Matt Perryman

The most honest exercise

By Matt Perryman

It used to be that everybody could squat 500 or 600 pounds. You’d hear about these fantastic squats all over the place.

Then you ask them what they deadlift.

“Uh, I don’t do that. I got a bad back. I only do like 225.”

Buddy, if your max deadlift is 225, you’re not squatting 500, no way, no how, not even if your name is Gimli and you live in the hall of the mountain king.

There’s a bio-mechanical reason for these squat-fantasies.

Most resistance movements begin with the lowering stage, followed by the part where you do the actual lifting of the weight.

When lowering the weight, it’s neither necessary nor desirable to extend your joints out to the full, complete, total range of motion.

This is why few squats, even mine, hit true rock-bottom with any weight worth mentioning. The effective range is shorter than the anatomical possibility.

That’s fine and ordinary. But there’s a catch.

What happens with 600 pound squat-bro is that he loads up the poundage, puts it on his back, maybe after putting on a loud song-and-dance show, and then proceeds to move the bar through an amount of space that adds up to grand total of four inches.


Variations of this egotistic over-loading are also known to happen with leg presses, barbell shrugs, and with their recent popularity, glute-thrusts. Me myself, I’d rather save the trouble of loading all those plates and let the full movement do the work.

The deadlift is different. It won’t tolerate that foolishness.

You either pick it up and lock it out, or you don’t.

The move that’s hardest to cheat is also the move with the least fantastic numbers. Total coincidence I’m sure.

Out of my sheer overwhelming reasonableness, I have to add that there are folks out there that legitimately squat more than they deadlift. A 700 pound squatter with a 550 or 600 pound deadlift is not automatically a high-squatting clout-chaser.

Down here with us mortals, I wouldn’t look too hard at any 50-100 pound gap between the two lifts. An extraordinarily tall and lanky, or on the other end, short and stumpy sort of frame will respond differently. There are “types” for squats and deadlifts.

It’s worth factoring that in. Here I’m talking about averages, in general, for the most part. (Which is always risky and in some way wrong.)

My point in all this? There’s a right way, and a wrong way.

You get zero benefit from puffing up your numbers for clout or pure ego. Half the weight can get you three times the benefit, should you use your neuro-muscular systems the way they’re intended to work.

Don’t get fooled by the “right way” part, like I’m saying there’s only one way to work out.

There’s a difference between truth and error, but truth is a wide field with many roads.

Mainly it’s about being honest with yourself. Most everything else follows from that.

That’s all for today.

Matt Perryman

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