Is a 315lb Deadlift Athletic?

Before I dive into this, let me first explain where the question comes from.  While working at the JCC last Thursday, I was discussing training environment with a few of my friends who were working out.  Many of the strength coaches that I follow consistently comment on the importance of training environment, and how it can contribute to or hinder your progress.  The training environment at the JCC leaves much to be desired, and we were discussing how to make it better.  While it’s impossible to change the clientele of the facility, it’s certainly possible to create a specific feel during our own workouts, and promoting other people focusing on squats and chin-ups over walking the treadmill and doing seated bicep curls.

During the conversation, I brought up the fact that I’d love to get an internship at a strength and conditioning facility, where I can learn from the best, and become better and training people, writing programs, and picking up heavy stuff.  One of the things that I said was, “I want to work at a place where a 315lb deadlift is speed weight.”  (If you’re doing speed work with 365lb, you’re probably pulling around 560lb for a max; you’re pretty strong, regardless of weight.)  A few seconds later in the conversation, I heard this reply: “No, I want to do more athletic stuff!”  While my internal dialouge said “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”, I cleanly replied, “How is that not athletic?”

Now, I expected more from the individual that made this comment.  He recently became certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which is one of the best organizations in the country, and he works as a physical education teacher, which is what I want to do.  I was flummoxed: what the hell could he have meant?  Well, it turns out that his version of ‘athletic stuff’ is crap like this:

Awesome, so at least I know this, given all the variables remain consistent: my athletes will be stronger and faster than his, unless the sport involves balancing on wobbly things.  (Further down the road, I also found out that he doesn’t believe in full ROM benching, squatting, or anything that might actually make you stronger.  And he does hot yoga.)  I spent a few days thinking about it though, and he may actually have a point.  Here’s why:

When you’re training strength, your goal is to improve the performance of a primary activity; the training is a form of performance enhancement.  If your strength training accomplisments happen to hinder your sports training, then it is in fact not athletic.  For example, if you run a 4.5 second 40yd dash, and you add 100lbs to your deadlift but your 40 is now 4.9 seconds, getting stronger actually made you perform worse.  Funny thing is, this should never happen, if you do it right.

With proper programming, getting stronger should make you better at everything you do.  (Maybe this is why I emphasize it so much!)  If you get stronger, you’ll be able to apply that to every aspect of performance.  However, getting stronger should never hinder your performance.  If it does, then you’re doing it wrong.


Now, I’m going to wrap this up so I can run across Adelphi’s snowy parking lot to the gym.  I need to workout and get home before 7pm, when the Delaware Blue Hens take on the Eastern Washington Eagles to become the national football champions.  Let’s go, Blue Hens!

I’d also like to pat myself on the (very sore) back for trap bar deadlifting 335lb for 10 yesterday as well as 365 x 5.  They weren’t planned, but it just kind of happened; I finally felt good after getting sick on Sunday.  Also, my training partner pulled 2 singles at 365, and took a victory lap.  High Five, Bryan!

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