It’s been close to a year since I reached 405 pounds on the deadlift, since then I have only lifted 415 once focusing more on more reps at higher weights but closer to a 90% approach. It’s actually almost like it didn’t happen at all or a big deal and of course it isn’t because everyone on the internet lifts 600 for reps. The obvious goal became getting to 500 pounds or something close to a 3 times body weight pull. I am not a huge guy, not anymore at least, I weigh 162 pounds and I am 5’7″. I squat close to 300 (I don’t really 1RM lifts, at least not in similar to the way a meet would work), this is starting to feel like a confession. All of these numbers are above the percentages that get thrown around for expectation related to body weight, usually something in the order of 2 times for deads and 1.75 for squats.
Why am I bringing all of this up?
I am constantly hearing, you shouldn’t do this until you have X amount of years under your belt or until you start lifting X amount you should avoid X. Now let me throw out a caveat because some people are going to use this as an excuse to jump programs and say I gave them permission to do so. That isn’t what I am doing here. What I am saying though is that if you aren’t improving and you straight hate what you are doing why would you continue doing that. Is it because some guy on the internet says you should “stay the course”. Everything I do tends to be some variation of something I am already doing. If you are considering going from Powerlifting to Pilates then yeah, give that some serious thought. But if you are simply changing your volume or adding or subtracting rest I am not really sure that is a dramatic change. I know a lot of people like hammering the same nail over and over again and you can unmistakably get results that way but that doesn’t mean that change is going to kill you either. So keep that in mind.
Opinions on Gear
I don’t use a ton of gear but as you can see from my numbers I am not challenging myself in an extreme way either. About 80% of the time when I lift I use absolutely nothing at all and another 10% of the time the most I am using is knee bands. So I am not throwing on squat or deadlift suits yet but I am straight up not above that stuff. This is why, the more weight I lift (in a safe manner) keeps things interesting and I do find it helps my progress. I have seen some people be critical of box squatting, presumably those people squat with great form and maybe the movement is more natural for them. For me it isn’t and thus my squat lags because the muscles I should be developing are weaker as a result of bad form. The box helps correct this for me a bit and teaches me to use the correct muscles. Does this mean I never squat at full depth without a box, absolutely not but I can say those lifts are much better now that I have my hips moving back first. The box taught me that.
I am a fan of gear if you can afford it and I use it on occasion and I use Crossfit for my GPP (general physical preparedness). If straps make your deadlifts more fun then use straps occasionally, just make sure to practice your grip as well. Same can be said for a belt.
If it makes your workouts interesting do what you can afford
I have started using chains and bands a bit to work on some deficiencies, ok, I am lying, I just like it. They make my workouts more fun AND they work on my deficiencies. A friend of mine asked me how it makes me better, let me give an example. Before I used bands I rarely lifted close to 300, now I routinely lift close to 300. With a reverse band it helps me at the bottom and while the bottom was a sticking point for me that wasn’t my biggest issue. My biggest issue was comfortably lowering the weight down with control. Now I realize some people will tell you just to drop down and come back up, maybe that works for some but that sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. So would I be better off training close to 300 a lot or only occasionally hoping that I magically make it this time? I think that answer is obvious. Now that I am more comfortable and controlled going down, now I can work on coming up more easily.
To end this point let me say that you can add pieces gradually so that you don’t end up in the poor house. If you are maxing out your credit cards in hopes of making your workouts more interesting let me suggest that might be a bad idea from a life management perspective.
Does that guy/gal look like me?
You could say this another way too, are they 6 feet 4 inches and you are, well, the opposite? Do they weigh 160 pounds and you weigh, well, the opposite? You have to read all advice from a skeptics point of view because if someone says you should never wear a belt unless you lift 500 pounds I am just going to call that opinion ridiculous. There are just too many factors that go into making that decision to say that so abruptly. I am all for GPP and working on weak points but you have to view all advice independently. If you have a job and kids and putting 315 pounds on your back and sitting down feels heavy and you think you might need extra support to continue to push your limits there is only one opinion that matters. Yours!