Monday, February 23, 2015

Really Hard Stuff to do with embarassingly little weight II: Anderson Squats

So, there I was, standing with Cory and his wife, Rita in Clearwater, FL, chatting about my highly theatrical side press that you see in the background as well our mutual failures in the previous Hummer Tire Squats.  Cory's failure was for a different reason than mine.  He didn't have the bar centered properly on his back.  When he hit the boxes, the uneven weight distribution got him stuck.  I explained my previous fun that resulted in my zero.  He mentioned that one guy, and one guy only, managed to get off the boxes when he got stuck...and that guy may well be the best squatter in the whole competition. 

It's difficult to imagine how good this shit tasted!

That thought stuck with me long after the competition, no doubt because the more I look back, I wanted to get that 365 lbs set-up off those boxes more than I want Island Ice Cream to bring back their Maker's Mark Bourbon flavor.  Or, more specifically, I want that kind of capability.  Cory's a seasoned competitor; the kind of guy who when he talks about what a good squatter is, I pay attention.

Squats are beloved for a number of reasons all across the fruited plane of strength training.  The build mass, make you stronger at lots of strength tests, best way to make a nice firm, muscular ass (Yes, you, there is no better way.  Deal with it), and just one of the most favored ways to move an enormous amount of weight.  
Sure, she may have wrote an e-book of butt exercises but she still squats heavy. 

That last part is likely why the subject of why the bottom-started, Anderson squat is largely forgotten in strength training.  It's enormously difficult to do and likely needs to be done with less weight than most people can squat with starting the movement at the top with a FRONT squat, say nothing of the back squat.  It just goes to show how much your body depends on bouncing yourself out of the hole.  A box doesn't even come close to showing you this (chances are, you're box squatting wrong anyway).  It's not surprising to me that Anderson is likely the greatest squatter in history if he bottom-started his squats with regularity. 

One of the earliest lessons about bottom starting this squat was that depth isn't a huge consideration here.  I made the highly unusual mistake of thinking I was starting in a much too high squat and went far too low, practically ass to grass, and couldn't even start high 200's weights.  I learned that just starting just a bit below parallel is all that's necessary for this particular variation. 

Next, this is kind of a low-reps set kind of work.  I've done these for sets of two, all the way to sets of 8.  I much prefer the lower end.  When I do this movement, it feels like a movement best suited for creating a lot of power and strength.  Keep the reps low, the weight higher, and focus on making sure the subsequent reps are started from a dead stop.  Eliminate all bounce!

Yeah, I said keep the weight higher but note I didn't say heavy.  Heavy relative to this movement and the butt-hurt nobody will likely admit to when they first try this one out will likely cause some bullshitting.  Use modest weights on this one.  Really modest.  I was a high 300-low 400 lbs squatter before the back and IT band problems kicked in mid-2014 and when I got around to doing these after Clearwater, I was using 250-275 lbs.  Modesty will pay off, I'm sure.

How sure, I'm not sure.  I'm not about to speculate about how strong my legs will get from doing these.  It's far too soon to speculate.  I can only ponder the namesake of the bottom-started squat:  Paul Anderson.  As much as I read about him, I can't speculate about how often he did these.  I can only offer up an internet-expert (which means:  NOT an expert at all) opinion based on what I've read about him:
  • He was so powerful at the squat that as soon as he started lifting anything for the public, he was smashing world records. 
  • He was lifting so much weight that nobody was making barbells that could take the weight he was lifting, often resulting in him improvising equipment (also improvising out of poverty)
  • His squatting prowess would still make him an elite lifter even today.  This was with no absolutely no modern medicine or equipment.

In other words, Paul Anderson was able to generate ridiculous squatting power sixty years ago that, even to this day, most people can only match or beat with wraps and suits while starting out of a monolift.  that's obviously rare and unusual.  He also did it with marginal and improvised equipment.  I think that the case could be made that starting his lifts from the bottom likely contributed a large part to this. 

While I can find writing that indicates he did do squatting from the bottom position of the squat, there seems to be a lack of photography to prove it.  However, there are numerous pictures of him doing partial squats started from the bottom position.
Even if it doesn't, this has kind of become a personal goal.  It's a sort of personal redemption from Clearwater.  I'd love to be able to bottom start 365 lbs.  Best of all, It's a squat that I can do with the modest quantity of equipment and embarrassingly little weight I have to work with.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

So, How often should you train?

It's come to my attention that despite my frequent twists and turns in the nearly 8 years of blogging, I've still maintained some readers through my eccentric process of training.  One thing that has remained somewhat steady and constant is my insistence on maintaining some sort of daily training with no planned rest days. 

That's always a hand grenade waiting to be tossed into any highly important gathering of internet professional strength trainers.  Just like everyone has grime under their fingernails, everyone has an opinion about how often you must train and how many days you have to rest.  After all, this is all very serious shit and there is no room for disagreement amongst internet experts. 

I have pretty respectful and easy-going readers though, I must say.  I recently got a message that provoked the topic at hand:  how often should you train?
Hi. i'm reading all your blog when i have free time, since 2007. Even if is too mutch "no pain no gain" for me. (training everyday etc)I really appreciate the content and what you write... one thing that I did not understand is why you went from "no tools" to use the kettlebelsl (sic) and other "strongman stuff".continues to write please, it's good for my knowledge and motivation bye and greetings from Italy!

 Just like pretty much everything else in training, I believe in variation based personal preferences and capabilities.  I do keep up a pretty high volume, high frequency training schedule because that's what I'm capable of doing.  I view rest days much in the same light as I do rest in between sets (discussed here):  take as many as you need and no more than that. 

There's a reason why train so often and don't really plan rest days:  I don't need them nearly as much as the next guy does.  I can handle a high workload.  If you can't handle that kind of regular training, then take the rest you need to recuperate. Don't let anyone tell you how much or how little you need.  They don't walk around in your bag of bones after all. 

That's not to say that I don't take days off either.  In between my workouts, life happens.  I'm married, have a kid, a house, and a job that keeps me traveling somewhat regularly.  I would love to train every day if I could.  I just don't get the opportunity.  So, life often provides me with rest days, whether I like them or not. 

Also, take into consideration how you live your life in the other 22+ hours you're not training. Compare that to the other internet lifting gods who are about to execute you with an excessively dull butter knife for lifting so often.   Are they eating and sleeping properly, or at least doing both well enough relative to their training?  If they're doing it worse than you then it's a small wonder you can outwork them. 

The dreaded and indecisive-sounding, "it depends", answer to how often we should all be training has to be used.  In my non-expert opinion, it's far too relative to each person to answer with a boiler-plate number of sessions.  Answer it for yourself. 



Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm Interesting enough to be interviewed. WHO KNEW?

So, somewhere around a week before my competition, this guy Rock Capuano got in touch with me to do an interview for his new podcast, "A Fitness Life".  Things went great...until he realized the audio was shit. 

Take two happened in November...didn't work again. 

Luckily, I'm a soul of patience and we had good banter back and forth so I didn't mind taking three.  Here was the result...

If you enjoyed this podcast, give his other ones a listen too.  Keep updated with what Rock has up his sleeves here:

Thank again, Rock, for allowing me to spout off on your podcasts...but did you have to use a five year old picture of me holding such a light kettlebell? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

So, What's Dangerous?

So, do you want to get some people on the internet pissed off in a hurry?  I've got two, wonderful suggestions.  The first one involves buying a big ass grill, adopting as many puppies and kittens from your local shelter as possible, and posting pictures of the ensuing barbeque that you have all over Instagram.  The second involves writing an article on any popular, hack fitness site complete with a list of exercises that are dangerous and should never be done.  I'm guessing most of the English-reading and speaking followers of my blog haven't acquired the taste for house pets (even though everything tastes good on a grill) so that would leave you to spout off about the dangerous stuff that people do in the gym.

Once in a great while, I am capable of looking past the bullshit that inhabits our little subculture of strength and see some merit in these contentious issues.  This just happens to be one of those times.  Yes, exercise can be dangerous.  I just happen to think that it's not as simple as, "this will break your skeleton to dust...DON'T DO IT".   So, the reasons why certain shit is or isn't a hazard change.  Here are the reasons why.  Some are pathetically obvious.  Others more subtle. 

Pathetically Obvious:  Not Done Right!
You'll see bread-and-butter exercises like the squat and the deadlift labeled as bad for you by medical professionals with reliability that even Rolex would envy.  The answer for this is pretty simple:  they get to deal with the people who did them wrong, fucked themselves up, and came to them to be un-fucked from their ignorance. 

My physical therapist told me that squats were bad for my knees.  My chiropractor told me that deadlifting was bad for my back.  Well, babies squat naturally and sit down with extreme reluctance.  Adults change this with modern habit.  In other words, we un-learn the squat...and often don't re-learn it properly.  It's downright stunning how few people I've seen in even a hardcore strength gym can't squat properly.  While I don't agree that back squatting is dangerous, I do agree that it's not good for someone who doesn't know how to squat anymore.  There's a key difference in how bad it is for you:  lack of  knowledge.

My friend Chip had the best take on deadlifting that I've heard to date.  It goes something like this:  deadlifting is picking something off the ground.  You have know how to do that properly.  So, labeling the deadlift as dangerous and suggesting avoidance is impractical as the day is long for a human body who might actually have to move with purpose.  There's a perfectly good reason why your lumbar vertebras are the biggest of all the spine bones:  they're designed to take a lot of force from lifting stuff. 

Let me clue new readers into a simple fact that I've gone over several times over the years:  the medical community and the weight training community have had a very contentious relationship going back nearly 12 decades now.  Shockingly little information is shared between them and they both frequently bicker about what's best for a human body.  It's sad that your doctor probably has no fucking clue about proper exercise but that likely true. 

Almost as Obvious: Too Much!
Yeah, I'm sure this one has got to be neck-and-neck with doing good exercises with poor form in creating training injuries.   From kipping your way to high pull-up volume with torn labrums to deadlifting your way to bulged discs with excessive iron, gym dummies give the training naysayers plenty to complain about with dangerous exercises with their own brand of decedance .

Let me enlighten everyone here to a term in force development that few people know about and I don't mention enough to compensate for that:  absolute strength.  This is phenomenon when the brain fires 100% of the muscle fibers, rather than the roughly 33% you can consciously perceive firing.  This is held in reserve for emergency use only since it's also a tendon-shredding amount of power.  Hey, exploded connective tissue beats dying, right?

So, all of that effort to take a perfectly safe lift and turn it into an episode of social Darwinism is just flat-out pointless.  If you sense enough need, you can lift anything while breaking just about everything in your body in the process.  Doing it in a life-threatening situation is impressive.  Doing it for a PR is stupid.  If anything, it just gives ammo to those ignorant medical professionals who will have to screw and glue your body back together that real strength training is a fantastic revenue stream. 

Kind of Subtle, often ignored:  Imbalances
This is where the clear waters of what is and isn't dangerous becomes positively swampy. The fact remains that there are a lot of exercises that, done a bit too much, will lead to some sort of muscle imbalance.  That can be dangerous.  Back a few years ago, I  took up the maddening pastime of reading anatomy books to learn about the human body.  Most of this shit is memorization that's easily forgotten should you not use it on a daily basis but there were a few concepts that stuck with me.  One such example was tensegrity. 

One thing you have to keep in mind is that your skeleton is not machine-like in the sense that the bones do not directly interlock with one another at the joints.  Sure, there are some tendons that hold bone to bone but alignment is provided by tension from multiple muscles, pulling in multiple directions.   Proper muscle tension holds the body together.  Improper muscle tension breaks it down.

So, over development of the strength of certain muscles results in more tension, pulling joints in bad directions.  That's a huge reason I'm not a fan of the bench press.  This also explains why the face pull is so popular with savvy benchers.  It helps develop the shoulder muscles that the bench, even when done right, neglects.  That also explains why I like the push-up so much:  you don't need two exercises to develop healthy upper body pushing strength (aka:  inefficiency).  Still, a bench press can be okay, if you pull something to your face.

I learned this the hard way this past summer when I eschewed any lower body, posterior-chain work since it made my Frankenstein-knee hate the rest of my body.  Instead, I favored quad-dominant squatting, particularly the hip belt squat.  Over the summer, this approach helped me develop IT Band syndrome so bad that I couldn't do much at all with my legs for the final months before my Strongman Competition.  Most of this due to a movement generally considered a healthy alternative to squatting for a physically-compromised body. 

Now don't mistake this for some sort of rant from a skinny, polo-shirt-wearing, DYEL-esque personal trainer from the purple country part of the strength training world.  No, unlike them, I love to lift and otherwise train.  What I don't enjoy is...shit that inhibits my ability to train.  So, that will make me ponder the notion that there may well be shit I can do that's hurtful and therefore keeps me from hoisting.  Yes, there are dangers and they need to be identified to keep me from setting fire to things as an alternative form of stress reduction.  So, while reading such article about dangerous this-n-that on T-Nation are mostly painful, it does present an opportunity for introspection. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Just a Few Things You Probably Don't Do But Should

There's got to be hundreds of ways to move for reasons of getting stronger.  I'll take liberty to assume that many only do a fraction of them.  The reasons are likely totally legitimate.   Maybe your half-assing trainer didn't program them for you.  I'm sure that lots of them don't help your bench. Nobody else around you does them so if you did, you'd violate that unspoken agreement of conformity.  Actually, that's a good word to describe a lot of why people do what they do in strength temple.  It's unfortunate that the answer to why to choose an exercise is, "TO GET STORNGER". 

The funny thing is, that seems to change between generations.  We don't lift the same since the test of strength have changed.  So, lifts have changed along with the times.  Being good at selected lifts doesn't necessarily make a persons strong, just strong at the lifts at hand.  There is a difference.  Some good ideas get lost like that.  Here's a list of those lifts, and things to train, that are best remembered. 

I strongly suspected my revolving door of IT Band tightness and lower back irritation was the result of my left knee not naturally hyperextending like it should back in September.  Early in my resumption of normal training, I'd lifted right-side dominant.  Even as I tired in later months, I'd still notice my right leg was still locking out faster.  I suspected I had to get my knee to move more like it should naturally. 

After looking at the glute-ham machine in the gym, I hit myself for not thinking of this sooner:  hyperextensions.  The set-up in this contraption would put some force on my knee somewhat similar to what I used to do in physical therapy and hopefully get my natural range of motion close enough to 100% back to stop the above-mentioned insanity. 
Vasily Kolotov.  That back cleavage should put to rest any arguments about the value of hyperextensions.
During research into the topic of hyperextensions, I stumbled onto this article.  Apparently, these were a Soviet favorite back in the 1970's to turn the spinal erectors into dueling telephone poles (I'd also like to draw attention to the fact that this was written long before Pavel was even potty trained so it's unlikely not THAT kind of Russian training secret.)

I didn't get too creative on this one.  The rep training scheme provided in the article was what I did (I conformed). While it did help my knee out, the training had another effect:  I haven't tweaked my back in any manner lifting since I started doing these. 

Vince Gironda's Pullups
Generally I can't stand bodybuilding. I like to confine flexing in my underwear to the privacy of my bathroom.  So, it does seem a bit odd that I generally have a highly favorable opinion of Vince Gironda since he's just about the biggest bodybuilding purist of his time.  There's just one thing:  the guy happened to be stupid-strong at the same time.  What else do you call a person who can do this?

From what I've read, the cranky, alcoholic, high-priest of bodybuilding favored doing pull-ups in which he brought his sternum, not his chin or chest, to the bar.  It kind of looks like a row combined with a pull-up.  It also looks like a ridiculously hard pull-up variation that most bar-humping, pull-up kippers will avoid like the plague.  That's unfortunate since this simple extra few inches makes the upper back want to explode.  It's the perfect example of, sometimes, a few extra inches can make all the difference in the world (ask your girlfriend). 

The best cue I've found to do pull up to the sternum is to simply throw the head all the way back.  Look straight up and pull.  Never bring your head up.  This is hard and be prepared to have a shocking, and embarrassing,  number of repetitions sliced off your sets.  That's probably why nobody does these anymore.  Don't mind that.  Just pull.  Allegedly, Gironda did four dozen of these to a set.  So, follow his lead (skip the alcohol) and get to work. 

The Bent Press
It doesn't take too long to read this blog to realize that I adore this lift.  I started doing this lift five years ago with a measly 35 lbs for one reason only:  it's fun and it looks cool.  It's a slow-grind lift that was done regularly in old strongman shows because it was visually appealing and a lot of weight can be lifted with one hand if the technique is mastered.  That's the rub right there:  it's also tricky to learn and very hard to find someone who know what they're doing with it. 

I never really assigned any practicality to doing such a lift.  It was just something that caught my attention to do and I did it because I enjoyed it.  As it turns out, there are two things that this lift has going for it.  The first would be Lat work.  Very simply put, the getting-under action of the bent press is a lot of upper back work.  Even two straight reps of this will fry the Lats.  There's a lot of time under tension with this lift. 

The second was brought to my attention by an article posted not too long ago:  thoracic mobility.  Very simply put:  we don't twist much any more when we train.  Sure, some will begrudgingly admit that's important.  Then, they will assign some sort of puny, boorish band-assisted mobility work that we'll disregard as soon as issues brought on by the lack of mobility are eradicated.  I've heard of an interesting alternative:  why not do a strength move that moves in the same manner as the rehab move you'll soon disregard?  At least we could have some fun, get strong, and stay moveable. 

In fact, that's something I can't beat my readers up with enough:  DO SOMETHING THAT YOU ENJOY DOING!  If you don't enjoy the lifts that you're performing, then don't do them.  Very, very few exercises are so important that you can't afford to not do them.  Unless you compete in a strength sport that dictates you do a specific lift, then there is no reason to follow the lead of others.  That's really why most don't know about the vast array of ways to exercise and get strong. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Just get it overhead

Continuation of blogging about shit that, in the past, I never used to do, seems oddly intriguing to me.  I spent the past half decade smashing keys about almost all bodyweight and not giving much of anything in routines.  After all, few things annoy me about our subculture quite like people who can't comprehend training without stuff, much less how to put together something as rudimentary as programming.  Both of these could be irrefutable proof that there just isn't enough thought out there going through people's minds when they decide their muscles need stimulation. 

So, I try to put some thought into my routines.  Once in a while, I find the thoughts produce a result that's worth sharing. Such is one of the workouts I did the Sunday after my first competition.  Apparently, I broke some sort of tradition that stipulates that you should do your best to mimic a statue in the subsequent days after a strongman competition.  Since I love to train as much as I like to kick the nuts of conventional training wisdom, I took my traditional goof-off day and did some kettlebell work. 

In case I haven't said it enough recently, I adore Ironmaster's kettlebells.  Not only are they square, (which really throws people off) but they also more than pay for themselves if you tried to buy a set of conventional kettlebells (ie a 35, 53, 70 and 97 lbs).  With the right pin set-up, its possible to adjust from 22-103 lbs with a nice, tight lock-up. 

Strongman appeals to my sense of practicality because so much of it is getting stuff off the ground and getting it overhead in one way or another.  There are many ways to do that, some more conventional then others.  So, that's what I decided my break from strongman training would do, even if I wasn't going to a traditional strongman implement. 

I hadn't done a kettlebell snatch since before I borrowed a piece of knee ligament from some random, dead guy.  Prior to having such a need for spare parts, I used to do these pretty heavy, sometimes up to 100 lbs.  Since I was still barely smart enough to do these with some caution, I did them with only 85 lbs. 

Next up, I grabbed two kettlebells, stacked 70 lbs on both and threw up some clean and presses.  Since my shoulder strength could use some work,  tried my damnest to not use any leg drive off the clean to press the KB overhead. 

Since that kind of fried my shoulders up but I still had a desire to do some overhead work, I rounded things out by adding more leg drive and doing double KB squat-presses.  This one I made a concerted effort to explode out of the hole and use that drive to push the KB's overhead.   I also do this movement only with weight I cannot press overhead.  That way, I have to add lots of leg drive. This movement helped me immeasurably in the yoke press part of my medley. 

This may have been one of the best routines I've ever put together for myself off the top of my head.  I've used the last two in tandem several times to keep getting shoulder work in even after they're fatigued.  I heard a strongman bring up an interesting point about his competition preparation.  He noted that for a while, he wasn't necessarily getting stronger, he was just coming up with different ways to move the weight in an effective manner.  That's kind of what I was aiming for with this workout:  practice getting weight off the ground and overhead in as many different ways as possible.

Mr "finding different ways".  Heard of him?
Of course, if one were to care about such things, this would also be an effective routine to make for a bigger ass and wider shoulders. It would beat the hell out waist training to achieve an hour glass figure.

These videos weren't demonstrations. They were actual sets. Yes, those are kettlebells. No they don't have to be done in high repetitions. I do all of these in low reps and as many sets of each as I can handle. That can change depending on how much manual labor I do but mostly in the 6-10 sets range, each. So, make a conscious point to throw off any preconceived notions about strength training that you have (When to train, strongman and kettlebells, kettlebells for high reps, etc) and put some creative thought into what you do. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Upping My Axle Deadlifts

It's unknown to me if I got a bastardized version of the Armstrong Pull-up program or I bastardized it in my own, twisted head.  Either way, that was my first exposure to the notion of a pyramid set way back in 2006-2007.  Pyramid sets seem to be used in two ways.  The first uses weights and involves using lighter weights for higher reps.  Then, you increase the weight and drop the number of reps. The bodyweight version is simply to increase the reps in the set until you fail to hit the last number of reps in the last set.  I used it back in 2007 frequently with pull-ups.  While I didn't dramatically increase my single-set rep count, I did manage to maintain as I bulked up from 157 lbs to 180 lbs.

So, where did I bastardize the Armstrong thing (and pyramid setting)?  I added a drop set to the fun.  In other words, when I hit my max set, I would work my way back down doing the same sets that I used to work up to the max set.  I've done this with weights before as well just BW.  The latter formed one of my favorite, pressed-for-time and short on equipment that can be found here

Like I said, I don't know if this was innocent, bad recollection or my training-obsessed mind just looking to squeeze a lot of work into a bit of time.  Neither would surprise me

So, the Armstrong Program has been floating around for so long that it got its own web site not too long ago.  It seems to be that popular.  Other than that, pyramid setting seems to be relegated to the dust bin of the training universe, along with lat pull-overs and hyperextensions.  Like these two, there doesn't seem to be a good answer as to why. 

Florida's Strongest Man...and Deadlifts
Just like The Dungeon Spring Break Classic, Brevard, and the Bacon Beatdown strongman competitions, I had to forego doing Florida's Strongest Man.  Work and my body don't cooperate very often.  I suspected that this could happen but I trained for this competition as though I was going to do it just the same.  Among the events was a 325 lbs axle deadlift, for most reps, in one minute.  My previous deadlifting prowess was abysmal.  I just don't get much opportunity to train this lift.  So, I had to build up my numbers, and fast.  This show was only two months after my first show, and it was a heavy one.  So, I elected to pull the idea of pyramid-drop set hybrid out of my bag of tricks, turning my sunday in to my deadlift training days. 

Am I really going to Blog about DEADLIFTING???
Yeah, I know, by blogging about what amounts to my deadlift program, I'm about to jump into such crowded, mucky swamp of vanilla-like uniformity with the rest of the mostly-shitty strength training sites.  Just about all of them have a deadlift program.  Plus, I've generally sworn to not be like everyone else.  Still, I'm going there because:
  1. I tried it. 
  2. It worked.
  3. I appears that nobody else did it like this
Still, with strongman competitions increasingly becoming more alike one another (god forbid), you'll likely run across an axle deadlift event for reps, if strongman competition is your fancy.  After all, axle deadlift is cheap and fast to set-up.  Unfortunately, poverty and time constraints don't inspire the same creativity for strength sports that the do for me. 

So, the first thing I found out in those seven weeks was that the total volume worked best if kept to a total of 40-50 reps of deadlifting (excluding some warm-up sets; of which I don't do many).  I don't know why that was. It just worked out ridiculously well.  I made very regular progress.  I don't keep records either.  I do remember that the pyramid-drop sets looked something like this:
  1. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
  2. 2-4-6-8-10-8-6-4-2
  3. 3-6-9-12-9-6-3
How well did this work?  Well, as I lamented above, I didn't get a chance to do the competition.  My friend, who has been competing for six years, told me 15 reps in this event would probably put me in contention to win the event.  The day of the show, I had such a burning desire to figure out what I could do in a minute.  So, I tested myself and this is what I came up with:
Now, keep in mind when I first started doing this after Tampa, I was only doing 315 lbs for 6 reps!   I have no idea how the rest of the show would have affected my deadlift performance.  This is all I have to go off of and I banged out 17 reps in a minute.  That would have tied me for second place in that event.  The guy who also got 17 reps, a friend of mine who I affectionately call "Rabbi,"  outweighs me by a very noticeable margin. 
The winner of the event got 21 reps.  FUCK!
But what about accessory work?

Fuck, do I really have go into that too???  Well, what is a deadlift program without accessory work, I guess.  Yes, I did have some guidelines for that too. Even at 50 reps, give or take, this deadlifting generally fried my spinal erector muscles.  So I chose two accessory lifts, one upper body and the other lower body.  Neither of these lifts would hit the lower back. 
For my upper body lift, I'd usually do pendalay rows with the axle.  After all, I had the bar already loaded.  I also did weighted pull-ups and bent presses (I can't be that normal) on occasion. rep ranges on the Pendalays were 5-7 reps.  Pull-ups were 10-15 reps.  The bent presses were two reps per side (lots of time under tension with just two reps).  All were done 3-6 sets. 
For the lower body, I grabbed two kettlebells (or a T-handle) and did swings.  15-20 reps for 4 sets.  I also stumbled onto this sort of sumo deadlift-squat hybrid that I have no idea what the name of it is.  It's right here, about 30 seconds in...
I'd also do that for about the same rep range as the swings.  Frankly, anything that hit the hamstrings and glutes will work well; just avoid hitting the lower back muscles again.  Remember, hit the upper body after the pyramid-drop set and then do the lower body stuff afterwards. 
That's as close as you're ever going to get to me being conventional in a blog entry with a "program"  for a long, long time hopefully.  It's also the most concrete proof I've found that this rep scheme works extremely well for popping up reps in a surprisingly shot period of time.  Frankly, it's so much fun for me that I'm still doing it on my deadlift Sundays.  My most recent exploit was 350 lbs for 8 reps.  That used to be my max three years ago when I started deadlifting.  This whole rep scheme just shows that you need to keep  your eyes and your mind open to many different training protocols, even if it's from the Bodyweight Crowd. 
"Rabbi"...Nice job, chico!