My Deadlift strength is blowing up…here’s why!

I’ve never been awesome at the deadlift.  I have a skinny ectomorph frame, and to be honest, it took over a decade and many specialized powerlifting programs to get my bench press max to an impressive 380, squat to 475, and my deadlift has been stuck at 465-485 from the floor for years.

I’ve done high frequency deadlifting plans that locked my body up and put me in pain.
Whenever I started a new deadlifting plan, it wasn’t long in the weight progressions before my lower back irritation would amplify and I simply couldn’t keep up with the progressions.  A tweak in my back would put me out long enough to ruin the program.

I should add that I am pretty flexible for my size and all my flexbility training coul not relieve my lower back pain for the deadlift.. I was so frustrated and thought I was just not built to do this lift that I loved so much.

Deadlifting has been a lift that I’ve always kept in every two to three weeks in some form, whether from the floor or rack, or the stiff legged variety.
I’ve actually fallen in love with the MANY other forms of deadlifting – suitcase, straddle, sumo kettlebell, rdl, etc. but that’s a blog for another day.


Now to how I actually got my body comfortable enough for send my deadlift numbers up to 500 and break the plateau I was stuck at for years…

I found a partner in my gym who is smaller than I, but has incredible deadlifting strength,  much stronger than 1 with half the mass.  As we trained together that day, he watched my form and said something that hit dead on…

“Josh, you’re strong enough to pull this weight, but the beginning of your movement looks like your body is in pain, more from the movement itself rather than your ability to lift the weight.”
That was totally true.  I knew I could lift the numbers, but my body felt locked up and in pain when I did it..

2 Things:

A Staggered conventional stance.   Yes, it’s weird but true.  I first hear of this from an old time powerlifter in the book, “The Purposeful Primitive”.  I can’t remember the athletes name, but he had a record breaking deadlift and he always lifting with one of his feet a inch back behind the other.  Creating a slightly staggered stance.
Something about this imperfect alignment allowed my hips to comfortable lift in a way that took pressure off my lumbar spine.  I was able to crouch to the bar without a rounded lower back and the transition was amazing.

The weight would shift from primarily in one leg during the first half of the lift, through the other on the lockout, this kept me pain free.

This is my new Conventional deadlifting stance from now on.   I squeeze my glutes as I walk up to the bar, both shins touching the bar at hips width apart.
Then I step my left foot back by 1 inch (this varies but 1-2 inches is the sweat spot).

See how this feels for you if you have constant lower back tightness.

Sumo Deadlifting in the same workout as Conventional deadlifting

For whatever reason, this balance of a WAVE progression has helped kick my numbers up.

A WAVE is where you pyramid your weight and lower your reps, then go back down, to come up again… here is an example of my wave:

Staggered conventional stance- 405×5 reps, 445 x 3 reps, 475×2 reps

Sumo Stance Deadlift: 415×5 reps, 455×3 reps, 480×2 reps.

6 working sets of deads.

There you go, more deadlift volume, and finding a stance that was comfortable enough for my lower back.

I’ve been doing this for only 2 months and my deadlift has jumped 25 pounds.  I’ll report back in a couple months to see where it’s at then!

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Lower Body Kickboxing Workout

Leg conditioning workout for martial arts
first I perform a 5 minute warm up on the bike.  The order of this workout is prioritizing strength first, then hypertrophy, followed by skills training and conditioning.  You never want one energy system to be taxed so that it interferes with another.  For example, exhausting yourself with a metabolic conditioning exercise (like jump squats for instance) would be counter productive to do before deadlifting or doing heavy squats.

Onward to today’s workout:

Barbell Back Squats:  3-4 warm set sets, then 5 sets of 5 with a weight that’s 75-80% of your max.

Step Back barbell lunges 3 x8 superset with side kicks x 12 each leg (if you have a heavy bag you can hit it, if not just throwing the kicks in the air is perfectly fine)

Forward walking barbell lunges superset with front snap kicks x 12 each leg.

Weighted barbell hip thrust x 15 superset with roundhouse kicks x 8 each leg.

Metabolic tri-set:
Plyo jumping lunges x 8, tornado kicks x 4 each leg, Squat and front kick alternate x 10 each leg (20 squats total).

Static Hip Strengthening kicks:  You will perform side kicks with your leg out, NEVER putting your knee down, just snap the foot out and bring it back, nice and slow.
3 sets of 15 kicks each leg.
Go Back and forth between legs without resting for this.  It’ll burn.

Standing Weighted Calve Raises superset with db jump squats 20/10.  3 sets then done.

Finisher – Rapid fire bag work – 30 kicks as fast as you can each leg on the heavy bag.

Stretch for 10 minutes.  Hamstrings, glutes, hips, quads and calves.  Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

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Reps and How to Use Them


Few people know this but…

The exercises you choose…

The order in which they are performed…

The number of reps and sets done for each

And how the exercises themselves are executed play a HUGE role in your ability to garner results

  • Higher rep, low intensity is ideal for increasing blood flow early on in the workout, inducing joint lubrication and providing a necessary warm-up prior to heavier or more intense forms of exercise
  • Lower rep, moderate intensity, high velocity exercise is ideal for eliciting nervous system excitation. This ha s direct carryover to your ability to generate power ideal for athletic endeavors
  • Moderate rep, moderate intensity with adequate volume exercise is ideal for inducing muscle growth
  • Low rep, high intensity low velocity exercise (you are trying to lift fast but the weight is heavy) is ideal for eliciting nervous system excitation and muscular system response. Strength and muscular development.Pistolquat

    A concurrent workout may use all of these in the same workout and be laid out as such:

    Bench Press: 3×5, Incline DB Press 3×8, Peck Deck 3×12, Cable Crossovers 2×15, Pushups 2×20.

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Lessons for a Strong Life



Virtue Over Pleasure

Virtue is a word that has died in the modern generation.

It use to be a word that traditional societies lived their lives by.  They actually qualified their value based on if the were being virtuous.  This is why you’ll see the great philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates use this word so often.

Most of the world chases pleasure and avoids pain.  These thoughts govern their decision making on what steps they take in life.  Live for higher ideals, establish what are your virtues.  Virtues are the impactful ideals that give your life it’s depth and meaning.  What matters more to you – living a life of integrity, honor, compassion?  Or making sure you get that pleasureful thing/experience that is here today and gone tomorrow.

Legacies are built on virtue.  Stories you love and stand the test of time are full of virtues, not pleasure and pain.   When you’re a man or woman of virtue you have boundaries of what you will say “yes” to and what you’ll say “no” to, the ability to do this gives you PREFERENCES, and this is needed to form a stable identity.

Growth is Life

Nothing stays stagnate.  You’re either growing or regressing.  There is no homeostasis, life is not linear.  It has it’s ups and downs.  To be a person concerned with growth means you’ll always have depth and value.  You’ll avoid depression and feeling unfulfilled if you approach life as a journey of betterment.
Not for YOU, that’s a selfish empty shallow reason for growth.  Do it because you OWE IT to the gift of life you were endowed with.  Viewing growth as a duty takes the emotion out of it.  The most disciplined men in history viewed growth as an obligation for their life to have worth.   This obligation will not let you sink into living just by the whims of pleasure and pain avoidance.

Only from a position of strength can you be a more generous person.

Seek Out Failure (It can’t rain all the time)

Make it your weekly mission to try the things you suck at.  When you shift your mindset to being okay with purposely pursuing failure.  You’ll likely recognize two things, what you thought were guaranteed failures were wrong; or you’ll learn something incredible about yourself while failing and be one step closer to a win.

Realize that the Mind is Willing but the Flesh is Weak

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).  
Paul said , “I know the things I should do and do not do them, the things I don’t want to do, I do!”   
That’s a paraphrase.   
Recognize that their is a disconnect between the heart and the head.  Ideals, passions, and virtues, will not always be congruent with feelings and emotion.
To let our emotions lead our actions would be devastating, some days I want to eat what ever I want in whatever amount.  Some days I want to listen to my stress and indulge in whatever activity relieves that pain or gives me the distraction I seek.
We have to be better then this.
To let our minds lead the way without checking with the passions of our heart can lead us to jobs we never truly loved, or trapped in relationships that aren’t the best for us.  Or even have us avoiding people altogether.

Wisdom is the ability to discern when your have to drag the flesh to do the right thing.

That may mean getting accountability.  A coach.  Friends that feed your spirit and enhance your brain and life.   That may mean a new social circle, a new job, a different environment.  

Cultivate a Soft Heart; But Never Adopt Victim Thinking

I’m driven by masculine traits, which usually makes me ambitious.  But with high levels of ambition can come the hardening of the heart.  Other times, the coldness of reality and how people treat other can make you hard or cold.  Circumstances of struggle, being born with the cards stacked against you, can often create a hard cold mind.   Cultivate a soft heart of understanding towards and for others.  This universe never existed for you.  A soft heart gives love in order to receive love.  If you look at people for the inherent worth they have, despite their actions, it will make it easier to care about them even if you disagree with them.  Hardness, anger, hate, anything of this notion is baggage on your soul.  A soft heart will keep you relevant to humanity, your purpose, and your appeal to influence others.  You can’t influence people you don’t care about.

If Something Repulses You, Listen to It

There’s traits that are attractive by design.  I’ve dated a certain breed of women because good qualities flow from good stock.  Don’t justify bad behavior, or behavior that makes you pause and retract.   This day in age, people are afraid to have standards.
This is for two reasons, one they’ve been taught the mantra of “Don’t judge anyone!”  This is garbage.  Every living thing on the planet judges for basic survival ability.  From the biological natural to the metaphysical.  Show me someone who doesn’t judge and I’ll show you someone with low standards for themselves and others, and who are ultimately unhappy.
The second reason is a fear of being a hypocrite.  Let me tell you something.. having standards and failing them does NOT make you a hypocrite.  Were you a hypocrite because you fell off your diet you’ve been telling everyone about?  Or missed that rep you wanted in that lift?  Were you a hypocrite because you were rejected by that guy or girl?  No.  Setting a standard and missing is just aiming at a target and missing.   Hypocrisy comes from someone who purposely does the opposite of what the said they’re going to do.  It is NOT someone failing there standard.  But the media and social circles love to point out when people fall.


Fall in Love with the Process of Fitness

We as humans usually will not commit to what we do not enjoy. The essence of being successful with your health and fitness endeavors is found primarily in being consistent; without consistency, any results you receive from your healthy eating and workouts will be very fleeting. I have paid close attention to those we have achieved great success in fitness, and all of them love fitness. Why do they love it? What do they love about it? For some, it may be the challenge of besting themselves. For others, it may be the visual results, or the way they feel internally.

You have to be aware of the rewards from your effort.  Journal anytime you lift a heavier weight, stay on track of your diet for the day, etc.  Keep a success journal – one for your lifting, one for your nutrition.  You’ll love looking back on these years later.

The Skill of Self Awareness
This is the ability to step outside of yourself and auto correct your actions.  This is the most useful skill you may cultivate.    People with high self awareness know why they do, believe, and say what they do and what it leads to.   People with no self awareness blame others and take no responsibility.

Most people aren’t mean on Purpose

Being mean is often a result on ignorance or apathy.  Take it lightly.

 There’s No ‘There’ There

Avoid people or doing things that lack substance and identity.  Life is to short to live fruitlessly or getting wrapped in causes that are time wasters.  Video games, political battles, friends or relationships that aren’t into growth and improvement.  They have no distinct identity, no depth, no significant characteristics.  Nothing exists in that place.  It’s devoid of meaning.  Avoid people and places that lack depth.  Nothing significant exists when there is no ‘there’ there.

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13 Week Squat Program Day 1

This workout is day 1 of a 13 week Squatting Strength Focus Leg Workout


After 5 mins of mobility we got into heavy barbell squats working up to 80% of my 1 Rep Max.

Many people do not know how to do warm up sets, they confuse warm up sets when what they’re really doing is PRE-EXHAUSTING the target muscle.  For instance, most peoples warm ups look like this, “135×12,185×10,225×8, then begin work sets”   15,12,10 etc are not warm up sets.  Your purpose is to just GREESE THE GROOVE, the movement pattern, WITHOUT taking away any energy on the WORK sets so you can provide maximum effort.

A real efficient warm up that won’t zap your energy from your work sets may look more like “barx10,135×5,185×4,225×3,275×1, BEGIN WORK SETS”   (the poundage is just a personal example based on my max strength of a 465 pound squat)

That said, I worked up to my heavy 80% set for 3.

After that, it was Constant Tension Squats – 6 sets of 4 reps @70% of max.

The, Olympic Style PAUSE Squats for 5 second pause in the bottom.  5 sets of 2 reps with these pauses.  Sink back in the squat and feel the force weighted stretch.

Glute Ham Raise holding a 45 pd Plate- 3 sets of 8.

Hack Squat Pistol Squats – 3 sets of 6 each leg.









Weight cable ab crunches – 5 sets of 15.


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