Analyzing Chris’ Deadlift

Chris has had a big week.

Over the weekend he asked his lovely girlfriend–now fiancee–to marry him. Chris got the win–with an insurmountable amount of luck, of course.

I mean, have a look at this face–he’s not getting any calls from GQ. Nice calves, bro.

 As a post-engagement hooray, Chris did some nice deadliftin’. (That’s how it’s said where we are from in Central PA).

Recently Chris switched to a high-frequency deadlifting program–similar to the one that trained me to pull over 600 pounds. He’s seen good results thus far.

His hair has grown out all white-trashy like that without him even trying. Majestic.

Besides his spontaneous growth of trailor park locks, his frequent deadlifting is also awakening a monster. Let’s view a glimpse of his progress.





Here’s the future Mr. Jessica Blazer pulling 395 for a double:

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Pretty solid, eh? It definitely seems that he is leaving weight on the bar. He agrees.

Here’s Chris pulling 405 for a double just a few minutes later:

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After watching the two videos it’s no secret–the boy done strong. He is, however, leaking energy like the Exxon Valdez. You’re killing baby Sea Otters, Chris.

Whaddaya say we help Chris get closer to his goal of deadlifting 500 by breaking these videos down? All in favor clap twice and pinch your nose. Good Lord, I hope you’re in public.

Let’s start with the positives. Chris uses a great bar path–he keeps the bar on his legs from start to lockout.

His bar speed is also good, considering that he’s working at a high percentage of his one rep max. These two factors, joined with Chris’ athleticism, made the lifts successful. He has an efficient and adaptable nervous system, but that won’t take him from good to great–he’s got to eliminate the energy leaks.

We’re going to work from the neck down and start with the video of Chris pulling 395. Notice in the video his neck extends immediatly on ascension. This dog ain’t gonna hunt.

Notice that it also happens in the second video. Chris and I talked about this and he felt as though his neck was packed. He had the sensation that he had his neck and head in good position, but they actually weren’t. What’s going on here? His body is searching hastily for stability–it finds it in compensatory cervical extension.

The problem is visible at the top of the chain, but the cascade of maladies begins at the bottom of the chain. His foots are all wrong.



He has them shits pointed straight forward. With his feet in this position it’s impossible for him to dial his feet effectively and create a stable foot triangle. Check it out:

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Without foot centration, contact of the 1st MTP, 5th MTP and calcaneus, it’s impossible to maximize hip centration; hip stability and strength suffer. By misaligning his feet, Chris is putting a governor directly on his engine–the posterior chain.

Chris “Danger Boy” Merritt is also missing torque and tension further up the chain. Let’s have a look at his lats.

 Look at the elbows–Dead Give Away. His elbows aren’t tucked–meaning that he has limited lat tension. Lack of lat tension during heavy deadlifts results in instability of the Thoracopelvic Cannister. Long story short–the spine isn’t stable so the body creates false stability by extending the neck and flexing the lower back. So even though he felt like he had his neck packed–and it’s obvious that he didn’t–there’s no way he could have. He was lacking the requisite stability farther down the chain.

There’s also an interplay between the deep cervical flexors and the inner-core that Senor Merritt is lacking. I’d hazard to guess that Chris felt like he had his air in a good place. I’ll also guess that he didn’t. There’s a reciprocal pattern of stability here–packed neck promotes utilization of the inner-core, activation of the diaphragm with a solid belly breath creates stability that allows for neck packing. It’s a circle. Having these two elements locked in let’s the brain open up the juice to the peripheral nervous system. This means strong.

So, what should My Main Man Merritt do? All of this stuffs:

1) Dial his feet.

2) Set his air low and hard in a 360 degree pattern.

3) Pack his neck like a bawse.

4) Grab the bar with his body flexed and then pull himself into extension to build tension.

5) Tuck his elbows.

6) Pull the bar into his body while pushing the floor away with his legs.

7) Force his knees out as the bar approaches the mid range.

8) Finish with his hips to the bar.

If I were coaching Chris in person I wouldn’t throw all of these things at him at once–I’d give him one cue and let him concentrate on it. When the cue stuck I’d work on another–and so on. It’s a process; we have to committ to the process.

Wake the monster.













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Todd Bumgardner
M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
Todd Bumgardner

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M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger

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