Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lifer Series Part 4 - I will pick up heavy things off the floor

Picking up heavy shit. Really, it's kind of the essence of "weight lifting" or "power lifting" is it not?
I think it was Kaz who said, something to the effect of, being able to pick up a weight, get to overhead and press it was kind of the be all-end all of what being strong is.

But it still comes back to picking shit up doesn't it?

I mean, that pussified Planet Fitness made a whole commercial with some jacked dude who could only mutter...."I pick things up and put them down."


Because that's what cavemen do, right?

Troglodyte Konstantinovs 

Picking up heavy shit goes all the way back to from the time the barbell was invented.  Look at the raw deadlift records and how they have stood the test of time.  While modern day advances have set new marks all over the place in the "squat" and "bench press", only Konstantinov's and Benni are present day competitors that have set new marks in the deadlift.  Otherwise, every deadlift record in every weight class precedes 1999.

Class Lift Lifter Country Year Fed
123 633 Lamar Gant USA 1980 AAU*
132 628 Lamar Gant USA 1981 IPF
148 690 Dan Austin USA 1987 IPF
165 714 Rick Gaugler USA 1981 USPF
181 791 Ed Coan USA 1984 USPF
198 859 Ed Coan USA 1985 USPF
220 901 Ed Coan USA 1991 USPF
242 887 Ed Coan USA 1998 USPF
275 881 K Konstantinovs Latvia 2009 AWPC
308 939 K Konstantinovs Lativa 2009 AWPC
SHW 1015 Benedikt Magnusson ISL 04/02/11 HARDCORE
No one knows the struggle of picking up heavy shit more than I do.  That's not a "look how great I am" statement in any way, shape, or form.  Quite the opposite.  I have struggled for years to be an even respectable deadlifter.  I have struggled as much as any person could over a long period to build that single lift.  Try more than 12 years to go from 500 to the 700 range.  It has never come easy for me, and to this day it is the bane of my lifting existence.  It's also the most rewarding for those reasons as well.

I have such a love-hate relationship with the deadlift because I do believe that a good deadlift is a primal demonstration of brute strength.

Putting your hands on the bar and telling the weight it will defy gravity is, at the very core, what lifting is.  Deadlifting is the most basic movements in all of that.  You simply bend down, and pick the weight up.  It doesn't get any more primal or basic than that.

But picking up heavy shit isn't just about deadlifting.  Picking up heavy shit is rowing, cleans, stones, farmers walks, and basically anything you have to move to get it off the floor.  Just like squatting builds a great lower body, picking up heavy shit year after year after year, builds a thickness and density in the upperback, lats, erectors, and glutes that cannot be denied.

When I walk into a gym, even the "big guys" there hardly ever have that density in the back I speak of.  They don't have middle back thickness that comes from year and years of picking up heavy shit.  Because most of those guys live on lat pulldowns and some light dumbbell rows.  If they do t-bar rows heavy, they do them either light, or shit style, where they practically stand straight up and kind of crotch ride the bar.  Technically speaking, I suppose that is picking shit up, but it's not the right kind of picking shit up.

Ever notice that when you even do shit like yard work, the back is what takes the brunt of the work.  Think about the fact that when someone uses the word "hard labor" it almost always involves doing work a strong back is needed for.

laboringpresent participle of la·bor (Verb)

  1. Work hard; make great effort.
  2. Work at an unskilled manual occupation.

"Work hard -- make great unskilled manual occupation"

It's like fucking Websters knows that deadlifting and cleans and rows are all cavemen style shit too.

As a lifer, you will need to spend years and years and years doing back work to get both the show with the go.  Unless you're some monkey armed mutant, but that's an entirely different discussion.

All forms of picking shit up test you, just like the squat tests you, but in a different way. Picking shit up seems like it stares you more directly in the face. It's right there, in front of you, taunting you to "try it".
"Pick me up, asshole."

Anyone who has went for a new PR and had the bar be stapled to the floor knows what I am talking about.  It deflates you unlike anything else.  It cuts at a lifters soul.  To train for months and months and months, to finally give that personal best a go........and that fucking piece of shit just sits on the floor.  You hate it more than any other kind of failure.  With a bench attempt, even a miss almost feels like you gave something because the bar probably moved a bit.  With a deadlift attempt that just sticks, it's incredibly disheartening, and will test who you are as a lifter.  Your resolve and your will to get better.  Some do, and some don't.

Those who don't, were never lifters.  Those who do, will just keep picking shit up, and putting it down.

Fuck you Planet Fitness.


  1. "The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black." -The Consistently Overquoted Rollins

    I think this applies to the deadlift more than any other lift.

    1. "To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads."

      Rollins is a wet tosser.

  2. great post. as a "monkey-armed mutant" (5'11" height / 6'4" wingspan) i'm interested in what the discussion would be beyond years and years of back work...more years?

  3. great post man. I love pulling. I am about to show my son how to pull this week. I am a member of a Planet Fitness, and I hate that place. I had hip surgery in April, so I use the place for physical therapy (the stationary bikes and some of the machines; plus, I am not cleared to lift overhead yet, so I am totally lifting "bro-style" for the moment. I went from lifting in my garage, alone with my thoughts after a grueling day at work, to lifting with the biggest group of weirdos in the world. There's not even ONE unattached barbell in the damn gym! just two smith machines and DBs up to 75. They have a sign that says no deadlifts; THEY don't even want you to do RDLs, just use the back extension. LULZ...... I can't pull or squat for a while, but just the anticipation has me salivating. Love this "Lifer" series

    Anyway, if you need me, I'll be out with my kids tonight after midnight looking for prostitutes and meth.....making memories :D

  4. I've been around people who find that "I pick things up, I put them down" commercial funny. I want to punch them in the neck. You said it. Fuck Planet Fitness.

    Plus, deadlifting rules!

    1. I probably could have narrowed this whole thing down to that.

      Fuck Planet Fitness.

      Deadlifting is awesome.


      Bam, I wrote that!

    3. Thanks for that article dawg. I hate that place like terriers hate rabbits. Judgement free zone my asshole.

  5. Nice write up, really enjoy reading your lifer series. I love the deadlift so much because it sets the men from the boys as there is no cheating. You either lift the weight or you don't. You can bounce a weight off your chest (shit style benchin), or just unlock your knees and call that a squat (shit style poser squattin), but the deadlift sets the record straight.

    Hope you're all having a shit Monday!

  6. The deadlift is an awesome lift to do.
    I'm suprised about the little few people in some gym's actually doing the deadlift.

  7. Another great article. I have one issue with you. I'm, a memeber of the monkey armed commitee and I feel you dont give equal ribbing to the barrel chested T-REX ers out there. What gives? :)

    1. Oh hell yes I do. I've said a million times these things equal out. If a guy has a great bench but can't deadlift what he benches he's a shit lifter. I hate bench only guys. they are the lifting equiv of fucking mens physique competitors.

    2. Ok, I'm wrong there... Your lifts seems great across the board. Your arms dont seems overly long, would you say you are naturally built for pressing and squatiing?

    3. I really don't think I'm naturally built for anything really. I'm good at overhead pressing and that's about it. No other lift has ever come easy for me.

  8. The bodybuilders who willingly participate in those Planet Fitness commercials ought to be taken out back and shot. Fucking traitors. If they're that desperate for money they could always do a little gay for pay or something, and keep some integrity.

    1. Man if bodybuilders are willing to fuck fruit to make money, then they will certainly do a commercial for Planet Fitness.

    2. Naturally I googled this. Thanks, best laugh I've had in a while. I knew about gay-for-pay, but grapefruit-for-pay was a new one to me. On a serious note, how jacked do you think somebody has to be to get into the grapefruit fucking business, because I would definitely fuck a grapefruit for a couple hundred dollars.

    3. That's a good question. I'm not sure. I mean Kai Green is pretty fucking jacked. So I'd say you need to be of similar size to fuck fruit and get paid for it.

  9. Your pretty good at lifting my... oh never mind. Great peice. I think the deadlift has another thing going for it. You really have to want to finish. Unlike the squat and bench where if you dont make it your potentially crushed. The deadlift has no negative aside from personal shame.if you give up when it gets hard. You have to want it. Just keep pulling.

  10. Notice how that record list contains the names of guys that aren't known as one lift wonders but all around strong guys. Even Gant with his bowed back thing which helped his deadlift leverage also held the bench record at one time.

  11. Hey Paul, I have a simple question with a lengthy lead-up:

    What are your thoughts on sumo/conventional for the raw lifter?

    I have short arms, so getting into a good starting position for a conventional pull can be a struggle at times. I've been hammering my flexibility/mobility work in hopes that I'll be able to get into a more mechanically advantageous position, but as of now it's not happening.

    However, pulling sumo sucks. I just don't feel strong when I do it, even though I'm just as strong as when I pull conventional. I'm worried it will beat my hips up as well.

    Do you have any insight?

    1. Yes. Sumo is gay. Don't do it. Only Coan could do it, and not be gay about it.

      In all seriousness, just keep working on your technique with the conventional. Eventually it will fall into place. Since it's not a natural feeling movement that may take some time, however.