On Mar. 12, 2023, Joe Sullivan shared an Instagram clip of himself capturing a raw deadlift of 345 kilograms (760.6 pounds) during a training session. The powerlifter utilized a sumo stance and a hook grip, and had just a lifting belt adorned for the strength feat. According to Sullivan’s post, it’s the athlete’s first deadlift personal record (PR) in roughly six years after suffering a severe nerve injury. (Note: Sullivan stated the timeframe as seven years, but given the date he described as his last PR, that is likely a typo.)
Sullivan’s comments about finally breaking through a deadlift plateau present an interesting timeline for the world-class competitor.
The athlete noted that his last true raw deadlift PR of 340 kilograms (749.5 pounds) occurred during the 2017 United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) Kern US Open. Sullivan would subsequently develop “nerve pain” and “nerve damage” sometime in 2018, but he didn’t specify how the injury occurred.
All of that said, Sullivan hasn’t shied away from attempting pulls in competition in the time since he developed his injury. According to Open Powerlifting, the athlete has attempted at least one deadlift in every contest of his career dating back to April 2008, though his post-injury performance was clearly impacted — after 2018, Sullivan did not successfully pull any heavier than 317.5 kilograms (699.9 pounds) in competition. He also hasn’t recorded any PR, in training or in competition, eclipsing that 749.5-pound pull from roughly six years ago.
Moving forward, despite a slight struggle with this specific pull, Sullivan seemed to imply that this deadlifting milestone would mean more attempts at new personal achievements in the future.
” … And even though the down command was a little quick today, we’re nowhere near done,” Sullivan wrote. “It’s just a little farther now with a smile on my face.”
In terms of recent accomplishments, Sullivan captured the all-time raw World Record back squat of 385 kilograms (848.8 pounds) for the 100-kilogram division in late September 2022. He achieved the mark during a third-place performance at the 2022 USPA Raw Pro. Prior to this competition’s third-place result, Sullivan had won six straight contests dating back to November 2017. The most notable among those victories might be a triumph in the 2020 WRPF The Showdown where he achieved his highest ever raw total of 910.5 kilograms (2007.4 pounds).
Off the competition platform, Sullivan doesn’t slack in performance either. In 2022, he recorded 19 reps of a 230-kilogram (507-pound) squat AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible). The goal was inspired by 1980 Mr. Universe Tom Platz.
Whatever future the holds in store for Sullivan, whether high-level competition or training PRs, he’s likened to make it bright. By finally breaking the seal on his deadlift proficiency and returning to form, the powerlifting world could be his oyster.
Featured image: @joesullivan_aod on Instagram