Increase Dead lift and Improve Muscle Recovery

On Monday I posted a teaser video and an opportunity to win a free manual – How to Increase Dead lift with a bottle?  and let everyone take their best guess at my solution

soft tissue cyrotherapy

Some guesses:

  • Use it to mark foot spacing
  • Squeeze between the thighs to increase tension
  • Stick it up your …… to increase tension and glute activation.
  • Beat me with the bottle until I give the free copy of Bull Strength and that will increase your dead lift.

All good ideas, but none hit the nail on the head. I will STILL BE EMAILING someone and giving away a free copy – I HAVE to hook someone up after all those awesome guesses!

Increase your DL and shorten muscle recovery

Lifting weights and training can be extremely traumatic to the muscles.  They are constantly strained and forced to adapt to increase loads.  As a result, poor recovery will damage gains in both the short and long term.

Now if you train anything like us, the legs really take the ultimate beating.  Squats, dead lifts, walking lunges, prowler, serious 6′s, and many more exercises really put a great deal of stress on the legs (and are awesome!!)

Solution:  Use a simple cyrotherapy technique that has been applied by doctors since the 1950′s to treat over use and soft tissue injury. 



Before I show exactly what I am going to do with the bottle, it is important to understand the “why.”  I’m just not making stuff up, its all backed with research and then by our personal uses at Synergy.

According to Cyrotherapy in Sports Injury Managment:  “It is proposed that applying cooling to a musculoskeletal injury decreases the tissue temperature, resulting in diminished pain, cellular metabolism, and muscle spasm, thus minimizing the inflammatory response and improving recovery after soft tissue trauma .

Ice, although predominantly used in injury management, can also reduce the pain associated with the micro-trauma of regular exercise.


This microtrauma is due to an accumulation of loading forces on the same musculotendinous unit during repetitive activity.  This extra load could cause limited or no damage if it occurred for only a short period of time.  However, if the activity is not slowly increased over time, or the activity is performed repetitively…then microtrauma will likely result.”  Doctors recommendsthat at the completion of exercise that cryotherapy be applied to reduce microtrauma and the associated pain.

Compression along with cryotherapy will also speed up the time it takes to cool down the tissue

So What’s The Deal With The Damn Bottle?!?

Okay, okay, I know most of you glanced over the research and are ready to get to application.   A few people guessed the you could use a bottle to roll on, but this takes it to a whole new level.

Increase Strength and Shorten Recovery With A Bottle Video


  • Fill your bottle up with water and place it in the freezer as upright as possible (to avoid air pockets)
  • After each lower body workout, use it as an “ice roller” to decrease microtrama and increase recovery time

“But I want to increase my dead lift NOW?!”

 Second concept (two for one deal!) take another empty bottle with you.  Fill it with the hottest water you can find.  Immediately before lifting – after your general and specific warm ups – use the heated bottle on your calves and IT band (actually anywhere that is tight)

I use it on the back of my knees and hip flexors as well.  The increased heat draws more blood to the muscles and helps loosen up any stiffness and tightness. 

By using both hot and cold “contrast rolling” our deadlifts and leg strength overall is progressing at a much faster rate.  

In addition, I don’t need help off the couch any more after leg day!

- Joe Hashey, CSCS –

PS.  I hope this solution lived up to the hype created by the last post for you!  Try it out - simple, cheap, and effective.  Post any results or thoughts in the comments!

Sources: The Technical Benefits of Icing.  Kathy Weber, M.D., M.S., Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

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  • jhashey

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    [New Post] Increase Your Dead lift and Improve Muscle Recovery – via @twitoaster

  • Keith Fine

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    WOW!! dude, that’s fuckin genius

  • Jerry Shreck

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    Nice job Joe! I obviously did not think of that!!

    • Thanks Jerry! Let’s get some training in this summer either here or down at your home court on Bucknell!


  • Josh M.

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    Haha, yea, I was WAY off also. Awesome idea Joe. As always, thanks for sharing all the great information.

  • nelson

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    very good joe liked it gonna try this in my next leg workout thanks :]

  • Mike

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    Nice. But now I am wondering why I bought a foam roller a few months ago. That thing is awesome along with contraction showers so I can only imagine this will do the work of 2 recoveries in 1.

    • Mike – I still use my foam roller on the upper back and prelifting – post ice roller, always a good tool to have if you don’t have a freezer handy!


  • george

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    Excellent – I have to use the foam roller between dead lift sets on my lower back (quadratus lumborum) and glutes to help relieve sciatica. Never thought of using a bottle for hot/cold. Great post and a great aid for us ‘older lifter’ who need that extra hand recovering – worth the wait :-))

    • George – I’m glad it can help. I’m sure you know this, but I would stick to the hot version between lifts, should work nicely! Oh, and a nalgene or a hard plastic water bottle works best for the hot version since the 2 liter bottles may crush.

      Thanks for checking it out!


  • Pedro A Morales

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    That’s so Clever, I love it I want to try it! Good Stuff Joe, Keep them coming!!!

  • Ray Liatsos

    Reply Reply May 6, 2010

    Joe, I had downplayed cryotherapy-style recovery methods ever since reading an excerpt from a Charles Poliquin article.

    “Fail: Cryotherapy

    Q: What do you think of cryotherapy, that post-workout ice-massage stuff?

    A: The latest research shows it has no effect at all on post-workout recovery. It does zippo!

    The only thing it does is increase cortisol post-workout, which is a stressor. In my opinion, it delays recovery — as does anything that increases cortisol — and is actually counterproductive. And the newest research shows it does nothing for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I’ve just never seen it work. Waste of time.

    A lot of soccer teams in the U.K. invested money in cryo-suits, basically a suit that literally freezes you. They stopped using these suits because they actually increased the number of injuries — $150,000 down the toilet.

    Listen, some things may sound good in a couple of initial studies, but they just don’t stand the test of time. Cryotherapy was a hot topic a few years ago, but today you don’t hear much about it. Why? It just doesn’t work.
    ice rub

    On the other side, look at post-workout drinks. I was using them in 1982, back when many of today’s gurus were playing with their G.I. Joes. These drinks are still around today and people keep using them. Why? They work.

    It’s like squatting: always worked, always will. But look at all the “superior” machines than have come and gone. Things that work stick around. Cryotherapy didn’t stick around; post-workout drinks did.”

    Now admittedly, part of that involved his opinion with respect to cortisol, as opposed to evidence. Additionally there comes into play the so-called placebo effect, which sometimes gets mentioned when talking about contrast bathing, since the research on that seems to be equivocal, and even the positive stuff has yet to hit on exact sets of parameters for it use. In the case of your modified cryotherapy, you have obviously seen positive results, and it is a ridiculously cheap option to test out, so there seems to be little downside. SO I wonder if it matters in this case whether research says it does or doesn’t work, since all that matters is that you are seeing results, whether it is the cryotherapy or simply because you think it is working.

    In athletics, perception is often reality, and when the option in question is at worst something innocuous and clearly an option for anyone, since cost is a non-issue, it would seem that perhaps I shouldn’t have placed much stock in Coach Poliquin giving the thumbs down to cryotherapy.

    • Ray, thanks for posting that article by Charles. I can’t comment on the exact study he is refering to and I don’t know how that specific team applied the concept.

      However and can comment on him suggesting icing is forgotten about as a recovery tool. ice is still one of the most often prescribed methods to deal with muscle injury. Additionly many teams led by professional med staffs use ice buckets or whirlpools post exercise with success.

      I’m glad you shared another perspective and Charles has some good stuff. I will have to respectfully disagree with his conclusion on this topic though .

      Thanks – awesome share Ray and that’s certainly fine if you prefer not to use the method. Excellent job explaining the placebo effect as well. I guess only time will tell once I try it out on a larger group of athletes!


  • Scott Brady

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Awesome! Def gonna try this out. Cheers Joe

  • Ben Thurner

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Totally awesome!!!
    Thanks for the great idea.

  • Tom

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Wow, you have the most creative and practical examples I have EVER SEEN on strength training sites!

    I’m lucky I came across your site a few months back, my training has never been better. And I just bought Bull Strength, its going to be an awesome summer!!!!!

  • Chris Smith

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Joe I would have never thought of that. That seems like a great alternative to contrast baths when they just aren’t feasible (which is more often than not the case). Great post!

  • Bill Jones

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Very interesting way of doing it. I’m wondering now if you could freeze a PVC pipe and get similar results! May have to try it this weekend!

    Thanks Joe. You are always coming up with some “cool” stuff!

  • Clement

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Wow, joe, what can I say? I didn’t expect that! I use a tennis ball to roll, myself. This is what happens when you’re cash-strapped!

    congrats to the lucky winner of bull strength conditioning! It’s a great programme. After saving up for my kettlebell ikff teaching certification level 1, I’m gonna get that programme! Btw, Joe, can I pick your brain? do you think it’s a good idea to invest in a KB teaching certification at only 19 years of age?

  • Adam | SEE

    Reply Reply May 7, 2010

    Joe: Two quick thoughts…1-Don’t fill the bottle all the way, or it might crack when freezing (H2O expands when freezing). 2-I have also seen this used to help with plantar fasciitis by rolling along the bottom of the foot.

    • Adam good thoughts. I assumed people knew the water expanding thing but maybe not! Thanks for commenting!

  • Brian

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    Great idea! And to think I just bought a foam roller last week, could have just used one of these. Thanks for the tip!

  • Gabe

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    aside from a hot/cold foam roller(good idea),

    use it to microload, one on each end of the bar, can be filled with progressively small amounts, could up your dl by the ounce if you are that patient.

    with them dangling from each end, could provide some instability for more challenge to the core(as if a heavy dl needed to challenge tho core more so).
    vary the length of the chain/thread that connects the 2-liter(s) to the bar.
    more instability, only attach one.

    could also use that idea for one leg dl’s.

    a frozen 2-liter could help cue a beginner…
    in the middle of a lift if they arent activating say their glues or arent keeping the lower back arched enough, let them know exactly where with a chilling touch.
    might help body-mind connection for people who have ‘amnesia’ in those movements.
    glutes, lower trap, lower back, back of neck for those who protrude their head forward during a row.
    a visual target for those who look up when they dl and squat to keep the spine more neutral.

    use it as a water bottle, for those cheap bastards like me.


  • D

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    who won the manual

    • D – Even though no one came up with the right answer – I still decided to give away a copy of the manual to someone at random. I figured that is most fair since some people had excellent, creative, responses.

      I emailed Ben about it, but haven’t heard back.

      If he doesn’t get back soon, I will choose someone else as well to hook them up!


  • Mike

    Reply Reply May 15, 2010


    I have a question on this stuff. If I do a contraction shower after my workout and a foam roller also. Which should come first? I’ve always done the shower because I don’t get funk on my roller. Is there a correct or wrong sequence?

    • Mike,

      Post workout I personally prefer moving right to recovery – the contrast shower. I rarely use just the foam roller post workout (just the ice roller). I like to do the soft tissue work before a lift – standard foam roller, then the contrasting afterwards if that makes sense.


  • Barry

    Reply Reply June 2, 2010

    I just came across this Joe – awesome and innovative as usual mate!!! I’m going to try this as I’m training to lift the Dinnie Stones at the end of June and could use all the help I can get!!! Thanks again for awesome idea!!!

  • wrestler strength

    Reply Reply October 6, 2010

    This is a fantastic idea Joe! You are hands down one of the most cutting edge guys out there today. Keep it up man!

  • strength training for wrestling

    Reply Reply October 29, 2010

    Since starting my MMA training I’ve been implementing this recovery technique into my training. HUGE difference. Thanks Joe!

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