Home Posts tagged "Dave Dellanave"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/9/17

Between the holidays and my "Best of 2016" series, it's been a few weeks since the last installment of this weekly recommended reading/viewing list. With that in mind, I'll throw out some extra recommendations this week:

Healthy Hips for Serious Sumo Deadlifts - Dean Somerset knows hips - and this article demonstrates just how thorough that knowledge is.

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Understanding Influencer Marketing - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, discusses the value of collaborative marketing efforts between one company or individual and another - using our relationship with New Balance as an example.

Stress is Not Stress - This was an outstanding post from Dave Dellanave; he cuts through all the science and explains why not all stress is created equal for every person.

5 Key Nutrition Lessons We Learned in 2016 - As always, the crew at Examine.com puts out some excellent science-backed information.

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The Best of 2013: Strength and Conditioning Product Reviews

To wrap up my “Best of 2013″ series, I’ll highlight the top product reviews I did at this site in the last year.  Here they are:

1. Bulletproof Athlete - I firmly believe that Mike Robertson created the best "beginner lifter" resource available on the market today.  This resource is an awesome start-up program that'll prepare novice trainees for a program like you'd find in my High Performance Handbook.  I wrote up a detailed piece on training beginners when I reviewed Mike's resource; check it out: 5 Mistakes Beginner Lifters Make.

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2. The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide - At a price of only $39 and with over 700 pages of content and lifetime updates, this resource is a game-changer, thanks to the folks at Examine.com.  I explained why in this post: The Question I Hate to Be Asked.

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3. Post Rehab Essentials 2.0 - I love reading Dean Somerset's stuff.  A lot of people "think outside the box" because they haven't mastered what's inside the box in the first place.  Dean has a great foundation of knowledge, and it gives rise to some innovative ideas and a forward-thinking corrective exercise approach.  This article is a perfect example.

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4. Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination - This was Dave Dellanave's first foray into the world of product development, and he crushed it!  It's a great resource not only for learning deadlift techniques, but also because it provides a great program for improving your pull. Check out my review here.

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5. The MX20V3 Training Sneaker - This was my pick for training sneaker of the year in 2013.  Full disclosure: I'm a consultant to New Balance, but that relationship was in part established because I was such a big fan of the original Minimus!  Since then, they've taken sneaker prototypes for test-drives with our staff at CP, and done focus groups with our athletes to make sure that the products get the job done.  Check out this commercial I filmed for the MX20V3 in August to learn more:

There were certainly some other great products I encountered this year, but these five proved to be the most popular with my readers.  Obviously, I also introduced some new products of my own in 2013, most notably The High Performance Handbook. However, Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body and Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core were hits as well.  Hopefully, there will be plenty more to come in 2014!

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How to Know You’re Not a Deadlift Beginner Anymore

Today, we've got an outstanding guest post from Dave Dellanave, author of the awesome new resource, Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination.

There is a lot of really fantastic deadlift information available on the internet. To be fair, there’s a lot of bad information, too, but that’s another post. The only downside is that it seems like every article falls into one of two camps: either it’s for raw beginners, or for advanced lifters. This is great if you’re just getting started, or tweaking your program to find a few more pounds, but if you’re just on the cusp of surpassing beginner status, it might leave you scratching your head.

Next to people simply lifting too much weight, the most common “mistake” I see from beginners is that they’re afraid to add weight to the bar or to shift to a better starting position. Usually these are people who have diligently put in a fair amount of practice reps, have been reading all the right authors online, and have a desire to do things properly. Whether for fear of injury, or simply because of the desire to do it “right,” they hesitate to make the leap. I’ll come back to what those changes might be in a moment.

My good friend Bret Contreras and I had a long conversation about this in a call we did for Off The Floor. Ultimately, the conclusion we came to on the call is that you’d do well to connect with a qualified coach and get an evaluation. That way, they can see how you move in general and how you deadlift, and hopefully give you the green light to add weight without further hesitation. If you’re not ready, they can tell you what to work on or fix to get there.

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Upon thinking about this question more, I stand by my original answer, but I think with the visual aid of some stills stolen from YouTube, I can offer a good rule of thumb for when you can take the next step. First, let’s talk about the two big changes that people need to make when they transition from “beginner form” to more “advanced deadlifter form.”

The first big change is starting from a higher hip position. The way most people are taught to deadlift (and this is how I teach clients at my gym) is to start with the hips very low, chest and shoulders “high” relative to the hips and to “squat” the weight up for the initial portion of the lift, and then finish by extending the hips. This is good because it keeps the back in a nice neutral or slightly extended position throughout the hardest part of the lift on the back. This allows a beginner with a relatively weak back to strengthen it. If you look at the form of the very strongest deadlifters in the world, however (Bret did a great post on this with tons of still frames), you will see that every single one of them starts with a higher hip position. At some point you, too, are likely to need to make this change.

Here’s a guy who has (unsuccessfully) made the transition from a higher starting position. He loses position more and more throughout the lift. Luckily for him, he knows it’s bad so presumably he’ll drop the weight and work on getting stronger.

405 Dead Lift (Form Check_ Bad) - YouTube

The second change is the actual addition of more weight to the bar. It sounds simple, but I have added 50 or more pounds to a person’s best deadlift in one training session in the past. As much as I’d like to take credit for that as “trainer mojo,” the reality is that they had never even come close to even approaching their limits in the past. Now, keep in mind, I’m not advocating that everyone go out and explore their outer limits — in fact, I am a staunch advocate of always working within your limits. However, if you could potentially lift 350 pounds and you’ve never lifted more than 250 pounds because you were hesitant, you don’t have to get even near your limit to lift 300.

Things start to feel different when you get closer to your limit, and that sometimes makes people uneasy. The fact is, the lift does change. A fantastic 2011 study by Swinton et al. tracked the path of the bar from the floor to lockout at weights ranging from 10 percent to 80 percent of one-rep max. In theory, the path of the bar is a straight line. In reality, there is about a 7-centimeter (nearly 3 inches) difference in the path from the lightest of weights to 80 percent of max, with the heavier weight drifting farther away. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, try deadlifting with the bar 3 inches away from your shins — on second thought, don’t do that and just take my word for it. Changing the bar path by that much changes everything about how the lift feels. And that’s not even 90 or 100 percent.

A BIOMECHANICAL ANALYSIS OF STRAIGHT AND HEXAGONAL BARBELL DEADLIFTS USING SUBMAXIMAL LOADS.pdf (page 4 of 10)-1

(Source: Swinton, PA et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):2000-9.)

These two changes are not independent of one another, either. At some point, to be able to lift more weight, you will need to make changes that put you in a more favorable position to lift bigger loads.

Here is someone who has clearly put in the time to hone his technique, but he needs to put more weight on the bar and possibly even start with a higher hip position. Either way, he’s ready for more weight.

Deadlift form check - YouTube

So, how do you know when it’s time? Here are two questions you can use to make the call:

  1. Can you maintain your back position throughout the lift up to the heaviest weights with which you’re comfortable? If your back rounds or arches more and more as you lift the weight, you need a stronger back. A lift at 80 or 90 percent of your current max should look the same as 40 percent of your max.  Nearly everyone has a phone with video capabilities now, so shoot a video from the side and compare. If your form is significantly changing as the weight rises, you’re adding too much weight. If your form doesn’t change – it’s time to put more weight on the bar.
  2. Can you lift 1.5x your bodyweight (for men) or 1x your bodyweight (for women) with form that looks the same as half that? If so, you have probably laid enough of a strength foundation to move on to a more favorable starting position with higher hips. When you do so, keep in mind that you still want to keep a good, solid back position that doesn’t go anywhere near end range of motion in either flexion or extension.

Look, these heuristics aren’t perfect — remember I said your best bet is a good coach — but if that isn’t an option then you have a few guidelines to help you move forward. Work within your limits, respect them, and listen to the feedback your body gives you. If it hurts, don’t do it. But if you’ve built a solid base of strength, you can’t get any stronger without moving forward.

Looking for more insights like these on the deadlift - as well as a great program to help you improve your pull?  Be sure to check out Dave's new product, Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination, which is on sale at a great price until Saturday at midnight. I've read it beginning to end, and it's fantastic.

About the Author

David Dellanave is a lifter, coach, and owner of The Movement Minneapolis in the Twin Cities. He implements biofeedback techniques, teaching his clients, ranging from athletes to general population, to truly understand what their bodies are telling them. He writes articles to make you stronger, look better naked, and definitely deadlift more at http://www.dellanave.com/. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddn.

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5 Keys to Long-Term Deadlift Progress

In the fitness industry, for some reason, folks like to pigeonhole coaches into certain specialty roles. Over the years, I've been called the "mobility guy," "the baseball guy," and - most applicable to today's article - "the deadlift guy."  You see, I really enjoy picking heavy things up off the ground, and I've gotten pretty good at doing so. 

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As a "deadlift guy" (whether I really identify with that label or not!), I've gotten a lot of inquiries over the years.  These questions relate to programming, technique, exercise selection, and a host of even more obscure topics (such as: "why does my iPhone always auto-correct 'deadlift' to 'deadliest;' doesn't anyone at Apple actually lift weights?").  In the process of answering loads of these questions and coaching thousands people on how to deadlift, I've picked up on some trends that explain why many people don't make deadlift progress.  Contrary to what you may assume, the deadlift is definitely a unique exercise that must be trained a bit differently than just about any other strength exercise.  With that in mind, here are my top five keys for long-term deadlift progress.

1. Don't have setbacks.

This could be said of all training goals, but the unfortunate truth is that a lot of people get hurt deadlifting.  This might be because of poor deadlift technique or inappropriate programming, but regardless of the true cause, it goes without saying that it's a big issue.

I learned this lesson early (age 21), as just a week after I pulled 400 for the first time, I felt a nice "pop" in my lower back during a warm-up set at 225.  It set me back a good 3-4 months, but was a blessing in disguise, as it scared me into grooving better technique, as opposed to just piling more and more strength on top of a dysfunctional pattern.  From there on out, I did a much better job of not only lifting with better technique, but also fluctuating my training stress within the strength training program and individual training sessions.

2. Recognize that your body may not be ready for specific deadlift variations.

I've pulled 660 with a conventional stance, 630 sumo, and 700 on the trap bar.  A big part of me being able to train all three lifts (and their variations) regularly was the fact that I'd built a good foundation of mobility and stability that enabled me to execute the lifts from a safe position.  Unfortunately, this isn't the case with everyone who deadlifts for the first time.  In fact, for many general population folks, the conventional deadlift might never be an option purely from a risk: reward standpoint, as they simply can't get into a safe starting position to start the lift.  For that reason, we start all our athletes and clients with the trap bar, progress to sumo deadlifts, and see where things stand.  Programming a conventional deadlift on Day 1 is like sending a 7th grader into a calculus class when he needs algebra first.

3. Train the deadlift frequently, but not necessarily with high volume.

It never ceases to amaze me how many lifters I encounter who say they want to improve the deadlift, yet answer "twice a month" when I ask them how often they train the lift!  For some reason, many folks in the powerlifting world latched on the idea that if you just trained the squat or good morning, it'd automatically carry over to the deadlift.  Sorry, that just isn't the case - at least not if you want to make optimal progress.

I'd estimate that I've trained the deadlift twice a week for 80% of my training career, and once a week for the other 20%.  It's almost always trained after the squat within the training session.  It may be lighter and for speed, or heavier for sets of 1-5 reps.

I can't say that I've ever spent much time above six reps, though.  I find that my percentages fall off quickly, and doing a lot of high rep work at 60% of my one-rep max doesn't really do much for me besides give me a raging headache. Seriously, every time I pull heavy for high reps; my head pounds for a good day - and I really don't feel like it gets me any closer to where I need to be.

Either train heavy or train to be fast off the floor, but don't train to be slow, and methodical by conserving your energy for 87-rep sets.

4. Upper back, upper back, upper back!

Buying shirts and suit jackets is a royal pain in the butt, as my upper back is considerably larger than my arms.  In fact, the size of my upper back is what inevitably forced me to go from the 165- to 181-pound weight class during my powerlifting days - in spite of the fact that I was trying to keep my weight down.  I think it speaks volumes for how important upper back strength is for the deadlift, as my pulls were improving considerably faster than my squats over this time period. To give you a feel for how accidentally disproportionate deadlifting has made me over the years, take note of this recent picture. In looking at my traps, one would think that all I need to do is develop an underbite, and then I could have a prosperous career as a troll underneath a bridge, demanding tolls from unsuspecting passersby.

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Very simply, having a strong upper back enables you to control the bar, as opposed to it controlling you.  It's obviously of great importance to getting the shoulder blades back at the top of the lift, but it's also essential to making sure that the bar doesn't drift away from you, which would effectively increase the distance between the weight and the axis of rotation (hips).  Letting the bar drift away from you doesn't just decrease the likelihood of you completing the lift; it also raises the stress on your spine, increasing your likelihood of injury.  Having a strong upper back helps to spare your lower back.

You'll find the best carryover from rowing variations, farmer's walks, and rack pulls. However, vertical pulling variations (chin-ups, etc) can still have a beneficial effect.  I also always responded well to doing heavy single-leg work, as it challenged my grip and upper back while I was still training the lower half.

5. Have a plan.

It's easy to build a solid deadlift, but taking a "decent" amount of success and expecting it to automatically translate to really big time deadlift numbers is a recipe for disaster, as what you do to get to a 315 deadlift is going to be dramatically different from what you do to try to pull 500.  Very simply, you need a plan.

To that end, a lot of people have asked me why I've never written a book or training program on the deadlift, and the truth is that I've simply never gotten around to it.  Luckily, my good friend Dave Dellanave - who is also a very strong lightweight deadlifter (we have a secret society with a cool handshake) - just released an outstanding deadlifting manual that does an outstanding job in this regard.  It's called Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination, and it's on sale at a great price through the end of the week.  Whether you want to pack some poundage on your deadlift or just pick up some heavy stuff to look, feel, and move better, this is a great resource that I'd encourage you to check out, especially at the awesome introductory price.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/5/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Engineering the Alpha - My good friends John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein co-authored this book, and it is now available for pre-order.  Full disclosure: I have not read it yet.  However, I know how much time, dedication, and knowledge these two put into it - and it's sure to be fantastic, with a great combination of fitness/strength and conditioning stuff and recommendations on making your life cooler overall (if you like reading Tim Ferriss' stuff, you'll also enjoy this).  They also have a ton of cool bonuses for those who pre-order this week.

Noted Surgeon Dr. James Andrews Wants Your Athlete to Stay Healthy By Playing Less - Here's a great interview at Cleveland.com with Dr. Andrews.  While I wish they'd used the word "competing" instead of "playing" in the title, it is a valuable read - and an excellent follow-up to my post from last week, 20 Ways to Prepare Young Athletes for Success in Sports and in Life.

Set a PR Every Week - Dave Dellanave wrote an excellent article on autoregulatory training for T-Nation.

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