As told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar
CRITICAL BENCH: Today CB is here with American Deadlift Record Holder, Dave Sheperd. Dave, can you tell Critical Bench readers about yourself?
I was introduced to this while on vacation 6 years ago in FL when I met Tom Hall from Cincinnati, Ohio who holds many records in the mid-west. Tom has deadlifted 505 in Ohio at the age of 70. I have deadlifted 465lbs which is a UPA record. This was not completely new to me as I have fooled around with somewhat heavy weights since I was 17.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, at 72 you’re the strongest 72 year old at 198lbs! Tell us about your world record?
I hold the American record in the UPA at 220#.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, congratulations for holding an American record in the UPA. Do you have any advice for others so they can be strong as they enter their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond?
I would say that it is important to live a healthy lifestyle as genetics of course is something we can’t control. You must also push yourself to be goal oriented.
CRITICAL BENCH: What have you done that has allowed you to be strong, even in your 70s?
I would say probably just a matter of staying with it and being disciplined.
CRITICAL BENCH: It’s really hard for people to be really strong in their 70s. In fact only 20 people or so compete seriously against you in their 70s. Do you think more guys could compete against you?
I think there are plenty of guys my age that if they chose to do so, they could work up to being competitive.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, what has worked for you when it comes to getting a bigger deadlift?
Doing the squats has helped my pull from the floor, as well as heavy bent rows and pulls off 7″ in boxes also seem to work for me.
CRITICAL BENCH: What goes on in your mind before attempting a world record deadlift?
At a meet there is a lot of pressure to perform the lifts to a judge’s satisfaction, really no time to think about anything else for me.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
My future goals are really to maintain this level and improve the bench and squat a little, but without “real” supplements. Improvements at 72 are really tough.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any mottos or creeds you live by?
Never thought of having one, maybe just try and be the best at what you undertake in life.
CRITICAL BENCH: Dave, in closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
I would like to thank all the guys on the Flex Appeal team and especially Amy Roberts and Phil Guarino, and my friend and mentor Tom Hall. Also, I want to send a big thanks to Critical Bench for the interview.
If you’re an athlete, you need to be explosive… unless of course you’re a marathon runner, in which case you can just slowly jog away from this article right now because this doesn’t apply to you.
But if you’re involved in any other sport that is worth watching, like MMA, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc, then explosive power is what makes those exciting plays happen.
You know, when someone lands a big knockout punch or takedown, a running back breaks through the middle of the line, or Blake Griffin soars through the air and throws down a big dunk.
Well there’s no better way than adding in the Olympic lifts.
In fact, science has proven it.
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 1993 called “A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance Prediction, and Evaluation Tests”, author John Garhammer performed a biomechanical analysis of the Snatch, Clean and Jerk, Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press to determine how much power was being generated during each exercise.
Before we get into the results of the study, you must understand how power is calculated.
Power is calculated by the following equation (it’s math lesson time – yay!):
Power = Force x Velocity
While velocity is simply how fast you move the weight, Force = Mass x Acceleration, how much weight you move multiplied by how much you accelerate the weight.
That’s why with respect to power output, lifting heavier doesn’t always mean lifting more powerfully, because whenever you add weight, you will be slowing down the lift.
Now let’s take a look at the results of Garhammer’s study…
Garhammer analyzed video of elite lifters and calculated their power outputs through some really intense mathematical analysis.
If you’re a science geek who wants to see the details, click here to download the entire study.
Basically, what Garhammer found was that during the Clean exercise, a 100 kg lifter generated 4191 watts of power, while during the Deadlift, 1274 watts of power were generated!
The reason why over 3x more power is generated by the Clean is because the lift is performed so much faster and over a much bigger range of motion – it takes about 1 second to get the barbell from the floor to the front rack position during a heavy Clean, while it can take anywhere from 4-6 seconds to get the barbell from the floor to the thighs in a Deadlift.
Plus, because you cannot perform the Olympic lifts slowly, you’re forced to be explosive!
Just check out this video of Chinese lifter Liao Hui, lifting 198 kg (435 lbs) in the Clean and Jerk… at a bodyweight of only 69 kg (151 lbs)!
So if you’re looking to improve your explosive power for your sport, jump higher, or just learn these highly technical exercises because you’ll get a kick out of seeing the looks on people’s faces as you do these in the gym while they’re sitting on the leg extension, check out my friend Eric Wong’s (trains UFC fighters) Olympic Lifting Mastery Course to learn more about the Olympic lifts and becoming a more explosive athlete or powerful lifter.
Who Else Wants To Quickly Master The Most
Explosive Exercises On The Planet?
Guest Post by 1000 Pound Deadlifter Andy Bolton
Whatever your goal – whether you want to get stronger for the sake of being strong, stronger to increase your muscular size and build a harder, denser physique or stronger to improve athletic performance…
The 3 powerlifts will help get you stronger faster than anything else you can do in the gym.
The 3 powerlifts are of course the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
Now here’s the thing…
These days you are bombarded with choice when it comes to what you do in the gym.
You can do the 3 powerlifts, or you can do Olympic Weightlifting, or you can do Strongman training or you can lift Kettlebells.
But, when it comes to building absolute strength, the powerlifts RULE. They always have and they always will.
That’s not to say that the other methods of weight training aren’t valuable, of course they are – but when it comes to getting a STRONG AS POSSIBLE… you can’t beat the squat, bench press and deadlift.
Think about it…
The biggest Kettelbell is 48kg. Is that likely to build the same strength as squats with 500 pounds or more and deadlifts with 600 pounds +? I think not. And I use kettlebells myself, but they are an assistance movement, not my main thing in the gym.
The Olympic Weightlifts are awesome for building explosive power, but when it comes to limit strength, they are still second to the powerlifts.
Strongman training can build a ton of strength as well but not the same way as the powerlifts can.
There’s a clue here by the way… Many olympic weightlifters and strongmen use the powerflifts to improve their strength.
For instance, weightlifters tend to squat a lot and strongmen tend to squat and do a ton of deadlifting.
I think what I am saying is clear.
If you want to develop absolute strength and the kind of rock hard, tough as nails kind of physique that only strong dudes posses – you should be doing the powerlifts.
The next thing we should discuss is how to actually squat, bench and deadlift.
It is my experience that most gym rats are always looking for the ‘mircale’ training program.
The one that’s going to add 400 pounds to each lift in 8 weeks.
Well, guess what? It doesn’t freaking exist!
However, if there is something that is more important than you’re training program – it’s your technique.
Most guys have truly awful technique and could make rapid improvements in their strength by improving their technique.
I have seen technical improvements add 50 pounds to a lifters Bench in a single session.
The same cannot be said of a particular training program.
And you are probably in the same boat. You probably don’t have perfect form and you should work on it. It’ll make you STRONGER and reduce your injury-risk.
A nice ‘double whammy’.
I’ve been in the iron game over 20 years and I’ve squatted 1214lbs, benched 755lbs and deadlifted 1008lbs.
And do you know what?
I still work on my technique each and every time I train and I have my clients do the same.
Guest post by Jedd Johnson
Hi, my name is Jedd Johnson, and I bend steel with my hands.
That’s right, I take steel bars, wrap them in suede to prevent a cut to my hands, and bend them into a U-shape.
“Why the hell would he want to do that?” you might ask…
I’ll tell you straight up…
Because it makes me feel like a friggin’ animal.
It makes me feel like I am a 800-lb rain forest gorilla that can destroy anything put in front of me.
And I like that feeling…
Maybe that description is too wild, and you can’t identify with it, so let me describe it a little differently…
A PR Bend is like adding 50 lbs to your deadlift, and holding it there while you scream before dropping it back to the platform like a bomb from an airplane.
Completing a bend you never were able to do before is like hitting 100 snatches in 5 minutes for the first time ever, and letting out a warrior cry because it took so much hard work and determination to get there.
Much like the landmark feats described above, I love taking a perfectly good nail or bolt and making it completely useless.
Some people think this is ignorant, but they don’t realize that BENDING IS THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT to movements such as the kettlebell snatch and the deadlift…
Now, you’re probably thinking: What!?!? How in the world could bending steel compliment my snatch and deadlift work?
The answer is the principle of Antagonistic Balance.
“Antagonistic” means opposite, against, contra-indicative.
Think of a Broadway Play. The agonist is the main character and the antagonist is the character that plays opposite him or her. Many times these two are enemies, or their views are somehow contra-indicative of one another – they are opposites; they disagree.
So what is Antagonsitic Balance, then?
Well, your body works the best, improves its performance, and is at its healthiest when the antagonistic muscle groups in the joints and opposing sides of the body are within a reasonable balance.
Think of the shoulder. If you do too much bench pressing and not enough rowing, pull-ups, retractions and other opposite movement patterns, you can really do harm to your shoulders, messing up the posture, pinching off nerves, and thus ruining progress on the bench.
You’ve heard of this before probably a hundred times and you are well aware of it in your training, right?
And you know, if you do too much pushing and not enough pulling, you could be setting yourself up for a serious fall down the line.
Now, where does this come into play with respect to the relationship between steel bending, the kettlebell snatch and the powerlifting deadlift…?
To fully understand this, let’s look at the movement patterns of these movements individually.
The Kettlebell Snatch is marked by Extension throughout the body.
The athlete starts in a flexed position with the knees, and hips bent. The bell is swung back through the legs, loading the hamstrings.
The momentum of the bell is reversed with controlled violence and then extension begins throughout the body. The hips and knees extend to give momentum to the bell. The spine is lengthened.
And finally, the arm punches itself into a straight, extended position.
The Deadlift is very similar.
The lifter starts out in a crouching position, grasping the bar as it sits on the floor.
From there, the lifter pulls the weight up along the body, extending the knees and the hips.
Once the bar is pulled to its highest point, the lifter further extends himself, pulling the shoulders back into a position of pride.
Upon analyzing both of these movements, the action that is repeated time and again is extension: extension in the knees, hips, shoulders and arms.
So, what is the natural antagonistic balancing action for the movement pattern of Extension?
There has to be some kind of contra-indicative movement pattern that essentially will negate these two big lifts, right?
The answer is Flexion.
To repeat, we are looking for an antagonistic, or opposite movement pattern, and we already said that KB work and Deadlifts involve a lot of force into extension, so the natural antagonistic movement pattern would be flexion.
BUT WAIT – I thought that, just like the ghost busters crossing the streams, having your “body in flexion” was bad!?!?
Sure, sitting at your desk all day in flexion is BAD. In can have a huge toll on your body over the years, so let’s try to avoid that…
How about Crunches?
SCREW THAT! BORING!!!
There has to be some other exhilarating strength training practice that involves flexion, while also requiring the same level of dedication, the same level of discipline, and the same level of technical precision in order to succeed that the Kettlebell Snatch and the Deadlift require. But what is it???
The answer – STEEL BENDING.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at steel bending, now, and the movement patterns involved.
The athlete starts out by grasping the nail high up under the chin with the spine, hips, and knees extended.
From there he takes a small step forward, initiates pressure into the steel and begins to lean forward into flexion.
As the steel heats up under the pressure, he feels it begin to move and puts on one last pulse of flexion as he “crushes the can,” compressing his abdomen down and further bending the nail.
Hit after hit on the nail, he does the same thing, flexing his body, until the ends of the nail are within two inches.
Being stuck in it at an office desk or behind the wheel of a car all the time is a bad thing. It makes you tight in the hip flexors, it can weaken the glutes and it can hurt your posture.
However, performing flexion in order to translate the power from your core and torso into your hands and to make the steel tap out to your strength is a good thing.
And not only does it help balance out all of the other training you do all the time, it makes you feel like you are a monster with green skin that can smash through concrete walls.
I’ll warn you right now, though…
As fun as it is, Nail Bending isn’t easy.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
If you want to learn how to bend nails the right way, I’ll show you.
Check out my killer DVD: Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands. <= Click that link right away!
All the best in your training, my friends. Now go get your SAVAGE on!
AFFILIATE LINK: Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands. <= Click that link right away!
Jedd Johnson is a certified Red Nail Bender, a CSCS, RKC and Captain of Crush. He is a World Record Holder in the Two Hands Pinch, AND he likes to bend sh*t.