How To Deadlift Using Chains (VIDEO)

This video shows you how to DEADLIFT WITH CHAINS…

Deadlifting with chains you will improve your starting strength and your LOCKOUT POWER.

Chains accomodate resistance, making the weight heavier at lockout, and lighter when the bar is on the floor at the start of your Deadlift.

You DO NOT need a loading chain in order to Deadlift against chain. Instead, you can just drape the chains over the bar (as you’ll see in the video).

Chains are a great tool for any powerlifter, strength enthusiast and athlete who requires more speed, strength and power (so if this sounds like you, then I highly recommend that you incorporate them into your

One thing to watch out for when Deadlifting with chains is to make sure that the chain is directly under the bar or placed slightly back towards you at the start. You do not want the chain in front of the bar because it will pull you forwards as you lift, which is both dangerous and inefficient.

Experiment with the chains and let me know how you get on.

Here is my current Deadlift training plan:

Week 1: 60% x 3 doubles (against 20kg of chain)

Week 2: 65% x 3 doubles (against 20kg of chain)

Week 3: 70% x 3 doubles (against 20kg of chain)

Week 4: Work up to a heavy single, then do a heavy partial (from around knee height)

Feel free to copy my training routine and get your Deadlift going UP!

For more information on how to use Chains on your Deadlift, Squat, Bench and Assistance exercises,
bands-and-chainscheck out my new book “Bands And Chains”, by clicking here


Talk soon,

Andy Bolton

P.S please leave your comments and questions
in the box below

Do This – Pull More Weight. Period.

There has been a lot of debate recently,
between both coaches, athletes and lifters
alike, about the correct starting position
for the Deadlift.

In particular, the focus has been on whether
or not to retract the shoulder blades at
the start of the Deadlift.

Some say you should and some say you

I don’t, and don’t have any of my clients retract
their shoulder blades either.

Instead, I tell them to arch their lower back
and relax their shoulders and upper back.

This reduces the range of motion, which
is important if you want to reach your
strength potential of the Deadlift.

There is also no way that the shoulders
will stay retracted when you get strong
on the Deadlift. I can’t think of a single
top Deadlifter who retracts their shoulder
blades before they pull.

So to re-cap:

In the start position of your pull you
should arch the lower back hard and relax
the upper back and shoulders.

Now go hit a PB at the gym!

To discover more Deadlift secrets, check
out this:

Explode your deadlift

Talk to you soon,

Andy Bolton

Explode Your Squat, Bench & Deadlift – Special Offer

I’ve put together a special offer that
will give you all the tools you need to
significantly improve your Squat, Bench
and Deadlift.

Check it out here:

Explode your squat bench and deadlift

The offer expires on Friday July 22nd
at midnight. So check it out now:

Explode your squat bench and deadlift

How To Deadlift Like A Pro (Video)

I’ve written a new Deadlift article for you…

Check it out by clicking the link below:

how to deadlift like a pro

If you want a BIGGER Deadlift, it’s a must
read (there’s a video too):

how to deadlift like a pro

Deadlift Technique (Video)

Developing good technique is extremely important
if you want to reach your Deadlift strength potential
and stay injury free.

For more Deadlift technique advice, click here

744 to 805 in less than 30 days? You better believe it

***Jim wrote in to say…***


My name is Jim Thompson. I just got your book “Explode your Deadlift”.
I loved it and the technique section was very helpful. My best Deadlift
up to getting your book was 744lbs.

After a few changes in form and adding a lot of KB swings I hit a pr of
! I’m 43 yrs old and weigh 240lbs. When I hit 744 I was 290lbs.

My squat has gone up as well. My best at 290lbs was 985. I hit 900 for
2 at 240 lbs. Thanks you for the motivation and easy to understand
guidance. “Champions do as they must… competitors do as they will.”

Jim Thompson.

>>>My Comments:

Jim… that progress in unreal. Amazing!

Adding over 50 pounds to your pull in less than a month, at a lighter
bodyweight, is great for anybody. To do it AND join the 800lbs club
is faintly absurd!

Keep up the good work my man.

What’s next… 850lbs?

If you want some of what Jim had, click here.

Andy Bolton… The Story Of 1000lbs…

o see exactly how to build YOUR Deadlift technique, click here

If you know your Greek mythology, you may remember the story of Atlas. He was
the God of lifting and all other heavy burdens, who was sentenced by Zeus to bear
the weight of the heavens on his shoulders for all eternity. This legend has become
the symbolization of strength and is depicted in various images throughout the world,
including the official logo of the Worlds Strongest Man Contest.

However, what you may not know about is the follow up stunt that Atlas tried to
pull on Hercules by tricking him into “temporarily” taking over while he popped off to
acquire the Golden Apples from the Hespiredes for him, -thereby fulfilling one of
Hercules 12 labors.

Without resorting to a full on history lesson, let’s just say things didn’t go quite to
plan for poor (stupid) Atlas; upon his return, using the old “itchy back trick”, Hercules
soon had him holding the baby again. Unfortunately for Atlas, it would be at least
another 3000 years before help was at hand, or November 4th 2006 AB (After Bolton)
to be exact, -the date that Andy Bolton would deadlift over 1000lbs and transcend
mere mortality to join the Gods!

For sure, after the most mammoth demonstration of back and leg strength in history,
Andy could tackle the favor with the same degree of difficulty one would experience
holding a friend’s beer while he visits the restroom.

Before I launch into the how and the why, I believe it’s essential to take on board
the significance and magnitude of this historic feat. Since the late great Dan Wohleber
became the first man to pull 900 in 1982 (it actually weighed out at 904lbs), there has
seldom been more than one man on the planet capable of matching that weight in any
one year.

Some years would produce a real dealifting drought, with no chance of any such
ponderous weight to be seen anywhere on the horizon. In fact, nearly four years would
pass before Doyle Kenady would match this awesome number. Then, five years later,
Ed Coan would be beamed to us from another planet and pull 902 at 220lbs bodyweight,
-the first sign that we were not alone! Mutants really do exist!

A few other Super heavies notched up the numbers here and there, some under
questionable circumstances, others through legitimate strength. When Andy Bolton first
showed up on the international scene, his rawness would often leave him having to
deadlift tactically in order to chase gold.

But right from the get go, it was glaringly obvious that this guy had almost incalculable
back strength. When the creases were ironed out, the records just kept falling; he would
pull over 900lbs an astonishing fifteen times before he historically crashed that 1000lb
barrier, -a line that most experts in the field predicted would not even be approached let
alone crossed!

But these “prophets of power” should not be mocked, like me; they’ve also been fortunate
enough to know, work with and meet some of the strongest men that have ever lived.

We all realize that the significance of this huge milestone is actually even harder to swallow
when we review the list of awesome athletes that didn’t quite reach (officially) the magic
900lbs. Consider Bill Kazmaier, O.D. Wilson or Gerritt Badenhorst, three incredibly powerful
athletes that came within a whisker of the 900 mark. All three were accomplished winners
and world record holders in powerlifting and international strongman competition (Kaz is a
three-time winner of WSM). They were balanced all-rounders with no weak lifts or gimmicks,
whatever they accomplished, they did so for one reason only; they were incredibly strong.

I knew these guys well, witnessing many of their feats of strength; I can tell you that their
overall strength was far more impressive than most members of “The 900lb club”. But to
think that some day a guy would come along and out lift them by over 100lbs in this the
purest of lifts is almost inconceivable.

This view is shared by many of Andy’s peers and strength statisticians the world over.
Legendary strength coach Louie Simmons was on hand at the meet where history was made,
on completion of the lift, he turned to me and said “I was there when Don Cundy pulled the
first 800 deadlift. I was there when Danny Wohleber pulled the first official 900. He (Andy)
just broke the 1000lb barrier and it’s been an honor to be here to witness it”.

The great Eddy Coan, an icon who has become a good friend to Andy, phoned him the night
before the meet to wish him all the best and foretell the obvious. His words always carry a
lot of weight with Andy. On hearing the result, Eddy dropped me an e-mail which said the
following. “I have seen Andy Bolton lift on a number of occasions. When Andy says,” Load
the weight on the bar”, he will do it. The 1,003lb deadlift was a done deal before he even
walked onto the platform. The man knows what he can do. He does not make promises he
cannot keep. The moment he started the lift, you just knew he would get that lift. I have
never seen an explosion of power off the floor like this Great Lifter exhibited that day.”
Awesome words from The Don.

Andy: The Man

Originally hailing from Dewsbury, England, Andy (36) now lives and trains out of Leeds, -a
few miles down the road, but still within the county of Yorkshire. This northern county is
famous for producing great powerlifters and strength athletes, including former Worlds
Strongest Man Jamie Reeves, a former training partner from whom Andy learned a great
deal in the early days.

With a successful background as a junior sprinter, but a predisposition to rapid growth,
he became an ideal candidate for the bone-crunching sport of rugby league, which he
went on to play at quite a high level.

The required strength training would result in Andy being firmly bitten by the iron bug,
a familiar story.

In 1991, at age 21, he made the switch to powerlifting, pulling 330kg (727.5lbs) in his
first meet. In 1992, he would give the ultimate demonstration that, when all else is
even (diet, training, etc), great athletes are born and not made, when he pulled a
staggering gym lift of 904lbs!

Unfortunately, even with age on his side, employing traditional strength training methodology
would often result in his best lifts being left in the gym. However, by the end of 1992,
while still a junior, he would still pull an official 858lbs for a 275lb class senior World
Record! In 1993, after only two years of competitive lifting, he won the WPC World Powerlifting
Championships, in France. At this point, Andy hung up his belt and turned to strongman
competition, lured by the greater exposure and financial promise of a game that was on the

Traditionally, great powerlifters had always done well in this game, Kaz, Jon Pall Sigmarsson
and Magnus Ver Magnusson had won 11 WSM titles between them, -all three were world
-class powerlifters. But the goal posts were moving, true strength athletes could no longer
compete on an even playing field, a great traditional event was being replaced by entertainment.

Like everything in entertainment, the face had to fit, favored athletes would be given inside
information about the events and have access to the actual props to train on. Meanwhile,
true strength athletes would be corralled into qualifying rounds which included a lot of
cardiovascular events or that focused on the particular weakness of any athlete that had
fallen out of favor. The format became so silly, it bordered on ludicrous, with many athletes
being retired by dangerous events that included loading barrels out of water and tossing a
car with no safety measures to stop the athlete being crushed if he slipped.

Needless to say, Andy soon became disillusioned by the whole fiasco, after snapping a bicep
tendon in a show in 1999 (the last of several injuries), he turned his back on strongman for

Fortunately for me, I was at this show, I was in the process of scouting for our national
powerlifting team and Andy, whose phenomenal record preceded him, was right at the top
of my hot list. It didn’t take much encouragement and in early 2000, he returned to his first
love, -powerlifting competition. With his bicep tear rehabilitated and his reverse grip switched,
he entered the WPC Worlds in Vegas in the (308lb) class, where pulled 407.5kg (898lbs) to
take the great Gerritt Badenhorst’s long-standing record. Andy has flatteringly gone on record
to say that since he started working with me during his comeback, his lifting has gone from
strength to strength. While I have worked with him extensively on various factors (diet,
training, etc), I will still stand by my earlier statement that great athletes are born and not

How Andy Trains

Andy’s training schedule has him training just three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and
Friday. This pretty much flies in the face of much of the conventional strength training
protocols we are increasingly seeing being adapted from Eastern European methodology.
This is not to say that science plays no part in Andy’s training schedule, on the contrary,
his periodized training is very much science-based.

However, it’s our general belief that much of the extremely high volume, multiple session
programs that we hear being used by Eastern European athletes are adaptations from
remnant Olympic lifting theory. This adaptation is a lot more complex than it seems,
powerlifting involves a whole lot more muscle isolation, no matter how much pure power
work may be involved (plyometrics, isokinetics, etc), this issue cannot be escaped.

In weightlifting, you are striving for the extreme opposite, trying to get the body to work
as a total unit. Ok, so why do we see so much phenomenal lifting coming from athletes
that are apparently benching 2-3 times a week? The answer can be found in three things;
their average age, the pre-existing training history even at that age and an overwhelming
genetic pool of athletes which are easy to locate in a group of countries with such an extensive
history of successful weightlifting.

For example, the IPF Russian Nationals are known to take around a week to complete, giving
you some idea of numbers involved and depth of quality. Much like Louie Simmons famous
conjugate training, you will find much usable Olympic theory involved in Andy’s approach. For
most of the year, his training is comprised of a series of 6 week mesocycles, each focusing on
ironing out technical errors and peaking in a variation of one or more lifts or assistance exercises,
e.g. a deadlift or bench from a particular height block. Employing the supercompensation principle,
they follow a pattern of four weeks heavy, one week light, with a new maximum being established
in the sixth week.

The exception here will be the last pre-competition mesocycle going into a meet, which will be an
8 week program. Eight weeks may not sound long, but the preceding shorter mesocycles are all
structured with specific goals to form part of a much bigger macrocycle of about 6 months. Thus,
there is no off-season and there is no period where he is more than 6-8 weeks from competition form.

The structure of Andy’s training week is as follows:

Monday: Bench press and relevant assistance work (board presses, etc). Shoulder work, which
will include some pressing up to around 8 weeks out, then heavy front and side raises.
Assorted triceps work, with pressdowns forming the base.

Wednesday: Squat and deadlift, with both lifts being trained within the set percentage parameters
required by each particular mesocycle. After deadlifts, very heavy leg presses and leg curls are
performed for 6 sets of 8-10 reps. Heavy abdominal work concludes the workout.

Friday: This is reserved for upper back assistance work and will involve two forms of rowing, followed
by one form of pulldowns. Heavy shrugs will be performed for six sets and some biceps work will wrap
up the session.

I will cover Andy’s precise training routines for his other lifts in a future issue, but for the time
being, the question is where did that deadlift come from?

The phase that launched a thousand pounds!

The exact 8 week pre-competition mesocycle employed by Andy for the 1003lb pull is as follows. All
deadlifts are pulled extremely explosively; this is the total focus of the movement. All weights are in

Week 1. 70 x 5, 100 x 5, 140 x 5, 180 x 5, 200 x 5, 220 x 5, 180x3x3. No suit.
Week 2. 70 x 5, 120 x 5, 160 x 5, 200 x 5, 240 x 5, 190 x 3 x3. No suit.
Week 3. 70 x 5, 100,x 5, 140 x 5, 180 x 5, 220 x 5, 260 x 5, 200 x 3 x3. No suit.
Week 4. 70 x 5, 120 x 5, 160 x 5, 200 x 5, 240 x 3, 280 x 3, 210 x 3 x3. No suit.
Week 5. 70 x 5, 100 x 5, 140 x 5, 180 x 5, 220 x 5, 260 x 3, 300 x 3, 220 x 3 x 3. No suit.
Week 6. 70 x 5, 100 x 5, 140 x 5, 180 x 5, 220 x 3, 260 x 3, 290 x 3, 320 x 3. Suit down.
Week 7. 70 x 3, 120 x 3, 160 x 3, 200 x 3, 240 x 3, 270 x 3, 300 x 3, 340 x 3. Suit on, straps up.
Week 8. Competition. Bear in mind, Andy pulls on a Wednesday, but usually competes on a Saturday
or Sunday. Thus, this equates to 10-11 days rest.

In his build up to this meet, he would follow up his squat/deadlift training with heavy leg
presses (600kg x 10’s) and leg curls.

His Friday upper back workout this time round comprised of the following:

Hammer Strength single arm rows, 5 sets, working up to 200kg each arm x 10. Low cable
rows, 4-5 sets, 300lb x 10. Pulldowns, 4-5 sets of 10, 140kg (weight stack). Shrugs, 5-6
sets of 10, done very strict up to 380kg. Finally, ab work, including very heavy side bends,
crunches and leg raises would be done.

In his preceding mesocycle, Andy worked up to 410kg x 3 and 362.5 x 8 in the partial deadlift
(off a 4 inch block) with no straps.

Many will be surprised at the low percentages Andy actually works with in the deadlift, but
he feels that this is central to his success. With optimum genetics for the lift, squatting over
900lbs in the same workout and working on explosiveness have kept him relatively injury free
and still allowed room for progressive improvement. Talking about injuries, Andy suffered an IT
band problem in this build up and had to hold right back on his squatting.

He was understandably cautious here; he’d previously torn the quad during his strongman days.
He feels that the lift would have been easier had this not been the case, the fact that he pulled
972 after a 1124lb squat at the Arnold indicates he was probably correct.

What Andy Eats: Nutrition

Andy is extremely conscientious about his diet, in much the same way as a competitive bodybuilder.
He will consume around 2.5g/kg of protein, which for him equates to 400 grams per day, 50% of
this coming from supplements (ProPeptide). A similar figure is reached in carbs, primarily low-glycemic.
Around 20% of his calorific intake comes from fats; he consumes a high amount of omega 3’s. For
the last few months, he has been using 4.5-6g/day of beta-alanine (Pro-Slam, CNP Professional),
scientifically proven to redress systemic acidosis, this product dramatically reduced muscle soreness
and improved his recovery.

Looking forwards; how high can the Deadlift numbers go?

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Andy is that he still appears to be on an upward curve. He is
extremely “coachable” and always positive, performing at his best under pressure. He is that rare mix
of genetic freakiness and limitless enthusiasm. However, breaking the 1000lb barrier really did take its
toll on his mind and body for the first time. Never had he trained so obsessively for a lift, he was
concerned by the fact that he had temporarily lost sight of everything else in his life, including his wife,
Stacy, and beautiful baby daughter, Madison, -the most important people in his life. He will stop when
his body tells him it’s had enough. But for the mean time, his very realistic goals are winning the Arnold,
squatting over 1200lbs, pulling even heavier and owning the total record by pushing it past the 3000lb

Andy would like to thank the following people for their help and support in helping him achieve this
momentous feat. Stacy and Madison, his friend and training partner, Dave “Bulldog” Beattie, John Inzer,
Kerry Kayes, Phil Connolly and James cnp Professional Ltd), Bill Crawford, Louie Simmons, Ed Coan and
Jeff Everson.

This article was written by Brian Batcheldor in 2006 when Andy became the first man to Deadlift

To improve your pull be sure to check out one of Andy’s best Strength Building Tools… “Explode Your

Training Advice For A Bigger Deadlift

In this article I answer a question from Carl. I get asked this question about a 1,000,000 times a day!

So it should help you help you out….

***QUESTION from Carl***

“Andy, Could you give me a good deadlift routine and any tips on how to get my grip stronger?”



I’m not a big fan of writing general routines out rep for rep, set for set; when I know nothing about the person asking the question.

I know certain magazines that make a ton of money dishing out routines every week that supposedly add 300 pounds to your Deadlift in 5 minutes or put 30 pounds of muscle on your frame in 30 days; but by and large these programs are as likely to work as you are likely to look outside your window right now and see a flying pig!

Choose who you listen to wisely and remember that:

“Success Leaves Clues”

With that said, I can tell you some things you should definitely be doing in order to get your Deadlift STRONGER.

For starters, you’re going to have to do some Deadlifting!


Well, lately I’ve seen a ton of guys trying to make their Deadlift go up by avoiding Deadlifting and using assistance work and special exercises instead.

I think this is a road to frustration and a good plan requires some Deadlifting, some variations of your regular Deadlift style (eg Rack Pulls) AND some sensible assistance work..

Remember the principle of S.A.I.D at all times.

This stands for ‘Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands’ and was a term used by Ivan Abadjiev
to describe how he trained his Bulgarian Weightlifters when they were the most dominant force in World Weightlifting.

By dominant I’m talking 9 Olympic Champions and something insane like 50 to 60 World and European Champions, (from a country with a population less than that of London or NYC).

What S.A.I.D basically meant was that you get good at what you spend your time doing. So…

If you wanna pull big, the most important thing you must do in your training is pull! ie… do some Deadlifting.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that we should all stop doing everything but the competition exercises and
start using only 5 exercises in our training like Abadjiev had his athletes do.

No, I think that plan is too extreme and it broke a lot more lifters than it made. Abadjiev didn’t care though; he wanted world champions and if he dam near had to kill 100 guys to find 1 star, so be it.

I think the average guy needs a much more balanced approach to his training. You must know why you are training.

Have 3 or 4 lifts that you are trying to master and spend 70 to 80% of your time working those lifts or variations of those lifts.

Then spend 20 to 30% of your time on carefully chosen assistance exercises that bring up your weaknesses and help you avoid injury.


Deadlifting And Deadlift Variations


So, if you are trying to get stronger on your pull make Deadlifting the first thing you do in your session and perform the style you are trying to get stronger on at least some of the time.

That probably means, either pull conventional or Sumo from the floor, with straight weight, some of the time.

On other training sessions you may use special Deadlifts to work on your particular weaknesses. For example, if you
are weak off the floor you may want to try Deficit Deadlifts.

To do this, stand on a 1, 2 or 3″ mat and pull from there.

On the other hand, if you are weak at lockout, you may want to do some Rack Pulls (or block pulls ) to overload the top end.

To do this, set up the pins in a power rack to the height you wish to pull from and Deadlift from the pins. (I use this a
lot myself and usually pull from just below knee height).

Another Deadlift option to use is speed pulls. You can use Bands and Chains if you like, although I reserve these for my Squat and Bench training.

Bands and Chains can develop a lot of speed and lockout power, but don’t forget: You have to separate the bar from the floor… so don’t overdo a good thing.

When Deadlifting you should do the following most of the time:

– keep your reps between 1 to 5

– make sure every rep starts from the same position

– mix things up to avoid boredom… pull from the floor, pull from blocks, do speed work. Occasionally have a weak off if you are tired.

Once you’ve Deadlifted, move onto assistance work. This should focus on the Hamstrings, Glutes, Back and Grip

Here are some options:


Assistance Exercises For A Bigger Deadlift


You should remember that the most important muscles for a big pull are also the most important muscles for a big SQUAT (Hammies, Glutes and Back).

So if you choose your assistance exercises carefully you will get more ‘bang for your buck’.

Here are some of the best:

– Glute Ham Raises

– Leg Curls

– Band Leg Curls

– Reverse Hypers

– Good Mornings

– Pull Throughs

– Kettlebell Swings

– Barbell Glute Bridge

Experiment with lots of different assistance exercises and find out what rep ranges work for you.

You may also want to perform some single leg work such as Reverse Lunges or Bulgarian Split Squats.

And of course train the abs hard. Use Side Bends, Full Contact Twists, Pull Down Abs and anything else that you find works for you.

Switch up your assistance exercises every 3 to 6 weeks or when progress stops.

Putting it all together. A simple way to plan a Deadlift

1. Deadlift Variation

2. Hamstring/Lower Back/Glute Exercise

3. Single Leg Exercise

4. Ab Exercise

5. Calf Exercise (optional)

One final thing to talk about. And it’s the thing NOBODY agrees on….


Grip Training


Ok, here’s what I know. Those Hand Grippers get your grip strong but don’t carry over much to Deadlifting.

Pinch Gripping, Fat Bar Work and Shrugging movements are what I have found makes my hands strong as hell for Deadlifting.

There’s a ton of ways to set these movements up. Try some new things out for yourself and find out what works for you.

Try timed holds for 5, 10 or 20 seconds. Try low reps and high reps. Try a couple of sets or 8 sets. Mix things up and continuously change the stimulus very few weeks to avoid boredom.


What it takes to Deadlift BIG


It takes a few things to Deadlift big.

A well thought out training plan is one. Do some Deadlifting and some assistance work. Do what you SUCK at, not what you’re good at. That takes courage and honesty to do, but it works. Over time these thing pay off.

Remember this:

“If you live life the easy way it ends up hard and if you live life the hard way it ends up easy”

(I’d love to give credit to whoever first came up with that gem of a quote but I can’t remember the dam name of the guy).

Moving on…

Get a good mind-set. It definitely takes a certain attitude to pull big.

Find yourself some training partners who like pulling and who are better than you. This will accelerate your strength
gains faster than anything else I know.

If you really want to pull big you must avoid those guys who love to Squat and Bench but treat the Deadlift as an  afterthought. There’s plenty of them around. Just check the record books for proof. Squat and Bench records change frequently, but Deadlift records can stick around for years.

Above all else, NEVER give up.

Until next time,

Andy Bolton

A Simple Tip For Powerlifting Competitions

It often amazes me how many lifters bomb at meets.  You don’t see many bomb on the Deadlift, but the Squat and Bench Press see a lot of lifters fail to make 1 of there 3 attempts and end up going home early.

This often lets weaker, but smarter lifters win or place higher than guys who are stronger but dumber!

The Powerlifting Competition is a simple thing. Your best Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift of the day are combined to form your TOTAL. The person with the highest total in their class wins. Simple as that.

But you have to make a total to have a chance of winning, right?

Here’s the solution. And be warned, it’s pretty dam simple… But tons of lifters don’t do it…


Now when I say light, I’m not talking stupidly light.But how about opening with your 3 rep max or a weight you could do for a single even if you felt like absolute crap. Do this, and you won’t bomb.

The greatest pound for pound lifter of all-time, Ed Coan, once told me that the only reason any Powerlifter ever bombed was because, “they opened too heavy”

Those were the words of a master lifter. Think about them the next time you are competing and pick your openers wisely. Remember, you have 3 attempts; so you might as well use them all.

Good luck at your next meet!

The Truth About Grip Training

I get asked about grip training all the time, so I think you’ll find this post pretty interesting if you want a strong grip.

***Question from Herbert***

“My grip has been giving out on the Deadlift as I’ve been getting stronger. What can I do to solve this problem?”


Ah, the old grip question!

This is a really weird subject because some guys never have a problem with their grip (no matter how strong they get) and others struggle almost as soon as they start training.

So, what’s the deal?

Well, for starters, grip training is very personal. You have to work out whether you need it, and if you do… find the exercises that work for YOU. I can tell you now that grip strength (and your potential for future grip strength) is determined to some extent by the  size of your hands. The bigger your hands, the better your grip, generally speaking.

For example, if you compete in strongman there are some events (those that use a fat bar) that are going to kill you if you have small hands. So big hands are a blessing from a grip strength perspective.

For proof, check out Brad Gillingham, who has pulled nearly 900lbs with a double over-hand grip!

My own grip never needed training until I got to 950lbs plus on the Deadlift. Then, as any of you who follow my career will know, grip became an issue and I have had to train it hard.

I know of other very strong lifters (who Squat over 1050lbs and Bench over 800lbs), who can’t hold 700lbs on the Deadlift! Clearly, you must train your grip if it is your weakest link on the Deadlift or another event you compete in.

You are only as strong as your weakest link – remember this at all times, otherwise you’ll spend too much time training what you are strong on (and stroking your ego) and not enough time bringing up your weaknesses by doing the exercises you  hate. But that is the real key to grip strength and getting stronger in  general… do you stuff you really SUCK at because it’ll make you stronger in the long run.

I’m now going to share with you some of my favourite grip exercises:


3 Exercises For A Vice-Like Grip


Grip Exercise # 1:

2 Hand Pinch Gripping Movements

These can be done in a variety of ways. The only limit is your imagination.

For example:

– You can do 5, 10 or 20 second holds.


– 3, 5 or 10 reps sets (remember that lower reps are better for strength and the same applies to grip training)

This easiest set up for 2 Hand Pinch Grip Holds is to get two  20kg plates and put them together (smooth sides out). Then just Deadlift them from the floor.

To add weight you will need a short bar for the plates to go on and collars either side. For a video of how this is done check out this:

Grip Exercise # 2:

Fat Bar Deadlifts/Holds

To perform this movement you will need a fat bar. Stick with 2 or 2.5 inches thick (any thicker and it just becomes a joke unless you have giant size hands).

These can be performed in the following ways:

– from the floor (ie full range Deadlifts)

– using a power rack, through various ranges of motion (ie partial Deadlifts)

as with pinch gripping movements, lots of different rep and set ranges can be used:

– sets of 3, 5 or 10 reps

– 5, 10 or 20 second holds

Grip Exercise # 3:


This may sound like a Trap exercise and it is. But Shrugs work the grip pretty hard too.

– Try sets of 5 to 8 reps

– Use a double over-hand grip

– Try a full grip and a thumb-less grip


How To Keep Making Progress With Grip Training


You must mix things up with grip training if you want to keep  getting stronger. Variety will keep your hands (and your mind) fresh. If you do the same exercises, in the same order, for too long a period of time, progress will stop (I know this because it’s happened to me).

Grip training can be an absolute b***h and progress can be hard to come by when you get pretty strong. Just keep going and keep changing the stimulus by rotating exercises and loading patterns by manipulating the set/rep protocols.


4 Week Sample Grip Training Program


Perform this grip work as an assistance exercise on the same day as your Deadlift training. I shouldn’t need to say this, but  I will:

– Perform it AFTER your Deadlift and not before.

Week 1:

2 Hand Pinch Grip: 5 sets x 5 reps (ramp the weights up each set)

Week 2:

Fat Bar Holds, starting with the weight just below knee height in the rack:

3 sets x 10 seconds (ramp the weights up each set)

Week 3:

Thumb-less Grip Shrugs:

4 sets x 8 reps

Week 4:

2 Hand Pinch Grip Holds: 2 sets x 10 seconds (hold back this week)

For the next 4 week cycle you could use the same exercises but try to go a little heavier this time round.
The only thing I know for sure about grip training is that  nobody agrees on what to do! So you must experiment and try new things and find out what works for you.

Good luck with your grip training! Having a strong grip is essential if you want a BIG Deadlift. But a strong grip on its own won’t guarantee you a big pull. To discover exactly how to get a bigger pull, check out my Deadlift e-book by clicking here.