Bob People’s Deadlift

by Thom Van Vleck

Bob Peoples doing some rack work showing the inspiration for the OTSM "Peoples Lift" (photo from www.zacheven-esh.com)

The Bob Peoples’ Deadlift was recently approved at the USAWA National meeting as an OTSM “official” lift.  You can take a crack at setting a record in this lift at the OTSM Championships to be held by the JWC in Kirksville, Missouri on Oct. 14 and entry can be found on the upcoming meets section on the USAWA homepage.  It is basically a Deadlift from 18″ off the ground instead of the standard Deadlift.  Here are the Official Rules:

Peoples Deadlift – This is a partial deadlift, where the bar height must not be over 18″ from the platform (measured from the top of the bar). The plates or bar may be supported on stands, rack supports, or blocks to obtain this height. The lifter must have the bar in front of the legs, as in a normal deadlift. The hands must be on the outside of the legs (NO SUMO STANCE) during the entire lift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed. It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching). A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries. Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Now, a little history.  I’m not gonna try an do a comprehensive history on Bob Peoples.  But if you know your lifting history you would know that Bob was one of the greatest Deadlifters in history.  Bob was pretty strong all the way around, but his best lift was the deadlift and he came with many new and innovative ways to do the lift.  One of these things was to utilize the power rack, which formed the basis of the Peoples lift.  He also utilized heavy negatives using a hydraulic lift on a tractor to reset the weight and he also used a ring while on a platform that allowed him to drop well below what you would with a regular deadlift.  It honestly looks like the forerunner of the Trap Bar!

Try your hand at the Peoples Deadlift!  Sign up for the OTSM today!!!!

Peoples Deadlift

by Al Myers

Bob Peoples demonstrating a high-pick deadlift in his homemade power rack.

Coming up soon will be the first USAWA Old Time Strongman Meet of the year, the “BATTLE IN THE BARN”, hosted by Eric Todd on March 25th.  His meet will include a couple of  approved OTSM lifts (Apollons Lift & Goerner Stroll), one traditional All Round Lift (Crucifix) and a new exhibition OTSM Lift – the Peoples Deadlift.   This lift has already been submitted to be considered and voted on as a new OTSM Official Lift.  It is also on the lift agenda for the OTSM Championships held next fall.  So this lift looks to be well-represented this year in the OTSM series!

Most lifters will recognize right away who this OTSM lift is named after. It is after the great deadlifter Bob Peoples.  He was way ahead of his time in regards to new training techniques for the deadlift.  Peoples is often credited for pioneering the Power Rack.  Of course, his results speak for themselves. The training ideas he used gave him a deadlift of 728 pounds at a bodyweight of 178 pounds back in the 40s.  I think it is only appropriate that a deadlift utilizing the power rack should be named after him. Most of his training ideas are outlined in a book he wrote titled, “Developing Physical Strength”.  This book is a must-read for any lifter.

Two of Peoples training ideas for the deadlift involved, 1. use of the power rack to pull from higher points, and 2. use of negatives in the deadlift.  When Thom Van Vleck proposed the Peoples Deadlift we discussed which of these ideas should be emphasized in naming a lift after him. One idea we about went with involved a deadlift where the bar started at the top position and then lowered to the floor till it touched, and then brought back to lockout. Bob commonly trained in this manner, as it involved a negative followed by a deadlift which often included being bounced from the floor. I want to relate a story about this by Bob Peoples friend and great lifter himself  Bob Hise, “Some of Bob’s training methods were unique. He built a bouncing platform of two oak 2×12″ boards, 8″ long, nailed barbell width apart on 4×4 timbers underneath at each end. By using the lift on his tractor (extending a lowering/raising mechanism which he could operate by placing his head against the actuator) 800 pounds, would be lifted to an upright extended position, and he would lower this, with a bounce, and attempt to get the bar to his knees. This would build great starting strength.”

However, Thom and I decided that the high-pick deadlift out of the power rack would be a better lift named after Bob Peoples for a couple of reasons. First it represented the use of a power rack in a lift (since Peoples pioneered the power rack), and we felt it was a safer lift. Second, the high pick deadlift (18″ deadlift) is a common height trained by strongman now a days (often called the Silver Dollar Deadlift in Strongman competitions).  This would lead itself to an OTSM lift that more lifters and strongmen would understand and relate to.

RULES FOR THE PEOPLES DEADLIFT

Peoples DeadliftThis is a partial deadlift, where the bar height must not be over 18″ from the platform (measured from the bottom of the bar). The plates or bar may be supported on stands, rack supports,  or blocks to obtain this height. The lifter must have the bar in front of the legs, as in a normal deadlift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed. It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching). A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries. Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Mr. Deadlift – John Robert Peoples

by Dennis Mitchell

Bob Peoples with his amazing deadlift.

Bob Peoples was born Aug. 2nd, 1910 in Northern Tennessee. He stated that no one in particular started him lifting, and that he always admired men who were strong and that his father was locally noted for his strength. He started lifting his father’s 50 pound dumbbell and anything else that would give him a challenge. He lived on a farm and trained outside or in one of the out buildings. Eventually he moved to his own house and had a gym in his basement that was referred to as “The Dungeon”. Other than lifting, Bob’s favorite sport was horse back riding and he spent many hours riding the mountain trails.

Bob was quite strong and was never a 97 pound weakling. When he started lifting he could deadlift 350 pounds and clean and jerk 160 pounds. At first he followed no set system of training as he was unaware that there were actual training systems. Later he followed the advice given in the different lifting magazines.

Much of his equipment was home made, although he did have a Milo Duplex Barbell set. He would use 50 gallon drums that he would fill with rocks. Later he added a Jackson International Olympic set with plenty of extra plates. He was unhappy with his progress in the Olympic lifts. As a middle weight in 1937 he did a 150 pound press, a 160 pound snatch and a 205 pound clean and jerk. It was at this time he started to experiment with different training ideas and is credited with making the first power rack.

Bob’s most outstanding lift was the deadlift, and in 1940 after winning the Tennessee State Olympic Lifting meet he made an official deadlift of 600 pounds, which was a “Southern” record.

Bob’s progress was interrupted by some health problems and during the war years the demands on farmers limited his training. However by the time of the Tennessee State championships in 1946, Bob was doing quite well and won the light heavy weight division with a deadlift of 651.25 pounds at a bodyweight of 175 pounds, which was a world record, beating Jack Hope’s record of 624.25 pounds. Later that same year at a show put on by Bob Hise, Bob lifted 700 pounds, only to find out when the bar was weighed it was 699 pounds. The newspaper photographer missed photographing the lift so Bob did it again so he could get the photograph. Later that year he did break the 700 pound barrier with a lift of 710 pounds. He did not get official credit for this lift as it was not weighed, as was the rules at that time.

Bob’s top deadlift was 728 pounds at a body weight of 178 pounds. He did all his lifts with an overhand grip, and of course at that time there were no power suits.

Other outstanding lifts that he made included deadlifting 500 pounds 20 times, a deadlift off of high blocks of 900 pounds, a 530 pound full squat, a 300 pound bench press, alternate standing press with a pair of 130 pound dumbbells, and cleaning a pair of 110 pound dumbbells for 10 reps.

He is in the U. S. Power lifting Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, and the Upper East Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He was also very active in local civic and political issues.

Bob was married for 53 years to Junta Wills People. They had one daughter. Two grand daughters and one great grand daughter. Bob passed away in 1992.