Getting a PR on your 3rd Deadlift Attempt in a Full Power Meet

Discussion in 'Powerlifting Training and Strength techniques' started by ChrisLindsay9, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. ChrisLindsay9

    ChrisLindsay9 MuscleHead

    Jun 17, 2013
    According to Mike MacDonald, over 60% of lifters miss their third deadlift attempt (less than 50% miss their third squat and bench attempts). Based on my experience, I would have guessed this number to be higher, but if this stat holds true, there is definitely a noticeable increase of misses in deadlift. And certainly, a reason can be that the weight is just too heavy.

    But let's suppose that there are reasons aside from it being too heavy. Reasons, such as the fatigue settling in, that can be remedied before or during the meet.

    So let's talk about it.

    Here are some reasons that I can think of regarding missing 3rd DL attempts that might be remedied (again, aside from the weight just being too heavy):
    • General meet fatigue (obviously) from previous lifts
    • Fatigue (obviously) from wasted expense of energy between flights of lifters (especially amongst inexperienced lifters)
    • Meet venue has insufficient area to rest (small/cramped space, crappy/too few chairs, etc.)
    • Insufficient nutrition/hydration
    • Meet-sustained injury (tight hammy, shoulder sprain, lower back strain, etc.)
    • Inability to read/make adjustments based on meet conditions/warming-up
    • Ignorance of rules that allow for changing your opener (which would otherwise allow a 3rd attempt to be lower)
    • Strong (stubborn?) desire to hit a number (break a lift/total record or get a lift/total PR)
    Any others?

    So what can be done in training, during meet peak, and on meet day to help improve our chances of hitting a third deadlift attempt that would otherwise have been missed because of the reasons above?


    Meet-induced Fatigue

    What areas of the body are noticeably fatigued by the time you have to warm-up for deadlifts that may cause you to miss your PR attempt? Lower back, hamstrings, abs/obliques (trunk)? Any others? Is this preventable through training? We train muscles for strength, but are they trained for the endurance/stamina needed to work properly at the end of a meet?

    For example, would adding some, some “cool down” exercises (RPE 4-5 intensity) at the end of your training help promote better endurance in those areas that get fatigued? Such as the following:
    • bodyweight back extensions (2 sets of 20-25 reps) for the lower back?
    • leg curl machine (2 sets of 20-25 reps) for the hamstrings?
    • weighted plank (2 sets of bodyweight or single plate on your back for time) for the trunk?
    Preventable Fatigue (i.e. wasted energy)

    Inexperienced lifters can waste a lot of energy, especially early on in a meet. They arrive, and immediately go around talking to other people they know. Take selfie pics. During the meet, 1000 trips to the bathroom and more selfie pics. Going for a walk, or making a food run. Standing (thereby fatiguing those hamstrings). Constantly squatting, rotating the shoulders, etc. that goes well beyond just staying loose.


    I’ve been reading/hearing advice for lifters to steer clear of consuming sports drinks early in the meet. Stick with water. The reasoning seems all over the place. My take is that it’s the calories in sports drinks that can keep you too satiated to eat something more beneficial, until you’re then starving). Ever have that experience of feeling not hungry to starving in seemingly minutes? Ancedote (not data) alert: I had better success at my last two meets by sticking with water and flavored BCAAs (along with stimulant pre-workout during my warm-ups) all the way through my DLs. Then I switched to Gatorade/Powerade.

    Regarding food, other than a big breakfast, I tend to vary my eating habits based on the size and pace of the meet. But it generally tends to be BCAAs and carbs. I try not to consume a lot of protein until after deadlifts.

    Any thoughts/other ideas?

    Handling a Meet-Sustained Injury
    • Proper warming up techniques
    • Bringing a roller, lacrosse ball, bands, and thick towels to lay on – for the purpose of working out nagging issues that arise from lifting.
    • Rehab techniques – there seems to be some debate on how vigorous you want to be when trying to remedy an ailment like muscle pull/knot. Any thoughts here? I have been sticking with vigorous rubbing-type massage, rather than deep-tissue type massage.
    • Use heat oil – apply and numb the areas that are minor annoyance level
    Providing Meet Comfort for Downtime

    Bring some thick towels or blankets, maybe some comfortable folding chairs in case the meet venue does not have these things for lifters to rest between flights. The last meet I was at, had only those metal chairs you rent for parties … and by the end of the day it felt like I had competed.

    Making Adjustments

    Videorecord warm-ups. If you're a coach/handler, video record the significant warm-ups and show it to the lifter. The lifter will feel things move better/slower and will not know if/when to make changes to the lifting. As things get fatigued, technique starts changing (hips are too high at the start of the pull, for example).


    Just throwing some stuff out there to get the conversation going….
    Ramrod likes this.
  2. PillarofBalance

    PillarofBalance Strength Pimp Staff Member

    Feb 27, 2011
    Start before the meet Chris. That's where most things go wrong or can. Fail to plan, plan to fail kind of thing. Plan on all those points you made above and it's easy to overcome!

    1. Conditioning

    2. Selection of opener


    Tricky subject. The mere mention of this word in front of a PL will cause moaning, sighs, and vomiting. What kind of conditioning will vary somewhat based on your training.

    A Bully Yoga Apex participant (victim?) completes 3 blocks prior to the meet. Volume accumulation is pretty bad. It takes a couple hours to get thru this. Then comes over reach which is just ridiculous. Then comes the taper. Your fitness level is high going into the final block. One could argue that conditioning like sled pulls or prowler work could be added here because during the taper your fitness level will drop someone to allow for heavy singles to become the new norm.

    Someone using a less strenuous accumulation or over reach should include conditioning throughout.

    Conditioning does not mean cardio training. It's simply about work capacity and some anaerobic endurance.

    Selection of Openers:

    I have a hard rule about selecting openers. I see many who hit a heavy single 5 weeks out and say yup looks like a solid opener.

    Yet I have lifters, especially the less experienced who can hit a smooth single but when you add 10 pounds they get stapled.

    My rule - you will squat a triple @10 monday. You will bench a triple @10 wednesday. However you will deadlift a triple @9. There is no negotiating this.
    That single rpe point makes a world of difference come meet day. It takes into account your loss of fitness during the taper. It takes into account your loss of energy. And yes it takes into account those horrible venues with the hard floors and nowhere to sit but some floor space in a corner.
    Ramrod likes this.
  3. ChrisLindsay9

    ChrisLindsay9 MuscleHead

    Jun 17, 2013
    I know it's part of the meet prep paradigm to do ridiculous amount of volume early and winnow it down. But after three subpar meets in 2015 following that paradigm - where I showed up to the meet feeling like warm-up weight was stupid heavy (due to decreased workload, CNS fatigue, some degree of fasting, whatever), I feel at this time it's not for me. I had success at my last meet, keeping some extra volume in to maintaining muscle recruitment and strength, and chewing up some calories that otherwise would have been fasted up to and through the second week before my meet. Also getting 3 weeks of recovery from hitting opener/second attempts on squats and DLs, I think was helpful too.

    But the point of the thread isn't so much about openers and how to peak, but rather, how to finish a meet strong - overcoming that end of meet day fatigue and keep those muscle groups that play a role in the deadlifting as fresh as possible. If nearly 2 out of 3 lifters are missing their third DL attempt, it can't be all due to people attempting lifts at weight that's beyond them?

    I think the suggestion of keeping prowler/sled pull work in your programming up to the last stage of meet prep is interesting. I don't have access to those at this time, but maybe I can do some light-ish sandbag pickup work instead?

    I've opined before that I think bodyweight back extensions and weighted planks could have benefit as you build up stamina in the lower back/trunk. I'm wondering if trying something similar with hammies by hitting the leg curl or assisted-GHR machine for 20-25 reps at 50% intensity would help make them a bit more resilient?
  4. BrotherIron

    BrotherIron TID Board Of Directors

    Mar 6, 2011
    I'd say conditioning is the #1 killer of the end and like PoB said you don't build it on a treadmill.
  5. Perrin Aybara

    Perrin Aybara Senior Member

    Jun 14, 2016
    Conditioning for sure. When I'm a long way out I like having days where I'll start with bench or deadlift to hit them fresh, then closer to comp have brutal squat, bench and deadlift sessions to get accustomed to pulling in a fatigued state.

    During my last meet prep I did 5x2 each squat, bench and deadlift as my last high volume day. The next week I worked up to x2 @RPE 9 for each lift on the same day. Used those two sessions to pick my meet attempts. Deload the week after. Maybe a little unorthodox, but it went well and I went 9/9 and hit PRs on all three lifts.

    Also, staying calm and composed during the meet goes a long way. Outside of getting up to move around a little every now and then to keep loose I'll sit quietly. If it wasn't my flight I had my head down and I was relaxed. No getting hyped or using ammonia for my first two attempts of any lift. There's no doubt I'll smash my them anyway, so no reason to waste energy. I see a ton of people screaming and getting super hyped and having a grinder for a second attempt. I guess that's poor attempt selection as well. Anyway, I'd just get hyped up on my third attempt. Save all the energy for that. Emotional and mental fatigue are real factors.

    Of course hydration, nutrition and the others that have already been mentioned.
    5.0 and ChrisLindsay9 like this.
  6. porky little keg

    porky little keg MuscleHead

    May 21, 2011
    A few good points but we're missing some key things....

    General conditioning is good, but it's not what keeps you going 10 hours in to a meet. Look at greats like Garry Frank - 400lbs of out of shape, but still pulled an American record deadlift of 932 on top of his breaking the 2400s, 2500s, and 2600s (correct me if I'm wrong, but off the top of my head those were the barriers broken) .... I'd never advocate this but Garry took, like, 2 warm ups before opening his squat at 1k+..... let's start there.

    1st off is mental. Getting geeked out on pre workout is cool for a 2 hour workout but it'll destroy you in a 10+ hour meet. Keep calm, relax, and have fun. Save the intensity for the platform.
    1.5 - is the physical side of not burning yourself out. Do your homework on your heavy days to find the minimum number of sets needed to get to your opener. For example, for my last meet I opened at 940. I warmed up with the bar for a bunch of reps then went in briefs to 2 plates, 4 plates, 6 plates. Got in the suit for 750 and 850 and was good to go....... 5 sets after the bar to open at 940. Nothing more than a single after the bar either.

    2nd is training like you compete. That means doing the same jumps during your meet prep as in your meet. That also means deadlifting and squatting on the same day. Pull your deadlift opener the same day in your meet prep as your squat opener.

    Last but not least is how guys view the deadlift. I plan for 2 good attempts and then my 3rd deadlift is for going for a PR, a record, or the win. Roll the dice and try something big. A lot of guys only take 2 deadlifts by passing on their second to give themselves some rest. My teammate pulled his 910 like this.

    Of course, hydration and nutrition like everyone else mentioned too.
    ChrisLindsay9 likes this.
  7. UncleAl

    UncleAl MuscleHead

    Jun 20, 2012
    Rookie errors that lead me to fail a final deadlift, especially if the meet was a long one:
    * Insufficient recovery time. Lifting heavy and continuing a high volume of assistance work and hard conditioning (hill sprints, sled, prowler, farmer walks) until too late in the peaking cycle, and not deloading and taking sufficient time off at the end.
    * Consuming energy drinks, sugary food, caffeine, ECA stacks, etc. all day fried my adrenals and had me totally out of steam. Now, I might sip a little coffee early on to get motivated, but otherwise I try to hold off until later.
    * Failing to realize that because I was already warmed up after squatting max effort I didn't need a bunch of warmups before pulling. Instead of my deadlift day training protocol -- 135x5, 225x3, 315x2, 365x2, 405x1, 425 (opener), a shorter, less intense 185x3, 275x2, 365x1, 425 (opener) was plenty.

    One not so rookie error:
    * Lack of confidence. Getting psyched out by the number, causing me to get too excited and f**k up my setup. Believe it or not, I pulled a solid 490 in April, 2012, then missed 500 twice (even though my training numbers indicated I was more ready) until finally succeeding in February 2014. Sheesh!
    ChrisLindsay9 likes this.
  8. BrotherIron

    BrotherIron TID Board Of Directors

    Mar 6, 2011
    I completely believe you UncleAl... you can mind fuck yourself out of a lift.
    UncleAl likes this.
  9. TenaciousA

    TenaciousA MuscleHead

    Mar 31, 2013
    Unrealistic expectations/mind fuking has been mentioned...but still my #1 concern.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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