Double deadlifts, or tandem deadlifts, are back on the rise in popularity, and a lot of that could probably be credited to social video sharing in the strength community. The double deadlift is an act of pure grit and a camaraderie of a love for strength.
Picking up weight by yourself is cool, although picking up a massive weights with your training partner can be even better. Strength sports (when competing/lifting) are inherently lonely sports, yes you have your coach/team behind you, but there’s no one lifting the bar with you on the platform, which is why it’s cool seeing the double deadlift make a comeback in the popularity (Although, was it ever super popular?).
In strength sports specifically, most know the double deadlift as being an event in strongman competitions. For example, two years ago we saw professional strongman athletes Eddie Hall and Mark Felix deadlift an absolutely absurd 850kg (1,873 lbs), which has been deemed to be the most weight ever pulled on the double deadlift.
While the double deadlift is popular in strongman today, it actually has some roots (and some of its origins) in powerlifing. Last year, powerlifting legends Larry Pacifico and Mariah Liggett teamed up to create what’s now called “The Double Deadlifting League”.
Pacifico and Liggert are both powerlifting world champions, and have created this league to challenge both male and female athletes to pull their best double deadlift possible. The league features two ways to be judged, which is body weight or by age. This is a pretty unique approach because outside of your standard same sex weight classes it allows a wide variety of athletes to compete, such as father + son/daughter, mother + son/daughter, and male/female couples.
[Pulling with a partner? Don’t be the one with lagging form, check this Deadlift guide!]
At the 2018 Arnold Classic, The Double Deadlifting League held a national championship that took place during the PowerX competition. Since this competition and league are relatively new it somewhat flew under the radar for most strength fans.
After stumbling upon the video below featuring Kyle Brown (a 181 lb multi-ply athlete) and Mike Baker (a 198 lb multi-ply athlete) setting the new 166-200 lb record with their 544kg (1,201 lbs) deadlift, we wanted learn more about the art of choosing the perfect double deadlift partner. After all, this is a formal competition and not just lifting in the gym, so we were intrigued how Brown and Baker made it work.
BarBend: What got you into tandem/double deadlifting?
Brown: Larry Pacifica, my friend & trainer.
BarBend: How did/do you find the perfect double deadlift partner?
Brown: The perfect partner definitely is your good friend or your training partner. Having a good relationship is key when you thrive to compete together on the same bar.
BarBend: What’s the most important consideration when working with a partner to deadlift big weight?
Brown: Timing is everything. It’s not something you can just do and do well the first time.
BarBend: Should your partner and yourself have similar deadlift maxes?
Brown: I would think yes, it would have to be somewhat similar, but similar deadlift styles help, too. Strength difference will show if it’s way off.
BarBend: If there’s form breakdown at any point, how do you assess for one individual in the lift?
Brown: You don’t. You can’t compensate for both sides.
Double Deadlifts On the Rise
Strength sports are not always team based activities, but with the rise in double deadlift popularity, we may be seeing more team focused lifting competitions in the near future. If you plan to mess around with double deadlifts in the gym, then we suggest starting light with your training partner and building your timing chemistry.
Yes, the double deadlift can be a fun way to mess around and test limits in the gym, although, the last thing you want is to have someone get injured by taking this lift for granted.
Related: Romanian Deadlift Form
Feature image from @kybrown181 Instagram page.