Feeling like a new kid on the “block” pulls and how to hang tough

Let’s face it block pulls for some of us can be as painful as reliving a New Kid’s on the Block song/video. Both can be frustrating while you just want it all to stop!

Well good news! New Kid’s are gone and we just have to see them on VH1 every couple of years or maybe a celebrity rehab show. More importantly I am going to share how you can not only tolerate block pulls but thrive.

Honestly what is a block pull?
A block pull is a partial deadlift where you pull from blocks or pins in a rack from anywhere from 4-8 inches but like many things in life length varies on the person and their goals. So if we have a bar 4” off of the floor what really is it? It is certainly a segmented lift so right from there we need to visualize where in the pull this lift is at mechanically for our own technique. Reviewing video can help a lot in this department. Where are your hips at the point? How bent are your knees? Head position? I am not about to open a can of worms saying what the respective form should be at there are rule breakers that seem to lift just fine with a rounded back and looking down. So focus on you and how you ideally look at that segment of the pull.

2. Hanging tough at the start
I deadlift conventional and like many my start is what helps me with the lift. A block pull is taking away a portion of momentum that you rely and and in some ways your deadlift is a dead start from a weak spot of the lift. Visualize that spot of the pull in a full deadlift. Keep replaying it in your head. Visualizing will help with the awkwardness you may experience with the movement. Understand, it will be harder than a full pull even if the weight is the same or lighter. Addressing our weak points are always humbling so just suck it up and attack.

3. Weird squat pulls need not apply
We see this a lot where people want to get their legs under a rack pull and end up performing something not at all intended to being effective. Block pulls are no different. An extreme Romanian deadlift might be more the idea to consider if that helps you coordinate with the movement. Steve Goggins is a legend and worth taking a look at performing this movement correctly and effectively.

Hopefully these three points can help you in the deadlifting. Personally I recommend block pulls primarily for a conventional deadlifter but any style will benefit just understand your goals, strength and weaknesses.

Notes from RPTS Squat Seminar

 

 

Safety:
Warm ups:  These are a combination of active and direct warm ups.  Active can be cardio, rolling etc.  Direct warm ups are done with the actual lift itself.  Never tire yourself out during warm ups and always use this as assessment time to see how you are feeling.  If things feel heavy maybe go lighter.  Seems like common sense but too many times people are married to the idea of the set numbers.  Flexibility in programming is a precursor to long term success and longevity.
Set up: Bar placement, bracing and the walkout are all part of the set up not excluding feet spacing as well.  Bar placement is the foundation to you success in the squat.  So long as the bar is stable and works with your mechanics that is what matters whether low, middle or high bar placement.  Keep the humerus pulled in tight to keep the upper back engaged along with the rear delts.  This will keep you from rounding as much when in trouble.  Bracing is just learning to take in air in the stomach and lungs and holding to support the spine to a higher degree than the belt alone.  The idea is to push into your belt while sort of crunching down.  Brace when lifting the bar off the rack and before you start your squat.  Walkouts need no explanation beyond what we discussed but please practice them.
Environment: Be aware of your surroundings particularly in a mainstream facility.  Never be afraid to approach people to give you space.  Safety is paramount.
Technique:
Foot placement:  This is partly comfort based but also based on the bar placement and the shoes you wear.  Be aware how these variables impact you as a lifter.  A close stance in heels with a high bar is prone to balance issues for example.
Bar placement: Already mentioned but learn and understand why you use the bar the way you do.  Understand which placement is best for your mechanics.  This is always going to be something that is individual.  Be willing to experiment.
Depth: If not competing find a comfortable range of motion period.  If competing learn to lift every time like on the platform which includes depth on every rep.  Know what is good by feel not others telling you.  The ping effect of the lifter hearing creates tentativeness and is very robotic.  The first sign of an unprepared lifter is bombing out of a meet for depth.
Mobility: Your feet, bar ride and depth are all factors of mobility.  Heels can come up because of high bar position pitching the lifter forward as can tight achilles and hips.  When squatting your descent is based on bending at the hips first.  Lifters than bend at the waist often get stuck being pitched forward and can even “lean into parallel” which is a crap shoot for white lights.
Bar Path: Sitting back is incorrect.  Drop.  Drop it like its hot.  Whatever helps you to understand.  Raw lifters drop but we do stick our butts out.  The bar should really travel in a straight line up and down.  Try some of the apps around to see the difference of a box squat and a regular squat.  Perfect practice makes perfect so consider box squats as a secondary or assistance exercise at best.
Assistance Lifts:
Getting out of the hole: Squat, pause squats, low box squats, high bar close stance, front squats, safety bar squats
Transition out of the hole: parallel box squats, GM squats, suspended GM, safety bar squats, bottom up squats
Lockout: High pin squats, adding chains or bands, reverse band squats
If you are struggling with exercise creativity here are a few to add to your training programming.
Supplemental lifts for the squat:  Pause squat, Pin squat, Front Box Squat, Slow Squat, Front Squat, Wide Front Squat, Anderson Front Squat, Safety Bar Squats, Manta/High Bar Squats
Developmental lifts for the squat: Wall Squats, Zercher Lunge, Front Lunge, Hack Lunge, Duck Foot Squat, Negative Squat, Belt Squat, Lockouts, Squat with Chains, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Ham Curls, Squat Jumps, Depth Jumps, Box Jumps, Calf Raises, Hyperextensions/Weighted in various ways, Seated GM, Reverse Hypers, ABS ABS ABS.