August 17, 2012
August 22, 2012

The title has nothing to do with our lack of attention, just our ability to produce a sufficient rate of force development during the deadlift. And, honestly, when is extra force during lifting ever a bad thing? 

Inch Worm 50′, 15 Squats; 
Hamstring Walk 50′, 15 Push-Ups; 
Gorilla Walk 50′, 15 Squats 

6 x 3 Deficit Deadlift 

The strength session began with 2-3 warm-up sets working without a deficit.  For the 6 working sets of 3 reps, athletes could add deficit as desired, as well as increase weight across all sets as able (“as able” = with good form). Adding deficit meant raising the feet up anywhere from 1 to 4 inches, and could be accomplished by standing on a single 45lb iron plate to stacking the same 45lber on top of a 10lb, 15lb, or even 25lb bumper (standing on the iron plate is preferred, as it provides a flat surface, as opposed to standing on the uneven surface of a bumper plate alone).

So why work from a deficit? Essentially, we are tricking our bodies in order to improve our bodies rate of force development (RFD). That all sounds very technical, but the simple fact is the faster your RFD, the faster the bar will start to move off the floor. If your deadlifts are slow, even at light to moderate weight, then you’re starting with one foot in the hole when it comes time to load the bar up. Two of the most effective, and thus popular, ways to help develop your RFD are: (1) Speed Pulls, and (2) Deadlifts from a Deficit.

We’ve used speed pulls to try and help our deadlifts a number of times in the past, with a notable post this past March (“OPEN UP“) about the essential “need for speed” in a speed pull. Unfortunately, too many of us want to push the weight during the speed pulls, thereby negating the positive effects. That’s where deficit deadlifts come in handy: you can increase the weight while still realizing the benefits to your RFD.

By deadlifting from a deficit, you increase the range of motion required for the lift. The extra range of motion requires extra energy to initiate the lift and get the weight moving. The extra energy of course translates into extra force. In short, you are tricking your body by making it work harder to lift weight that would normally feel lighter. If we were to revisit the same deadlift rep scheme next Sunday but without working from a deficit, the weight would seem to fly off the floor (and just to be clear, we’re not revisiting deadlifts again next Sunday – just speaking hypothetically of course).

Skill Break: 
2 x 20 Handstand Shoulder Touches 

As a brief interlude before the met-con, everyone headed down to the court for a brief reminder on body position and core control during when performing handstands before getting to work on 2 rounds of up to 20 handstand shoulder touches. Remember, the key is core control – if you find that, as you’re performing the touches, your hands are steadily moving away from the wall, it’s a good indication that your core is not tight, and the sagging in your mid-section is causing you to move your hands to compensate for the lack of balance.

Group Met-Con: 
2 x 
1min Plyo Lunges, 
1min Ring Push-Ups, 
1min Weighted Step-Ups, 
1min Russian Twists

For the met-con, class was broken up into groups of three of four people, with each person starting on a different exercise. No rest was provided between exercises, simply rotate from one movement to the next as quickly as possible and get started. Plyo-Lunges were scaled to walking lunges, and ring push-ups were scaled to ring holds (arms-extended) so that everyone could get used to the stability requirement of working on the rings in the prone position. Step-ups could be done with either a single dumbbell or kettlebell held in the rack position – athletes could alternate sides as desired, so long as the numbers were as even as possible in the end.

After quickly putting away the equipment, the entire class enjoyed a much deserved cool down while listening to an important and extremely influential guest speaker – influential in that Dr. Paul Glodzik, an injury and sports performance specialist, is on familiar terms with more than one CFDCer and their related limitations.

On behalf of CFDC, we want to extend a huge thanks to Dr. Glodzik of the Washington Injury and Sports Performance Clinic for coming visiting us on Sunday to share his expertise, especially as it applied to nagging shoulder problems which seem inherent to CrossFitters. Per Tom’s own words:

Paul has been instrumental in my ability to regain movement and increase ROM, especially in the shoulders. This has directly improved my snatches, OHS, kipping and handstands. I asked Paul to come and share some tips on shoulder health with the rest of our group.

Paul covered 4 pathways we can use: self mobilization, proper alignment, specific strengthening, and professional care. The first, self mobilization, we cover through the use of resistance bands, foam rolling, and lacrosse/yoga balls. Paul explained how we can use the ball to unglue the sliding surfaces and break up scar tissue in the shoulder blade area, as well as both the pec minor and major. Paul also covered some points every CFDCer should be intimately familiar with, including “scapular retraction and depression,” keeping the shoulder blades pulled together and down away from the ears. We already make a huge point of the importance of this in pullups, deadlifts, cleans and snatches, but it’s also the only way to keep the shoulder safe in the bench press.

Paul also covered a few specific exercises for the muscles of the rotater cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres and subscapularis, collectively knows as “SITS”), which included internal and external rotation, scapular positioning via the overhead pulldown, and band pull aparts. If you missed it, or can’t remember everything, fear not, as we plan to review and integrate these exercises to make sure everyone is utilizing them correctly. Again, the focus is on alignment and full ROM.

For those of us struggling with issues which aren’t being resolved by the implementation of the above, Paul closed out by discussing some of the options for treatment that he offers. Paul is lifelong athlete himself, and while he is a licensed Chiropractor, more of his work is done using ART (Active Release Technique), Graston Technique and Kinesio-Taping. These techniques are often less than comfortable, but extremely effective. Breaking up the adhesions and scar tissue works wonders for the range of motion. You can check out Dr. Glodzik’s bio on the WISPC site. To contact Dr. Glodzik and set up an appointment, you can either email him at or call the WISPC office at 202-363-1011.



  1. Katie says:

    And here I thought RFD was just a great bar in Chinatown! Who knew.

    Um, Joshua, why are you smiling during the metcon? More weight is clearly needed for those Russian Twists!! :o)

    I know cleans and snatches are good for me, but sometimes I enjoy using the regular bar and hitting triple digits, so I was thrilled about deadlifts. I worked with Kenna, Emily, and Joshua, and we worked up to 120# using one 45# plate for the deficit. (probably could ahve used more) I then did one rep at 130# as a bonus to see if I could do it. (yes) I hope all my other lifts eventually feel as good as deadlifts do.

    Good metcon! I scaled to a hold on the rings (which was still tough, wow), 25# for the first set of twists and 15# for the second, 12kg KB for the step-ups, and did regular lunges.

    I’ll add in my endorsement for Dr. Glodzik, since I’m another one of his patients who he has helped quite a bit. I started seeing him a few months ago upon Sara and Tom’s recommendation when I was having knee pain and a “dislocated feeling” in my right knee that was really bothering me. I was a little fearful of going to see someone about it, because I didn’t want them to tell me I had to stop CrossFit. As Sara told me before I went to see him, he has a squat rack in his office, so he “gets it.” He’s done mostly ART on my IT band, but also coached me on what I should foam roll before and after class and done some other things like Graston Technique. (I will hold back on describing this since it apparently helped.) These all have helped immensely, and though my knee still bothers me occasionally, it always improves after I go to see him and I know how to control a lot of the pain on my own. Also, he’s a nice, funny guy (which makes me not hate him despite the discomfort he causes me at times), and he has flexible appointment times — I usually go in at 5:40 p.m. on a weekday. I do recommend checking with your insurance plan on the number of chiropractor visits you’re allowed and your copay, just so you aren’t surprised…but it’s been totally worth it for me, as I’ve been able to continue CrossFit. Yay!

  2. Sara says:

    @Katie – I think Steph said the same thing to Joshua when he was doing the Russian twists with the big grin.

    A big thank you to Paul for coming to talk with us. I have seen a lot of benefits from his treatments.

    Steph, Chris, Tom and I had a good time after class getting our workout it. I was working in the sumo deadlift rather than conventional. They are pretty humbling to me in general but when you add the deficit wow! My working sets were at 185-200 lbs. I tried 205 but the result looked something like me trying to adjust my setup position when the weight was already lifted off the ground. I had a tendency to raise my hips early on the rep.

    For the metcon, I subbed hamstring wall touches for the lunges, did step-ups with a 16kg KB overhead, ring push-ups with my feet raised on a small box and use a 25lb bumper for the twists. I tested out the 15kg bumper but it didn’t really want to move so opted to use the 25lb. Next time I will try a 35lb iron plate as I think it may be easier to rotate.

  3. Erica says:

    I swear, despite the photo on the blog, I should be the poster child for what NOT to do during deadlifts.

  4. Mark Minukas says:

    Deficit deadlifts were pretty darn cool. Feel like they’re great practice for that bottom position I pretty much suck at (mobility’s getting better, though).

    Worked up to 325 for 3 reps. Felt good.

    Think I got around 185 reps for the metcon.

  5. Ben says:

    Unfortunately due to a tweaked hammie I did not partake in the deadlifts. Instead Steph supervised my one-legged box torture thingies, or at least that is what I am calling them. All I know is my glutes are killing me today. Metcon was tough, take however many reps Minukas did and double it, that is what I got……OK, you should probably divide it in half, but whatever. See everyone tomorrow!

  6. Mark Minukas says:

    Forgot to say that it was great to have the Dr. in to talk about body movement, stretches, etc. Informative end to class. Would be cool to do more of those.

    Ben – hope the hammie feels better…

  7. First time doing the defiect DL’s and now I know why we are doing them. Julia and I progressed well through the sets (worked up to #279) with the exception of my horrible math as a mixture of both kilos and lbs on the bar made me have to think way to long about the what weight we were doing.

    HS. Getting better at these, made it to 10 (5 each) which was an improvement over 3each last time.

    Met con: Fun as always!

  8. Tom Brose says:

    Even a single plate deficit really changes the movement and makes for a serious challenge. Somewhat like a clean pull, you need to keep the hips down and drive the heels through the floor for longer than in a standard DL.

    Definitely seeing improvement on the HS holds and shoulder touches. With some of the “skill” movements you need to do them frequently to improve.

  9. Julia says:

    Great working with Jon on DLs, even if he had to take plates off his working weight when it was my turn. I missed DLs the other week, so this was my first time doing them in months (?). I know the deficit added to the challenge, but honestly, just doing the lift felt awkward enough, so was hard to say exactly how standing on the plate affected things. In retrospect, maybe would have benefited from reining ego in and stripping off some more weight. Good practice, though, and great explanation – the connection to speed pulls definitely didn’t occur to me until I read Chris’s post.

    Thanks Dr. Paul for the talk (and Tom for the demos)!

  10. Steph says:

    Where’s the comment from Paul?

  11. Kenna says:

    Posting on this, just for record’s sake. I went up to 120# on the deadlift. I feel like my legs and hips could handle more by my back (scapular retraction anyone?), was not strong enough to keep from rounding with any more weight.