Category Archives: deadlifting

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Joe “Ironman” Norman



2012 APF Single-Ply Nationals

Yesterday’s meet day started out like every other meet day. I got to the meet early, set my stuff down, got my rack height and went back to the warm-up area and rested. I was in the second flight so I was able to get a good 45+ minutes rest before I needed to get warmed up.

I planned on opening with 959 lbs. so I planned my warm-ups as follows:

Bar x 5
Bar x 5
145 lbs. x 3
145 lbs. x 3
235 lbs. x 3
465 lbs. x 1 – Start briefs
665 lbs. x 1
845 lbs. x 1 – Start suit

Everything was going well, until the last warm-up. On the way up the injury I suffered a few weeks ago in my right arm reoccurred. I felt something pop in my elbow join with shooting pain going down my forearm and up my bicep. Pissed off and discouraged, I was going to drop my opener, but my handlers convinced me that I should stick to my plan, deal with the pain and stay with the opener. I agreed and figured that we could re-access the situation after I opened. Here’s the video of my opener. I don’t have any more videos because I told my wife to forget about filming, that it was going to be a bad day.

As you can see by the video, I had absolutely no speed out of the hole that I usually have. I was so worried about my arm that I couldn’t concentrate on squatting. My plan for the competition was to open with 959 lbs. then go straight to 1,060 lbs. to try and get the all-time highest single-ply squat. After that opener, my handlers and I decided that it was best to take more of a conservative jump, so I went to 1,019 lbs. On my second attempt, I set up with the bar a little higher on my back to try and help the arm out a little, but as I descended, my arm just couldn’t keep the weight in place and it dropped a little on my right side. This caused it to shift and threw me off balance a little. I tried to compensate but when 1,000+ lbs. starts to move one way, 255 lbs. of muscle and bone just isn’t going to stop it, so I shook my head for the spotters to grab it. I passed on my third attempt.

959 lbs. – Good
1,019 lbs. – Miss

At this time, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was pissed off and my arm was hurting.  As I sat there with a frozen bottle of water on my arm, we had to come up with a new plan for the rest of the competition. My plan was to take a token bench and deadlift and call it a day, but my handlers had much more in mind. They knew how much I trained for the meet and that even with the injury I could possibly put a nice total together.

The plan we came up with for the bench was this. Ice the arm as long as I could before the bench started. Warm-up raw and find a relatively easy raw opener, then put on one of my larger shirts so it would not be so hard to touch and see what weight I could push up within the pain limits of the arm.

The Bench went like this:

Bar x 5
Bar x 5
135 lbs. x 3
225 lbs. x 1
315 lbs. x 1
405 lbs. x 1 – Start shirt
455 lbs. x 1
495 lbs. x 1

315 lbs. – Good (Raw)
551 lbs. – Good
600.7 lbs. – Good

On my last warm-up I was able to bring the bar within a one board to my chest so we decided that another 50 lbs. would make it touch, that’s why we went to 551 on the second attempt. The opener went easily. On my second attempt I was able to touch pretty well and push it up pretty hard. I left my belt unbuckled so the shirt could ride up and make it easy to touch. The only issue I had was at the lockout. When I bench, I get a good blast off my chest making my press more of a “throw up and catch” style. The bar comes up fast and I have to kind-of catch it at the top when it gets to lockout. This causes the bar to drop down hard on the arms at lockout.  I felt another pop in my arm again as I caught the weight and it took everything to not let the arm drop. It may have actually dropped a little but it wasn’t enough for the judges to red light me. At that time I was ready to pass my third, but my handler again said it looked like I had another 50 lbs. or so left in that arm so he convinced me to keep going. For my third attempt I decided that I needed to slow the weight down and not pop so hard of my chest, horse it up in a way, so I wouldn’t have the lockout hit. We readjusted the shirt and rolled the sleeves up as high as we could to get the sleeve pressure off the elbow joint. I also buckled my belt this time to keep the shirt from riding up. This time it took longer to touch but I was able to push it up slower and locked out slower. My lockout wasn’t the prettiest thing but I was able to get two white lights.

My plans for the deadlift were to open with 622.7 lbs. then try and push it over 700+ lbs. With the arm we had to change those plans as well. My handlers and I figured we would let me warm-up and see what the arm could take, then figure out an easy opener. We also decided that I needed to switch my grip. I normally deadlift with my right hand under and left hand over the bar; if I were to try and pull with the injured arm under, it would have hurt it even more.

Here’s how the deadlift went.

225 lbs. x 1
225 lbs. x 1
315 lbs. x 1
425 lbs. x 1
515 lbs. x 1
565 lbs. x 1

600.7 lbs. – Good (Lowered form 622.7)
650.2 lbs. – Good
705.2 lbs. – Missed

The overhand grip with the injured arm didn’t affect the deadlift very much at all. I was able to hold the bar without pain. The only issue I was having was switching my grip. When you train and compete for thirteen years one way and in switch something, it is just awkward to say the least. The first two attempts came up pretty easily but on the last attempt I floated the weight out in front of me and just couldn’t get it back in position.

Despite all the madness of the day, I ended up with a 2,209.9 total, my third highest personal total in single-ply gear, so I can’t complain. Also, going in to this meet I was under the belief that there was a $500 cash prize for winning your weight class. To my surprise, they did not give out money for winning your weight class, only the best lifters in the raw and single-ply division got cash prizes, $1,000 for each. My total was enough to win my class and take best lifter in the single-ply division. So I got to come home with $1,000 in my pocket. I owe it all my handlers for keeping me from quitting, for pushing me throughout the day and for coming up with back-up plans for the bench and deadlift.

I guess if there is any moral to this story it would be:  Don’t give up, don’t quit! You will be surprised what you are capable of when you fight through adversity and misfortune.

I spent 13 weeks training for this meet, got injured two week before it, re-injured on warm-ups, but with the help of my friends I was able to make a bad day into a good day. I may have not hit the goals I set out for but the day turned out well considering the situation.

P.S. I bought everone dinner for helpign me so much.



Comments and questions are always welcome.

Quick Meet Results

Today at the APF Single-Ply Nationals I hurt my arm again during squat warm-ups. Despite my injury, I was able to do well. I will go into details tomorrow. Right now I need to get so rest.

Week 11 – Deadlifts

Last night was supposed to be light day but seeing that I haven’t deadlifted for a while, I figured I would get one more heavy pull day in before the meet. For the last four months, I had been working on my sumo style deadlift, but the last time I tried it, it didn’t work out so well. This week I went back to conventional style to see if I could still do it.

135 lbs. x 5
140 lbs. x 5
140 lbs. x 5
250 lbs. x 5
250 lbs. x 5
340 lbs. x 3
430 lbs. x 1 – Start Suit
520 lbs. x 1
610 lbs. x 1
660 lbs. x 1
660 lbs. x 1

Because of the extra weight I put on, it was a little hard to get into position once I got my suit on. I had to pull the legs up into my crotch and turn my belt around, but I was finally able to get in position on the last set. I was thinking about going up another set to 700 lbs. but my training partners convinced me that it wasn’t necessary and to save it for the met in two weeks.



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Comments and questions are always welcome.

Week 9 – Dealifts

This was Week 9 in my training cycle leading into the APF Single-ply Nationals. Instead of squatting, I decided to do some deadlifts. I haven’t pulled for a month and figured I would give a go today.

The last time I pulled, I was trying to get back my old sumo technique. It went real well that day, I was able to pull 675 lbs. for the first time in years.

Today so I was excited to try sumo again but it went very badly. I blame myself. You see, at lunch today I went to the all you can eat sushi bar. Well, I sure did eat all I could, thinking that it would be digested by the time I deadlifted tonight. It wasn’t!

It’s not fun deadlifting with a bloated stomach. Let me go through my workout and you can see how bad it was.

145 x 3 x 2 sets.
245 x 3 x 2 sets – So far so good, I was raw no belt
335 x 1 – still good (raw no belt)
445 x 1 – Started briefs and belt – I could not get into position
535 x 1  – Briefs, suit and belt. I could not get in position and had to horse the weight up. SAD!
535 x 1 – Changed into conventional suit and pulled conventional, still had to horse the weight up
645 x 1 – Raw and belt – horsed the weight up

After that terrible deadlift session, I was pretty much spent. I had to horse the weight up too many times and with a full, bloated belly, I couldn’t breathe very well. I took it easy for the rest of the workout:

Leg Extensions
4 sets 120 lbs. x 15 reps.

Leg Curls
4 sets 100 lbs. x 15 reps.

The rest of the workout was me sitting around bullshitting with the guys.

One of the founding members of Team Jax, Randy Boynton, used to say, “When training up to a meet, you WILL have at least one bad day. Better to get it over with before getting to the meet.”

I can only hope this was my bad day. Next time, no all you can eat buffets before a heavy training day.


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