Dawn of the Dead(lift)

In the past I’ve written about the differences between training and exercising, and that things that exist in the former that don’t in the latter.

A recreational runner and a competitive runner both run, but view their efforts differently.

A person attending Yoga one day per week is not same as the person that revolves their day around beloved mat time.

A person randomly moving around weights is not the same as a strength athlete, bodybuilder or power lifter.

As I deal primarily in strength I will limit myself to this area. In strength training one works towards a specific physical adaptation. In the Iron game this can be hypertrophy (muscle mass with an eye towards symmetry), strength (how much you can move), power (how explosively you can move an object) or control (such as in gymnastics.)

Inevitably during this process of acquiring strength there will be days where the weights win. Accept now that this day will eventually happen. It is what you do afterwards that is of importance.  Your decisions, or lack thereof, can spell the difference between future success or potential injury.  This is training, unlike exercise there is a goal beyond what happens today.

The other day the weights won.

My current Deadlift training day calls for the following:
1. Deadlift specific mobility warm up.
2. Ascending Deadlift singles-triples. Each rep gets progressively heavier, breaks are fairly short. Focus is on technical quality per rep.
3. Deadlift Back Off set 1×10-15 at 65% 1RM.
4. Axle (Fat Bar) Deadlift 3×3-5.  This is a grip challenge for those with smaller hands. The fat smooth bar has to be crushed in order to be hoisted.
5. Deadlift Rack Pulls (Just at Knee) 1RM+20% 3×3. This is exposing me to loads beyond which I can presently lift full ROM.  Despite the distance these lifts can be extremely taxing.

No straps or belt are used, although I have both in my bag just in case and the double overhand grip is kept until the hook grip becomes a necessity.  Based on the first few week of the cycle I’ve already gained 20lbs/9kg on my previous double overhand grip limit.  I’ve done no other specific grip training during this period.

It was the 5th Single that I failed to even get to the bar to break off the floor. It wasn’t even close to my previous max and only 20lbs/9kg heavier than the 4th single. A second attempt 5 minutes later led to the same failure.

Things felt much heavier than they should have felt. My breath was short and my nose bled. I haven’t failed rep in quite some time as I approach loading (adding weight to bar) sensibly, possibly even on the conservative side.

After my failures I made the sensible, although unpopular decision to call it a day. Despite the abbreviated nature of the session I logged my lifts as I always do.

I want that day to be recorded.

My personal training log entries have a way of eventually making it to other trainers or my athletic clients. They benefit from my successes as well as failures. In the case of my failures, how to avoid them or how to recover and rebuild from them.

SIDEBAR: Just because something worked for me doesn’t mean it will (or won’t) work for someone else. The application of training principles is whats being shared and it gives a starting point that can be drawn from.  Reviewing the process I am sometimes able to spot flaws that I didn’t previously see that would apply broadly and not just to myself.  

I’ve reviewed the events that led up to that day and came up with a few possible answers.

A. Not enough sleep the night before.
B. Not enough fuel (food) pre-training.
C. Possibly under-recovered from previous days lifting. The previous sessions all hit new performance levels in load,volume or technical quality.
D. Possibly a bad lift set-up position.
E. Possibly just an off day. This was the first day in several months where I couldn’t complete a lift,set or session.

An “out there” possibility is that my mind, in an effort to protect the body, prevented me from doing something that would cause harm.  Deadlifts by nature are very psychological lifts and the failure of the first attempt led the to failure of the second attempt.

This is training. We don’t do this to just to burn calories or get sweaty. The details, thought process and approach differ.  Regardless of training modality we train to become the Creations of Strength that we were designed to be.

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