One of my favorite lifts in strongman competitions is the tire deadlift. There are few thrills that compare to stepping up to a long bar weighted with giant truck tires and using every ounce of your strength to pull the bar up to a full standing position. My personal record 1,100-pound pull at the 2011 MHP Arnold Strongman Classic is still one of my all-time favorite moments.
When I first started training for strongman, I began to integrate traditional deadlifts into my workouts. Right from the start, I set a goal to be the best puller in the world. I always hear people talking nonsense about tall men not being good deadlifters and that fuels my determination. I’ve pulled 946 pounds in competition with regular weight plates, and I’m continuing to improve. Let me share some of my secrets to help you build a bigger deadlift.
I do deads every week, year-round, and build one day of training around it. I will normally train heavy for three to four weeks and then cycle in an off/deload day on either my fourth or fifth week. If I’m prepping for a specific event, I will start heavier max training around 12 weeks in advance.
In my regular training, I rotate between sets of 1–5 reps to build strength. I will do progressively heavier sets, adding a 45-pound plate to each side per set, until my form breaks down. That’s when I stop for the day. So for example, if I’m doing sets of five, I would start with light weight, like 135 or 225, and do a set of five, increase the weight for another set of five, etc. Normally I would complete around five to eight work sets after a few warmup sets. I usually follow that with some form of speed pulls with approximately 50–60% of my max for five to eight sets of 2–3 reps. That means about 505 or 595 pounds, based on my gym max of 975.
Chains and bands can also be great tools for helping to increase your deadlift. They can be used for both effort work (1–5 reps with heavier poundages) and for speed training with less bar weight. I have had success with both of these methods and really like the bands for overloading the top end of the pull. The lockout portion of the deadlift has always been the weakest part of the lift for me so the bands have really been a great tool to increase my lockout strength. Learning to listen to your body is very important, especially when training heavy deadlifts. It is important to avoid overtraining because that can lead to lack of progress and fewer strength gains. Eventually you’ll get weaker and be more susceptible to injury.
Of course, having a solid diet plan mixed with a great supplement program can really aid in recovery and strength gain. I normally eat every two to three hours, and I complement my diet with MHP supplements because I feel they are the best on the market. The combination of Dark Rage (pre-workout), Dark Matter (post-workout), Up Your MASS (one to two times a day), and MHP’s BCAA 3300 (three times a day) has really taken my strength to the next level.
I’ve been fortunate to use the new MYO-X myostatin inhibitor since the spring. It has been instrumental in my recovery from biceps surgery, while adding slabs of muscle quickly as I prepared for the World’s Strongest Man. Bottom line
To be a strong deadlifter, you have to devise a smart plan, train hard every session, and be sure to eat and supplement for adequate recovery. And then maybe you can try to take the world tire deadlift record away from me!