I teach strength classes as Dane's Body Shop. The class programming is total body and on most occasions involves several types of deadlift variations across the week utilizing varying intensities and volumes. I believe these to be the best deadlift variations and use all of them, except the straight-leg deadlift (Jefferson Curl). I talked about the conventional deadlift and the sumo deadlift in a prior article and will brush over them again. As a side note; there is no naming convention (a convention in which the names of things are generally agreed upon,) so people name things at will. So I name them so as to help people know which exercise we are doing in class. So without further adieu the 6 greatest deadlift variations.  

1. Stiff-Leg or Semi-Stiff Leg Deadlift - The Semi-Stiff Leg Deadlift is done like a deadlift except with a higher hip position. It is similar to the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) except with the bar goes completely to the floor. I have seen Ed Coan demonstrate a similar movement to this on Youtube. In the variation that Ed Coach uses; he allows the bar to drift away from his body and out over the toes. So it is essentially a variation of a variation. I prefer to keep the bar as close to the body as possible; much like a deadlift. Some people call the semi-stiff leg deadlift an RDL; there is no naming convention, so you can call it whatever you like; see RDL below. I will go over the RDL further in a bit; some say they are done the same, except in an RDL the legs remained bent mimicking the power position in an Olympic lift whereas a semi-stiff leg deadlift the knees reach full extension at the top. Here is Mark Rippetoe demonstrating the RDL which is also used synonymously with the Stiff-Leg Deadlift or what I like to call the Semi-Stiff leg deadlift. 

2. Romanian Deadlift- Similar to semi-stiff leg deadlift except the bar doesn’t touch the ground; it stops about 2" from the floor; the movement also begins with the knees unlocked and they remain unlocked through the completion of the lift. According to Jim Schmitz the lift was" 'discovered' at {his} gym, The Sports Palace, San Francis 1990." (1) Nicu and his Coach Dragomir were there teaching some clinics while in the states for the Goodwill Games in the clinic at the Sports Palace" where Nicu was working out; he had just finished clean & jerks and the "he{...} proceeded to do {...} a combination stiff-leg deadlift and regular deadlift{...}" (1)

At this point, "someone watching asked what the exercise he was doing was. Nicu just shrugged his shoulders and said it was to make his back strong for the clean.  Dragomir also said the same; it was just a lift that Nicu had developed for his back and clean.  Well, then everyone was really interested and asked Nicu to demonstrate it with lighter weights and describe how to do it.  Someone taking notes asked what this lift was called.  There was a long pause and Nicu and Dragomir didn’t have a name, so I said, “Let’s call it the Romanian deadlift or RDL for short,” and every one agreed and there you have the birth of the RDL.  MILOpublisher and editor-in-chief Randall Strossen was there taking photos."(1) You can read the full article here

So there you have it; where the Romanian Deadlift came from allegedly and what it is. Here is a video from catalyst athletics in which greg Everett is demonstrating the RDL. The biggest difference to see here is the position assumed by the lifter; the legs remain unlocked or bent the entire time. In the previous video the legs are fully extended at the end of the movement. There is another video of Greg demonstrating the HERE.

3. Straight Leg Deadlift or (Jefferson Curl) - To be honest I have never done either of these lifts. The straight leg deadlift is done with straight legs fully extended unlike the semi-stiff leg deadlift or the RDL. This usually requires the use of a box and at that point looks more like the Jefferson Curl. Now like I said previously there are is no naming convention so some people use the same names for other lifts. I do not believe they are all the same lift. Straight leg is technically a stiff leg; I guess I could call it the straight-stiff leg deadlift as opposed to the semi-stiff leg deadlift. While searching I found Lyle McDonalds blog where he talks about the stiff-legged deadlift and has a picture of a woman rounding her back which would not happen with weights on due to shorter range of motion, it looks more like a Jefferson Curl as seen on Gymnasticbodies website. As I previously mentioned I do not use either of the lifts in my programming under load, I use them generally as a mobility aspect or as part of a movement prep, or performance prep (warm-up). 

4. Conventional Deadlift aka Clean Grip Deadlift - A conventional deadlift is the "king of lifts" according to some and a title I am not willing to argue with. There are a few types of deadlifts done with a clean grip; the conventional deadlift, in which the hips are high and the shoulders are directly over the bar with an almost vertical shin angle; depending on anthropometrics; below is a picture of a conventional deadlift set up; two lifters with two different body types. A clean "style" deadlift; which mimicks the positions necessary for a clean; shoulders in front of or over the bar and lower hips; which lead to a smaller shin angle. 


5. Sumo Deadlift - Feet are wider than the grip, powerlifters and weight-lifting enthusiasts, not for strongman or weightlifting. 

Coy Schneider of

5.2 I lied you can find some Olympic weightlifters doing a variation of the sumo deadlift although with a much closer foot position and called sumo clean pulls

6. Snatch Grip Deadlift aka wide grip deadlift - This is a lift down by Olympic weightlifters to strengthen the posterior chain and develop better positioning for the snatch. Outside of Olympic weightlifting I have read a lot about Coach Poliquin using it in his training programs specially from a podium. 

Here is Ilya doing snatch grip deadlift off of a podium with a drop, I do not like for general athletes to drop the bar unless at specific times in the training year, the eccentric is the best part of the lift. 


1.) Schmitz, Jim. "Jim Schmitz on the Lifts." RDL: Where It Came From, How to Do It. Iron Mind, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.


While explaining our skill movement the other day at Dane's Body Shop someone asked, "isn't the power clean same as the clean?" In short: a power clean is different from the clean in that it is caught above 70 degrees of knee flexion; absent a goniometer, above parallel.  A clean is caught in the bottom of a full squat or caught and taken all the way down to full knee flexion. It is also called a squat clean; the term was originally used to differentiate a split catch from a squat catch. The term is or was outdated depending on how you want to look at it. Now it is commonly used among small groups of fitness enthusiasts or those trying to convey a point (ie., me). There are three main types of cleans: clean (squat clean), split clean, continental clean. The reason I have limited my types to three is that all of these were contested at some point in the Olympics. (1) The clean has so many variations it isn't worth going into in this article, however the most common variation is the power clean. Below are several videos demonstrating the cleans, the first is a clean aka squat clean. 

Clean AKA Squat Clean

The next type of clean is the split clean, which is rarely done anymore. You will see people demonstrating this movement in local competitions mainly and some master level lifters still use this variation. It is also recommended by some coaches for "jerk training or for those with mobility issues." (2) Below is one of the United States greatest lifters Norb Shemansky. 

So while editing this article for the bazillionth time I realized I had not put a video up of Norbert split cleaning, so I decided to look for one and I found a video of him freaking continental split cleaning. Had to share so below is that video along with a good ol' split clean. 

The great Norbert Schemansky

The last type of clean is the continental clean and according to Dresden was used in the Olympics prior to switching to the split clean.(3) This variation is now a mainstay of strongmen the world over. Normally you see it with an axle bar as opposed to an olympic bar. Below are two videos one with an olympic bar the other with an axle bar. 

Now we have seen demonstrations of our three types of clean. Below is a video of a power clean and a clean again so that you may see the difference. 

So now you have it three types of cleans and one variation. Hopefully you can go to class or the gym and properly demonstrate the two movements. 


1. Dresden, Archibald. "The History Of Weight Sports: How They Evolved Since 1900". Breaking Muscle. Retrieved from N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

2. Everett, Greg. "Split Clean Exercise Demo Video and Info." Olympic Weightlifting: Catalyst Athletics. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

3. Dresden, Archibald. "The History Of Weight Sports: How They Evolved Since 1900". Breaking Muscle. Retrieved from N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.


Angie W. - Saturday, January 14th., 1900hrs. (7PM)

Jennifer C. - Sunday, January 15th., 0900hrs. (900AM)

Galia P. - Sunday, January 15th., 0900hrs. (900AM)

Derek E. - Sunday, January 15th., 1130hrs. (1130AM)

Team Red Beard - Past & Present 


King of the Lifts

There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift! - Jon Pall Sigmarsson proclaimed at Pure Strength 1987, while holding a 1005 lb axle in his hands.
— Beck, Kalle and Ison, Trey. "Deadlifting through Time"

Who are the kings of deadlift?

Deadlifts are an awesome feat of strength, when a large amount of weight is pulled off of the ground, you can’t help but be in awe. Lifting heavy things in some form has played a part in human culture from “Antiquity and the story of Milo of Croton … [the] legend [that] trained by carrying a calf daily from its birth until it became a full-sized ox”[1]  to the “Man-stones”[2] of Scotland. Sometimes ‘cultish’ and sometimes significant lifting heavy things is an important aspect of our culture, a great place to see some of that history is the Stark Center at The University of Texas. I believe with the rise of CrossFit and the ensuing fitness culture has invigorated the resurgence of the once ‘cultish’ lifts back into mainstream.  

Who does deadlifts? 

     Deadlifts are currently one of the contested lifts in Powerlifting, the other two lifts are the bench press and the squat. The first “Powerlifting meet was held in 1964 by Bob Hoffman and the York Barbell Company.”[3] Prior to that, the deadlift was considered an odd lift and not contested in any formal fashion. More specifically it was a show lift and one of the most prolific showmen was Hermann Goerner. Hermann Goerner was a German that entertained in circa the 1920’s[4]

Hermann Goerner deadlifts with two fingers!

Goerner “is unofficially credited with an 830lb conventional deadlift.”[1] However, this is not what Goerner is most known for “but [for] his…. [lifts of varying grips].  These records include a 728lb double overhand pull, a 595lb pull using only two fingers on each hand and the most famous of all a 727lb deadlift using only one hand that still stands as a record today. Consider GNC’s premier test of grip strength the GNC Grip Gauntlet-which tests three lifts; rolling thunder, the blob, and crush grippers-the current record for the rolling thunder which closely resembles a one-handed deadlift except with a thick grip is 332 lbs. According to Guinness Book of World Records Goerner still holds the world record for one-handed right hand deadlift of 727.5lbs.[2]  Strength historian David Willoughby called this lift, “the greatest documented feat of bodily power ever performed.”[3] Following in Goerner’s footsteps was another deadlifting great; Bob “Tennessee Hercules” Peoples.

The farmer from Tennessee

            Bob Peoples was a farmer from Tennessee that “lifted 725lbs in 1940 at the age of 40 and a bodyweight of 180lbs”[4] consider the current raw record for the same weight class was set in “1984 by the Ed Coan with a weight of 766”[5] (Drug Tested) and at a much younger age of 21. What is surprising about Peoples was not so much his strength but rather his unique deadlifting style. Peoples lifted with an “overly round upper back and [had a] preference for pulling with what he described as ‘empty lungs.’”[6] To make this feat of strength even more impressive was the fact that Peoples built and trained with equipment he built while operating a full-time and profitable farm.[7] Today’s deadlifters borders on superhuman and the supernatural; people are deadlifting over half a ton, and regularly deadlift into the 800’s. The methods have remained relatively unchanged; so why the massive increase in weight?  I can on stipulate on the possible reasons with a modicum of certainty and those improvements can be attributed to a number of things, most revolutionary of course would be PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs, i.e., steroids), the second would be the equipment; more specifically the suits used by some powerlifters. What is most exciting about our current time is the resurgence of raw lifting, which has a greater accessibility and for me personally is more exciting.

Nothing but strength will get heavy sh*t up!

            No matter how much things change there is still one simple truth and that is there is still only one way to pick up something heavy and that is will a heck of a lot of strength and will power. There are two primary styles the conventional style-feet shoulder width with hands outside of the feet, and the sumo-style-feet essentially outside of the hands. Gripping the barbell is generally done with an alternate grip, though some utilize a double overhand grip with a hook grip. There is geared lifting and raw lifting as seen here by Benedikt Magnusson.

What to do next? Sign up below for the inaugural push pull and test your deadlift strength.


[1] “Milo of Croton: Greek Athlete” The editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica. 10 September 2014. Encyclopedia Britannica. 3 November 2015.

[2] Miller, Mark. “Ancient Stone of Strength is lifted by Welshman for First Time in Living Memory.” 13 July 2015. 3 November 2015.

[3] Beck, Kalle et al.

[4] Smith, Charles A. “Hermann Goerner: A Man of Super Power.” 15 October 2009. 9 November 2014.

[1] Beck, Kalle et al.,  

[2] “Heaviest Right Hand Deadlift – Bar” N.D. 10 November 10, 2015.

[3] Ibid.,

[4] Ibid.,

[5] Vasquez, Johnny “Men’s Raw World Records.” N.D. 3 November 2015.

[6] Beck, Kalle et al.,

[7] Peoples, Bob. “The Training Methods of Bob Peoples.” Issue of Iron Man. April/May 1952. 3 November 2015.


The history of the clean and press during the “Olympic and World Championship Competition” was brief and storied, from judging inconsistencies to prestige, the press had it all.[1] The lift was "standardized at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 [and] was adopted as one of the so-called 'Olympic Lifts' for international competition, along with the snatch and clean and jerk," 28 years after the “inaugural Olympiad held in Athens, Greece in 1896.”[2] The incorporation of the press and the rules were subject to the global politics of the time, world powers were still reeling over the First World War, and the winners were defining the name of the game. The reigning world powers also played an integral part in the development of different pressing styles, from the “strict” or “military” style to the “continental or loose” style[3]. The press was seen as a different type of lift from the other lifts, it was seen as one used to measure strength as opposed to skill.[4]

What remains strikingly similar between pressing variations, the bench press; today, and the press; of years past is the fundamental belief that the lifts are and were the definitive measure of upper body strength. According to John Fray, “people believed that pressing was the standard of measuring strength” and “people were heard asking: how much can you press?”[5] in gyms across America. The intention was to test the ‘strict version’ of the lift or what was traditionally called the two-hand military press. The rules for the lift were clear:

press rules were divided into first (clean) and second (press) motions. In executing the latter, a lifter was required to pause two seconds, “then lift up the bar vertically until the arms [were] completely extended, without any jerk nor sudden start.” Throughout the press “the athlete’s body must constantly stand in a vertical position.” Any departure from it, “any foot work (heel lift, etc.) and any bending, however little, of the legs” were grounds for disqualification. These procedures were followed at the Paris Olympics in 1924, but nations were still far from unanimous on what lifts and styles should be allowed.”[6]

Each nation had a particular style when they pressed, the clean and [military] press was viewed differently from the other two contested lifts, which were considered "quick lifts,” according to Fray.[7]

It was said that overall upper body strength was best tested through the use of the press, personally I would say clean and press is a greater test than coming out of a rack. Fray in his article quotes Alan Calvert, the "founder of [the] Milo Barbell Company" with regard to the press, where he stated:

"The press is 'always slow and steady,' insists Calvert in an early issue of Strength magazine. You cannot find a better test of pure strength than a Two-Arm Press with a barbell. Whenever a man starts to talk to me about “knack” in lifting, I give him a fairly heavy bar-bell and ask him to make a Two-Arm Press.... If the legs are held straight, nothing will send that bell up except strength, and you need the strength in the triceps of the arm, the small of the back, and particularly in the deltoid muscles on the points of the shoulders. No skill is required to press a bell aloft after you once have it at the chest, and that is why I consider the Two Arm Press as the best strength test."[8]

The lift was included in the Olympic test with the intention of using a strict military style overhead press. Much to my chagrin at learning there is a difference between a press and a military press, which I will delve into later in the article. Along with Calvert, I would also argue that a strict style Press is the best test for pressing strength in a world devoid of other options (no bench press racks), much like I would argue the deadlift is the best test of lower body, total body strength given the same conditions (no rack). Which is why these two movements are a favorite strongmen the world over and why at the inaugural push/pull on December 12, they will be the two lifts contested. So what is the difference between pressing variations?

From here forward I will differentiate between a press – loose style and a Military style – strict. The military press today does not have the same meaning as it did originally. When people refer to military press they can mean (refer to?) a standing or seated variation without using the lower body. Historically the military style meant an upright posture with feet firmly planted on the ground heels together and the back straight, basically standing at attention, a military posture. According to Dresden in his article the military style was taken from the;

"British Army [where it was] one of [their] required strength tests. In doing so they had to keep the 'MILITARY' position of 'ATTENTION' - hence the term Two Hands MILITARY PRESS. When this lift was incorporated into British Amateur Competition weightlifting, not only were the above positions retained, but the lifter had to keep the hand spacing not more and not less than shoulder width and during the lift it was required to raise the barbell at an even speed ALL THE WAY - usually the lifter kept time to the referee's rising hand of finger."[9]

The press commenced from the chest to overhead without utilizing the legs or the back to complete the movement. Unfortunately the athletes found ways to "cheat" the movement. I guess where there are rules you will find someone trying to bend them, as the old maxim goes; if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying hard enough. The lift evolved or devolved depending on whose view you want to take it from. The lift no longer a test of pure strength but a test of skill, much more like the snatch and clean and jerk. While searching for information on this article I came across many articles and videos of athletes demonstrating the lift; here is a world record attempt


As you can see there is nothing strict about this lift, it looks similar to a push press. Due to the difficulty in judging the lift and its similarity to the "quick lifts" it was removed from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and henceforward all other Olympic Games. On December 12, Dane's Body Shop will be hosting the inaugural Push/Pull and the ill-fated Olympic Press will again be contested. We will aim to remain true to the original intent of the lift with a few minor exceptions. So without further adieu the rules for the clean and press part of the competition.

1.    The athlete will have a 1-minute to begin the lift.

2.    The athlete will clean the bar from the floor to chest height and will wait for a press command.

3.    The head judge (Me) will give the press command, at which point the athlete will press the bar without utilizing a dip (help from the legs) to complete arm extension and will pause at the top of the lift until the down command.

4.    The judge once he deems the lift to be stable and finished will tell the athlete ‘down’ at which point the athlete will return their bar to their chest and then to the ground WITHOUT dropping the barbell from over-head which will result in a no rep.

5.    That will count as a good lift at which point the athlete will declare next weight.

So quick points to remember; wait for the PRESS COMMAND and the DOWN COMMAND, DO NOT DROP THE BARBELL. That is it.




1 Archibald, Dresdin. "The History of Weight Sports: How They Evolved Since 1900." Breaking Muscle. N.D. Breaking Muscle. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.


3 Ibid.,

[4] Ibid.,

[5] Fray, John. "The Tragic History of the Military Press in Olympic and World Championship Competition, 1928-1972."Http:// JOURNAL OF SPORT HISTORY, Fall 2001. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.


[7]  Fray, John. "The Tragic History of the Military Press in Olympic and World Championship Competition, 1928-1972."Http:// JOURNAL OF SPORT HISTORY, Fall 2001. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[8] Ibid.,

[9] Dresden, Archibald

"Press Rules - Charles A. Smith (1951)." Dezso Ban. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban, 5 March 2014. Web. 29 October 2015

"The Tragic History of the Military Press in the Olympic and World Championship Competition, 1928-1972 - Journal of Sport History" John Fair. Department of History and Geography, Georgia College and State University, Fall 2001. 29 October 2015