Woke up feeling good today, so I planned a very special session for myself… the car deadlift.

Went to the strongman gym, and while there was no car, there was the car DL frame, and there was a 400 lb tire. So, close enough.

I have to admit, I haven’t done the car DL since last summer, when I tweaked my back doing it.

warmup: I pinned two barbells down with sandbags to improvise a landmine setup, put a plate on the far end of each, then lifted those up a bunch of times.

Car Deadlift

*set the adjustable handles close to the frame* (it makes it harder)
*rolled the 400 lb tire over the frame*

tire x 4
tire x 5
tire x 5

notes: ok, those light sets were to get used to the weight transference and the foot placement. Car DL is very heavy off the ground, then light at the top. You also have to lean back and push with your legs without collapsing backwards (which is what I did last summer). Avoid collapsing backwards by squeezing your glutes, I might try flexing my upper back as well.

*straps on*

tire + 215 lb man sitting at the back of the tire – 4 reps

notes: where you stack the weight makes a difference. further away from the handles is easier, closer to the handles is harder.

2 guys (445 lbs) on the tire, one at the back and one at the front – FAIL

230 lb guy at the front of the tire – FAIL

230 lb guy at the back of the tire – FAIL

notes: I needed time to mentally regroup. I was pulling and pulling and pulling, and cursing and yelling and screaming (we were standing outside in a cold and windy parking lot). Nothing was happening.

We realized my feet were too far back. I needed to really inch my feet forward, to the point where I had to crouch down to avoid twisting my wrists through the straps against the handles (hard to explain, but now 50% of my feet were ahead of the handles, and it meant my wrists weren’t directly underneath me anymore, so I had to pretend to sit in a chair).

230 lb guy sitting at the back of the tire – 1 rep

230 lb guy sitting at the front of the tire – 1 rep

notes: the problem with my feet far forward like that is I am leaning back at a slant to press it up, and it becomes REALLY awkward to lower the weight back down again. I kept instinctively shuffling my feet back at the top of the ROM when I was holding it, just to feel secure enough to lower the weight.

This would lose me a lot of time in a comp if I keep dancing with my feet. For this session, the handles were really close, I wonder what the pull on my back would be like with really long handles and a car on the frame. The tire was pulling me down almost 45 degrees, maybe the car and long handles would be less steep a pull downwards than that.

Plus with a heavy car and long handles, I am assuming there will be more flex on the frame, and I will end up a few inches higher before it even breaks the ground. I think it will make it harder… or at the very least you have to be ready to grind out the pull/leg press on that first bit of the movement for even longer.

I don’t know, I need a LOT more practice time with the car DL, and this event remains a very uncertain one for me. I am glad though I juryrigged a way to practice it, it is much different than the trap bar DL. If you can stick with it until it breaks the ground, it really pops up at the top. Its not like a regular DL or trap DL, when the heaviness of it is more uniform. I can see a lot of people trying it for the first time, trying to break it off the ground and giving up because they don’t know it will get a lot lighter at lockout.

I was a bit gassed after all those sets, and when I sat down, the other dudes in the gym looked at me with concern. I had done so many sets and clenched my jaw so hard, that the muscles on each of my temples were red and swollen and puffy! It looked like my temples were about to pop!

I was worried if I did any more pulling that I was going to pop a blood vessel in my head, so I calmed down. After about 30 min, my temples shrunk back to normal size, but I was left with a really weird feeling headache all day.