Thursday, January 9, 2014

Take advantage of not being leveraged

A short while back, just a few weeks after I tore my quad at Relentless, I made a trek up to Iowa to deadlift only at the UPA meet being held up there.  

A week before that meet I had pulled 635x3 no belt from a deficit so I felt solid about going in and pulling a nice PR.  This is not something I'd usually do because I think full meet numbers carry more weight than single lifts done before or after a token lift.  

Regardless, my deadlift had been going pretty well for a while so I thought "what the hell?" and drove up.  Well as things have gone for me lately, I started feeling very shitty on my way up there and when I woke up the next morning I felt like someone had water boarded me all night and then decided to recreate the scene from Casino where Peschi and his brother got a taste of hickory for 10 minutes.  

After warming up on bench that day, and barely being able to unrack 275, I knew something was way off, and I texted my best friend Jason Pegg and his response to that was "shut it down.  Now."  

Going against my own desires, I listened.  And in retrospect it was the right choice.  

At the meet however, I watched my buddy Eric Lilliebridge squat a very easy 925.  He looked good for 950 honestly, and I think in the next year he'll be up around 975 which is just insane.  

But the very cool thing about Eric's squat jumping up so much is really what he did to lay the foundation for getting there.  

For years Eric squatted high bar.  And he broke the world record going high bar.  However since then, he's switch to a low bar squat, and his squat has REALLY taken off to an even higher level.  

I really believe that Eric going high bar, which is a much more difficult way to squat, is what set him up for where he's at now.  Low bar puts the bar closer to your hips, and the bar itself obviously doesn't travel as far through space so more weight can be lifted.  

So now that Eric has switched to low bar, there's a whole new world waiting for him to conquer now that his titan strong quads will get a little bit more of the hips involved in the movement.  But I believe that building his base around all those high bar squats is what has set him up for all of his latest success.  

From my own experience this has been happening with my bench press.  I decided after the Iowa meet that I would move my grip out a little bit.  Not a ton, because my shoulder won't allow it, but basically the same grip I use on incline.  

Since I have done so, my bench is now moving at a very fast clip.  I did 405 x 5 this past week very easily, and then did 5 sets of triples all paused with no grinding.  For me, this is VERY good as I believe I can probably eek out several sets of 5 at this point.  

I believe that this is happening because I have spent many years benching with a very, very close grip.  Basically about 15" apart.  Now I'm just a fraction outside of the smooth.  

The key here, if you take note, is that both Eric and I spent YEARS doing something in a more difficult manner before moving on to a method that is more advantageous from a leverage perspective.  Now this is not a new concept, however most guys think that doing a 6 or 8 week block or phase is enough to give this same advantage however I honestly believe it's something that needs to be done over a much longer period to give the same kind of rewards.  This doesn't mean you have to neglect the competition version of your squat, deadlift, or bench press but it does mean you should be spending the majority of the year using a version of that lift that is less advantageous from a leverage standpoint.  

So for squats, if you are a low bar squatter most of the year should be spent doing high bar work.  For benching, extremely close grip work, and for deadlifting you would do it from a small deficit.  

I will be going over more on the blocks and phases you can incorporate these ideas into long periods of training so that you can really maximize the benefits of this.

More to come.


  1. And to think I was just thinking about starting to deadlift from a small deficit for all my deadlift work until meet time.

  2. I noticed the same thing. Last year i squatted on oly shoes for the whole year and made a 2x BW RAW Squat ass tot grass in my last meet.

    Now i switched back to flat soled shoes and feel a lot more powerfull in the hole. My depth feels 'high' even though its below parallel.

    I am convinced with some training i can add real weight to my squat very fast

  3. Thanks for your latest installment! A new years resolution of mine is to be more grateful. I wanted to thank you for all that you do.

    So I take your advice on the conventional deadlift and try deadlifting from a 45 pound plate deficit. I felt like a caged animal! Having to go that low forced me to not "squat" the weight up (terrible bad habit when the weight gets heavy) and realistically I was not terribly far from my non-deficit deadlift. And I just felt like I was working more muscles.

    Do you have a % of your normal deadlift you would say is a good goal for the deficit? I switched to sumo briefly with my short arms but they aren't exactly t rex short. I had some success but I figured I'd give your deficit conventional a shot. Thanks again!

  4. hey paul currently running the big-15 in-season sports version 1-2 big sessions and 1-2 small sessions a week while alternating big upper one/small lower week and big lower/small upper the next week. Its going great but i wanted to ask you after the 6 weeks how much do you suggest i increase in weight for the next 6 week cycle?

  5. Fuck the Colts and may god bless us with a better Chief 2014 postseason. Fuck the Broncos. AMEN.

  6. Thought I saw Eric say somewhere that one reason he switched to lowbar, is that his traps are getting so big it's difficult balancing the bar on them. Jacked guy problems

  7. I wonder if all those idiots who tell you that you don't go heavy enough listen to what other strong people say.

  8. How much weight do you increase for the next big-15 cycle after the six weeks