Ok – Back to the deadlift – It is not an easy move to learn, and requires months of fine tuning to get the proper technique, but boy do those dividends pay off!
She probably warms up with your max.
Deadlifting is the number one exercise for simultaneously building muscle, burning fat, and changing your body structure. The other day while I was picking up really heavy things in the gym, there were a few young athletes hitting their deadlifts as well. For one of them in particular, it was obvious that this was his first time –
Its okay, you can learn too –
So yes, he needed help with his form, there is only so much I can say while I am catching my breath between sets. So I decided to help out by putting in an excerpt from an article written by none other than Mike Robertson who is one of the most knowledgable coaches in this field today. He is able to convey the right techniques very simply – so I hope this helps!
The Top 9 Keys to Powerful Pulling
Below are some of the specific keys to pulling heavy weights. There may be some points I’ve omitted for the sake of brevity, but following these key points can and will take your pulling power to the next level!
1. Heels in Close, Weight on Heels:
When I attended the USAPL Men’s Nationals this year, I got to see some of the freakiest lifters in the nation do their thing. One of these lifters included Greg Page, a 148-pound guy who pulled a whopping 578 at the meet! He later stated that one of the most important things to do when pulling was to make sure your heels were as close to the bar as possible. I didn’t necessarily understand this until I tried it, but it works (especially for sumo deadlifts).
To get your heels in close, you probably need to turn your feet out a little more than usual. At this point, try to get your heels underneath the bar. By doing this you ensure the bar is as close to your shins as possible, thereby improving your line of pull before you actually pull!
2. Big Breath, Core Tight:
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain it anyway. While you’re setting up, you need to take in a big breath and get your entire core tight. By getting tight, I mean getting your abs and low back set like you’re about to get punched in the stomach. By “bracing,” as we call it, you ensure that your body is ready to move maximal weight. If you need another reference, check out my 10 Tips to Flawless Squattin’ article, which also discusses getting your core tight.
3. Head and Chest Up: Whenever you set up, make sure your eyes are looking slightly upwards and your chest is up. This rule is pretty much universal when it comes to lifting weights, but especially when it comes to deadlifting. Not only does it reinforce a neutral spine, but it also helps you to lift more weight. Pretty sweet deal, huh?
I can tell when a powerlifter is going to miss a lift before he even attempts it. That’s because he starts the pull with his chest caved over. When this happens, the bar gets out in front of you and your low back has to work overtime to get the bar back in the groove. You end up doing what amounts to a straight leg deadlift. Instead, force the chest up from the beginning to distribute the weight between the major players in pulling, i.e., the glutes, hamstrings and erectors.
4. Hips High:
This may seem awkward to some, but when you pull you want your chest up and your hips high at the same time. I use this example for lifters struggling with the concept: Is it easier to do a half-squat or a full squat? This example usually gets the wheels turning and they realize what I’m talking about. The body is in a more biomechanically efficient position if the hips are high from the start. We aren’t doing reverse squats here; we’re trying to pull heavy weights, right?
5. Don’t Sit in the Bottom:
Research has shown us that the stretch reflex is all but negated after approximately four seconds. Some lifters may sit in the starting position for several seconds before they actually begin. Big mistake!
Not only do you lose the benefits of the stretch reflex, but you also can’t maintain any air when you’re in the bottom. Try it out for yourself: take a big breath and then sit in the bottom position for a few seconds. For whatever reason, it’s very hard to maintain your IAP (intrabdominal pressure) and ITP (intrathoracic pressure). Doing so can decrease not only your stability but your strength as well.
6. Explode from the Middle:
I’ve read tons of articles on deadlifting. Some will say to initiate the pull from the legs, driving them through the floor; others will say to lead with the upper back and traps. To be honest, they’re both right, and that’s why I think about both when I pull.
You need to think of pulling as an explosion from the middle of your body. Once I’m tight I think to myself “three, two, one” just like a launch pad because I want to simultaneously drive my heels through the floor (which ensures I’m using my glutes and hamstrings), while also pulling back with my traps and upper back (which helps keep the bar in close to the body).
If you only use one of these ideas, you lose the benefits of the other. For instance, only pulling with your upper back and traps tends to take your legs out of the lift. On the flip side, only driving your feet through the floor doesn’t always keep the bar in as close as you’d like.
7. Pull FAST:
I put this in italics because I think it’s extremely important. If you’re trying to move heavy weights, why on earth would you try and do it slowly? It makes absolutely no sense, yet I see tons of people trying to “muscle up” heavy deadlifts. It just doesn’t work!
This goes hand in hand with the previous point: you want to explode from the middle and try to move the bar as fast as possible. Deadlifting may not always look fast (especially because you don’t have much stretch reflex or an eccentric portion to the lift), but the fact is that if you want to move heavy weights, you have to try and move them quickly.
8. Keep Pulling:
This is another point I can’t emphasize enough. Pulling is hard, but it lends itself to “the grind.” If you don’t know what the grind is, you haven’t been moving enough heavy weights. What we’re talking about is that point where you don’t think you have anything left in you, but you keep going and grind out the rep. Not only do you get stronger, but you also build confidence when you win battles with the heavy iron.
Please note that I’m not saying to train every set and rep to failure, but there are times when you’re pulling heavy that the bar speed will slow down, you’ll get out of your groove, and you’ll have to go to war with the weight. The choice is yours, but those who grind out those big reps are the ones that’ll end up with the stout physique and big numbers in the end.
9. Bring an Attitude:
The final, and maybe the most important part of deadlifting, is attitude. Sure, some people may be genetically predisposed to pulling heavier weights than others, but a lot of deadlifting is having a deadlifter’s attitude.
If you’re a powerlifter you know the routine: you do three maximal squats, three maximal benches, and then you deadlift. It’s arguably the hardest lift and you’re doing it at the end of the meet when you’re physically and mentally drained. If you don’t have a never-say-die attitude, you’re going to get beat not only by your mentally stronger competition, but by weights.
Every time you pull, you need to be aggressive. In case you missed my point in the beginning, pulling is hard! Those who are aggressive, confident, and who have that solider mentality will always succeed when it comes to pulling heavy, whether it be for a new PR in the gym or on the platform.
There you have it – 9 tips to improve your deads –