Get Your Form Right For The Ultimate Exercise
The Deadlift is as basic and functional as an exercise can get.
All you need to do is walk up to a loaded bar and pull it from the floor.
Sounds easy enough right?
If the bar was loaded with 60 kilos, anyone could probably pull it from the floor anyway they want to.
But what if the bar was loaded with 120 kilos?
Try pulling it with a rounded back and you may find yourself in the hospital.
For many, the Deadlift is the ultimate test of strength. You are literally pulling dead weight off the floor.
Every muscle in your body comes into play when you are Deadlifting.
How To Deadlift Correctly
It may be basic and functional, but it is probably the most challenging of all exercises. Unless you put more work and effort behind it, your Deadlift will lag behind.
Here are 5 tips on how to get stronger in the Deadlift:
1. Get Strong In The Squat
The biggest mistake you can make in the Deadlift is to initiate the pull with your lower back. You can see who these people are in the gym. At the set up position, their hips are at the same level as the upper back.
When they start the pull, all of the effort is coming from the lower back and hamstrings which is asking for trouble.
Your legs should get the bar moving. This is why the hips should be lower than the shoulders but higher than the knees.
Think about pushing your heels through the floor as you would in the Squat.
Thus, if you want to get stronger in the Deadlift you should get strong in the Squat as well.
2. Utilise Variations
There are 3 stages in the Deadlift. If you want to get stronger, you should utilise variations of the Deadlift to improve your strength in the 3 stages.
Here are a few variations you can use:
• Deficit Deadlift – Deadlift while standing on a 10cm box. This will strengthen your hips and legs for the first pull. Use 75% to 80% of your 1-rep Deadlift max.
• Rack Deadlift – Set the pins on a power rack approximately 10cm below your knees and pull from there. This will improve your pull from the hips when the back finally comes into the lift. Use 110% to 120% of your 1-rep Deadlift max.
• Deadlift Holds – Set the pins on a power rack above knee level and pull from there. At the top position, hold the bar for 10 to 20 seconds. This will work your lockout and strengthen your grip. Use 120% to 150% of your 1-rep Deadlift max.
• Snatch Deadlift – Deadlift with a wider than shoulder width grip. This will build your upper back and work your lock out. Use 75% to 80% of your 1-rep Deadlift max.
3. Strengthen Your Grip
Many people fail in the Deadlift not because their backs and legs were weak but they lacked grip strength.
Here are tips on how to improve your gripping power:
- Train your forearms 2-3 times a week using 12-15 reps per exercise.
- Include Barbell Grip Holds; grab the middle of a barbell and hold it for as long as you can.
- Include bodyweight Dead Hangs; after training forearms hang from a pull up bar with your feet off the ground for at least 30 seconds.
- Use a thicker bar for Deadlifting.
- Minimise use of lifting straps when training back.
4. Switch Stance
There are 2 stances in the Deadlift:
- Conventional – Hip width stance; hands are outside the thighs.
- Sumo – Wider than shoulder width stance; hands are inside the thighs.
The Conventional Deadlift has a longer bar path while primarily using the back.
The Sumo Deadlift has a shorter bar path and uses the hips and legs more.
If you are stronger in the Conventional Deadlift, you should also train in the Sumo Deadlift to strengthen your hips and legs.
The same goes for those who prefer the Sumo Deadlift. Training occasionally in the Conventional Deadlift will strengthen your back muscles.
5. Focus On Technique
It will not matter how much time or effort you put on your Deadlift if your form and technique are wrong.
Good technique will put your body in its strongest positions mechanically to build a powerful Deadlift.
Proper body alignment will also make the Deadlift a safer exercise and reduce the risks of injuries.
When you get stronger in the Deadlift, it will carry over to your other exercises and will also improve your performance in various sports.
This is why for many people, if they could only do 1 exercise, it would be the Deadlift.