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Discouraged by seeming lack of transferrance among strength skills...


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I can do a full pistol, without holding the non-working leg, with either leg.

I swing the two pood every morning 20 times with one arm.

I have done 15 minutes of Viking Warrior with the 1.5 pood, phase I six rep cadence.

These things do not seem to carry over into my deadlift. I checked last night and only got 275. I talk to others who could not come close to doing these other things who are better deadlifters.

Other than the obvious, 'deadlift more often', why am I not seeing more carryover from these other skills?

The discouraging aspect is that these skills, pistols and swings, are billed as being highly general in their training effect ('general physical preparedness').

Insufficient volume and/or intensity?

I.e. swing the 2 pood 100 times instead of twenty? Or move on to double 1.5s or a 2.5?

Ten to twenty-rep pistols, or add resistance?
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I'm not saying I would train it this way today, just sharing my experience, but years ago I worked up to high rep swings (like over 300 in minutes with a 32kg). That translated to a DL in the mid 400s with little DL experience/training. I also used double 32s some of the time and sometimes used a single 40kg.

So yeah, I'd say heavier and higher volume....and patience. Enjoy the ride and don't get too wrapped up in numbers.

Also, heavy squatting is a better transfer to DL than BW pistols IMO...heavy squatting will also improve your BW pistols if you already have the mobility to do them. Heavy squatting makes your hips and legs really strong - heavy KBs, heavy barbell, heavy log, heavy person - doesn't matter. This is the only deficiency in BW training IMO - it just isn't heavy enough when it comes to leg training - it is a great supplement but at a certain point you are merely adding reps to a resistance level that is not super challenging. Arms, yes, (one arm handstand pushup and one pullups, for example) but legs, no.

A month ago I went to my buddy's farm and he had me squatting this weird loaded piece of wood that was really heavy for me. Because of logistical reasons I don't squat heavy as much as I would to. A week later I PRd in double KB front squat with 32s. I had been stuck on my previous best for a year. In late 2012 heavy zercher squats led to doubling my BW pistol PRs.


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I'm a big nonbeliever in the carry-over idea. As far as I LEARNED: A big number in one type of deadlift DOES NOT carry over to big numbers in another type of Deadlift. A big military press DOES NOT equal a bigger bench. The only genuine carryovers I've seen? Heavy dumbbell benching makes 1 arm pushups easier. KB snatches and swings give a definite boost in sprinting ability. Any type of deadlifting makes you the guy to go to when somebody needs heavy things moved.

It may just be me. I may just have a less then good neural learning curve, and my body forgets things faster than others. Either way, I'm proof that carry-over isn't all that dependable.

You said you didn't want this answer, but I'l have to say it anyway. If you want to have a strong deadlift, you've gotta deadlift. Even if you just want to maintain it, keep it in the program on your off days and just do something that will keep it strong without burning it out. You can make your back stronger without deadlifting, but you can't deadlift a lot without at least deadlifting a little. I feel that last line is almost quote worthy :)


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I am working toward a 300lbs DL ( 245lbs is current PR). I find that my grip is the weakest link. If you feel this may be your weak link then obviously the grip needs strengthening. I don't have FAT GRIPS but I just may get some. Thicker bars means harder work for the grip. I also agree that kb snatching and swinging with your heaviest kettlebell should help. Just guessing here - but perhaps DLing heavy and awkward objects like heavy rocks, old pieces of furniture like recliners or sofas, refrigators, heavy sandbage etc, tire flipping.. use your imagination..may carryover to DLing. An oly bar is balanced. So lifting heavy, awkward objects will give you a different feel for muscle recruitment. But just guessing. I wish I had a huge tractor tire in the backyard for flipping. But my sister would not like that one bit..Dennis


New member
In my opinion one of the best ways to improve your deadlift is to simply deadlift. But that's not what you want to hear. Most of my clients can hit about 1.5 BW in a deadlift by only working heavy swings. It's not until they spend a little time on the bar and improve their skills do they approach big numbers. Kettlebells and bodyweight exercises alone are not going to transfer over to a big deadlift. When training the barbell specifically I find that the kettlebell (swing, goblet squats, snatch) become a better assistant than primary. Bodyweight skills are another great assistant as they help keep the body mobile and give you a break from heavy weight.

If you're set on improving your deadlift then I would dedicate one session a week to deadlifting.


You might try sandbag work. Seems to be a good thing & it'll definitely work your back & legs- if that's, overall, what you're after.

As for doing the deadlift, in itself- I'd move up in weight on the swings & maybe add a kettlebell to your pistols.

Wild Pegasus

New member
Do we have much evidence for carry-over from pistols to deadlifts and squats? I haven't heard many stories about "I did pistols with [decent reps or weight], and I squatted [decent number] on my first try!"

My guess is that pistols carry over very well to front squats but not much else. Back squats require a lot of glute activation and lower back strength, which is probably why they carry over well to deadlifts. Pistols require much more quad activation and much less lower back bracing. In fact, a good pistol usually requires curving your back forward, the direct opposite of the way you brace for a back squat or a deadlift. Front squats, like pistols, are heavily quad-dominant, so pistols probably carry over well. Feel free to insert a general disclaimer here about squatting style, body shape, choice of deadlift, etc.

One thing about deadlifts to remember is that they can fail for 100 different reasons even if you're strong. If you really don't want to deadlift, you might try figuring out which part of the deadlift you're failing on and adding an appropriate assistance exercise. That would at least strengthen the weak link in your deadlifting chain, though obviously it wouldn't correct any weird form problems. Also, if you've been getting good at pistols, try duck deadlifts: heavy quad emphasis.


Just thought of something: Why not try stone lifts? That seems to incorporate a deadlift aspect into it, but is more like how you actually lift things in real life. Seems like there's different ways to do it & you could also incorporate throwing & rolling into the mix. I would read the book about it first, as it seems there's some nuance that might be good to know so that you don't hurt your back. Of Stones and Strength is the title of the one I read.

Personally- I do like the deadlift & it has it's uses, but also seems a little like it wouldn't carry over the same way as stone & sandbag exercises- simply because that how you actually move things in real life. A major point is that you may not have the optimum grip or angle & you'd be moving your body in a way that's not always aligned in a totally safe way. For instance: you'd normally keep your back straight, but with stone lifting you need to round your back sometimes & you'd have to get strong enough that that is something you can do without injuries). Also you might be moving things with a shifting balance (sandbags, jugs of water, etc...) or an uneven one (quite a few stones are like that).

Just food for thought. Now that I think about it, I'm going to go & read that Stones & Strength book again because that rounded back situation confuses me a little. Maybe you just have to build it up from lifting lighter amounts that you'd typically use with a barbell?


New member
Thanks for the replies everyone!

At least now, I have a better idea of the weight and volumetric requirements of kettlebell work that might actually help my deadlift. That's the sort of perspective I wanted to gain. It brings to mind those vids of Budd Jeffries swinging a 2 pood for twenty straight minutes and more.....

I'm certainly not adverse to DLs once or twice weekly. Ditto for bench, since I am not yet seeing carryover from my pushup work.

It seems that pistols can be great for hip/knee stability/longevity and that they are most directly helpful to athletes other than powerlifters who use their legs more independently and in multiple planes. As a runner I can vouch for their stabilizing activity on hips and knees.


New member
I'm a big nonbeliever in the carry-over idea. As far as I LEARNED: A big number in one type of deadlift DOES NOT carry over to big numbers in another type of Deadlift. A big military press DOES NOT equal a bigger bench.

Absolutely agreed. Unless you're new to exercising in general or very weak, you're not going to hit a big deadlift without specific deadlifting work.
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