Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Posterior assault phase 2 (insert jokes) <- pun intended.....

So now that the trap/shrug/yoke phase is complete, it's time to move on to phase 2 in setting myself up for a bigger deadlift next year.

Before I just lay shit out though, I want to talk about WHY I am doing what I am doing and break some things down, at a layman level.

One of the things I drive home all the time in my articles is to know WHY you are doing the shit you are doing.  Not just WHY, but legitimately why.  For example......

"Why are you doing board presses?"

"Because my lockout sucks."

"But you can already board press more than you bench.  So you don't really need to work on your lockout."

Thus, board presses aren't a legit "why".

My "why" for doing these phases are as so.....

  • Overdevelop the areas that do the big work in the deadlift.
  • Use the deadlift to build the deadlift after development is complete.

My feeling after the last meet was that I'm still underdeveloped in the areas needed for pulling big weights.  My traps, hamstrings, and erectors all need to shit ton more development, size, and density.

Trap training twice a week will continue, however two more exercises will be introduced to help the erectors, rhomboids, and hamstrings.  This pretty much completes the areas involved in big pulling.

The exercises I will use, and why I will use them goes like this.......

  1. Shrugs - Shrugging will continue.  I feel once my shrugging is in the 700+ range for 5+ reps then upperback strength will not be an issue.  My shrugging has always been weak, and while improved, still has a way to go.  I also think that, regardless of what popular opinion is, traps play a big role in strength off the floor.  Ever notice when you see a picture of a guy pulling with the bar just a few inches off the floor his traps look like they will explode?  I also noticed when I emphasized shrugs this past summer that my strength off the floor improved, and I felt more "stable".  
  2. Russian Leg Curls aka natural glute ham raises - These are hard and I suck at them.  I spend a lot of time doing research on movements and everytime I looked into functional movements for the hamstrings, that also caused the most activation of the hamstrings, these popped up first.  I won't lie, I hate these fuckers.  I am terrible at them.  Which is probably a good reason to do them, because they involve so much ham activity.  Remember, do the shit you suck.  The things you are good at will take care of themselves.  Which also bring me to.....
  3. Hypers - I suck at these too.  Again, this is probably indicative of the fact that my erectors aren't as strong as they need to be.  I could have done GM's, but I can get good at GM's pretty easily.  I gave GM's a run many years ago and never found them to do as much for me as advertised by some.  In other words, they didn't cure cancer like I was told they did.  So I will give hypers a run.  
  4. Rows - This will include cable, pendlay, barbell, and dumbbell, whatever.  This one is pretty simple.  More rhomboids = more room for lockout strength.  Contrary to popular belief, shrugs do not help with the lockout.  Your rhomboids are the muscles that help your lockout in the deadlift.  The bigger your rhomboids are, the higher the strength ceiling.  Well, that pretty much goes for all of this.
So how am I going to set all this bullshit up?  Let's talk about it.......

The next 4 weeks (I said 6 initially, but I may just go 4)

Mondays -
Press - usually an incline press or overhead.  I'd like to incline 405 in the next month or so but it's not exactly a priority.  Just something that would be nice.  
Rows - 5-7 sets of 5 with a static weight.  Usually t-bar or pendlay.  
Rows - different row for 1 set of high reps to failure.  Db or cable.  
Curls - elbow health

Tuesdays - 
Mid-shin deadlifts with shrug - 7-10x3, 1x10-20 as usual
Above the knee timed hold - 1x1  Will do these to improve grip.  
Russian Leg Curls - until I die
Hypers - same as Russian leg curls

Wednesdays - 
Restorative work -
PVC rolling on back and stretching.  

Thursdays -
Pause Squats - 3x3  Not going to try squatting heavy while I'm doing all of this low back work.  That would be fairly stupid.  However I still want my squat to stay strong, so I will push the pause squats a bit during this time.  455x3 is a best.  So 475x3 would be a nice goal here.
Glute-Ham - until I die
Calves - Because I like my calves to stay big.  That's the reason, and it's good enough.  

Saturdays - 
Shrugs - 5x5, 1x20 as usual
Row - Probably Pendlays working up to a top triple
Weighted Hypers (on an angle) - These will be done on the angled hyper, using a bar.  Not on my back, but from the floor.  I have no idea what a decent weight for these are, but I suck at these so I will push hard.

Sundays - 
Russian Leg Curls - Until I die
Weighted Ab Wheel - 3x10
Arms - a couple of sets for the ladies.  

I will be dropping a little bit of cardio as well.  Mainly because I'm working on a more areas, and rather than bump up calories, I am just going to drop cardio because I can sleep in a little later (I hope) and use a little less energy overall.  

The results for the trap work exceeded my expectations.  Now because of that, I won't accept anything less this go round for the back, erector, and hamstring work.  

Also, if I get into the gym or a few weeks into it and something just isn't "right" I will make a change.  This usually doesn't mean wholesale changes, but if I feel like my erectors get chronically overtrained or if I feel like an overuse is coming on, I will immediately change something.  There's always going to be some trial and error in these things.  

Let me also add, I will be taking this week off for the most part, in order to rest up a bit and get my neck worked on.  I might do some light stuff but this will not start until next Monday.


  1. PC
    Like the plan. Question for you - as someone also trying for a deadlift increase I tried some pulls from below the knee. Got sharp pain in my lower right ab with a weight I have pulled (and more) from the floor before. This isn't the first time this has happened.
    Are the setup considerations I am missing? Or maybe this is something that you'd need to see to address.

  2. After more than 2 decades of this nonsense, I've seen/heard of about everything. No clue on this one other than that part of the abdominal wall may be engaging harder from that leverage point than from the floor.

    Drop back down in weight, add in some leg raises for a few weeks, and progress again slow and see if it keeps happening.

  3. For someone who doesn't believe in weak points, this sounds an awful lot like weak point training. Just busting your balls a bit.

  4. Just wondering how you're setting up the glute ham raises Paul?

  5. I will be at the gym for that glute ham

    Justin - Weak points muscularly? Yes. Weak points in a movement? No. Complete waste of time.

  6. I like your distinction between muscular and movement weak points, that makes an awful lot of sense.
    When you say you are going to do rows to improve the rhomboids do you have to do the movement a specific way to activate them, apart from pulling the bar to the hip which I would assume brings the lats more into it?
    I've seen a few things before by Dan John and others about activating the rhomboids and these articles make it sound as if these muscles can just be bypassed by accident if we're not thinking about it. Thoughts?
    Thanks, B.

  7. I believe you are dead-on with this stuff Paul. Someone that I've discussions with over powerlifting had a friend that knew Ed Coan. Here's a quote from the email thread: My friend Marcus talked to Ed a lot on the phone, and his emphasis was always on building. I had him ask for deadlifting advice and it was the same thing. No magic workouts or anything, just tell him to "build his back"...lol.

  8. B. - That's a reason I don't like sloppy rows worth a fuck. Because the point of doing assistance or support work is to strengthen certain muscular areas. Not move a bunch of weight. You have to learn how to feel certain muscle groups in order to actually make them fire and strengthen them.

    Rick - That's about as good advice as anyone can give. Just build the parts that do the work. Use the lift to build the actual lift.

  9. hi paul,

    i think you are a very good lifter and would say the majorit of your methods are things i would also advocate, howeever the trap specialisation and rhomboid stuff etc. is an alien concept for me.
    i myself cannot shrug within 100lbs of my deadlift max but my lockout is very strong. here in the uk, people tend to either pull from the floor, from 13-18" or from a deficit. some people do some rows, few do shrugs.

  10. Hi Paul,

    Do you see a problem with something like this?

    1.Leg Day-
    Leg Press

    2.Incline Bench-
    Incline Bench
    DB/Machine Press
    Machine Rows

    3.Overhead Press-
    Overhead Press
    DB overhead
    Machine Rows
    Triceps Pushdowns

    My reason for asking is because I played around with some machines for assistance work today and I felt like they might actually build my back much better than BB/DB Rows (which I think never really did anything for my back-- probably because I can't do them right).


  11. big a - You are spot on. If you want to build the deadlift, DEADLIFT. What I am after, if building the parts that work in the deadlift, to create a higher ceiling for the deadlift. So when I go back to pulling from the floor, I am a lot bigger in the areas doing the work.

    Howard - If the machines feel good, use em.

  12. Hi paul, when u mentioned hypers do u mean reverse hypers or plain old hyperextensions? If its the latter, what are ur views towards the former in building a bigger deadlift? Shaun

  13. Just regular ol hypers.

    I have never had enough time on a reverse hyper to give an educated response, but from the guys that have, they tell me there isn't anything special about em.