Webster defines Leverage as :
The mechanical advantage or power gained by using a lever
With these lifts, we will work backwards, and take away the advantage gained by using proper levers with a lift.
Look at this monstrous deadlift : perfect feet-knee-hip-back alignment. This lift is going up. If his hips were farther back, or the bar was off his body during the lift, he would have a significant disadvantage to this pull. He is applying proper leverage.
Most of your training should be done in the maximum advantage position. This is almost always the safest position to move the weight, and safe training equals productive training.
Most maximum strength or strength endurance events will require the athlete to achieve perfect leverage over the implement, or the effort will fail. This is clearly evident when you examine sports such as Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, the Kettlebell biathlon and arm wrestling. The problem is most events in life do not allow you to display maximum leverage because the external resistance is fighting you – football, wrestling, arm wrestling; or the size/shape of the object puts you in an awkward position – Strongman events, strength feats such as very short bends or odd objects such as horseshoes or wrenches.
To build power in these positions, you must learn to work with in them. Isometrics Cables, and odd objects such as kettlebells will fill in some gaps. To get an unusual level of strength, you must cross from the familiar to the strange: you must use unusual drills.
During my personal quest to increase my braced bending abilities I began to examine exactly how to generate the most leverage upon different objects. Learning to bend wrenches, tear cards with my arms over head, or pick up heavy clubs led to this conclusion – You have to train outside the ‘Safe zone’ or proper leverage and position. You have to make the movements awkward, and as you do you will find additional stability.
Enter leverage lifting. Its not new at all, but I will bet most of it is new to you. Reverse engineer the best angle to the most inefficient and work from there. The first example we will compare.
The standing one arm press. Easily one of the most productive exercises one can do for their upper body strength. We will look at three levels.
- The Kettlebell gives fairly good press leverage. The weight sits directly on your arm, shortening your forearm. You are able to ‘Press back’ in the weight with your arm as the arm goes up and out.
- The sandbag press is significantly harder, the weight now sits below the forearm, and there is additional instability as the weight shifts during the press phase. Pound for pound, a sandbag press stacked to a Kettlebell press will be much harder on the core and upper back. The grip will be taxed much more.
- Torch Press, using a sledgehammer or club. The mass of the implement is way off the hand. Every inch farther from the hand increases the effort you need to raise it. To give you an example how much- a 40kg kettle bell press would be considered a strong mark of one arm pressing strength for the average man. A 40kg sandbag would be very strong, but a 40kg torch press would be world class – if you could do this you are easily one of the strongest men around.
Leverage lifts allow you to lift light weights, but get maximum difficulty. A 20 pound Indian club is very easy to transport, but incredibly effective at working the whole body. Try getting a good work out with a 20lbs dumbbell, good luck at that.
I have filmed several videos of some of my favorite leverage drills. This list is far from complete. There are hundreds of productive exercises you can use to increase your power for your chosen sport.
Here are some drills which have been very beneficial to my work as a strongman. I am working on a project with Top Grip Athlete Jedd Johnson of the Diesel Crew, and we will include many more lifts in that volume.
The Lever Side Bend. I learned this drill from Powerlifter and strength athlete Rick Walker. This is a top movement to build a powerful injury resistant core. You are at a distinct disadvantage, and the disadvantage of the bar will turn your sides in to hydraulic pylons, capable of generating massive force and sustaining that effort.
The Lever Press or Torch Press. Massive wrist and grip commitment, especially if you use a gripper in the bar as I demonstrate. This drill is a typical movement from Scott Sonnon’s Circular Strength training.
The Fulcrum barbell press. Extremely deceptive lift. Courtesy of Smitty and Jedds ‘The Sh*t You’ve Never Seen‘. You will not be prepared for the difficulty of this extreme barbell lift. Massive work on the sides and triceps. Try it out.
The Flag Press. This is a great drill, a standing horizontal press motion. Very functional.
Crush lift. This is a type of squatting motion, using inside pressure to hold out the weight in front of you. It is an extreme core workout.
Dennis Rogers Wrist Curl. This is one of Dennis’s highest recommended arm drills. By off setting the weight on one side, your wrist must fight to keep the bar level as you wrist curl it.
Two Hands plate curls. Great way to work both the arms and wrist at once. It is better to use a longer plate and sandwich smaller plates at your thumb than to use small plates.
So there are seven drills to take your upper body power to new levels. As I said earlier, we have a comprehensive list in the works, so stay tuned.
I will bet you, add these drills and watch your grip, wrist and upper body power explode. Slim the Hammerman made Leverage lifting his #1 objective, and there has been no one who as equaled or bested his amazing feats of power and strength. Use these techniques!