How To Do A Jefferson Deadlift

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So far in our weird lifts challenge, I’ve asked you to do a one-handed deadlift and a one-handed dumbbell snatch. Now here’s a relief: for this week’s lift, I’ll let you put both hands on the barbell. We’re doing Jefferson deadlifts.

The lift is not named after the third U.S. president, but rather a circus strongman named Charles Jefferson. It’s an asymmetrical deadlift, and you have to use your core muscles to keep the bar from rotating as you lift.

OK, so here’s how you do it. This one requires a barbell. It’s on the ground, you grab hold of it, and you stand up. The only catch is that you have to have one foot on either side of the bar.

That means you’re either facing one end of the barbell, with one hand in front of you and one hand behind; or, you have your hands the way you normally do for a deadlift, but one foot is stepped ahead of the bar instead of both being behind it. Either way is fine, or you can find a sort of hybrid of the two. Here’s me doing the lift in the gym with a light 135lbs (below), and in competition with 100kg (220lbs) on a thicc bar.

It may take some experimentation to figure out the best body position for you. Some people take a wide stance; I found more success with my feet close together. I like to set up as if I were doing a conventional deadlift, and then I step one foot over the bar. I then angle my back foot outward a bit, and try to keep my body centered as I bend down and pick it up. If my right foot is forward, I’ll have my left hand gripping underhand and my right hand gripping overhand. And as the bar rises, I’ll shift my hips, if needed, so that the bar can keep going straight up without bumping into my legs.

I mean, yes, you are pulling the bar up to crotch level. It looks really, really silly. You’d think guys might have an anatomical problem here, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about it. Rather, you’ll hear people sing the praises of this weird lift across the internet. (I mean, look at this guy. And this one. and this one.)

It’s like there’s an unwritten rule that we will not make fun of this lift, even though it is goofy as hell. So here we are. You are to take this lift very seriously, ok? Give it a try, and let us know how it goes.


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