Lamar Gant is greatly reveled in the powerlifting community as one of the best lifters of all time, and he has the goods to prove it. Winning sixteen IPF world championships with World records that still stand to this day, setting his first world record at just fifteen years old and his last record eighteen years later. This powerlifting giant stood only 5ft 3in (1.60 m) and had a severe case of scoliosis (a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side). When locked out in the deadlift the bar was just above his kneecaps, the intense load causes his spine to curve more than 100 degrees making him shorter. His spine flexes to the left and his collarbones end up only a few inches above his belt.
“Whatever its origin, scoliosis is serious, possibly even life-threatening, and it’s progressive. In an average case, after an early period of rapidly increasing curvature, the condition worsens each year by about one degree. It’s standard medical practice to keep scoliotics under careful observation if the curvature is 20 degrees or less, to apply a brace if the scoliosis is in the 20-to 40-degree range and to operate if the curvature exceeds 40 degrees. Gant’s curvature is between 74 and 80 degrees.” -Sports Illustrated
Lamar still holds two deadlift world records to this day in the 123 and 132 pound class with 638 lbs (289kg) and 688 lbs (312kg). Despite his amazing deadlifting proportions his first world record was a 297 pounds (135kg) bench press in the 123 weight class in 1977. He became the first and only person to deadlift five times his bodyweight (besides Sajeeva Bhaskaran) and was also the first to total twelve times his bodyweight. Keep in mind these world records were done in full powerlifting meets raw to the fullest extent, in strict organizations like the IPF. When he pulled 688 he had done so after squatting 550 lbs (250kg) and bench pressing 318 lbs (144kg).
Gant’s road to powerlifting began in junior high when his gym teacher (powerlifter Randy Laur) tested him in the bench press. Only fourteen at the time Lamar benched more than the city record for the 123 pound weight-class even though he’d apparently never bench pressed before. He broke another local city record in the deadlift the same day astonishing Randy. At the time Gant was a wrestler, but once he discovered the iron it was clear wrestling was about to take the backseat.
“I did love those weights. Man, I loved them. I found a home when I found those weights. Man, I would never miss a training session. Never! I’d be shaking those weights around like some kind of bulldog. Boom! Boom! Those were some good days. I started training with Big Bill Stiff after a couple of months because he was the biggest, strongest man around. Coach Laur told him about me, and Bill asked me to work out with his weightlifting team. Big Bill! The man weighed 400 pounds!”
Lamar Gant Deadlift Program
His training protocol called for all types of rep ranges and volume. Bill Stiff recalls Gant doing twenty-five sets of five reps in the deadlift until his hands bled. His twenty-fifth set was five reps of 585 lbs (265kg) which was higher than the world record in his weight class for one rep. Below you can see Lamar Gant’s very own deadlift routine, a lot of people say it’s very archaic based on the training principles we know today. It’s also not very clear on how many times a week to deadlift and leaves a lot of other things unmentioned.
|Week||Work Sets||Weight (in lbs)|
|1||5 sets of 8 reps||350|
|2||5 sets of 8 reps||365|
|3||5 sets of 8 reps||380|
|4||5 sets of 8 reps||390|
|5||5 sets of 5 reps||410|
|6||5 sets of 5 reps||420|
|7||5 sets of 5 reps||430|
|8||5 sets of 5 reps||435|
|9||5 sets of 3 reps||460|
|10||5 sets of 3 reps||470|
|11||5 sets of 3 reps||480|
|12||5 sets of 3 reps||490|
This workout assumes you have a 500lb maximum lift. For those of different strength levels than the starting poundage specified simply increase or decrease the training weights in direct proportion. For example if your lift is 400, and a starting lift for the program is 500 multiply the training poundages by .8 (400 divided by 500); if your lift is 600 multiply the poundages specified by 1.2 (600 divided by 500).
Lamar Gant was inducted into the International Powerlifting Federation hall of fame in 1980. He will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best overall powerlifters of all time, sharing the ranks with lifters like Ed Coan and Konstantin Konstantinovs. Retiring at age thirty-three his deadlifts World records are set in stone with the runner-up for best deadlift in the 132 pound class trailing behind seventy-five pounds. Lamar Gant is a once in a lifetime phenomenon that has shown us what amazing feats the human body is capable of. Even with severe scoliosis he’s managed to deadlift 715 pounds in training. You can bend him, but you will never break him.