The Lamar Gant Phenomenon
Lamar Gant was a powerlifting phenomenon. He is most famous for his feats of strength in deadlifting. This is why much of this post focuses on amazing Lamar Gant deadlift accomplishments. But first, Who is Lamar Gant and what can we learn from his achievements?
Second, what is special about the Lamar Gant deadlift and Powerlifting world records? And finally, why is his story important and inspirational?
Time to find out:
1. Who is Lamar Gant?
Lamar Gant is an American world record-holding powerlifter who was born in 1957 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Inducted into the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Hall of Fame in 1980, he is arguably one of the greatest American powerlifters of all time. Some Lamar Gant Deadlift records remain standing till today.
He won sixteen IPF world championships. What is astonishing about this? He was all of 5’2″ in height and 123 pounds in weight, not the typical profile of a powerlifter. And that is not all.
2. Lamar Gant Deadlifted 5 times his own Bodyweight
In 1985, he became the first person in history to deadlift five times his own bodyweight. This is a feat unmatched till today. He deadlifted 661 pounds at a bodyweight of 132 pounds. Here is a video uploaded by Lexington Plummer of a Lamar Gant deadlift of 634 pounds at 5’2″ in height and a bodyweight of 123 pounds. If this Lamar Gant deadlift record does not motivate and inspire us to make the most of our genetic potential, what will?
Lamar Gant holds the world records for deadlifting in both the 123- and 132-pound weight classes. If that did not impress you, how about a video uploaded by Steve Goggins of another Lamar Gant deadlift of 672 pounds at a bodyweight of 134 pounds?
Lamar Gant is still the only person in history to deadlift five times his own bodyweight. Let’s see, for me or possibly you to achieve the same, that would mean a deadlift over a thousand pounds! I am still working on feeling comfortable with deadlifting my own body weight let alone five times, that is simply amazing.
3. Lamar Gant Scoliosis Never Stopped Him
Another Lamar Gant deadlift marvel. Lamar Gant suffers from scoliosis, curvature of the spine. Scoliosis afflicts approximately 5% of the U.S. population and is about five times more common in women than in men. Scoliosis is serious, progressive and possibly even life-threatening. Nevertheless, despite having scoliosis, Lamar Gant deadlifted weights of over five times his bodyweight.
As reported by Terry Todd in Sports Illustrated, Robert E. Kappler, chairman of the department of osteopathic medicine at the Chicago Osteopathic Medical Center said:
“I’ve seen nothing in the literature at all like this, in which a person with such an advanced degree of curvature—so advanced that he’d be four to six inches taller without it—is nevertheless a world-class athlete. Most scoliotics are weaker than an average person of the same age. My guess—and it’s only a guess—is that Lamar’s heavy lifting and extraordinary musculature have helped him to be more stable then he otherwise would be.”
Lamar Gant’s powerlifting successes can serve as a lesson for any of us who think that we were not born with the physical capabilities to build muscle. Never give up, keep working at building muscle no matter where you are in life, more muscle means better health, as Dr. Kappler suggested, even for a man like Lamar Gant with idiopathic scoliosis.
4. Youngest Powerlifting Champion
His first powerlifting championship came at age 18, when he won the 123-pound class at the 1975 world championships in Birmingham, England to become the youngest men’s world champion in powerlifting history. Lamar Gant set his first world record deadlift in 1974 by deadlifting 524.5 pounds at a bodyweight of 123 pounds at the Flint Olympian Games.
The current Lamar Gant Deadlift Records that still stand are:
|56kg||Lamar Gant Deadlift||1957||USA||56.00||289.5||10.07.1982||Dayton USA|
|60kg||Lamar Gant Deadlift||1957||USA||60.00||310.0||12.11.1988||Perth AUS|
5. Lamar Gant Deadlift Workout Philosophy
According to Lamar Gant, you should not burn yourself out in your deadlift training. He believed that you have to be careful about overtraining on the deadlift and for that matter whatever weightlifting that you are doing. In Lamar’s own words:
You need to pace yourself in the deadlift. The deadlift is the one lift that demands the most mental toughness, but that does not mean that you have to go all out every workout. When you are doing 8 reps in a workout set, you should be using a weight that you can do 11 reps with. Otherwise, you will burn out before you reach your peak. Don’t focus so much on the amount of weight that you are lifting every time you go to the gym; don’t do all that you are capable of, give yourself space.
Another detail to know about Lamar Gant’s deadlift routine is that he never missed a workout as he is quoted by Terry Todd, the former powerlifter and journalist, to have said:
“Man, I would never miss a training session. Never!”
Consistency was a big part of Lamar’s success besides the fact that he had incredible natural talent. Lamar Gant’s junior high school weight lifting coach in Flint Michigan, Bill Stiff, had this to say about Lamar:
“Lamar was already so strong I knew he had the capability to break a world record,” he says. “All he needed was the desire, and he had that from the beginning. Lamar never missed a workout. Not ever. Even if he had to hitch a ride, he’d be at my home in the evenings for our sessions. He trained so hard I’ve seen his hands bleed, literally, after one of his marathon deadlifting sessions.”
6. Lamar Gant Deadlift Routine
Lamar Gant originally used a deadlift routine based on one his weight lifting coach Bill Stiff had gotten from an old professional strongman named Harold Ansorge from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Week 1: 5 sets of 8 deadlifts with 350 pounds.
- Week 2: 5 sets of 8 deadlifts with 365 pounds.
- Week 3: 5 sets of 8 deadlifts with 380 pounds.
- Week 4: 5 sets of 8 deadlifts with 390 pounds.
The first month of Lamar Gant’s deadlift routine uses 5 sets of 8 deadlift reps. You can apply this to where you currently are in your deadlift conditioning, whether you start with 5 sets of 8 reps at 50 pounds or 500 pounds. Make sure that you are using a weight which is not your maximum. Whatever weight you start at, you should be capable of lifting the weight for at least 3 – 5 more reps.
Weeks 5 – 8 will use 5 sets of 5 deadlifts:
- Week 5: 5 sets of 5 deadlifts with 350 pounds.
- Week 6: 5 sets of 5 deadlifts with 350 pounds.
- Week 7: 5 sets of 5 deadlifts with 350 pounds.
- Week 8: 5 sets of 5 deadlifts with 350 pounds.
The last 4 weeks of the Lamar Gant Deadlift routine will use a maximum of 3 deadlift reps per set.
- Week 9: 5 sets of 3 deadlifts with 460 pounds.
- Week 10: 5 sets of 3 deadlifts with 470 pounds.
- Week 11: 5 sets of 3 deadlifts with 480 pounds.
- Week 12: 5 sets of 3 deadlifts with 490 pounds.
This workout assumes that you can already do a 500 pound max deadlift. By the end of this deadlift workout routine, you should be able to increase your deadlift by 30 or 40 pounds. You can use this Lamar Gant Deadlift Routine as a template no matter where you are for your max deadlift. Remember to never go all out unless you are doing a one rep max deadlift test or competition.
7. Lamar Gant Deadlift Gear
Lamar Gant recommended wearing deadlifting shoes that have little to no heel. Lamar believed that you should not wear deadlift shoes with a heel because they will cause you to lean too far forward in the pull phase of the deadlift. He said that you should definitely use a deadlift power belt because a deadlift belt can add 40 pounds to your max deadlift. Lamar also recommends a supportive deadlift suit to help ‘build resistance’ for the deadlift.
Build resistance in Lamar Gant speak means that you are tightening your body as much as possible in anticipation of the deadlift. Tightening your body is critical to Lamar’s approach to deadlifting as well as any other weight lifting exercises. You will have a safer and stronger lift when you approach the weight with a tight core. In Lamar’s own words for approaching the deadlift:
Approach the bar as tight as possible. Make the body feel like it is hard to reach that bar. Once at the bottom, you are ready to explode upward. That’s exactly why I take a long time to get down to the bar in the deadlift. It’s like I am compressing a spring.
8. Natural & Drug Free Powerlifter
Anyone who witnessed a Lamar Gant deadlift of over 600 pounds could not be faulted for wondering if he was using anabolic steroids to achieve such a lift at only 123 and 132 pounds bodyweight. As a result, he even took a lie detector test. He wanted to disprove those who could not believe that he was deadlifting over 700 pounds in his deadlift workouts.
He was tested in Auburn, Ala. by Mike Capps, a licensed polygraph examiner. Mr. Capps stated afterward that Lamar Gant had apparently never used any form of anabolic steroids or testosterone. Lamar recalled an incident which happened on his first trip overseas to England in 1975. A couple of the older guys came to him and told him all about how good steroids are. They told him that he could deadlift 600 pounds if he took them.
As Lamar later said:
“Well, I wound up deadlifting the 600 anyway, and both those guys have had drug troubles. I ain’t going to be a slave to any drug.”
Another great lesson for anyone in powerlifting, weightlifting or deadlifting. Just don’t do drugs. You can still get strong without drugs. Look at the world record Lamar Gant deadlifts that are still standing today, thirty years later.
9. Lamar Gant Interview
10. 2012 Crossfit Winners still Lag Behind Lamar Gant
Crossfit athletes are among the most fit in the world. I came across an infographic I found on carrotsncake.com created by some crossfit number crunchers. Amazingly, Lamar Gant’s deadlifts still looks quite impressive.
11. Lamar Gant Deadlift Sources
You can read more details about Lamar Gant in the Sport’s Illustrated 1984 article referenced above by Terry Todd here:
You can stay up to date on powerlifting at:
The original article on the Lamar Gant deadlift routine is here:
Did you ever hear of Lamar Gant? Don’t feel bad if you have not. I never did myself until recently, and that is after several years of being impressed by the incredible benefits of deadlifts. I hope you found his success in deadlifting inspirational, especially considering Lamar Gant’s incredible obstacle of scoliosis.
Just learning about Lamar’s powerlifting success pushed me to get to the gym today despite the seemingly never ending cold in the big apple. Are there any other powerlifters or deadlifters out there that you think we should all know about? Please share!