cycle their pulls. By cycling this not only keeps their deadlift progressing, but it also allows them to work the deadlift in various ways, and in parts. The number one stand out “part” for great deadlifters is the start. The speed with which the bar leaves the floor dictates the rest of the pull, and a fast start will most definitely get you through some sticking points along the way. So how do you improve off  the floor?

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Being a guy that used to be awful off  the floor, I plan to share my ideas with you so you can follow a similar path, and hopefully you see your floor speed, and acceleration improve. You may have heard me speak on my transition from bands, and chains, to barbell weight only. The reason I did this was because I was learning to cheat the bands, but they weren’t translating. Also, with a traditional set up, the bar is the lightest on the floor, and in my belief you cannot maximize the gains from an area where you use the least amount of weight. So what I did, with the aid of Corey Hayes was find a way to up the weight on the bottom, and maximize lockout power….

EXPLOSIVE WORK

Traditional set up- 45/50/55% bar week wave + 25% band weight at the top. So we focused on the top combined percentage, in this case it would be 70/75/80%. So we decided to forget the bottom number altogether, and focus on the top number. We subtracted 10%, and that was our constant weight from floor to top. So our 3 week wave was 60/65/70%. So now we were breaking the floor with 15% more weight, and locking out with 10% less, so we were plus 5% in total exertion. But to really maximize the muscular recruitment we performed our sets in rapid succession, we usually paired up with someone using the same weight and would perform 8 singles, trading position over the bar as quickly as possible. The fastest I have timed two people doing 8 sets at 60% is 33 seconds, 8 sets at 70% is 41 seconds. That is flying for a duo. I tell most people to shoot for 45 seconds to begin with and work your way down. The quickness with which the sets are performed will cause the strong muscles to fatigue first, thus reinforcing the use of weak muscles.

Brandon has tremendous power of the floor, as evidenced by this 755 beltless deadlift in the Animal Cage at the 2013 Arnold Classic…

The next benefit of this type of explosive work is it takes the “thought” out of your lift. You become robotic, and learn to pull through less than optimal set up, and bar misposition. How many times have you heard guys say after a miss in a meet “My hands were off, my feet weren’t right, the bar drifted, etc.” Lifting this way will allow those mistakes to happen, but you will learn to lift your way “through” them. When you are in control, and face no surprises, that is when you will succeed.

REP WORK

We need to set up our rep work to really target weak areas. Now as I have stated before I like a rotation on my rep days, I like a one inch deficit (The reason I like the one inch deficit so much, is because it increases the length of the pull, but doesn’t sacrifice form. I think when the deficit gets too high the form changes to the point it doesn’t carryover as well.) Pulls from two inch blocks, this seems to totally remove the hamstring/glute from the beginning of the pull so you learn to pull with the lower back, and four inch block pull as this should allow you to overload a little bit and work the lockout. The sooner you realize that you have to work the deadlift as a whole, in parts, and work to streamline the sum of those parts.

HEAVY DAY

My feelings on how I approach my heavy days have changed somewhat. I have started doing my heavy pulls standing on a one inch deficit. Again, this lengthen the pulls, so if you start hitting PR’s this way, when you shorten the pull you are gonna shock some people. I also always pull in shoes, and then in my meets I go to slippers, so really I’m shortening my pull by 1-2” total. Now, I work up to heavy doubles further from the meet, then I start aiming at attempts for the meet.

Assistance Work for the Cube

While the rotation of the days is unique for the Cube, there are also some things my trainees notice immediately.

  • We do Olympic Squats after our main lower movements. The purpose of this is not even weight, I want my lifters to keep a narrow stance (narrower than shoulder width), and I want their glutes to touch the lower portion of the leg before they come up. I see a lot of guys that call wider stance squats Olympic squats, they aren’t, and I see a lot of partial squats, they don’t count. It’s your total, do it right.
  • Snatch Grip Deadlifts from Blocks. This is a favorite of my lifters, we set up the blocks on 2”, 4”, and 6” inch levels, and we rotate where we pull from. We use straps on these, and grab wider than the lines on the bar, and perform anywhere from 1 set of 20, to 3 sets of 12, using any weight range from 45%-60%. These will absolutely kill your middle back, erectors, and glutes. Definitely make these a staple in your routine.
  • Lat work is a must four days per week. We do rows, pulldowns with and without bands, chest supported rows, and low cable rows. The lats are so underappreciated for what they give to a powerlifter. In the bench it is crucial to flex your lats when lowering and reversing the weight, in the squat your lats maximize upper back tightness, and in the deadlifts the lats help the bar explode once the bar leaves the floor.

Lastly we hope to look like we lift weights, so we cover as many bodyparts as we can. We train biceps, quads, calves, forearms, and pecs, muscle groups that have kind of been labeled as

This is a 10 week Meet Cycle to not only increase your speed off the floor, but I guarantee you see a big jump in your PR as well! This will be based off a 500 lbs. deadlift so you can see the weights, but I will list %’s as well…

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Week 1

Rep Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 3, 365 x 3, 400 (80%) x 3 x 3 sets

4” Block Snatch Grip Dead Lifts

250 (50%) x 12 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

300 (60%) x 6 x 3 sets

Lat Pulldowns (Heavy as Possible with good form)

4 x 15

Back Raises

50 reps

Week 2

Speed Week

Deadlifts (Duo does under 45, Individual under 23 seconds, reset each rep)

350 (70%) x 1 x 8 sets

4” Block Snatch Grip Deadlifts

300 (60%) x 8 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

250 (50%) x 12 x 2 sets

Shrugs (Actually use your traps and squeeze them, don’t move the bar an inch and call it a rep)

3 x 15

Lat Pulldowns

5 x 12

Band Goodmornings

50 reps

Week 3

Heavy Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 2, 365 x 2, 400 (80%) x 2, 425 (85%) x 2, 450 (90%) x 2

Dumbbell Rows

3 x 12

Goodmornings w/Moderate Weight

3 x 10

 Planks

3 x 30 secs

(As you can see on Heavy Days we get in then get out)

Week 4

Rep Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 3, 365 x 3, 405 x 3, 425 (85%) x 3 x 3 sets

4” Block Snatch Grip Dead Lifts

275 (55%) x 12 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

300 (60%) x 8 x 3 sets

Lat Pulldowns (Heavy as Possible with good form)

4 x 15

Back Raises

50 reps

Week 5

Speed Week

Deadlifts (Duo does under 45, Individual under 23 seconds, reset each rep)

375 (75%) x 1 x 8 sets

4” Block Snatch Grip Deadlifts

300 (60%) x 8 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

300 (60%) x 8 x 2 sets

UpRight Rows

3 x 15

Lat Pulldowns

5 x 12

Band Goodmornings

50 reps

Week 6

Heavy Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 2, 365 x 2, 400 (80%) x 2, 425 (85%) x 2, 450 (90%) x 2, 475 (95%) x 1 x 2 sets

Barbell Rows

3 x 12

Goodmornings w/Moderate Weight

3 x 10

 Planks

3 x 1 minute

Week 7

Rep Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 3, 365 x 3, 405 x 3, 425 (85%) x 3, 450 (90%) x 2

4” Block Snatch Grip Dead Lifts

325 (65%) x 10 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

350 (70%) x 8 x 3 sets

Lat Pulldowns (Heavy as Possible with good form)

4 x 15

Back Raises

50 reps

Week 8

Speed Week

Deadlifts (Duo does under 45, Individual under 23 seconds, reset each rep)

400 (80%) x 1 x 8 sets

4” Block Snatch Grip Deadlifts

300 (60%) x 8 x 3 sets

OLY Squat

400 (80%) x 5x 3 sets

Shrugs

3 x 15

Lat Pulldowns

5 x 12

Band Goodmornings

50 reps

Week 9

Heavy Week

Deadlift Standing on 1” Mat

135 x 8, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 3, 315 x 2, 365 x 2, 400 (80%) x 2, 425 (85%) x 2, 450 (90%) x 1 (Planned Opener)

Lat Pulldowns

3 x 12

Goodmornings w/Moderate Weight

3 x 10

Week 10 Meet Week

Rest, eat lots of clean food, and rest!!

Meet

As far as the meet goes, according to your training you know that 450 will be your opener, and based on your training your attempts should look like this:

1st: 450

2nd: 505

3rd: 525

Now if your opener feels heavy for some reason, split the difference, and plan for a PR on your 3rd, but if you follow this ten week program you should have no problem exploding off the floor, and powering to new PR’s. So remember, to pull a lot, you need to pull a lot, and in the last 10 weeks you have put in the work, now it’s time to get your reward!!

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Brandon Lilly is very well traveled, Elite powerlifter. He has trained at Guerrilla Squad Barbell, Westside Barbell, Lexen  Xtreme, and is now home at Berea Barbell. In his strength journey he has competed in bodybuilding, strongman, and powerlifting. Brandon is one of only 19 men to ever total over 2200 raw, having 2204 which ties him for 16th all time (826.5 squat, 573 bench, 804.5 Deadlift). He also amassed a 2530 total in Multi-Ply, and has best lifts of 1005 squat, 820 bench press, and 765 Deadlift. Brandon is the author of The Cube Method and is aiming to create a paradigm shift in the Powerlifting world.
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