If you’re heavily invested in the strength sports community on Instagram, then you may have noticed that an “unconventional” deadlift style is making a comeback in popularity…no pun intended.
This deadlift variation is none other than the Jefferson deadlift. This is a deadlift variation that requires athletes to straddle a bar and hoist the weight up between the legs. Now, there’s a strong case to be made that the surge in popularity of the Jefferson deadlift on Instagram could be attributed to our friends over at Massenomics.
They’ve taken on the mission of making the Jefferson deadlift popular again (was it ever though?), and have even produced apparel highlighting this deadlift’s awesomeness. At BarBend, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the explosive growth of Jefferson deadlifts and felt it was time to highlight some of the biggest lifts we’ve seen to date.
Since the Jefferson deadlift isn’t a competition lift, it’s tough to pin down who exactly holds the heaviest to date, but Massenomics have been doing a pretty great job of keeping track. In fact, just this past month, two athletes have shared Jefferson deadlifts that have eclipsed the 800 lb milestone.
[Related: Why the Jefferson deadlift should appear in your workout program]
Heaviest Jefferson Deadlifts
View this post on Instagram
810 Jefferson squat with the @massenomics Deadlifter tee. I swear it’s what helped me. This was definitely a YOLO lift and not in my training protocol at all and it was my first time doing it. Watch the end of the video to see the actual weight plates. Pretty sure I could have pulled somewhere in the low mid 900’s with this. @destinationdallastexas @deadlifttillimdead @massenomics @crossfit_bodybuilder
1. Steve Johnson | 810 lbs
Steve Johnson, a.k.a the @forsakenwarrior, shared a massive 810 lb Jefferson deadlift yesterday on his Instagram page. So far, this is supposedly the heaviest pull to date with this variation. In his Instagram video’s description he writes,
“810 Jefferson squat with the @massenomics Deadlifter tee. I swear it’s what helped me. This was definitely a YOLO lift and not in my training protocol at all and it was my first time doing it. Watch the end of the video to see the actual weight plates. Pretty sure I could have pulled somewhere in the low mid 900’s with this.”
View this post on Instagram
Jefferson vs. Conventional 805 PR!!! 805 Pull Which One look Better. @andersonpowerlifting @oakstrong @black_tom_cruise @powerliftinglegends @_jenniferdelcid @openpowerlifting @aprilontherun @jamespitbull @pitmankevin @deadlifttillimdead @monique__hayes @c.c_ingram @evalaurabelle_ifbbpro @lojclem_strength @_jenniferdelcid @bigwilkpower @pitmankevin @suzanne_davis_ifbb_pro #apemanelite #KERNUSOPEN #beastmode #squat #CantStop #letgo #deadlifttillimdead
2. Sean Green | 805 lbs
Just before Thanksgiving, Sean Green shared a 805 lb Jefferson deadlift that made the rounds in the strength training circle on Instagram. In his Instagram video, Green highlights both an 805 lb Jefferson and conventional deadlift and writes,
“Jefferson vs. Conventional 805 PR!!! 805 Pull. Which One looks Better”
3. Eric Bugenhagen | 800 lbs
Prior to Johnson and Green’s enormous 800+ lb pulls, it’s thought that WWE talent and YouTube personality Eric Bugenhagen had the heaviest Jefferson deadlift with this 800 lb pull from March 2017.
So what’s next?
Well, I have a hunch that with Massenomics continually pushing these deadlifts and athletes tackling bigger and bigger weights, we’re nowhere close to seeing the heaviest possible Jefferson deadlift.
I see it this way: over the last four years alone we’ve seen sumo and conventional deadlift numbers continually skyrocket due to the depth of talent increasing. If Jefferson deadlifts continue to grow in popularity, then I could see the 900 lb milestone being eclipsed much sooner than anyone anticipates.
Jefferson Deadlift FAQs
What is the Jefferson deadlift?
The Jefferson deadlift is a deadlift variation that has athletes straddle barbell, then pick up the weight and hoist it between the legs.
What are the benefits of the Jefferson deadlift?
This deadlift variation is said to great for training and improving potential asymmetries, core strength, and hip hinge mechanics.
It combines asymmetry, rotation, hip hinging, and heavy loading all at once. The lift is similar to a trap bar deadlift, so there’s much less shear force on the spine, but it involves rotation, so it’s a multiplanar exercise that builds asymmetrical and anti-rotational strength. Because the feet are staggered, your torso will want to turn to face the same direction as the feet, and to keep your chest facing forward, you’ll need to engage your deep core stabilizers.
Feature image from @forsakenwarrior, @seandgreen, Eric Bugenhagen YouTube channel.