The Pinnacle Million – how did we do it?
The success of ‘The Pinnacle Million’ reaches beyond the incredible fund raising efforts ($140,000+), and the team success on the day, but more to the individual progress and athletic development seen by each athlete following their 16 week training cycle. The coaching team at Pinnacle took nothing for granted, and each athlete had to ‘Earn the Right’ to lift on the day. This included demonstrating a level of competency in their technique, minimum strength and capacity standards, and also the psychological ‘grit’ to ensure the coaches were confident that they would last the 24 hours without individual injury or slowing the team down. A multi-faceted approach was delivered by Pinnacle to challenge and develop the team into a group that could take on, and ultimately achieve this world’s first.
Lifting 1,000,000kg in 24 hours has been done before, numerous times, but it hasn’t been done by a group of amateur athletes, a mixed gender team with an average lifting experience of less than a year, and a team made up of such varied athletic abilities. Ensuring each athlete was training to their own ability was a big key to the success of the event.
So how do you start to create a training programme for such a dedicated goal? Well, you test and monitor EVERYTHING. Nothing is left to chance, and no sessions are missed without being replaced or made up. 16 weeks, 48 sessions, is not a long time to coach someone to competently deadlift, develop their strength, and then load them to the maximum over 24 hours…
Regular testing enabled the coaches to monitor and progress programmes at the right level. Testing included in-session capacity, such as 10 rep maxes (RM’s), 5RM’s for strength, rowing and prowler capacity measures for metabolic strain, and the big 1RM’s when appropriate. Programmes were then prescribed based on a phasic approach of between 3-5 weeks per cycle to enable the desired physiological (and psychological) adaptations to occur.
This initial phase included key technique points from stance, grip, body position, and breathing. Any injuries or weaknesses were ironed out now.
Adaptive / Hypertrophy:
Time to add some mass. Lifting the required average of 1,000 x each athlete’s body weight on the day needs muscle mass, strong connective tissue, and a bit more mass for some of the athletes entering the challenge.
The big one. Technique and weaknesses ironed out, muscle mass and size added, now it was time to lift some heavy weights. Squats, lunges, pulls, and deadlifts all featured in a heavy and uncompromising month.
The ability to take someone to ‘Max Strength’ is different than loading through 4-6 reps and calling it ‘Strength’. Complete physical loading includes confidence in an athletes technique and attention to safely load them with 1’s, 2’s, and 3 reps. Big set volumes ensured the athletes maintained their capacity for lifting whilst pulling the heaviest loads they have ever done from the floor. The goal? To enter the day with a strength and capacity far above what their rep load for the event would actually be.
At the end of the 16 weeks we re-measured and assessed the progression of the team. Taking into account different ages (team varied from 25-40), both genders, and different body mass (from 55-95kg) the individual strength gain was an average of 13% with the males adding an average of 18kg to their Deadlift 1RM and the females 12kg. What did this strength gain mean? It meant that relative to bodyweight every single athlete was capable of pulling on average 190% of their own bodyweight from the floor with some as high as 235%!
we were ready
The total of squad of 23 was divided into 2 halves of 12 and 11 athletes. Rotating in small groups per bar within these rotations, 3 loaded bars (50kg, 75kg, and 100kg) started by being lifted 10 x 10 reps per hour. The second group rotation rested while ‘Rotation 1’ pulled, and then we swapped. Sticking precisely to the time frames and loading prescribed, the team smashed the 24 hour target and lifted the 1 millionth kilogram after 12 hours 44 minutes! But that wasn’t us finished, now was the time to do something really special! So as Hong Kong slept, The Pinnacle Million squad ramped back up and carried on to a total of 1,612,500kg, each lifter on average pulling their own body weight 986 times at a total of 70,109kg.
Besides the strength gains, the first in a lifetime achievement for everyone, and the incredible performance on the day, the biggest success from a Strength and Conditioning perspective was that the entire squad completed the whole training program, the event, and an earth shattering amount of total volume over the 16 weeks without a single injury! Accurate and precise training programs ensure progression and adaptation in the Deadlift. In one of the most debated and abused exercises for currently producing injuries in backs, shoulders, and other parts of the body, the Pinnacle Million athletes trained specifically and smartly ensuring not a single minute of training was compromised due to injury.
If you have a goal, or even if you are looking for your next challenge, ensure that the coaches who are supporting you and that are writing your programmes consider your needs, your ability, and the impact of the goal so that they can support you in achieving something as special as the Pinnacle Million.
Have a look through all the photos from this special event right here on our Facebook page.