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An EvilGenius Critique of Robert Oberst’s article “Deadlifts for Athletes?”

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As I said in the opening article "I DO HAVE AN AGENDA" the purpose of this forum is to offer level-headed, objective (at least as much as possible) review of published works from the world of strength and athletics. So here we go! This week's (and very first) offering is a piece by Strongman Robert Oberst titled "Deadlifts for Athletes?"

Here is Mr. Oberst's piece in full and unedited:

Deadlifts for Athletes?

By Robert Oberst
May 2, 2014

Now, before I get into this I want to explain where I developed my opinion on this subject. I played football for over 10 years and competed at the highest level. I was a shot-put thrower for several years and played hockey growing up until I was 13. I have a room full of plaques and trophies that I have acquired in those sports over time and now I am a professional strongman and a national champion MAS wrestler. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best coaches in the country, who work with professional athletes and Olympians alike. I'm not just "shooting from the hip" here. It has taken me well over a decade to develop what I feel is the best training regimen and I try to learn more every day.

In my opinion deadlifts are a RIDICULOUS exercise for any athlete who doesn't have to perform that same movement in competition. I'm not saying they don't do anything. I'm saying there are far better ways to train and build strength along with athleticism. In all my years of football I was never asked to do regular deadlifts in training. I was asked to do hamstring extensions while standing on an elevated platform regularly but never deadlifts. I just assumed it was like this for all athletes until I got around strongman and realized there was this huge infatuation with it. I see why it intrigues people, it's a very pure test of strength. How much can you simple pick up off the ground? I myself have come to love the test that comes from it, but if you're not a strength athlete what is the point? Stronger back? Hamstrings? Upper back? Maybe hips? Yes, it works all those things, but not in an explosive way that is needed for other sports. If I wanted to bench more I wouldn't go throw rocks around my yard. It strengthens shoulders, triceps, even a little chest but it's not the same.

Athletes need to focus on power cleans, hang cleans, and front squats. Fast, explosive movements. Strong is strong, but strong and explosive is elite. You can't avoid all big movements such as squats and bench but deadlifts can and should easily be changed out for a movement that can more replicate what you want to be successful in. Sumo deads and rack pulls have a much better argument for being used in a workout program for traditional athletes, but I'm sure I've pissed enough people off already.

If you walk into any gym for any sports team where big money is won and lost based on their performance I bet they won't be deadlifting. We have developed so much over the last 20 years in prepping athletes and learning from the people whose jobs are literally on the line depending on how they train athletes is usually a safe bet. I love watching big deadlifts. I was 10 feet away when Big Z pulled 1150 lbs like it was nothing on the Arnold stage and I got Goosebumps, but we can't let that cloud our judgment when shaping someone else's athletic career. I have coached football and trained many athletes and I just want to say to anyone preparing for next season in whatever sport to be smart and do your homework. You can always ask me questions on Facebook or go to anyone who has been where you want to go athletically.

Stay strong.
Robert Oberst

Commentary

Before I begin any critique, I would like to point out that in the bigger picture of things Mr. Oberst is offering his opinions and expertise as a PRO Strongman in this article and others with no solicitation or request for compensation!

Wow, holy fuck-tastic! Deadlifts are no good for athletes? Using that logic perhaps my "good" deadlift is a possible explanation for why I'm personally such a shitty athlete. Okay, okay, just kidding! I do want to stress that I do not know or have any issue with Mr. Oberst and am in fact a fan of top level strongman competition and always enjoy the opportunity to see "Oby" in action!

On a side note, it could be argued that Mr. Oberst lost the 2014 America's Strongest Man due to his lack of deadlifting prowess, an issue that could be related to his apparent over-all low regard for the endeavor.

What I've done is highlight the major points (as I see them) in the original text (above), and listed them in order below. The BOLD text under each is the commentary I feel appropriate to each.

Oberst: "I want to explain where I developed my opinion on this subject"

Chavez: Fair enough. Mr. Oberst is prefacing this piece with the blanket statement that the contents are HIS OPINION!

Oberst: "I played football for over 10 years and competed at the highest level"

Chavez: It is a minor point and most likely more an issue with Mr. Oberst's literary skills than a willful intention to mislead, but THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL IS THE NFL.

Oberst: "I am a professional strongman"

Chavez: Yes, this is 100% accurate. Mr. Oberst won a valid PRO CARD in 2012.

Oberst: "In my opinion deadlifts are a RIDICULOUS exercise for any athlete who doesn't have to perform that same movement in competition"

Chavez: As I said, fair enough... it's an opinion (one I do not agree with, but a valid opinion nonetheless.)

Oberst: "I just assumed it was like this for all athletes until I got around strongman and realized there was this huge infatuation with it"

Chavez: Strongman deadlifts are a fundamental part of organized strongman competitions, so to be fair the infatuation is a bit deserved!

Oberst: "If I wanted to bench more I wouldn't go throw rocks around my yard. It strengthens shoulders, triceps, even a little chest but it's not the same."

Chavez: I'm not sure what this bit is about, but many good/great bench pressers do, in fact, throw implements such as plyoballs to improve pressing power.

Oberst: "Athletes need to focus on power cleans, hang cleans, and front squats. Fast, explosive movements."

Chavez: Again, this piece is just an opinion so, okay!

Oberst: "Sumo deads and rack pulls have a much better argument for being used in a workout program for traditional athletes"

Chavez: Yet again, an opinion (one that I would love to be elaborated on)!

Oberst: "If you walk into any gym for any sports team where big money is won and lost based on their performance I bet they won't be deadlifting."

Chavez: Wow, I just can't let this one go as opinion! DeFranco's, West Side Barbell and Super Training are just a few of the TOP names in strength and performance that REVERE the DEADLIFT and use it routinely in preparing athletes for a myriad of non-powerlifting based sports!

B. "EvilGenius" Chavez
www.EvilGSP.com
www.YouTube.com/EvilGSP

Discuss this article on Rx Muscle Forums @ http://forums.rxmuscle.com/showthread.php?130026-An-EvilGenius-Critique-of-Robert-Oberst%92s-article-%93Deadlifts-for-Athletes-%94

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