Strongman Life: Deadlift - The Road to Strongman Nirvana!

OK, the smart people (ME) have been polled and the vote is in .........YES, YOU DO NEED TO DEADLIFT.

How much of this vile thing must I do you may (should) be asking yourself. Sadly the answer to that is not simple, straightforward or uniform. To begin to answer, I will state that I'm going to limit the majority of my discussion to the sport of competitive strongman for many reasons including the forum and the fact the Deadlift protocol for general strength training and powerlifting vary vastly from one another much less from competitive Strongman.

Powerlifting prowess is tested in a very uniform and systematic manner. Powerlifters are tested in the three competitive lifts ONLY (a major reason I'm suspicious of training methods that measure progress in "special" or non-contest lifts) this makes preparing much more simplistic and streamlined. Strongman, on the other hand, is just the opposite, the events are in fact and by design derivatives of uniform lifts. A strongman events will have "a press", "a squat", "a deadlift" and so on. This obvious but somehow overlooked point should be proof enough that a strongman competitor needs far greater with and berth "pulling prowess" than any other variety of strength athlete.

ASIDE from the Variety within the individual events themselves (axles, logs, odd objects etc) take the moment to look at the knee-hip angles involved in most strongman events and you will see much more deadlift-like mechanics than you might initially believe.

  • Log & axel cleans begin with a ground-based pull.

  • The low position of a stone lift is surely deadlift-like

  • The Tire flip is a "pulling based" movement!

  • The "pick" and setup in the farmers-walk is more like a deadlift that not.

  • Even a loading medley has deadlift like ground-based lifting.

  • A yoke walk outwardly resembles the squat, but the shallow knee-hip angle and extreme torso stabilization rings of DEADLIFT strength!

All the above points SHOULD lead one to believe the deadlift is not just needed but fundamental integral to a well-designed strongman training regimen. As to how much daily, weekly, monthly pulling a prospective athlete needs to do........................that is a very (necessarily) individual question! That is not to say the answer is whatever you want it to be.........................IT MEANS YOU NEED TO THINK! Like any SCIENCE based subject, there is a rough formula that when "filled-in" you get a very solid starting point towards a refined applicable answer.

Things you may need to consider before developing you Strongman Deadlift Protocol:

  • Are you presently a good Puller? (you may not need to spend additional resources on something you are already "good" at)

  • Age (age can vastly affect recovery rates)

  • Experience as a strength athlete (Do you have well-developed motor pathways?)

  • Limb length/body type (would excessive pulling be damaging to you "structure"?)

  • Nutritional status (again a recovery issue)

  • Pharmacological status (drugs=Recovery)

  • General health (yet another recovery based consideration)

  • Any other relevant (to you) factor.

With a rough understanding of the above points (and others), you should be able to begin to see an outline for your protocol emerge from the data. If you are young, healthy and have a "safe" pulling body -type it would not be unreasonable to be doing a deadlift derivative almost every single training session! On the other hand, if you are older, "clean" or have a very unfriendly pulling body-type you may only be able to effectively deadlift once per week. Consider the HONEST data and follow it where it leads and you will likely find the path ends at or near STRONGMAN NIRVANA!

B.Chavez is available for programing and nutritional consultations Email:

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