Strong swing, weak deadlift - how to bridge the gap?

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Overall, good information. Let me add to it.

A DL is a grind. You have to sustain tension through a longer time and range of motion.
The Ascending Deadlift Strength Curve

A Heavy Deadlifts is slow, grinding.

The Deadlift fall into the Ascending Strength Curve Category.

Movement in the bottom part of an Ascending Strength Curve Movement is hard at the bottom and become easier as you move the bar higher, ascends.

That means overloading occurs in the bottom part of an Ascending Strength Curve Movement. As the bar move higher toward lockout, less loading occurs; the muscle involved are under loaded.

Variable Resistance Exercise: A Biomechanical Approach To Muscular Training
Dr Gideon B Ariel, PhD

"In conventional resistance exercise, the loads are moved through a range of motion. The load remains constant throughout the motion but the muscular force is not constant because of the modifying effects of the lever system throughout the range of motion."

Ariel found the the muscles are overloaded during approximately 30% of the movement and under loaded during the remaining 70%.

A big part of learning to deadlift well is learning to grind--generating high tension and then keeping it turned on long enough to complete the lift.
Overloading The Deadlift Through A Greater Range of Motion

For someone interested in learning to grind and Range of Motion and to Overload The Muscle involved through the Full Range of The Movement; attaching Bands and/or Chains is required.

Power Deadlifts (misnomer, "Speed Deadlifts")

Power Deadlifts using load of 48 - 62% of your 1 Repetition Max combined with CAT (Compensatory Acceleration Training) ensure Power is developed and the muscles involved are overloaded through a greater Range Of The Movement.

...your body has a fail-safe reflex that will try to shut the tension down. You have to learn to override this reflex to be disinhibited from expressing your strength.
The Golgi Tendon Organ

It is a proprioceptive sensory receptor organ that senses changes in muscle tension.

The Golgi Tendon acts like a electrical breaker switch at your house. If the circuit is overloaded and draws too much power for the circuit to safely handle, it trips the breaker switch turning off the electricity.

"Reprogramming The Golgi Tendon Reflex"

The key to ensuring the Golgi Tendon does not, metaphorically speaking, turn off the electricity is to rewire the Golgi Tendon so that a much greater load (greater amount of muscle tension) is required before it shuts down.

Metaphorically speaking again, to rewire the Golgi Tendon so that is does not shut down is accomplished by increasing Limit Strength, lifting heavier load.

The Golgi Tendon is somewhat like an over protective Mommy.

Light, Moderate and Heavy Swings

Speed and Power are best developed with a variety of Kettlebell Swing Loads.

Information that I previously posted on Varying Exercises to increase Limit Strength also applies to Varying Kettlebell Swing Load.

Kenny Croxdale
 

Chrisdavisjr

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I'm really enjoying how much this thread has taken off. I've been picking up a lot of excellent information here and my deadlifts have been steadily improving.

As described in PTTP, your body has a fail-safe reflex that will try to shut the tension down. You have to learn to override this reflex to be disinhibited from expressing your strength.
This is exactly what I was experiencing at the gym while trying for 120kg/264lbs; the bar was coming off the ground and I felt almost like I could have held it an inch from the ground indefinitely without doing myself any harm but it just wouldn't go any higher. Now I've got some smaller plates I feel like I can 'creep up' on heavier lifts rather than trying to 'pounce' on them, if that makes any sense.
 

Bill Been

More than 500 posts
Well, here's my take (and I think the above comment is very relevant):
As I posted earlier in this thread, there's big difference between a grinding lift and a ballistic lift. The ballistic lift requires tension over a brief time and then you get a float (which is basically the definition of ballistic -- you are launching a projectile). A DL is a grind. You have to sustain tension through a longer time and range of motion. The skills for both overlap (especially with similar hinge patterns like the swing and DL), but are not the same.

A big part of learning to deadlift well is learning to grind--generating high tension and then keeping it turned on long enough to complete the lift. As described in PTTP, your body has a fail-safe reflex that will try to shut the tension down. You have to learn to override this reflex to be disinhibited from expressing your strength. Lighter, more "explosive" swings by themselves don't do this. In fact, they train the opposite--to generate high momentary tension and then quickly shut it off in a rhythm of tight and loose--exactly what you don't want in a heavy DL.

My hypothesis is that heavier swings have a greater carryover to the DL than lighter swings done more "explosively" precisely because they "slower" (ESPECIALLY for a beginning deadlifter). I put "explosively" and "slower" in quotes because both terms conflate multiple parameters, the force/duration of the hip drive, the acceleration of the bell, and the period (total time) for the swing.

In a lighter swing, the force may be high, and the bell may have greater acceleration out of the hole, but the tension turns off quickly and you get a longer float. The bell goes higher, but that just extends the time of the period while the bell is decelerated by gravity. The period of a pendulum is determined by the height it swings to, independent of the weight. In a lighter, "faster" swing, more of the range of motion is passive pendulum motion.

With a heavier bell, the bell will have a lower acceleration, but the force is applied over a longer time. You can't just blast the bell out of the hole--you have to smoothly ramp up the power as the bell swings forward. The tension of the hip drive has to be sustained longer, through more of the range of motion, even if the height of the swing is less.

A lower height may also lead to a shorter period. You don't get as much float time, and have less opportunity to "rest while the dirt is in the air" (to quote S&S). So for an equivalent number of reps, with a heavier bell, you get more sustained time under tension and less relaxed "rest" time. Even if you aggressively "plank up" during the float of a lighter swing, the hip drive is over, and you are already in the lockout position at that point.

I'm not at all surprised that a beginning deadlifter with a strong swing would struggle with DLs once the weight gets a little challenging. The swing might establish a good hinge pattern and a baseline of strength, but does nothing to teach sustained tension and overriding the shut down reflex.

For an experienced deadlifter, the calculus might be a little different, since the grinding skill is already established. Personally, I started training the DL after reading PTTP several years before I even knew what a KB was (Pavel had not yet come out with the original RKC book/video and you couldn't find a KB to buy in the US). I think that order of progression was actually beneficial and I'm glad it worked out that way.
Everybody should read this. Twice. Then re-read it. Then, to make sure you “get it”, read it for detail and ask yourself questions about it. Then copy it into a Word document so you can refer to it easily next time confusion arises around the subject of the relationship between swings and deadlifts.
 

Steve Freides

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Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
As I posted earlier in this thread, there's big difference between a grinding lift and a ballistic lift.
I'm sure we'll all agree with this, but we shouldn't discount the fact that the "what the heck" effect from kettlebell ballistics has been seen so often in so many people that it's impossible to ignore.

I'm not at all surprised that a beginning deadlifter with a strong swing would struggle with DLs once the weight gets a little challenging.
Me, neither, but I think the fact that a new deadlifter would get as far as they might without undue difficulty is very much testimony to the carryover of the swing to many, many things.

-S-
 

kiwipete

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Hi @Chrisdavisjr - after our brief conversation on the 'DDD with KB swing' thread the other day I had another thought...

I can pull 2 x BW DL with very little KB training and no barbell work BUT my arm span is about 18cm greater than my height (think fingertips by kneecaps!) and I've always been more explosive and reliant on 'nerve' power to make lifts. My squatting and pressing has always lagged behind comparatively speaking.

Contrast that against me finding 1 arm swings VERY difficult in comparison (my monkey arms do not help!) and often using TOO MUCH tension for the lift reps and sets required.

Body/ limb/ length/ shape is always going to strongly influence what lift is easier or harder to achieve. Horses for courses (y)


That said... I am POSITIVE you will make your Dl goal AND have a strong swing!
 

Chrisdavisjr

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my arm span is about 18cm greater than my height
Whoah! Big advantage for deadlifts, for sure!

My arm span is about 2cm more than my height so it's about average, although I am a little on the short side and, I've just realised today, my shoulders are a little narrow. Gripping my Olympic bar with arms hanging straight down puts my index and middle finders (with a double overhand grip) just inside the smooth area between the knurled parts. Gripping the knurled areas widens my grip and lengthens my pull but gripping without knurling will make things tricky.

Excuses excuses!

My deadlifts have been improving steadily since I started this thread and I'm hoping it will continue to do so as I become more 'comfortable' with the movement. My sincerest thanks to everyone who has contributed here; I feel incredibly fortunate to have access to the collected knowledge and experience of so many strong people.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
My arm span is about 2cm more than my height so it's about average, although I am a little on the short side and, I've just realised today, my shoulders are a little narrow. Gripping my Olympic bar with arms hanging straight down puts my index and middle finders (with a double overhand grip) just inside the smooth area between the knurled parts. Gripping the knurled areas widens my grip and lengthens my pull but gripping without knurling will make things tricky.
That pretty much describes me as well, Chris.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

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Senior Certified Instructor
I feel that gripping inside the knurling is a path with no future, so I've tried it once or twice then put it aside.

[RAMBLE]

You may also find, Chris, that once you get used to deadlifting and the weights keep going up, you like a slightly wider stance. I go back and forth with this, but sometimes I feel like I need to get lower and closer to the bar to get a really good pull off the ground - I know that goes against the logic you always hear about the deadlift, but I have experienced this. I find it's also one of the things that makes DL training sometimes tricky - there are cycles I've gone through where nothing feels heavy until I get pretty close to my 1RM, and then it seems like everything changes with the addition of 10 lbs., and then you have the other problem of trying not to train too much at too heavy a percentage because it's too taxing on the body and CNS. Ah, the deadlift: my blessing and my curse both.

Yes, I'd like some cheese with my whine, please. :)

There are other things to note about being a small human, e.g., I don't like how far away from my body my hands and arms are when I do the hex/trap bar DL - for me, the handles should be closer together. I worked up to doing those with significant-for-me weights, past 300 lbs. in training and I think I have the USAWA record for my age/weight in that at about 335 lbs. or so, but I've given up on training it regularly.

[/RAMBLE]

-S-
 

Bret S.

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Certified Instructor
So for an equivalent number of reps, with a heavier bell, you get more sustained time under tension and less relaxed "rest" time. Even if you aggressively "plank up" during the float of a lighter swing, the hip drive is over, and you are already in the lockout position at that point.
I find when swinging the beast it's kind of a tipping point for me, it requires much more pre-tension to protect myself and would say I'm 'grinding' longer out of the hole, it's a brief increase in time but substantial when compared to lighter bells. The bell floats still at shoulder ht. but my tension level stays up in anticipation of the heavier forces on the down swing.
Maybe this is the sweet spot for me regarding transfer/crossover to deadlifts.

One other question, how would one quantify a rep max for swings (I think @kennycro@@aol.com mentioned RM percentages to elicit different response goals)?
Even if known and calculated for a specific training goal what good would it be compared to my anecdotal 'beast swing tipping point'? Meaning I can 'feel' in practice the difference between the beast and even a 44k bell. The required tension difference is huge.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
I feel that gripping inside the knurling is a path with no future, so I've tried it once or twice then put it aside.

[RAMBLE]

You may also find, Chris, that once you get used to deadlifting and the weights keep going up, you like a slightly wider stance. I go back and forth with this, but sometimes I feel like I need to get lower and closer to the bar to get a really good pull off the ground - I know that goes against the logic you always hear about the deadlift, but I have experienced this. I find it's also one of the things that makes DL training sometimes tricky - there are cycles I've gone through where nothing feels heavy until I get pretty close to my 1RM, and then it seems like everything changes with the addition of 10 lbs., and then you have the other problem of trying not to train too much at too heavy a percentage because it's too taxing on the body and CNS. Ah, the deadlift: my blessing and my curse both.

Yes, I'd like some cheese with my whine, please. :)

There are other things to note about being a small human, e.g., I don't like how far away from my body my hands and arms are when I do the hex/trap bar DL - for me, the handles should be closer together. I worked up to doing those with significant-for-me weights, past 300 lbs. in training and I think I have the USAWA record for my age/weight in that at about 335 lbs. or so, but I've given up on training it regularly.

[/RAMBLE]

-S-
You are not a small human, Steve; you are a large director of the community. :D
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Can anyone shed any light on this statement:

"There are a great many deadlift styles. A hip-dominant style such as Andy Bolton’s, rather than quad-dominant style, suits a girevik’s strength. Learn it from an experienced powerlifter,".
Over the holidays I visited family and went to a gym where my father has a trainer. The trainer observed my deadlift and said, "You're using your back. Use your legs more and you'll have a stronger deadlift." He said that he (back in the day) deadlifted 775 lbs, and I mostly believed him. He was an older strong dude.

Anyway, my deadlift style is probably what others outside of StrongFirst or Starting Strength (the style I'm currently using) would call "hip dominant." (example here: PTTP program) To me it is definitely the strongest style. I did try a set more his way... probably not as much as he had in mind, but still found it was not as strong. Not a surprise to me.

I think the hip hinge movement pattern is one that a lot of ordinary people don't know, practice, or master, and therefore they tend to "use the legs" and can probably get pretty strong that way.

I deadlift to make my back stronger (along with everything else), so, it's hip-dominant for me.
 

Chrisdavisjr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Anna C Thanks for explaining. I see your hips are pretty high at the start of the pull compared to most deadlifts I've seen. Follow-up question: Do you find that deadlifting in this style allows you to squat more frequently without interfering with your deadlifting?

When I was starting out I was definitely lifting almost entirely with my back. Now I'm trying to shift the load to my legs but I still feel like my hips aren't as involved as they should be.

I just found out Andy Bolton does two hour small group deadlift workshops for £35.00! I might just have to book one of those and learn from the man himself.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Do you find that deadlifting in this style allows you to squat more frequently without interfering with your deadlifting?
I can't compare because I haven't done another style of deadlifting along with squats. However for the last 10 months I've been squatting 3x/week, except the occasional travel/illness/etc., at an average volume of 3x5, and deadlifting twice a week at an average volume of 1x5, or 2x3... occasionally 2x5 but that's pretty rare. So overall, pretty low deadlift volume. I definitely feel that building a stronger low bar back squat (1RM in Aug 2017 was 185 lb, in Feb 2018 was 200 lb, in Aug 2018 was 260 lb) has made my deadlift stronger (1RM in Aug 2017 was 275 lb, in Feb 2018 was 265 lb, in Sep 2018 was 315 lb).
 
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MikeTheBear

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Anyway, my deadlift style is probably what others outside of StrongFirst or Starting Strength (the style I'm currently using) would call "hip dominant." (example here: PTTP program) To me it is definitely the strongest style. I did try a set more his way... probably not as much as he had in mind, but still found it was not as strong. Not a surprise to me.
I am the exact opposite. I tried the Starting Strength style of deadlift and felt like it was "all back." I DL with lower hips and a wider stance. It's basically my clean pull stance, which is fine because that is the movement pattern I want to strengthen.
 

Steve Freides

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Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
1RM in Aug 2017 was 185 lb, in Feb 2018 was 200 lb, in Aug 2018 was 260 lb) has made my deadlift stronger (1RM in Aug 2017 was 275 lb, in Feb 2018 was 265 lb, in Sep 2018 was 315 lb
Time for a powerlifting meet!

-S-
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Time for a powerlifting meet!
Indeed! Because also, my bench press has gone from 130 lb in Feb 2018 to 155 lb in Dec 2018.

But I think I can get them all further along... I will aim to do a meet maybe late summer or fall timeframe this year.
 

Chrisdavisjr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Time for a powerlifting meet!
Yes! Maybe we could organise some kind of multi-venue powerlifting competition (like the TSC) for members of the SF forum...

Or we could all just hit the gym on the same day, test our max lifts, share the results along with a video and trust each other to be honest. The winner gets... I don't know, glory? A beer?
 
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