Ogden Myklebust—Championship Deadlift Strategies

By: Josh Bryant  

If metaphorical testicles measured a man, Ogden Myklebust III’s nickname is Tex and he has a  form of gigantism. This past weekend Ogden deadlifted 827 lbs faster than the Mexican two-step for a USPA American record in the 242-pound class. More amazingly, Ogden was having an “off” day; he went one for three on squats, and two for three on bench, all the while being sleep deprived because of a newborn baby boy born one month earlier. This info is not to play a shoulda-woulda game, this is a-emotional, it’s pragmatic and shows that Ogden’s amazing deadlift, more than likely, is not expressive of his true strength. I want to share with you four strategies we implemented to take Ogden’s deadlift to the next level.

Go to 5:23 to see Ogden’s 827 Deadlift Isometrics off the Floor 

At the beginning of this meet prep Ogden was slower than a month of Sundays off the floor. So, we need to slap this sticking point to sleep, then slap it again for sleeping.  No better way to do this than Isometrics.  We simply loaded a 1000-pound barbell on the floor then Ogden would pull as hard as he could against it–rest three minutes then pull submaximal weight for singles and doubles in the 70-80% range in a compensatory acceleration style.  Boom!  This immensely improved Ogden’s speed off the floor.

Application Point: Isometrics without full effort are as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.  For deadlift sticking points you must pull as hard as you can against an immovable object for 5-6 seconds, then follow that with a speed set of submaximal, full range of motion deadlifts to harvest maximum transference.

Olympic Pause Squats For a raw squatter, whom I firmly believe will be over 800 pounds next meet, Ogden has a fairly wide stance.  Like the greatest powerlifter of all-time, Eddy Coan, Ogden’s weakness is his quads.  So, triple drops on the leg extension it is—not in this lifetime.  After heavy competition stance squats we hit Olympic pause squats taught to me by the immortal Ed Coan— these close stance, high bar, pause squats helped Ogden strengthen his quads; the result was better leg drive off the floor in the deadlift.

Application Point: Cutesy bodybuilding movements, like flys, have great transference to the bench press, but, unfortunately, single-joint bodybuilding movements have much less transference to the squat.  By changing your stance and bar placement you change the movement!  If quads are a weakness try Olympic pause squats or some of these quad-strengthening squat variations:  front squats, belt squats or Hatfield squats.

Alternating Styles As a competitive powerlifter, I pulled my first 600 and 700 pound deadlifts sumo stance but my first 500 and 800 pound deadlifts were conventional.  Ed Coan, one of my greatest mentors, pulled 901 sumo and 887 conventional.  When Ed pulled 901 he trained conventional in the off-season.  Ogden is a great conventional deadlifter because he can nearly match his sumo deadlift in a conventional stance. In the trenches, we see a lot of transference between styles.  Traditionally the few that alternate styles do their secondary stance in the off-season and competition stance exclusively during meet prep.  Ogden’s hips were getting too beat up pulling sumo heavy every week. We started alternating going one week of heavy sumo deadlifts, then the next week fairly high volume conventional deadlifts with submaximal weight in compensatory acceleration style.  Voila- hip pain decreased and Ogden’s sumo deadlift increased! A conventional deadlift session might look like 500 x 2 x 8 sets with very short rest periods. A similar strategy worked with powerbuilding demigod, Nam Thomas.

Application Point: If your hips do not handle heavy sumo deadlifts weekly, try alternating and the same would apply to you if your back does not tolerate heavy conventional deadlifts weekly.

Jump Training Before heavy deadlifts in training, we work in a light variation of squats focusing on building the squat motor pattern, speed, warm-up and activation for the coming deadlifts.   In between squats, Ogden, for the last training block, would do a vertical jump as high as possible.  For Ogden specifically he needed to develop more force (who doesn’t) but at a much faster rate.  So, if he did five squat singles, he did five jumps.  This small amount of volume had a large training effect in helping Ogden develop force faster.

Application Point  Noah Bryant and myself made this video on how strength athletes specifically can use jump training, check it out 

Final Thoughts I started off by telling you about Ogden because he always finds a way! Besides being a devoted husband and having a son during prep, Ogden is a very successful businessman.  Point being, if you do not have the mindset of Ogden or the work ethic, these tools will not work as effectively. Ogden is just getting started and I can see a 2200-pound total happening in April.  Way to go, champ, and thanks for always committing to the pull and giving me one more reason to have a #Mexicandayofthedeadlift fiesta!