How Eddie Hall trained to pull the monster 500kg world record deadlift
Nobody believed it was possible for a human being to pull the mythical half ton deadlift.
Nobody that is except British strongman Eddie Hall.
While many believed that lifting 1,100lbs off the floor was beyond the realms of any man on the planet, the 28-year-old Hall believed he could do it.
He already smashed the world record for a deadlift several times which stood at 465kg.
But hitting that incredible 500kg weight would take something truly superhuman to be able to add another 35kg to a record that was already at the very extreme edge of human strength capabilities
Yet the Stoke-on-Trent powerhouse shocked the world when he stepped up to the plate and ripped the half ton off the floor like it was nothing at the World Deadlift Championships in Leeds. The most incredible thing was how easy he made it look.
Hall himself reckons he's got even bigger lifts in the tank if he just trained the deadlift alone, which shows the frightening power of the man.
So how the fuck did he do it? JOE spoke to the World's Strongest Man contender to discover what it was like to hit the 500kg deadlift, how he trained for it and the secrets to his record-breaking lift.
If you're looking to add more weight to your deadlift, then Hall's genius approach has been proven to work...
How did it feel hitting that weight? Did you expect to get it up?
Yes of course. I came into the show knowing I could do it. It felt good doing it. It’s one of those things that you never know what you’re capable of until you’re actually snapped on the bar lifting the fucker.
It’s never a certainty, but I felt confident coming in.
It looked pretty hairy when you finished the lift...
There’s a bit of controversy about that. But there’s so many different sports where people collapse after with full exhaustion.
You run a mile in under four minutes, you watch what they do after that – they just collapse, breathing out their arse.
You know people who do boxing for 12 rounds. There’s worse sports out there. It’s just one of those things.
It’s a change in blood pressure and you lose consciousness for a few seconds. It’s quite normal.
When you’re lifting weight of that magnitude, is it to be expected?
It’s not just lifting the weight, it’s the arena was stinking hot, you’re holding your breath for a good eight to 10 seconds to get the lift up and then you drop the weight and when it all releases your blood pressure is probably going from 300 down to about 150 in a split second.
How did you prepare on the day physically and mentally. Did you have your eye on the 500kg coming into the competition?
I got up early – like 6 or 7 o’clock. I ate a big breakfast. I went back to bed, because I needed to relax. I got up at 11, had physio, and had a good warm up rub with my physio. I went back to bed and had a big dinner then went back to bed again. It was basically a day of eating and sleeping.
I headed to the stadium about 3 ‘o’clock and then it’s just sitting around, thinking about the lift, thinking about what you’re doing, warm up lifts, mental preparation and more physio and warming the body up an stretching. Foods – you’re just scoffing flapjacks, carbs, and fluids. It’s just a constant top up all the time just trying to get that day perfect.
Are you eating similar to what you normally would? You eating around 10,000 cals building up. Is it the same?
I eat roughly the same. I maybe don’t eat quite as much because of nerves – you’re never quite as hungry.
I think I take on quite a lot more fluids on a day like that. More Lucozades and I take on more glucose carbs which probably make up for the lack of food.
But that’s good – that’s what you need for a show. You need a body full to the brim of glucose, so as soon as you’ve done the lift you recover a lot, lot quicker with your glucose sugars.
You hit a PB of 40kg two years ago when you hit 461kg, then you just went and did it again at Giants Live with a 35kg PB. How do you keep doing it?
It was 35kg and I did it quite a bit bigger than that 461kg lift. I don’t know how. It’s literally a life to evolve. I get up every day and think ‘what can I do today to make myself bigger, stronger and fitter and wiser.’ It’s just every day I get up and do that.
That’s the only way how I can say I’ve improved. I’ve just been so consistent with my meals, my sleep, my physio and my training. Everything has been perfect. That’s the only thing I can say.
How you built a deadlift programme to peak for the 500kg lift?
I just based it on speed reps. I did a lot of speed work training the fast-twitch fibres. If you pull a weight like that slowly I know it’s not going to go up, so I knew I had to get my fast-twitch fibres well overtrained.
Basically what I had in my mind was, if in the three weeks prior, I could pull 90 per cent of 500kg for a speed rep then I knew I would be ready.
So three weeks before the lift I pulled 450kg pretty fast and that was when I pretty much knew it was doable.
That’s what the programme was based on, that was my plan to pull 450kg for speed and I stuck to the plan. After that it was just rest and recover work before I pulled the 500kg.
Why do speed reps work so well for increasing your one-rep max?
If you pull 500kg off the floor slow, you’re never going to get it up. You need the momentum. I’ve got it in my mind that if I can pull it from the floor as fast as I possibly can, then maybe I can keep it going to the top.
So most of my training was based around speed from the floor to my knees. From the knees upwards didn’t really matter, I didn’t really train that very hard.
It’s just all about hitting those fast twitch fibres so I was super explosive off the floor and get it going fast, then keep it going.
Were you literally just training the bottom portion of the movement then?
Yeah. I was literally just pulling from the floor to my knees for a lot of the sessions. A lot of people laughed and giggled, saying ‘look at him pulling half reps, what an idiot.’ Terry Hollands and other people are pulling much bigger weights right to the top. But I know what I’m doing and the theory has been proved. Speed kills. That’s the best way to say it – speed kills.
I imagine you can train with more intensity, do more and put more into it if you’re only pulling half reps.
Yes that’s exactly it. You’re saving a lot of energy. You’re only training half a rep so it’s half the effort so in effect I could train a lot harder on the other stuff. You know I’m still training just as hard for World’s Strongest Man as I did for this deadlift. I’m still squatting and benching and doing all the farmer’s walks, yolks and truck pulls just as hard as on the deadlift.
So it makes me wonder if I actually just trained specifically on deadlift, what I might actually be capable of. I don’t know. This was just a sideline. I was just a little dink on the way to World’s Strongest Man, that’s all it was.
How often were you training your deadlift in amongst this incredible training volume?
I was training deadlift once a week. I just did a week of speed and then a week of heavy. That’s how I’ve always done it.
Then just cycle it. A week of heavy reps, then it takes two weeks to recover from a heavy session. So on the alternate week I’d train speed reps just to give my body a rest.
Nice and light, just 50 per cent but nice and fast and that was like a recovery week.
What did your heavy day on deadlift look like?
I always just pyramid up. A heavy day would usually just consist of working up to three heavy sets of 10 around 75 per cent of my max. Then I’d just pack up and carry on training upper back and carry on with my session.
As I got closer to the competition I would lower the reps and increase the weight. In my last session I did three sets of one rep at 450kg.
They were fast. Super fucking fast.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever pulled in training? Because the word on the street was that before you pulled the 462kg record in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger you’d pulled 480kg in training?
Yeah that was a long, long time ago. The most I pulled in training before this competition was 450kg.
I stuck to a plan. It was 450kg, that was the plan. Didn’t need to go above it, so that was it.
What makes you so good at deadlifting? What are the real secrets to your success?
I don’t know. I think deadlift is the only exercise where if you walk up to a bar and don’t believe you’ll lift it, then you won’t lift it.
I think you’ve got to have that extra power – that self-belief. It’s like a mother pulling a burning car off a child. You’ve just got to have that deep-down power and belief that you can do it.
I have got that.
What is the technique where you roll it into your shins and then lift?
It’s a weird one. I just find that very comfortable to rock back with the weight and then as I’m rocking forward it just lands in a perfect horizontal position to pull the bar. You keep it on your shins and then just pull it up the body.
It is just a perfect A to B. it doesn’t go in any other direction apart from up, and that’s the way it should be.
Is it a bit of a momentum thing?
It is all about momentum. If you were to pull that bar just by bending over and pulling it, you wouldn’t pull it. You have got to ease your body into a lift, if that makes sense. You couldn’t just snatch a 500kg deadlift, you’d rip hamstring off, glutes, lats, the lot.
You’ve got to ease everything into it.
That’s what happened to Laurence Shahlaei at the World Deadlift Championships in 2014 wasn’t it? Pinged his lat?
Yeah that’s exactly what happened. Just snatched it a bit too hard and the muscle wasn’t ready. You’ve got to give everything a chance to tense up.
When you think of the marginal gains that regular athletes achieve – like shaving 0.01 seconds off a sprint or a couple of kilograms onto a world record Olympic lift, you hit a 35kg PB there. Is that literally from training sub maximal for speed?
That’s it. There’s no other secret to it. It’s just consistency.
So where you going to go with your deadlift now?
I will definitely maintain the strength. But at this point in time I’ve got no interest in going any higher. I genuinely don’t think there’s any other human on the planet that could pull 500kg. Until I think there is, I’ve no interest in going any higher.
How you feeling ahead of World Strongest Man?
That’s why I’m back training now two days after that lift. I’m training for World’s Strongest Man. I want to win the fucker. It’s a lifelong ambition. The deadlift was a little sidepath along the way. Now it’s head down, training events hard and back to physio, back to training and back to eating a lot of food. Everything is back on cue straight away. No fucking about.
How do you reckon it’s going to go?
I’m not going to be that asshole that says they’re going to turn up and whoop everyone’s arse and walk away with the trophy. All I can say is that everything has been perfect so far this year. Everything’s looking good – the events are good, there’s no reason why I can’t win World’s Strongest Man, that’s all I’m going to say. I’ve just worked hard on all my weaknesses and they’re improving all the time just as much as my deadlift. Everything is improving at the same sort of rate. I’m just getting better all over.
Eddie Hall is an ambassador for sports nutrition brand Protein Dynamix. To find out more about their product range please visit www.proteindynamix.com.