I finally did it! I got the 600 lb deadlift. It took me six years to move from 550 lbs to 600 lbs, but I got there. For the past several months, I’ve been training my butt off (or better yet, on).
First Meet Results (Last Year)
HERE is a link to my first PL meet one year ago where I attained a 375 lb squat, a 287 lb bench press, a 562 lb deadlift, and a 1,223 lb total at a bodyweight of 220 lbs. This article also details my experiences as a first time competitor. My goal at last year’s meet was to pull off a 400 lb squat, 300 lb bench press, 600 lb deadlift, and 1,300 lb total, but I wasn’t quite there yet. I needed another year to make this come to fruition.
Second Meet Results (Yesterday)
Yesterday, I weighed in at 236 lbs and attained a 413 lb squat, a 314 lb bench press, a 601 lb deadlift, and a 1,328 lb total. I gained 16 lbs and added 38 lbs to my squat, 27 lbs to my bench press, 39 lbs to my deadlift, and 106 lbs to my total. I PR’d on all three lifts for the day.
I prefer raw powerlifting over geared powerlifting, however, one day I’d like to train for a geared meet as I think it would be fun and it would allow me to better understand the differences. I’ve messed around with knee wraps and squat briefs and they added around 60 lbs to my squat on the first attempt, so I wonder what adding in a squat suit/bench shirt and several months of practice would do for my lifts. Both meets I’ve done so far were with the 100% Raw Federation – they do an outstanding job. If you’re thinking about competing, click on the schedule tab and plan a meet, you will be very happy with your decision.
I want to help promote the sport of raw powerlifting. That was the point of the Operation Get Strong and Sexy series – to show women that powerlifting doesn’t automatically bulk you up and to help encourage women to compete. I will tell you that the camaraderie is amazing at these events – everyone is so helpful, friendly, and supportive. It’s invigorating.
What excited me almost as much as attaining my deadlift goal was the feedback I received at the meet. I was approached by approximately 6 different lifters whom each informed me that my articles have been extremely helpful to them. Two of these individuals are top lifters in Arizona, with legs the size of tree trunks. One said that the hip thrust has helped his squat and improved his pelvic tilt. The other said that the hip thrust has helped his deadlift lockout. Two of the people found me through TNation, which reminds me that I need to write an article for them ASAP – I’ve ben slacking! Two women approached me and told me that I was the reason they entered the contest. Another woman told me that she uses my methods with all of her clients (she’s a trainer) and told me that the results have been incredible. Hearing this feedback makes it all worth it!
Upcoming Strength Goals
My goal for the next year is to duplicate yesterday’s performance at a bodyweight of 220 lbs. Then I wish to total 1,400 lbs.
It’s not easy to be setting PR’s at the age of 37, after 22 years of lifting, so patience and good training are the keys. Not just hard training – smart AND hard training. Training hard without also training smart usually leads to injury and stagnation.
Video of the Meet
Below is a video of the meet, with my commentary:
Squats and bench went very well. I don’t think I could have mustered up another 5 lbs on either lift, so it’s great to feel like you didn’t leave any room in the tank. I thought I’d get my 3rd deadlift attempt at 612 lbs, since 601 lbs came up fairly easily, but I suppose I was a bit fatigued. I would have went 9/9 if I’d have gotten it, which would have been astounding. Oh well, I’ll hit it down the road.
I can’t decide which deadlift stance I like most; my lockout is strongest with conventional, I’m strongest off the floor with sumo, and semi-sumo seems to be a good compromise. When you’re 6’4″ tall, squats and bench sure feel better with some extra body mass. I remember talking to Dave Tate 6 years ago and he told me that I’d need to weigh 300-320 lbs to be a competitive world class powerlifter at my height – I agree with him.
I prefer to weigh around 225 lbs, and I don’t see myself gaining another 100 lbs any time soon, so I suppose I’m content with being a mediocre powerlifter for now. I have some of the worst genetics for displaying powerlifting strength. My femurs are freakishly long, and I struggle to grow my quads and triceps. Most of my friends could bench press 225 lbs in high school (several could bust out 315 lbs); it took me 5 solid years of lifting to bench 225 lbs. At 15 years of age, I couldn’t bench press the bar. I literally got stapled to the bench and my friends were amazed at how incredibly weak I was.
I therefore feel like I represent the average lifter. We’re not all cut out to be powerlifting champions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t compete. We should compete with ourselves and be proud of our accomplishments, even if we don’t rank nationally. I’m walking proof that with consistency and determination, one can achieve steady strength gains over the years.
I feel that it’s very important to train with strong lifters if you want to achieve great results. This year I’ve been training at Revolution Training in Tempe, which I feel helped a lot as it expanded my strength expectations. Revolution and Die Hard Gym in Peoria are the two best powerlifting gyms in Arizona, to my knowledge.
Training Leading Up to the Meet
What do I attribute my strength gains to? I’ve been sticking to the 2 x 4: Maximum Strength program that I created, which is officially launching on April 14th. I know I announced a March 10th date, so I apologize for that. What can I say? I have a serious case of OCD and am a huge perfectionist. I added in another bonus (5 Cutting Edge Glute Training Tips – I showcase EMG findings from various case studies), and I also perfected the Biomechanics of the Squat and Deadlift bonus. There won’t be any more delays, I promise.
In particular, the front squats and block pulls in the 2 x 4 program have been very good for my strength, as have the pause reps. But it’s not just the exercises; it’s also the intertwining of the volume, frequency, and intensity. I’ll expound upon this in a future article.
Congrats, buddy 🙂
Well done and a huge congrats for the results and for the peer accolades….. The best part of your post is the honesty of how long it can take to move an extra 50lbs….bravo
How exciting for you!! Awesome job on your persistence and your strength gains!
Awesome Brett, great work! I didn’t realize you hadn’t pulled the big 600 yet, I’ve been following you for years and always saw you pulling huge weights. (snuck onto 1 of your blog posts in 2009 via Nick Tumminello, “don’t be the kind of strength coach who..”)
It’s pretty incredible how tough the small gains are once after years of training. Seems like the greatest accomplishment sometimes is just staying healthy. I’d love to see you promote raw powerlifting; you have a great platform with the website popularity. It’s great niche and one I compete in as well.
Keep training hard and churning out awesome research and info! As a PT student we do *a ton* of critical appraisal of information and you pass all the tests… I’m no Jon Fass yet, but I’m learning! And I’m proud to recommend your site to fellow PT students and assure them it’s not just your average “bigger biceps” training site.
So proud to have you as my “virtual” coach!! You preach by example and your form was impeccable even in the most difficult moments. You have forever changed my lifting and I am real fan of all your work. Thank you for everything you do!!
Thank you Erika, but I wouldn’t go that far. I lean too far forward on my squats (by necessity), I flare my elbows out too far on bench, and I round my back on deadlifts. However, I’ve learned what works best for me, and I rarely ever hurt myself. In essence, I’ve mastered the mechanics pertaining to my body, which takes a long time. So glad that I’ve positively impacted your training and your life! You’re very welcome.
Learning the weaknesses within your own biomechanics and accepting them are key. I’ve come to accept that I have a exceptionally long torso, creating a large lever arm from my hips. makes squatting more difficult than for the compact 5’8 fellow with better proportions.
a long torso and short legs are excellent for squats!
almost all elite weightlifters fall into that category. reason: the long torso lever you describe is exactly the reason you can stay very upright in the squat (simple biomechanics) while the short legs provide a very good lever and short absolute rom (W= F * s).
extreme example to demonstrate the concept; the squat world record holder in the 123pd class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X57aLTTEX_w
Good stuff Bret! Happy for you!
I love that you encourage us to compete in powerlifting. It looks fun and because of you I’d like to do it some day. When I get my squat up. And my bench. And my deadlift. So… maybe not for a while. But someday 🙂
That’s excellent Brett. As someone still looking at breaking 500 and all kinds of mechanical disadvantages for the DL, it’s great to hear about your process. Thanks for sharing and congratulations.
As I said on FB – congrats on the PR’s!! I was at the same meet on Saturday and I only did it after your Operation Get Strong and Sexy article and some great support from the athlete.io forums. I initially found you through Kiefer’s work and am using Carb Back-Loading to drop weight and get stronger.
100% Raw was great and their judges/coaches were really kind and helpful with their commentary on my lifts. I’ve never had a trainer before so I prepped on my own and had a fantastic experience. I’m 34 and it’s never too late to start – may as well have a goal for all this time I’m putting into the gym!
Thank you for your inspiration!!
Nice meet write up, glad to get PB’s. Every meet that has a PB is a great meet. Best way to grow quads I have found is 4x a week squatting with low and high bar. Im a drug free lifter competing in the ipf classic and single ply divisons and have had the squat as my worst enemy but went from 275-470 in 3 years using this method and my legs bumped up from 67.5kg to 83kg. Also for the deadlift, you do the hybrid sumo that allows loss of thoracic ext while keeping neutral lumbar which is why a lot of lifters enjoy it. Your long legs and arms may benefit from a wide stance sumo if you can load your hips better. The sumo is an art and takes a lot of reps to get as I went from conventional to hybrid to sumo. I love your articles and info bret, Im a strength coach and lifter and follow lots of your work. Now last question to ask,…….when are you coming to Canada again?
Great work Bret! Nice write-up too. I have yet to compete but your story really inspired me.
Bret You Are The Man!!
Congrats Bret!! You finally got the 600!! You’re an inspiration!!
Are you really 37 Bret?…..You look at least 5 years younger……: – ) Congrats for the results of your last meet they are very inspiring for us average lifters……
Congratulations Bret, great result. It takes huge courage for a S&C coach to put themselves out there and compete, I really admire you for doing that.
I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and started to compete in powerlifting last year. Your articles have been been incredibly helpful for lots of reasons, but particularly useful are the ones looking at different biomechanics and squatting/powerlifting, etc. I have long femurs and long arms, so benching and squatting are a little more challenging for me (love deadlifting though!), but understanding why it’s a bit trickier settles my mind and helps me get on with my training regardless. So thank you, sir!
wow!! bret! amazing work! you are so inspiring- huge fan and a huge congrats on your new PRs.
as for the max strength program- which i can’t wait to get- will it be available as a hard copy or on line?
Random BC PL Thoughts:
1. Awesome work! Assist to the Glute Guys, who I suspect were instrumental in tips, support, camaraderie, and training.
2. All the lifts were great. To me, the SQ was the most impressive lift due to your leverages. The DL was a matter of time, and will go up again as the quad strength continues to improve, and support that posterior chain. The bench was probably helped by body weight gain more than the rest. But with those long femurs, that was a nice SQ!
3. Anybody who thinks the hamstrings don’t change length on a BSQ needs to review this video. This is why the models often don’t hold up in real life.
4. Bodybuilding hijack: Bret, you said a while back that you were not genetically cut out to be 240 and 10% BF, natural. I disagreed then, and I disagree more now. At 236, you look like a beast, and appear to be capable of much more muscle growth. I don’t even think you are close to maxing out your size potential, if that were a real goal, (and not that it should be!)
Would it require you to change up your protocol? Yes. Fall in love with longer sets, lighter sets, more sets, and more TUT? yes. Temporarily say goodbye to cuts? Yes. Tons more food, tons more sleep, and no more workaholism? Yes.
But doable? Hell yes. (Actually, maybe not. The physical side of it, slam dunk. But eliminating the workaholism part? Maybe not so much. Bodybuilding hijack over. 🙂
Big ups, BC!
Derrick, great to hear from you as always! We think a lot alike.
1. Agree, the guys were very helpful in my preparation.
2. Agree completely, I worked very hard on quad strength in the past few months. Bench just came along for the ride!
3. Good point
4. I will certainly keep trying my best. And yes, the stress/sleep would need to improve for me to reach my ultimate potential.
Again, thanks for the comment Derrick.
First of all, I congratulate you on the great success … thanks to you, I got many interesting information.
Well Done Bret!
Amazing dude!! 37 and no signs of slowing down… Looks like you almost had the 612 deadlift. You just needed a good slap to the back of the neck prior. Last, the mohawk is a good touch since last year and you look a bit leaner.
Well done Bret, keep training hard and get better with age
Well done Bret. Its great to see you practise what you preach. Very refreshing in an age where there are so many keyboard experts feeding the population ill informed information.
I look forward to every post from you to help me with my personal fitness endeavours and to share with my clients.
Keep up the good work.
Why so big difference between squat and dl?
Great Job Bret, ( oh no, not sumo, just kidding) with your long limbs I would use a much wider stance on squat and bench. I also bench with my elbows out because of shoulder issues. Many tall guys prefer using conventional Deadlift . You have mentioned before that you have a lot of low back rounding, I found that doing partial squats with a stance similar to my deadlift stance makes a huge difference in my low back rounding. Also doing rack pulls above the knees should help your lockout.
Have, a good one.
Way to work it, Bret! Congratulations! You are very inspiring! Your hard work and dedication are very inspiring!
Great job and great articles. Never once thought of doing the glute bridge till I bought your ebook. Your head isn’t big enough for your brain!!!
Great job! Compliments for your patience and achieving your goal through the right means…..hard work.