Monday, October 11, 2010

Lessons learned from Pavel's Power to the People Professional Workshop

On Saturday October 9, 2010 Pavel taught one of the best courses I think I have ever experienced in terms of depth of knowledge and practical application. Most of the people there were either HKC's, RKC's or Team Leaders so it was a rather talented group. Add in Team Leaders Mark Cheng and Dennis Frisch (and of course my lovely wife Yoana), RKC's Alex Verdugo, Gabby Perez Eborall, Petra Van Baar, Melody Schoenfeld, Cody Bramlett, Spencer Starr Julie Cousens, Cassie Charlebois and HKC Dave Leddick and you had a strong group. Also had Matt  Kinsell ( a competitive powerlifter) who really made things interesting with his incredible technique, enthusiasm and raw strength.


There are essentially two types of deadlifting techniques and many variations within each one.


  • You must bring the shoulder slightly forward of the bar which means that the sternum will be directly above the bar (you should be able to tell from the photo that my shoulder are slightly forward of the bar & that my I have shifted my weight to my toes. That doesn't mean my heels are off the floor I am just emphasizing loading up the toes to be able to drive off of the balls of my foot)
  • The weight is evenly distributed in the foot from front to back.  The weight goes through the center of your foot which is the natural balance point
  • If you chopped off your big toe, but left the first metatarsal, go half way from this joint and half way from the heel
  • This is a very effective method for leg drive. You want to think of pushing the feet forward as if you were doing a leg extension on a machine. You are keeping the weight on the entire foot but you are pushing off the balls of the feet.
  • With more quadricep activation you have more involvement from all muscle groups and that can lead to a very powerful deadlift
  • Eye position is important. The exact eye position seems to be rather individual. Some people do better looking up while others do better by looking 7 to 8 feet in front of them on the ground, and other somewhere in the middle
  • You can still do this style of the sternum over the bar but can have more of a vertical shin which would get your glutes more active in the beginning rather than the quads. With the knees forward version teh quads work more at first but as you clear the knees the glutes kick in. 
  • The knees forward version works well for an athlete with really balanced strength. If not, this version of deadlifting may not be for you. If you have weak quads and a strong back you may want to use the shoulders over the bar method or just sit back in the foot a bit more.
  • BOTTOM LINE: You have to experiment with this technique and find the position that makes your deadlifting look seamless and smooth. Pulling a heavy deadlift should feel solid and good. If it doesn't, keep experimenting with your style.

More balanced muscle activation can lead to huge strength.

Disadvantages: If your glutes are not up to par with your back strength you will have a very difficult time with this style


Dr. Mark Cheng is the perfect model for the shoulders over the bar method. This methods allows you to WEDGE yourself between the ground and the bar more and creates a lot of stability in your low back and spine.

  • You will notice that the spine is more vertical, the stance is wider and the toes are turned out to 45 degrees. Doc is a perfect fit for this style and Pavel told him that he is built perfectly for this style. 
  • This style requires a lot of hip mobility and flexibility. consequently it is much harder to get into.
  • Pavel taught that during the set up of this style, you wanted to make it very hard to get into the lift. Almost imagine that you are wearing some type of restricted suit that made it incredibly challenging to get down to the bar. 
  • Keep the ARMS VERY LONG. Grab the bar keeping the triceps activated, lats engaged and shoulders back. You want to think of "breaking the bar" which keeps the shoulder back and down. Similar to the GET UP, you want shorten the "X" in your back. Lat and contra-lateral glute will come engage and come closer together. Shorten all of those muscles.
  • With the shoulders back and down you simultaneously trying the bring the hips closer to the bar. This creates the WEDGE effect that Pavel teaches in his STRENGTH STRETCHING DVD.
  • Sumo version is very good for people with strong legs(and glutes) and good flexibility
  • Also easier on back
  • There is also a SWING STYLE SUMO which is very similar to the RKC Hardstyle Swing. This is also called the VERTICAL SHINS Version. It shifts your weight to your heels. Toes are not loaded so there is very little quadricep activation. It heavily overloads the posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, lumbar erectors). It also activates the RIGHTING REFLEX so you don't fall backwards.
  • With the swing style DL you must touch the bar with your shins.


JEFFERSON DEADLIFT - This smokes your quads big time!!!! Great way to develop your Quads. I think other people call it the Straddle lift. More of a squat than a DL.

BEHIND THE BACK DEADLIFT (sorry- no photo for this one)- Teaches you to recruit quads as well and balances out the muscle recruitment to all leg muscles.

DEADLIFT TO JUST BELOW THE KNEES - This is a great version to teach you not to RUSH the DL and really grind the weight off the floor very smoothly. Pause each rep for 3 seconds at the knees and then return to the floor. Perform this for 2 reps and then one 3rd rep come all the way to the standing position.

DEADLIFT - 1/4 INCH OFF FLOOR - Only bring the weight off the floor enough to slide a piece of paper underneath the weight plates. This again develops tremendous patience and a LOWER GEAR for your deadlifting practice. Very tough but instantly rewarding as it teaches you to be smooth and slow in the beginning and safe your acceleration for the end. Pavel says that it is often better to make the first half of the deadlift hard and slow which will make the second half smooth and graceful. Better to have this then to start off easy and fast only to finish with an ugly, difficult looking effort.

Specialized Variety Vs. Invariants (Constant's)

This was perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the seminar. This is heavily outlines in Pavel's PTTP PRO book on pages: 38-60.  It's basically the same but different principle. It teaches us how to add variety to our training without losing the principle focus on each life.

  • SV exercises mimic the lift the athlete wants to improve. These are reliable assistance exercises.
  • You focus on changing SURFACE FEATURES:
    • Stance - (heels together, one foot in front of the other, squat on balls of feet and press)
    • head position (apply pressure to the back of the bench while doing the BP - careful w/this)
    • Grip- (going snatch grip on DL / Double overhand grip / use no chalk to strengthen grip)
    • Incline Angle
    • Speed - (faster or slower - but shouldn't change order or technique of lift)
    • Added bands, chains, water resistance,etc.
    • Implement (KB's, kegs, rocks, logs, etc.)
    • Range of motion (deadlift only to the knees or stand on a platform for increased ROM)
    • Displacement of weight (Zercher SQ's / elevate the heels or toes on the DL)
    • Assistance Gear - briefs, suits (things that artificially make you stronger
  • Load your Lats (push and pull from the lats)
  • St up is everything. Must have weight on shoulders and feet (shoulder blades together)
  • Bring the bar to the highest point on your sternum (almost the abdomen)
  • Push yourself into the Bench
  • Think of "breaking the bar" with the lats
  • Big arch in back / Puff you chest
  • Load up legs (feet should slightly in back of you)
  • BP is a fully body exercise
  • Pavel loves the Zercher Squat - it will make your DL and SQ much stronger
  • Pavel could write a book just on the effective SV drills. 
And there was so much more................................this is was one power packed seminar.

 If you ever get the opportunity to attend a PTTP workshop, do it!!! Pavel was able to personally tell every single participant which DL technique was best for them!