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My goal is to deadlift 500 pounds by the end of summer. By deadlifting every other week, I've come pretty close. Yesterday, for example, I did 225 x 10, 315 x 8, 405 x 6, 425 x 3, and then two sets of 445 x 1-which felt pretty heavy. Is there too much warming up? Any tips on how to break on through to the other side?
-Elijah Wheeler, Washington, DC
A: Okay, your goal is 500, and you're currently at about 450. Let's attack this somabitch with everything we got. We'll even use the fatty tissue between your ears for a change.
You're lifting backward, son.
In your sample warm-up, you're doing high reps followed by strength training. Elijah, do me a favor—go run 2 miles before you try and attempt the fastest 40-yard dash of your life, and let me know how it goes. Your high school football coach may have thought that was a great idea, but I'm here to tell you that he was not only wrong, but just plain dumb!
Running 2 miles is unrelated to running an optimal 40 time. You'll pre-fatigue the muscles, and you won't be able to sprint at maximal speeds. It's better to do a few 100-meter sprints at 60 percent and maybe work on some starts. But you wouldn't want to do anything too hard or challenging before the main event.
The same is true with any strength training protocol. After doing some short duration mobility work from Kelly Starrett's Mobilitywod.com, you'll be ready to get yourself into optimal positions to start warming up. Here is a sample warm-up for someone in the 400-to-500-pound deadlift range. You'll notice I like deadlifting with both Sumo and Conventional form in the warm up. They will allow you to hone your form from two directions and give your body a new stimulus:
From here on out, be cautious with the jumps in weight. When you're at 90-to-95 percent of your max, a 50-pound jump can kill your progression and your ego. Make smaller jumps of 15-to-30 pounds to save some face, gauge your strength and form, and prepare yourself for the heavier attempts.
Let's say your max is 445 pounds, it might go down like this: 385 lbs. x 1, 405 lbs. x 1, 425 lbs. x 1, then finishing with 450 lbs. x 1. Hell yeah, you just beat your 1RM by 5 lbs. and your street cred just went through the roof!
And if 450 felt a little too easy, try a harder weight. This is also the perfect time to do any extra rep work. Lower the weight to 315 and try 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps!
Here are a few recommendations for improving your deadlift:
Follow these instructions and you'll kill 500 pounds. Shoot, you may even just put it up over your head, and your new goal might be 600!
You now have all the tools you need. You just need to follow through on your end and bust your ass. Give a key to the inner universe to a thousand men, only one will open the door. Be the one!
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