All posts by Ryan saplan

Are you Strong Enough to a Powerlifting Meet? Judge for yourself after you read my experience

Share with someone who might be thinking about doing their first powerlifting meet. Another one of my popular blog posts is the one of my first meet.

A powerlifting Meet, a Play by play experience from a lifter.

6:36am I was wide awake. I was surprised of how I felt considering I had some trouble sleeping.  I didn’t feel nervous, but I’m pretty sure I was.  I had some caffeine a little later than usual the day before and was wondering if that was the reason.  I probably felt so alert because of the mild adrenaline pump that was to come for my powerlifting meet.

Unlike the morning of my first powerlifting meet, I was much more calm and focused.  The excitement wasn’t getting the better of me.  The main concern is how well I would squat today.  A few weeks ago I pulled some spinal erectors near my SI joint (I made a few videos about my injury).  Effectively irritating my SI joint which took about 12 days to recover.  

I went downstairs into my home gym to foam roll my stiff tissues with a kettlebell handle and get some mobility work in. It takes me forever to warm up to squat.  It would be so easy to not squat, but after seeing Brandon Lilly squat 110lbs months after his injury I was determined that my problem was nothing but a scratch.  If it came to be, I would squat at least 135lbs.

I practiced wrapping my knees as well as using my newly aquired iron rebel wrist wraps the day before.  They still needed braking in, but they were better than the Valero wrist wraps that I ended up returning  to Sports Authority.

pink rhino iron rebel wrist wraps

They were pink, only color left

7:45am We leave to Vacaville to Old Skool Iron.  My very pregnant hungry wife was nice enough to drive.  I do a video blog on the way there.  It actually helps me relax.

If you’re there supporting a friend, significant other or family member, it’s best to get there early so you can get good seats.  This was only my second powerlifting meet (at the same location), and it felt awkward to film because it was jammed pack (not to mention it was raining back in Feb).

It seemed pretty normal to have a camera person film their friend while they did their attempt, so even if you don’t get a good seat up front you should be okay.  However, with a pregnant wife, I wanted to make it as easy as possible so that she wouldn’t have to keep going back and forth.

8:17am  I arrive and do a last minute equipment check of an elbow strap brace I use for squatting.  It helps reduce the medial elbow pain when I squat. It’s a band-aid for poor shoulder mobility.

Photo Jun 16, 5 37 25 PM

They said it was too long and it can’t have velcro, bummer.

I talked to the USPLA organizer for the meet, Steven Denison.  I previously sent an FB message to him about not squatting.  He seemed a bit erked that I changed my mind last minute (again).  I’m going to make a guess that there were a lot of last minute changes including several that didn’t make weight.  This caused a slight delay in the first flight from starting.

Here’s  a video a video of a subscriber that follows my youtube channel.  Nick, strong guy. Killed it on the squats.  He cut down from 220 down to 198lbs.

I did a short warm up by working with 185lbs and 225lbs.  Sets of 3-5 reps.  The most important thing I finally figured out was my set up under the bar. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to squat in a way that didn’t give me elbow pain while simultaneously staying tight in the upper back.  As I get under the bar, I touch the place where I would do a high bar squat, then slide further forward while squeezing my shoulder blades together for a low bar squat.  Simple, but a routine I’ve forgotten.

A lot of powerlifters who I follow on youtube and listen to on podcasts don’t seem to emphasize set up enough.  Setting up to me is like looking through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle.  You might be out of bullets (or saving them, like saving strength) or not ready to shoot your target, but you can still check to see how things look.  You can pay attention to where your hands are around the gun.  Where your finger is in relation to the trigger.

In the case of the barbell in powerlifting you can practice set up everyday.  Why not? Practice unracking the barbell.  Practice deadlifting with 135lbs. Practice how you take your breath in.

That what I did for 5 days leading up to my first meet.  I was over prepared, and that’s why I did so much better.

Squat 1st attempt

3 white lights!  The white lights indicate each judge giving a thumbs up or down.  One on each side and one in front.  After the lift is completed, each judge will credit the lifter with a white or a red light.  You need 2 out of the 3 lights to be white for the lift to be good.

There was something wrong with equipment.  My socks were too high.  In raw classic there needs to be 2 inches above and below the knee wrap of exposed skin.  I also forgot to take off the elbow wrap I was using.  I felt bad about that because they said no earlier. I was just using it in warm up.

Squat 2nd Attempt

After each attempt you either had to go to the desk to give your next attempt numbers or someone one will come up to you after your lift to ask what you wanted to try for on the next attempt.

It’s crazy how “light” the weight felt.  Something about the environment and all those people watching you lift that gets the adrenaline going. 297lbs felt almost the same as 363lbs.

Squat 3rd Attempt

When it’s your turn to go up, you’ll hear the announcer say something like:

“Jon is up, Ryan is on deck, Billy is in the hole and Tim is 4 out.”

When you’re in the hole (or 3 out) you need to go up there and start wrapping up your knees and wrists (if you’re using any).  When they say “4 out,” it goes by really quick.  And if you’re nervous it will be like a blink before it’s your turn.  There’s usually a seat up front next to platform for setting up your knee wraps.  Your coach will either wrap you up or you’ll just wrap yourself up.

I wish I practiced using wrapping up my knees more.  I really didn’t use them much because I was planning on going with knee sleeves or just no knee support at all, but changed my mind last minute.

I’m so glad squats were over.  The most stressful lift and arguable the most dangerous.

Here’s a one of the strongest guys squatting ~660 in single ply gear

Bench Press 1st attempt

The general rule about setting your attempts

This is what I’ve heard from many people when it comes to setting attempts.

First attempt should be an easy 3 rep near max.

Second attempt should be your heaviest 2 rep max.

Third attempt should be your PR set.

For me, 265lbs in the gym for a pause bench was not an easy triple, but I know I can pretty much hit that on any given week. The closest to kg was 120kg or 264lbs.

I did a few sets of 2 reps with 225lbs in the warm up room.  I really focused on staying tight.  They didn’t really have any pull up bars (or space for that matter) to set up for my normal mobility routine, so I had to improvise when compared to my standard shoulder mobility routine.

When raw benching for powerlifting, it’s important that you have good mobility to go into shoulder extension and internal rotation.  That just means your elbow going behind your body without your shoulder shrugging forward or up.

The middle part of my lat on my right side cramped up like crazy.  Luckily I got a soft ball to mash that out.

After my second attempt, I learned a lot about myself.  Here’s the thing I learned. I always seem to have an issue with my lock out when it comes to benching.  I’m usually pretty strong coming off the chest after a pause, but for whatever reason, my lock out sucks and on that set I realized what it was.  After my elbow passes 90 degrees I let off the gas pedal bit.  I think it’s unconscious.  When the judge said “bench” I came up with the 303lbs strong and I was thinking, “shit i got this!”  But then hit that invisible wall at the 0:09 second mark in the video.  I slowed down my rep and I don’t know why.  This is where I thinking training with bands or chain might help be stop this bad habit.  I need to focus on following all the way through.

Some may suggest that my second attempt was too big of a jump, and it probably was. I made the jump because in my mind, I can’t hit 300lbs for more than one rep in any given bench day.  Of course, that’s probably psychological, but my other matter of thinking was that if I went for 297lbs, there was a good chance I might miss 303  on the 3rd attempt.   So I just went for a small PR. My experience training is that I have trouble hitting multiple paused reps above 280lbs in the same session.

Once I got stuck, you can see my lips move telling the spotters I’m done. On my 3rd attempt on my previous meet (video starts at 2:44)  I tried to grind for 5 seconds and still failed.  Ultimately I irritated my left AC joint that prevented me from benching and back squatting heavy  for 3 weeks;  so I cut my losses right there.

I learned something very valuable at this meet.  I found out that I don’t follow through aggressively after my elbow passes 90 degrees.  I want to say that around about the 110 degree mark of the bench, I have a subconscious slow down of completing the lockout.  It’s as if I’m a few steps from the finish line and decide to slow down because I’m so close.  The unfortunate reality is that gravity is still working against me and any loss of momentum during max attempts will result in a miss or a really ugly grinder.

This is where I think training with chains and bands could be useful.  Really being put in a condition where I have to fully lockout out the weight.  However, I’ve always felt that training with bands messed with the bar path too much.  If I had a choice, I would bench press with chains if they were available to me.

Powerlifting Meet Deadlift Attempts

Most of my mobility work is done, because for me, squatting has the greatest demands on my flexibility (or lack thereof).    However it’s still good to do a little bit.  Doing the hamstring floss has always been a staple for me.  Gets me into a really good deep hip flexion for a solid pulling position on the deadlift.

I was also creative enough to jerry-rig my own uni-lateral hip thrust.  Hip thrust with bands was an idea I got from Chris Duffin on this video at the 1:40 mark.  A standing banded hip thrust that helps with deep flexion at hips along with an accompanying aggressive hip extension.

The space required for what Chris Duffin demonstrates was not available to me, so what I did was I did it with one leg.  almost like a 1-legged rdl.  It seemed to help a lot.

Warm ups were 135 for 10 reps and 225 for 5 reps.  I did practice singles with 315-365lbs.  I rehearsed my approach, grabbed and ripped.  I always big on form,but when it comes time to max lift, you gotta hope that all your training up until that point falls into place when you grab the bar for an attempt.

It’s almost like you have to fall into some sort of rhythm.  A rhythm of breathing, or maybe like a dance.  Something that puts you mode to walk up to the bar and give your very best physical, mental and technical efforts.

I chose to do a 484lbs (220kg) opening attempt.  I won’t say this is an easy triple, but on any given day I can lift this with 99.99% accuracy.  When I looked at the roster, I was the second heaviest opening lift.  It was satisfying to know that my deadlift was high up there, unlike my bench and squat.

1st Deadlift Attempt

2nd Deadlift Attempt

How to have a successful Deadlift

I’ve been able to distill my current deadlift approach as follows:

1. Approach the bar, placing one foot with the proper distance from the shin.

2. Position second foot

3. Distance check my shins to the bar. If I were to flex my knees my shins would almost touch it.

4. Squeeze glutes

5. Take a long deep breath into spinal extension

6. Grab the bar with my right (under hand) pulling some slack out of the bar. ~40lbs

7. Grab with other hand (overhand) pull another 40lbs of slack out of the bar.

8.  Take another big deep breath. Getting a double sip of air to increase my abdominal pressure.

9. Knees flex forward

10.  Violently and abruptly extend the knees and hips while simultaneously rocking backwards.

11. Don’t let go

Much of this routine has been learned organically.  Everything happens so quickly.  It’s my “pre lift routine” which would be similar to a pre shot routine that is similar to what a golfer does before hitting the ball.

The hardest thing I’ve been trying to do in training is to approach 135lbs the same as I would a 600lbs deadlift.

One the big mistakes I’ve noticed with many lifters in the warm up room is lowering the deadlift too slowly.  I know for a fact that this waste a lot of energy.  I suppose it might makes sense to do so if you have a bad habit of following judge commands and dropping the bar after a deadlift, but lowering quickly is the only way you can conserve energy.  315lbs is light, but lowering it like a stiff legged deadlift will impact energy usage.

484lbs came up like slicing butter.  Not my best bar path, but definitely easy as expected.  When I went to give numbers for my next attempt, I thought about giving my previous pr of 247.5kg, but decided to PR it try 250kg.  At the time of giving my next attempt, I thought if I missed it I would get a second chance.

A few moments later I realize that was bad thinking.  From when I finished my 1st deadlift opening attempt to my next attempt I zone out.  It was if I had tunnel vision and could hardly hear anything.  I was in a meditative state.  Listening to my breath and keep my nerves calm.

I made commitment that once I gripped that bar I wasn’t going to let go.  I was reminded by an Elite Crossfitter I saw in a video.  It was a deadlift and box jump workout.  315lbs deadlift and box jumps for 21-15-9 reps for time.  The guy that won that event said in a later interview that he made a commitment to not let go of the bar.  315lbs isn’t heavy but 21 reps is a lot of F*cking reps. I think it was Scott Panchick or Marcus Hendren.

(For the record, crossfit doesn’t help strength in powerlifting, but these elite guys have a solid mental game. Hate crossfit or not, it still takes certain level of mental capacity to reach high levels in any sport.)

When I was 4 out, I went up close to the platform thinking about  what Jeremy Hamilton said in an Omar Isuf Video on youtube.  Approach the bar like you’re ripping a head off of a lion.  It’s what I imagined. Putting King Mufasa in a headlock and ripping his head off.

A messy headless lion.

During: I don’t know what happened, the bar just went up.

After: It was crazy watching it. I was in disbelief.

I felt something in my left shoulder get slightly overstretched during the attempt so I chose to play it safe and decline my 3rd attempt. It felt like my subscapularis.  It was a hell of a mind F’ just getting up there for the attempt.

I surprised that I won bronze.

bronze medal powerlifting meet
does this guy even lift?

A great experience, looking forward to the next one.  I got some big personal goals this year.  600lbs deadilft and a 330lbs paused bench.

Thanks for reading, share with someone who might be thinking about doing their first powerlifting meet. Another one of my popular blog posts is the one of my first meet.

Strength is never weakness:)


Dan’s section: Stan Efferding and Dan Green Seminar Notes Part 2 |Boss Barbell Mountain view

These are the seminar notes I took on 5-31-14 at Boss Barbell in Mountain View, California.  The video below  is me reviewing them.  It’s much better than the previous seminar notes.

I’m going to go to every Boss Barbell seminar I can.  There are so many more tidbits of information you get from being there.  For those that can’t attend, this is the next best thing (I hope).

-bulgarian wt lifting team
-has produced 50+ world champions
-maxing multiple times a day
-their method is the far end of the spectrum
-it’s what you’re striving to accomplish
-to be able to handle that kind of work capacity
-Bulgarian Style training is an example of an extreme training style

-Intensity & Specificity of training
-strength has a huge skill component
-coordination and timing need to be built

-life cycle of a human
-baby: dependant on people to feed you and take care of you
-adult: support yourself
-elderly: someone helps you and you become dependant again

*I can’t remember what the point of his analogy was for life cycle of a human life as it relates to training ;/ I was really hungry by that point the seminar and had a little trouble focusing

Photo May 31, 3 51 38 PM

Page 2

-Beginner program
-Starting Strength
-Building Basics

Intermediate lifter

-you start to fail and get stuck around the same place
-fill in all the holes
-address weak points
-like Stan said about nutrition: add in what you’re lacking
-develop your weaknesses
-as you do an accessory exercise to build up a weakness, the carry over lessens and lessens
-should I be doing more deadlifts from a deficit or more from the floor?
-understand carryover from accessory movements
-reduce the liability of the weakness

page 3



Page 4

-it ran its course
-training triceps has ran its course in building your bench
-Accessory exercises are just that, to bring up weak points
-main lift is never replaced

-Stiff legged deadlifts improved his flexibility
*it improved mine too! Should’ve never stopped doing them
-help reduced dan’s knee pain

-how do you know when you should change your accessory movements, you just know
-by the time Dan built himself up to 6 plates on stiff legged deadlifts, it was safe to say that his hamstrings were not weak as compared to other muscle groups

-Dan turned the corner on his bench press when he started focusing on chest strength and not tricep strength
-Dan Green as stuck 425lbs on the bench for a long time

page 5

-front squat
-constantly building skill
-style of bench
-build the skill
-choosing the weight
There are 2 types of maxes
-technical max: the heaviest weight right before your squat turns into a good morning
-absolute max: what you can lift at all costs

-do the things that will make you stronger
-be a better lifter
-be a stronger lifter
-always focus on technique and you will become a great lifter

page 6

-add leverage by wider stance and lower bar position
-by doing this you shorten your spine
-high bar and depth carries over more into sports than low bar
-story about guy with big quads at moscow

Dan green started out by copying
-sam byrd’s squat technique
-Constantine konive (forgot the name) was the lifter at moscow meet he got out squatted

-hack squats to build his lagging quads
-suggested to dan green by sam byrd
-he looks like he’s hack squatting (sam byrd?)

-prioritize a lift is huge when you’re trying to make it better

page 7

-lifts for skill
-lifts for building explosive power
-lifts for building  muscle

-doing a pause squat correctly to have the best carry over
-be explosive after the pause
-start with longer pauses (5 sec +) then as the weight gets heavier decrease the pause
-eric lilliebridge used high bar and got stronger quads,s witched to low bar, widen his stance and improved his leverage
-he was able to use the strength built up and then literally leverage it

-deadlifting from blocks helps improve starting strength

page 8
-improve better start by training from blocks, meant to overload torso
-build your own technique
-sumo deadlift : active flexibility of the abductors
-it’s about the glute medius

page 9
-timing cues, skill cues from doing Stiff legged deadlifts
-SLDL is like a slow motion deadlift
-rehearse when to be aggressive during parts of the deadlift
-it’s what SLDL is good for
-what are you doing to get better in your workouts?
-predictably make progress every workout

page 10
-efficiently faster than fatigue
if you do 405lbs for 1×5 then next week you do 405 for 1×6, you know you got stronger.
Bench more by benching more article by dan green at JTS strength

-deadlift is dependant on leverage, the least body weight dependant powerlifting movement

-take yourself some where you’ve never been
– rep range for working sets per workout is around 20-30 reps (said by Stan efferding

page 11

-build up your strength by strict pressing
-600# bench press doesn’t come from leg drive, it happens by having a huge chest

-old school training : feet on bench while bench pressing
-slow gradual progress

page 12

-the smarter you get at training you’ll get stronger faster
-getting over the nervousness with heavy weights
-how to lift heavy weights
-same routine
-approach the same way
-ritual of lifting
-practice the same routine in training

-Dan like to approach the bar like an assassin or professional hit man
-attack the bar from the decent
-will smith treadmill quote mentioned by creed
will smith


page 13

-creed deadlift story 2 years ago at super training where he told the story of how dan green ripped his hamstring deadlifting 815lbs

BBSM Strength Template program

BBSM Template – Boss Barbell Strength Method Template
Technically, it’s not bbsm because I’m not being coached by Dan, but if you want to get a good recap of someone who has been coached by Dan, check out this Video by Brand Campbell.

Here is the template notes:

BBSM Notes by Deadlift Nerd Page 1
Strength Template
Low Bar Back Squat (Competition style)
High Bar Pause Squats
Stiff legged Deadlift
Front Squat
Block Pulls
Deficit Deadlift
Paused Bench Press (Competition style) 2­4 sets
Touch and Go Bench Press (build volume 5×5 or 6×4)
Paused Wide Grip
Tuesday or Thursday:
Shoulder Day
Standing Overhead Press or Seated Dumbbell Shoulder press
Will work up to a heavy 1­3 rep set then do back off sets of 3­4 set of 8 reps of a lower weight.
Lateral Raises to build delts


Stan Efferding and Dan Green Seminar Notes |Boss Barbell Mountain view

Stan Effereding Seminar Notes
Nutrition & Training Psychology

part 1 of 2 notes

A video recap reviewing my notes
(video will be available shortly)

905lbs squat by stan
Stan on Powercast (one of my favorite all time podcasts)
My recap notes on youtube

Photo May 31, 3 40 20 PM

-98lbs in high school
-Wrestled in high school as a senior a 115lbs
-Max bench press at that time was 135lbs
-Holds a degree in exercises science
-Reaffirm what you already know
-learn to prioritize things

-Most important variables: frequency and intensity
-everything else is a distraction
-successful in real estate business
-started engineering firm
-medical marijuana
-owned or owns a gym in Seattle

-Has traveled all over to train with the best

-Moved to train with flex wheeler
-Spent a summer with Ed Coan
-Moved down to supertraining gym  in sacramento to train with mark bell and his team
-Charles glass
-Dave colombo but I think he said Dave Palumbo
-George Leeman

-Stan isn’t endorse by a supplement company and has not product to sell.
-Traveled all over to train with the best and has learned that there are no secrets.
-It’s all the same stuff: hard work
-Frequency and Intensity

Creed his training partner said that only thing that these guys all had in common was a burning desire.  They were savage about what they wanted to do. A consuming passion.

-they’ve trained with people with different styles of training
-they all work for them

-Brandon Lily too a bad fall and injured his kniee **link** and dan green was set to lift 20 minutes later. Dan green was unphased.

-they have a switch in there head where nothing else matters
-most nutrition studies don’t apply to athletes
-corporations have high jacked the nutrition industry to make money to push their products and agenda

-You can find anything on the internet to support a claim for a particular substance
-you can find it
-you can find anything to support any diet, high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, vegetarian, etc.
-Nutrition information he teaches presumes that you’re an athlete

-Doesn’t like to work as a baby sitter personal trainer only train athletes
-Every body wants to put a label on food “bad” vs “good”
-there is no good or bad food
-gluten will kill you, saturated fat will kill you, carbs will make you fat… if you’re an athlete, rules are different for you

Page 2

-Cholesterol based animal fats or animal based cholesterol
-Needed for optimal hormone production
-Have intensity in your nutrition like your training
-track your nutrition, that’s the only way you’ll know if it works
-egg story by creed: Creed was following a standard 6 meals a day chicken/fish rice bodybuilder’s diet. Stan told him to eat 6 eggs with every meal. 36 eggs a day.  He was able to do it but it took time
-train your metabolism just like you would train for a 600lbs deadlift, 500lbs bench press and 700lbs squat.

Page 3

-you’re trying to build a machine that can do more work, that takes time.
-training and food
-80% of calories burned is at rest
-increase in resting calorie burn by building muscle, training and diet
-insulin shuttle nutrients , don’t be afraid of insulin
-vegetables/fiber impede absorption
-meta analysis = study of all the studies
-so many people spend so much time on the 1% the stuff that makes the smallest difference
-stan has a spreadsheet of everything he eats, his weight, his training for years
-stan has ridiculous discpline
-what supplements should I take?
-depend on what you’re missing.  Get blood test and track

Page 4

-all the top athletes take regular blood test to track their health
-blood work is important to monitor performance
-none of them take supplements, top body builders don’t take the supplements they endorse
-your business is a body, make a profitable body
-are you getting better?
-the story of ed crapping in his pants and his flooded apartment *link* to part in the video here.

-speed is a product of strength

Page 5

-big benefits for athletes when they consume sodium
-water is not good without salt
-huge benefit in strength sports
-when salt is low blood volume decreases
-they iodized salt  to help prevent thyroid problems in women
-too much water will lead to dehydration
-not enough salt will causes dehydration
-1 liter of water = 2 g / 2000mg of sodium
-helps carbs reach muscle
-increases blood volume
-more blood volume = more oxygen

Page 6

-low energy = low salt
-lack of salt causes water retention
-dehydration = headache
-24 hour water loss by cutting salt
-water without salt =  bad for athletes

Page 7

-thursday mental preparation for a 900lbs squat
-possible loss of sleep mentally preparing for a big squat day
-sleep from Thursday and Friday prepares for saturday’s session
-stan getting stressed before that session
-he won’t talk to creed , stan is hella quiet
-you have to take yourself to somewhere you’ve never been
-washing the dishes 10 hours a day doesn’t help your mom get big arms
-when you see dan green squat and the bar stops, that’s intensity

Page 8

chuck vogelpohl prepares by screaming at the bar and having a bloody forehead by hitting his head on the barbell

Lee Priest told creed, once you get your requirements, the rest is gravy.  It’s just icing on the cake
-fiber prevents absorption
Eric spoto prepares best with no one around.  You haven’t seen some of Eric spoto’s best numbers because he’s a mess when in front of a crow d.
-Stan Efferding thrives on the crowd
George Leeman prepares by going to a dark place in his mind, he’ll be crying

-sleep apena is a given in guys who are 250lbs or more. almost.  get a machine to help you breath so you sleep well.
-this is because of the thick neck, back and chest area that makes oxygen difficult

Next up I’ll have Dan Green’s Template for BBSM, or at least the one he reviewed at the seminar. In my previous notes I have some stuff



Deadlift Lockout Accessory Exercises

I will have a Video up soon about this article at

My view point on program design starts at the individual level.

What is this person missing?
Why do they move so bad?
What’s wrong with their form?
What’s weak in their body?

Why are they getting stuck here?
I seldom work with athletes.  Just regular everyday people that are trying to get in shape for themselves.  No “serious” strength goals like powerlifters.  I want to deadlift 600lbs, squat 500lbs and Bench 315lbs.  Most people I train usually have an injury or problem that prevents them from feeling healthy  and strong.  People want to be young and feel young.  When you’re in pain, it’s hard to feel that way.  So what I do is teach people how to move better a big part of moving better is being strong.  Building strength is the foundation for everything.
I’m of the opinion that most people can’t follow a long format program because they aren’t dedicated enough.

If you’re an exception to this rule, and are serious about following a plan, here is my hypothetical approach:
I’ll use one lift as an example: the deadlift

A goal to Deadlift 600lbs by December 2014
My current best is 545lbs
I best rep PR is 515×2, 445×6, 500×3

I’m having trouble during lockout.  I slow down and start grinding right at or just above the knee.
The next question I would ask is, what muscles are weak that’s preventing me from get a faster lockout.

Is there something in my form and technique I can improve an change?  I can always make improvement in form and technique to get better leverage and position, however this is something that has to be addressed during each training session.
From a programming perspective: what muscle do I need to strengthen to improve my lockout?

Rack Pulls
Block Pulls
Hip Thrust
Deadlift Stance Box squats

Holy crap! I forgot about Deadlift Stance box squats!  I haven’t done these for a while. This is probably why I’m not as strong as I was.
This is why I have trouble programming.  I think about what needs to be fixed and then I fix it.  Do that for several weeks and reap the benefits.  Obviously there is a better way, but I’m out of time so I’m ending this blog post. Thanks for reading.

Deadlift Lockout Strength, Squat weakness leaning to far forward | ideas for working on powerlifting

Your weakness could be all in your head.  The weakest link in your squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk is all in your head.

What’s weak in your bench press?  Maybe, probably triceps

What’s weak in your your squats? Maybe, probably your glutes, or your core.

What’s weak in your deadlift? Your low back or hamstrings.

What about your snatch or clean and jerk? Okay, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the olympic lifts, but much of what I talk about in this blurb will be about getting a global understanding of what you’re body is suppose to do optimally.  Much of what I’ve learned  about human movement comes from Kelly Starrett and the mobility wod as well as a combination of various high level strength athletes.  Combine youtube / podcast university with 10+ years coaching regular people as well being a “broken leopard” you’ve got unique perspective from an ungifted athlete coach.

One of the major “gems” of information that set me to write about this comes from what I heard on the Mark Bell’s Powercast with Max Aita.  About their discussion about Dmitry Klokov and how the russians train.  Here’s a link to the podcast, and it starts at the 44:50 mark.

Dan Green was mentioned about his coaching.  About how he doesn’t say much, but when he does, it makes so much sense. Simple stuff that hits you like a ton of bricks (paraphrasing what Max Aita said).

I went to Boss Barbell in Mountain View and had the opportunity to listen to his seminar (here are my notes).  But recalling back to his manner of speaking and coaching style its interesting how all the dots started to connect in my mind.  In a way, much of what he said in his seminar was about his overall view on program design for getting stronger and when he brought up the idea of your “technical max,” the idea connected with what Max Aita said in Mark bell’s Powercast.

So lets talk about technical max.  When does your technique begin to break down?  When do your squats, bench, deadlifts, power cleans, clean/jerk and snatches begin to falter?  Like when your squats start to look like good mornings or when your back begins to round  too much in the deadlift.

When your technique beings to break down, there is a weakness that expresses itself in your movement.

What is wrong with the way you’re moving?  When you make a movement error you are expressing a weakness.  Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you don’t make the lift or you’re incapable getting stronger without giving it direct attention, it just means you’re leaving some power/strength/leverage on the table by not clearing up the movement fault.

The movement fault is a bottleneck.  I learned this term from Gray Cook, it was such a big “ah-ha” moment for me when Kstar’s mobility wod and Cook talked about the idea on this video.

A movement is a pattern.  Performing a pattern like a bench press or squat has a specific loading pattern that will provide optimal positioning and leverage (this varies by individual).  This is technique.  Sorry if this sounds vague, but bare with me.

One of the things I’m trying to work on in myself is an asymmetrical weight shift.  I know this is one of major reasons in why I have knee pain in my left knee from time to time.  Although I’m right handed, left leg and glute/hip complex is significantly stronger than my right.  One way I know this is the case is that when I’m in the bottom of my squat for a pause with 80% or more of my 1RM, I can feel my left leg initiate the drive out of the hole.

What causes this?  I’m missing range of motion in my RIGHT SIDE: hip and ankle.  This is one of my bottlenecks that’s preventing me from getting stronger  in my squat safely.

So what’s weak?  Most likely and definitely my right glute.  But the real question is what do I work on?  Squatting without shifting is what really comes to mind.

What you lack in technique you can make up in strength (to a certain degree).

End of post. thanks for reading.

Dan Green Explains why You should do beltless squats

At the 6:40 mark Dan Green explains his reasons for beltless squatting. He does for a month.

It’s a somewhat hard to hear over the music, but Dan Green’s viewpoint is that squatting with a belt and/or knee warps are comparing apples to oranges.

He mentions he likes doing beltless squats to 5  and 10 rep maxes but doing so with less weight on the bar.

As a beginner into the sport of powerlifting, I see there is a lot of value in training without a belt.  As of this blog post, I’m just beginning to realize how beneficial it is.  4 weeks ago during this workout I got I was doing sets of 6 reps of deadlifts on Candito’s linear progression program with 425lbs and 405lbs.  It was a hell of a struggle.

Then 4 weeks later on megaman this workout, I was able to do 2 sets of 6 reps.   445lbs and 455lbs.  I actually ended up doing 8 reps of 455, but took some intermittent breaks.

The 445lbs was significantly lighter than expected.  Of course, it’s not something that can really be explained well, it’s something you notice in how the bar feels.

dan green squat 606lbs pause

How to increase Deadlift Lockout strength

I want to deadlift 600lbs by the end of the year, my best right now is 545.5lbs (247.5kg)  in competition at a bodyweight of ~194lbs.  For my next competition on june 7th, my goal is to achieve a 565lbs deadlift in  a lower weight class.  I plan on competing at 82.5kg or 181.5lbs.

My thought process of improving deadlift lockout strength has always caused me to rely on  doing rack pulls and block pulls to work on weak points in my deadlift.

Where does my deadlift slow down?  For me it’s after It gets past my knees.  All weights between 475+ I’m grinding through that range.  I an confidently lockout 500-515lbs on any given day, but they are grinders.

I keep thinking that in order for me to build strength I need to work on my weak points more aggressively.  In other words, more rack pulls, pin pulls and block pulls. Overloading with a shorter range of motion. However, one of my greatest strengths of my deadlift is being able to accelerate the weight through that sticking point.  I find it easier to pull 455lbs off the ground vs pull it from 4 or 6 inch blocks.

In the video above I talk ramble on more.  But in case you want more reading this article from elite fts and jts strength are good articles discussing improving deadlift lockout strength.

Revisiting Dan Green’s Seminar Notes after my first powerlifting meet

You can learn more about me on my youtube channel.

I’ve learned the most interacting with people and having conversation with them.  Going to live events where you meet people with similar experiences as well people who are at the top of their game give you more “ah-ha” moments than most articles, podcasts or videos on the internet.

I was reviewing the Dan Green seminar highlight videos posted by Universal.  This is the exact same seminar I took notes on and did a recap.

Watching it again motivated to take consider a longer view point on my training as well as take it more seriously.  It also inspired me to do a blog post .

One the best ways I learn and get inspiration is by teaching others.  Reviewing and sharing  concepts and ideas about building strength is the best way I absorb information.

So what I did was review the video and took notes again and wanted to see if the information I learned at the Boss Barbell Seminar meant the same thing to me as it did back in January.  Especially since I just finished my first powerlifting meet and I’m currently training for my second powerlifting meet which is exactly 53 days from this writing. (USPLA Old Skool Iron Classic, June 7th)

Look like you spend lots of time in the gym (for the beginner)

For beginners out there, one of the first things someone should focus on is look like you workout.

A part that got a real laugh at the seminar was when dan green said

“If you sit at a desk 50-60 hours a week, your body kinda starts end up looking like that” click here to see the exact point where he says it.
Tweet:  click here to tweet it.

As a trainer, I sometimes take for granted how someone actually looks.  Sure, there are genetic factors that play a role on how someone’s body will look like, but if you are able to lift heavy stuff repeatedly you will have a frame that looks like it.

I spend most of my days in a gym, train clients and have very athletic co-workers.  The goal of any “regular person” is to not look like a “regular person.”  Don’t look weak.  So simple.

It reminds me of when I listened to the audiobook Total Recall by Arnold schwarzenegger (his latest memoir), where he relates bodybuilding and lifting weights to his other life successes.

“Everything is about reps and sets. Reps and sets, reps and sets.”

Lift heavy often enough, challenge your muscles and you’ll look like you workout.

Expressing strength vs Being Strong


“Take all the training you’ve done and turn into the perfect day.  It can be sort of a crap shoot.”

In the video, he really doesn’t say much, but depending on your experience and training age, you can view this in many different ways.

There is one thing to maintain strength year round and it’s a whole different when you’re called to express your strength in 9 attempts.

He mentioned Westside Barbell and talked about it briefly ( conjugate method) during the seminar.  And if you’re familiar with it, you know that it consists of lots of variety.  Barbell lifting with accommodating resistance, using bands and chains.  Using different kinds of bars, types of squats and types of deadlifts.

Variety is used often in bodybuilding to stimulate muscle growth in as many different ways as possible to maximize muscle size (hypertrophy).  Essentially, attacking the muscle in a variety of different directions.

You intuitively know this.  Changing things up (variety) is really good for building strength.

Peaking for Powerlifting

The Said Principle: Specific adaptation to imposed demand. You get better at whatever it is you train for.

Read the above 2 sentences again and interpret as what makes sense to you.

I’m far from being a high level lifter.  Considering my knowledge base with what I know about human physiology and experience of training non-athletes along with lots of nerding out on bodybuilding and powerlifting articles, I know this is a very complicated subject.

There are people out there with lots more experience that can tackle the subject better.  However, what I bring to the table is my opinion; this viewpoint coming from a normal person that loves lifting heavy barbells. I happen to be an experienced personal trainer that coaches everyday people.  I’m a non-athletic, broken leopard.

With that being said, peaking for a powerlifting meet to me means taking about 5-6 days off from heavy lifting.  My last heavy training session will probably be may 31st.

From May 12th through the 30th, there will be a lot of emphasis placed to my set up for each lift.  Lots of heavy singles with 80-90% with a very low training volume.  Lots of 1-3 reps sets with mental training of how I’m going to approach the bar.

Where the bar sits on my back on the squat, how my shoulders set upon the bench prior to lift off and where my hips are and where and when my shins make contact with barbell before the deadlift.

These are thing that are specific to me.  Some may say I’m over thinking things, but this how I lift. It’s part of my mental preparation. And because I’m a technical guy, these are the things that set me up for success.

I’m not a professional athlete, I’m a recreational athlete that take his recreation seriously (and loves it).

I’ve spent too much time writing and have to get back to work.  Comment and share my article if you found this article interesting.  My primary place to publish content is on my youtube channel.


How to teach the Deadlift | Coaching for Personal Trainers to Teach Barbell training

The best way I learn things is by teach it and doing it.  So I made this video to help you teach the deadlift, so you can deadlift better.

(be sure to subscribe to my channel to see upcoming deadlift tutorials. )

Deadlift and bent over row have always been the most difficult exercises to teach someone.  This is because most people lack motor control in the hips, hamstring and low back.

“Keep a curve in your back.”

“Arch your back. ”

I think most people are really afraid of the deadlift because people get paranoid about hurting their back.  I use have to low back problems and suffered from sciatica on off – so when I first started deadlifting I was tentative and conservative.

To make a long story short, I can now pull 500lbs with confidence off the ground.

Since building the strength to do that, I now seldom suffer from any back problems or even back tightness.  I still get hip tightness, but low back problems are now non-existent since I built the strength to deadlift 500 pounds.  I even did my  powerlifting meet.

I’ve come to the conclusion that reason why I had so back problems was because I was weak.

Me, personal trainer of 10+ years was weak.

Looking back in hindsight, I was inflexible and weak.

Now I’m more flexible and strong.


Shoulder Flexibility for Bench Press and Overhead Press

I really big part about getting really strong is to stay healthy. This means, to stay injury free.  When your body isn’t able to go through full range of motion effectively, there is likelihood that poor mechanics will lead to a tweak.

Have good shoulder external rotation and wrist extension are factors in doing this.  In this video I go over a mobility drill I learned from World Record Holder in the squat, Donnie Thompson on the Mobility Wod.