Comfortable Carryover and the 245 lbs Dead-lift

245lbs Deadlift_text

Occasionally I’ve heard some coaches in the fitness industry say, “You can’t get strong from only training with kettlebells” or “Kettlebells are a waste of time”. Even Andy Bolton, powerlifter and first man to dead-lift over 1,000 lbs admitted that he once thought, that as a powerlifter, kettlebells were a waste of time until he met Pavel Tsatsouline and learned how kettlebells could augment his powerlifting and help him to train for a bigger dead-lift. Read more HERE

Fortunately I hear this less and less nowadays and these thoughts are not as prevalent in the fitness industry. Instead you see more written about the benefits of kettlebell training and how you can indeed build great strength by training only with kettlebells, when trained correctly and by applying hardstyle techniques.

The Kettlebell Swing Builds A Stronger Deadlift


Kettlebells, in general, allow you to train with the lowest system load for maximal results.

Let’s take the kettlebell swing for example.

In the picture above and video below Eric and I are demonstrating an overspeed eccentric with the kettlebell swing at our Kettlebell Fundamentals workshop at NY Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy on December 6, 2014 in New York City.

The overspeed eccentric helps to teach how to apply force on the back swing of the kettlebell swing.  The more force applied to the kettlebell on the backswing, the heavier the kettlebell will weigh (physics, right?) and the harder your hips have to work to bring the bell back on the finish of the swing.

How does this translate to a stronger dead-lift?

The purpose of the kettlebell swing is maximal force production. Therefore, if the correct force is applied to an 8kg (~18lbs) kettlebell on the back swing, that 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs. If an 8kg kettlebell can weigh up to 80lbs with the correct force applied, imagine how much a 24kg (~53lbs) kettlebell can weigh if the correct force is applied?? Subsequently, the kettlebell swing can help to improve dead-lift strength because it allows you to use the lowest system load for maximal results. In addition, the kettlebell swing helps to build a stronger low back, glutes, hamstrings, and improve grip strength. All very important if you are working towards a stronger, and heavier dead-lift.

Don’t believe me? 

Since I started my business Iron Body Studios over three years ago, in September 2011, I have been solely focused on kettlebell training.  Therefore it has been about three years since I trained with barbells.

Which means that, 1) I only trained with kettlebells to build enough strength to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge…

and 2) For dead-lift strength I have only been training kettlebell swings, (with weights ranging from 18kg (40lbs) to 20kg (44lbs) for one arm swings and 24kg (53lbs) to 36kg (70lbs) two handed and double kettlebell), and kettlebell dead-lifts. The most that I have dead-lifted are double 48kg (212 lbs) kettlebells.  Even though I can dead-lift this weight for sets of 5 repetitions, instead I would dead-lift 48kg once per week for 5 sets of 2 repetitions, 10 repetitions total. One other day during the week I would dead-lift double 44kg (193 lbs) for 3 sets of 3 repetitions, 9 repetitions total.

About three weeks ago Eric and I decided it was time to purchase a barbell for the gym.  Since the barbell arrived I have been getting re-acclimated to the barbell and most specifically barbell dead-lifts.  Even though a 212 lbs kettlebell dead-lift had become very manageable for me, 185 lbs with the barbell felt surprisingly heavy as I was getting used to the barbell again!

I have incorporated barbell dead-lifts back into my training for exactly two weeks since the barbell arrived. This week is my third week back to training them again and my goal has been to determine what my current max dead-lift is. After only one week of training barbell dead-lifts, I felt comfortable enough to test a 225 lbs dead-lift. I was surprised at how easy the weight went up.

225 lbs Barbell Dead-lift

Based upon how manageable this weight felt, this week, as I entered week three of training barbell dead-lifts again for the first time in three years, I decided to test out 245 lbs which is two times my bodyweight of 117 lbs plus 10 lbs.


245 lbs Barbell Dead-lift

The lift was hard and the weight was heavy, which you can tell by the expression on my face as I work through the lift, but I felt good about the lift overall. In addition, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly kettlebell training carries over to other strength training techniques and non-kettlebell lifts.

My current next goal weight is 275 lbs HOWEVER, I’m comfortable to call this my max for now as I work on improving technique through practice and building more strength. If you watch the video closely you can see how I lose tension in my back at two points during the lift, which means 1) I need to build strength and incorporate some horizontal rows into my training like kettlebell or TRX batwing rows and 2) I need more practice.

When trained correctly by applying hardstyle techniques, the kettlebell swing and kettlebells in general will build tremendous strength!!


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One Comment on “Comfortable Carryover and the 245 lbs Dead-lift

  1. I just read the strong first article cited at the beginning of this post by (even) Andy Bolten. I do not yet know of the Andy Bolten fame. 🙂 but! That was an interesting read. Lots of programming talk there.

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