Dueling Deadlifts

Standing dumbbell high rows
Standing dumbbell high rows

I missed Thursday’s workout (delts and traps) because I took my son to the airport, so I had to push everything back one day. That means delts and traps on Friday and triceps and biceps on Saturday. Saturday is also the day I squeeze in an extra cardio and do core (ab and lower back) work. Fortunately, I had the time, because put together, it took about 90 minutes to do all that.

I won’t go through all the details, but I have taken up doing straight leg deadlifts for lower back work rather than back extensions on the Roman chair. As I was going through my triceps/biceps routine, I noticed a guy about my age start doing barbell chest presses using an impressive weight. The thing about him is that he didn’t look particularly strong and he had a hefty amount of belly fat on him.

Of course strength and being slim don’t necessarily go together. A lot of powerlifters aren’t exactly thin people.

I didn’t think much of it and was actually rushed to get to the last barbell bench before it was scooped up. I finished “arm day” and started my deadlift routine. Here’s what I did with rest between sets of about 90 seconds each.

  1. 10x 130lbs/58.96kg
  2. 8x 150lbs/68.038kg
  3. 8x 150lbs/68.038kg
  4. 5x 170lbs/77.11kg
  5. 5x 170lbs/77.11kg

Taking a lesson from my new and improved leg day, I decided to back off the max weight 10 pounds and do the last two sets at 170lbs, which seemed like plenty.

Afterward, I managed to hoist all that weight back up onto the rack, took of the plates and properly stowed them away, and started on decline bench weighted crunches.

Meanwhile, the older guy doing chest presses switched to, you guessed it, straight leg deadlifts. But he was lifting an impressive (to me) 220lbs/99.79kg using what looked like a 5×5 (5 sets of 5 reps) routine. My first thought was to feel a little intimidated. My second thought was to wonder why at the bottom of each rep, he was slamming the weight forcefully onto the floor before lifting to the top of the rep again. Nothing I’ve seen or read says that’s an appropriate part of a deadlift. The only time I’ve seen someone end a deadlift with dropping the barbell onto the floor was at the end of a 1-rep max (1RM), but that’s because the person is lifting a tremendous amount of weight for a single rep, the most they can lift for just one time.

But the strangest part was yet to come. Remember when I said I had trouble hoisting a 170lbs barbell back up on the rack. I guess this guy didn’t want to try to muscle 220lbs up so he started taking the plates off the bar on the floor. He managed to get the two 45lbs plates off one side and replace them on the rack pegs. Then he took the collar off the other side, lifted the barbell end up, and let the other two plates slide onto the floor. From there, he picked up the plates and put them back where they belonged, then lifted the now bare barbell back onto the rack.

On the one hand, that might be considered clever, but on the other hand, I have never seen anyone do anything like that before. Maybe I’m just being overly conservative, but it seems kind of careless to treat the equipment that way. I’ve taken lighter plates (5 to 25lbs) off of barbells on the floor, but left the 35s or 45s on and replaced the barbell on the rack before removing them. Just dumping 90lbs of iron on the floor seems kind of cavalier.

But like I said, maybe I’m being too picky. What do you think?

strength meets size
Photo credit: Bodybuilding.com

I tried to keep an eye on the guy afterward, but I moved on to weighted cable crunches and then cardio on the elliptical and didn’t pick him up again until I saw him on one of the LifeFitness Ab Crunch machines. After that, he disappeared which I guess means he left the gym. After I finally finished my cardio, I did the same.

I’d never seen this guy before, but a different crowd hits the gym Saturday morning than during the weekday, at least in the wee hours between 5 and 6 a.m. I try to mind my own business most of the time and hope that everyone else does the same, but this fellow showed me a few things about myself.

First off, I didn’t know I’d feel the least bit competitive with anyone else at the gym. but then again, whenever I’m working out, I’m usually the only one doing deadlifts. So here was a guy about my age and maybe 50 to 80 pounds heavier, particularly around the middle, and he’s picking up my body weight plus over 20 pounds doing deadlifts. I normally don’t care about who’s doing what compared to what I’m doing but for some reason, I let it bother me, at least momentarily.

The other thing is that I have to wonder if I’m criticizing his technique and form because they were truly not up to par, or am I being picky because of the first point I made above? I’d hate to think that I’m that petty, but then again, I know I’m kind of strict about how exercises are done and how to treat the equipment.

I dunno.

I think the take away for me from this experience is to refocus on what I’m doing and to ignore the varying styles and habits of the people around me unless I see they’re doing something truly dangerous to people or damaging to the equipment.

I’ve got too much to focus on just in my own workout without having to worry about someone else’s.

Oh, I saw a particular comic strip from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things at Imgur.com that I thought was relevant so I’m including it below. Enjoy.

As long as you’re holding on to where you were yesterday, you’re standing still.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman



2 thoughts on “Dueling Deadlifts

  1. One thing I will say . . . it is easier to get hurt on the eccentric part of the DL than it is on the concentric for many people. As a person with ‘lumbar issues’ I tend to ‘guided drop’ as the Kg goes up. I do 5 X 5 for DL – which I think SS and SL both recommend against – and if I went the same speed down as up, I would have to deload a bit.

    But that may also go back to an equipment issue. At my gym, I own all the equipment. But I don’t drop iron. My plates are bumpers, which are designed to be able to take that treatment. And the floor is concrete covered with 3/4″ cow mat.

    I also unload the way that dude did. I only have one set of J-hooks on my squat rack, so unless I move them around, I can’t unload the way you do. Your way would be better. But honestly, his way should not damage anything if the floor is matted and the plates are bumper. Sounds like your gym needs to spring for some bumpers😉

    I can see where listening to someone slam iron weights around could be irritating though. Have I mentioned, I LIKE working out alone?!!😁


  2. Thanks for cluing me in. The floor in the weight room at my gym is well padded so I can’t see the iron being damaged. I guess I’m just finicky, especially with someone else’s equipment. Actually, I’d love to have the place to myself, but that’s just for convenience’s sake.

    As far as bumpers, the gym just came under new management and they purchased an entirely new set of dumbbells, so I suppose anything’s possible.


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