To Roll or Not To Roll?

Create: 10/02/2010 - 01:00

To Roll or Not To Roll? By Myles Kantor Of the fourteen men who have deadlifted over 900 pounds, at least three of them (Garry Frank, Doyle Kenady, and Benedikt Magnusson) rolled the bar into their bodies before starting the pull. It is worthwhile to explore the mechanical effects of this style. Rolling the bar back will recruit the lats and increase tension in these muscles. Mike Tuchscherer, who has deadlifted 826 lbs. raw in the 275s, remarks along these lines regarding his less pronounced roll of the bar: "As the weights got heavier and my deadlift skill got better, the need for more tightness in the bottom of the lift grew. When you're really tight in the lats and back, the bar will be close to the shins. Since my setup has been developed a few inches away from the bar, I've developed a roll to transition where the bar begins and where it needs to be by the start of the pull. I'm not sure it's the best way to do it from a learning standpoint, but I am to the point where I can control the variability of the start to a good degree. Roll or no roll, it's more important to be tight in the bottom." The variability Tuchscherer notes concerns the bar being aligned with the mid-foot and shoulder blades at the start of the pull. If a lifter does not roll the bar into the correct place every time, the efficiency of the start will vary and negatively impact the pull. For example, the pull might start with the bar a half inch or more forward of mid-foot, resulting in horizontal bar movement, reduced strength, and increased injury risk. Rolling the bar will also challenge arching the back. This motion promotes a rounded spinal position, working against the "chest squeezed up" posture that yields an extended thoracic and lumbar spine. Lifters who desire spinal extension at the start of their deadlifts should keep this in mind. Fundamentally, rolling the bar consumes energy--in this case to produce horizontal movement of the bar. The goal in a deadlift being vertical bar movement, and PR attempts entailing the whole of one's strength, is this consumption of energy before the bar even goes up a good idea? The amount of energy consumed might seem insignificant, but at maximal weights every inefficiency becomes consequential. Specifically, the lat recruitment produced by the bar roll also draws on the lats' strength, which could be better reserved for their isometric function of keeping the bar tight against the body once the deadlift begins. As noted in the beginning of this article, historic pulls have been completed with rolling the bar. Amazing squats have also been done that were in effect good mornings out of the hole. Whether these elite achievements reflect optimal technique is another matter. If technique is considered a variant of style--that is, a subjective quality--then there is no such thing as inefficiency. But if a normative mechanical model for deadlifting, etc. does exist--and the shared musculoskeletal system of humans with laws of physics that act independently upon that system suggest such a normative model, combined with copious video data specific to powerlifting--then the pursuit of strength is intertwined with the refinement of efficiency. For related reading, see Straight Lines, Stronger Deadlifts


Submitted by BigJavs on
interesting. I roll the bar because it allows be to get lower and tighter at the start position. I feel it actually helps my arch, not the opposite.

Submitted by Jeff Hackett 1 on
I Don't like it because I can't get enough "lean back" before the bar hits my shins and I need to pull, but if it works for you do it. BTW the article points out in an indirect way that 11 of 14 men have pulled 900 without rolling it. J Hack. ULTIMATE SIZE, STRENGTH, AND STAMINA

Submitted by mastermonster on
Buddy McKee. Proudly sponsored by Titan Support Systems Inc. and 'Monster Barbell' Training Log: / Pro Journals. "Mastermonster's Quest for the Records" Most of my attempt over the last several years I've used the roll. It's a hit or miss for me. If timed perfectly, The roll helps me shift the weight to my heels and at the same time I merely redirect the momentum of the bar upward and back (against my shins). ALL of my best DLs occurred when this happened. If I mistime it I miss horribly. Often barely clearing the floor. This past 9-11-10 at the APF Georgia I mistimed my second pull and as verified by the videos I pulled just before I shifted the weight to my heels and the bar went away from my shins. I took the same weight on my third, nailed the timing; and pulled it very solidly. Even held it for a few seconds and smiled and nodded to the crowd. The difference was about a 1/4 second error in timing.

Submitted by Ken Ufford on
Well I have never pulled close to 900 but hit a 820 some years back. I have never rolled the bar for one reason. For me it kind of destroys my psyche so for me it does not work. I have always been of the old school DIP GRIP and Rip. I tell guys all the time the deadlift is a lot mental. With that being said the longer I sit and stay down to get air or roll the bar I loose something. I like to get out fast set up fast and pull. No doubt what so ever. Now I have a buddy Brandon Cass who just pulled a 810 at 217 and he does roll the bar some times. So it does work if you can do it and as stated above many guys have pulled big ones doing it. I think it just depends on what works for each person. I probally have seen many many more big pulls over the years in person with no roll. James Cash843, Brad Gillingham, Ricky Crain and others. Ufford

Submitted by Anthony_Carlquist on
I roll the bar because it allows me to get down with my suit. I will say it is harder with 750lbs+ for me. Sometimes the bar rolls too slow and messes up my timing. So instead of getting the bar where I want it I end up trying to pick up the bar over the front of the foot.

Submitted by Jeff Hackett 1 on
[quote=Anthony_Carlquist]I roll the bar because it allows me to get down with my suit. I will say it is harder with 750lbs+ for me. Sometimes the bar rolls too slow and messes up my timing. So instead of getting the bar where I want it I end up trying to pick up the bar over the front of the foot.[/quote] Use the bar touching your shin as the signal to pull that way it doesn't matter how long it takes to roll the bar.