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Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

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Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Journeyman on Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:46 pm

So I tried these the other day just because I wanted to see what I could mix grip without chalk... worked up to 505x1 from somewhere between 'just above the knee' and mid-thigh. With straps and a slightly shorter ROM (a legit hand 'n' thigh lift, just boosting it up an inch off the rack to lockout) I'm sure I could do well over 4x bodyweight no problem.

Fun lift, but probably not good for anything other than an ego boost unless you 1. do a lot of reps or 2. use ridiculous overload. Case in point--I believe that Warren Lincoln Travis was known to do hand and thigh lifts with 1,000lb for 1,000 reps as part of his show in a strongman act in the early 1900s. John Y. Smith did a hand and thigh lift with 1640lb weighing 168 himself in the 1920s.

I know that Adam Glass has been doing a lot of heavy rack pulls again recently so I was curious. I also do have some ideas that may be good specific assistance work for my DL, I'll try them and post the results here.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by CheesedogTheFirst on Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:14 am

People must have had a lot more free time in 1900. I can't imagine standing and watching someone do 1000 reps of anything. Even though it is seriously impressive.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Journeyman on Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:50 am

Ha! I think that took a while and wasn't a 'show' for people... something he'd do more or less continuously while people walked by. He was an actual circus strongman, so it's not like he had a captive audience.

Fun fact--he claimed to be the strongest man alive and no one ever took him up on his insane superheavy-partial-lifting-for-super-high-reps-challenge, so he retained his fancy belt (that he paid for himself, he was independently wealthy, I believe). Funnily enough, he never took anyone else's challenge that involved full range barbell lifts... a safe decision on his part, it's highly unlikely that he would've been successful.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Dave on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:01 am

Never heard of him until you mentioned him. I followed up with some pretty interesting reading here: http://www.usawa.com/tag/warren-lincoln-travis/

As for rack pulls, I have always loved the feeling they give my low back. I think the craziest I've ever gone with them was 405 x 20 with straps, and that would have also been from between just above knee to mid thigh. Boosting it up an inch off the rack to lockout with straps, for the purposes of shrugging, my max so far was 585, which is just about triple bodyweight.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Journeyman on Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:40 am

The usawa is a weird little organization but it's certainly a bastion of physical culture history.

WLT himself didn't appear to be particularly yoked up, strangely, but I imagine that 1k x1k of rack pulls would cause some pretty insane upper back development for most. I'm not sure the hip lift would create the same effect; as most of the supporting can be done by bone in the top position....

And yeah I know you were (are?) a fan of superheavy shrugs. I'm thinking of doing some really heavy shrugs myself, not using leg drive but otherwise going as heavy as possible, now that I have straps... would be good to counteract all the scap depression that I've done in the past few years, haha.

On a side note, here's me with Travis' big dumbbell last year:



For reference, I'm 5'8''. Tough to imagine an under-200lb guy hip lifting that (easy as that lift is) for hundreds of repetitions... but there you go.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Dave on Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:49 am

I would have done more super heavy shrugs aside from the immense difficulty of avoiding highly protracted scaps.  I am now using the heaviest dumbbells I can find plus straps or eagle loops and doing shrugs or farmer walks.  I had ordered a trap bar but the silly things is still not in yet, and my window of financial opportunity has closed on it sadly, at least for the meantime.  Once I have the trap bar, I expect to be back to super heavy shrugs, though I might still do them sparingly with an Olympic bar.  My traps definitely liked them a lot.  Supinated grip shrugs and rack pulls are more even likely to make it into the mix.

Nice pic!
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Fatman on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:29 pm

Rack pulls from anywhere above the knee are pretty useless for the deadlift, but are a great upper back exercise.

I got a lot of carryover from rotating various below-the-knee rack pull variations. The best ones (for me) were from 2-3 inches off the ground and from mid-shin. I had to use less weight than in the regular deadlift, but when I went back to the floor I was a lot stronger and actually broke through a 2-year pulling plateau.

The position just below the knee is also good for people with weak lockout (me).
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Journeyman on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:47 pm

^ That's the conventional wisdom, but rack pulls from mid-patella or just above the knee are magical for my DL if I use the same back position (and don't just hip-extend the bar off the pins). Roundbacking in any form generally results in an easier start but harder lockout, so rack pulls are a good way to address that. Generally, if I can lockout a weight for a set of 5+ from knee level starting with a highly compromised back position, I can hit it for 1 from the floor. Too bad the new racks my school got last year are the wrong height for this, and the new plates can't be used to stand on....

Yeah, mid-shin is harder (so I've heard) for guys with shorter arms who pull conventional with normal back angles. Repping out ~80-90% weights from there might be very potent for blasting through that specific weak spot.

David Hansen has a horribly weak lockout, comparatively, and pretty much hammers it every way possible. DL with hundreds of pounds of band/chain resistance, rack pulls from above, below, and at knee level, paused pulls, block pulls for reps, RDL, etc. etc.

And Dave there aren't a lot of very high hipped pullers who deadlift with a flat back... weakness off the floor is more an issue for most sumo guys. Since your hips tend to end up pretty darn high on your olympic pulls, though, just doing a lot of those (plus heavy squats/front squats) is probably the best thing for your DL... so you've got that covered.
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Fatman on Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:56 pm

Journeyman wrote:Generally, if I can lockout a weight for a set of 5+ from knee level starting with a highly compromised back position, I can hit it for 1 from the floor.

Could be that the higher reps (5+) help, I've never done rack pulls for anything but singles (or maybe doubles).
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Re: Rack pull/hand and thigh lift

Post by Journeyman on Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:42 pm

Yeah it does seem popular to do them for low reps, maybe just because it's fun to load up such a huge weight.

I think the +10% rule is a good one--if you can handle more than 110% of your max, there will probably not be a whole lot of direct carryover to the lift you're doing; maybe just making the bar feel lighter but nothing really tangible. So doing partials in such a way that you can't handle much more weight and doing reps is the most productive way, imo. Ditillo did a lot of that sort of thing... worked for him.
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