• My Deadlift Journey: 315lbs to 782lbs pt1

      by Jeremy Hartman

      I first was introduced to the deadlift when I was a sophomore in high school. My high school wrestling coach showed me a conventional way to deadlift and told me not to go above 185lbs, so I did as was told and practiced deadlifting. I met a local gym owner who suggested I try deadlifting to help strengthen my body for wrestling and trained with him that summer. He asked to see me deadlift so I put on 185lbs. and did it nice and easy in a very controlled manner. The gym owner introduced me to sumo style deadlifting and said it would be more beneficial for wrestling as it was going to really strengthen my hips with the wide stance. I struggled lifting 250lbs, but thought it was extremely heavy weight for only weighing 135lbs. The gym owner got in my face and asked what the greatest trophy in high school wrestling was, I immediately responded by saying “being a state champ”. He then said, “I want you to quit doing what you have done all your previous sets and get in there and go after 315 like a state champ would…here’s a belt, throw it on tight and go in there and show me how a state champ would pull it.” I got so jacked up for the first time in my life, the weight flew up and I almost lost balance at the top. The owner came over and said, now that is how you deadlift! From that moment on, I knew how important the mental aspect was to deadlifting. The old ‘attitude is everything’ poster that I always saw in my school finally made sense.

      Flash forward to my senior year of wrestling, I never pulled more than 405 as I was always cutting weight for wrestling and never had a chance to put weight on. After going on several college visits for wrestling, I knew I wanted something else. Since I was unbelievably passionate about strength training, as I saw what it did to help me in my sport, I decided to try powerlifting. I went to my first meet only after a few weeks of solid training. I had used my old wrestling singlet, wrestling shoes, and an old belt. Needless to say I bombed out and didn’t get a chance to deadlift. A few weeks later I deadlifted 455 raw at another meet to qualified me for nationals, where I finished second in the teenage division weighing 181lbs.

      I decided to contact Greg Page after watching him deadlift 630lbs. at 148lbs. bodyweight at a local USAPL State Meet. Greg and the owner of the gym I was training at introduced me into Westside Training and the Conjugate Method. The first time I did a max effort workout was with good mornings.
      I followed in the gym owners training, not really knowing what a good morning was, or what a max effort day really meant. He hit 365lbs. for a single after doing about 9 working up sets and then told me to do the same. I was barely moving 275 for lower than a few inches. Again I got pulled aside and was told that when he got done with his sets, he had to lie on the ground for 5 minutes because of the effort he put in. Needless to say I went in and after my next few sets with a vengeance that I haven’t had since the 315 deadlift a few years back. I got 365 for 3 reps and touched the pins, which were set a few inches above parallel, for both the reps. I had to lie down on the gym floor in front of everybody in the gym to catch my breath and do everything I could not to throw up.

      I printed off every Louie Simmons and Dave Tate article and put them in a binder to read. After a summer long training of speed and max effort work, I pulled 555lbs. without deadlifting often and weighing still around 181lbs. To work on building up my body, rather than just going through a typical progressive powerlifting training routine, I did heavy good mornings, heavy back extensions, speed box squats, weighted pull-ups, and sled pulling. My deadlift, along with my squat and bench, started taking off simply because I got my body stronger through the use of special exercises. This realization is the first part of training to improve your deadlift, get your whole body strong!
      pt 2 next month...